He is among top 10 richest in the world…and can lend Joel Osteen several billions
By Camy Akinyi- Gecaga
God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good especially for filthy rich pastors. The poor shall inherit the Earth doesn’t appear like a biblical verse pastors of prosperity gospel live by. Their hyped up sermons which are beamed live through tailored television programming where they sold as portraits of the well-heeled in their choice of expensive clothes, high end gadgets and coiffured hair that glistens under overhead cameras. This flamboyance, made to measure for poor viewers is meant to show how God can financially bless one here on earth. They then live in palatial homes, drive top of the range cars, just the picture of success to arouse hope to their adherents-most of them poor.
A research done by the University of Nairobi Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in 2015 revealed that over half of the respondents about 67.5 per cent said they had a better self-concept, their marital status and family life had improved since they started attending the ‘modern’ churches.
The research titled “Blessed Are the Rich and Prosperous For Theirs Is the Kingdom of the World: The Kenyan Challenge,” also revealed that “prosperity gospel preachers arouse the follower’s faith, through their messages, music and dance which often hypnotizes them” and that “the typical spiritual aspects of the prosperity gospel are not significant to the followers as there is least emphasis on the biblical teaching of suffering and instead, emphasis is laid on health and wealth acquisition.”
If I preach prosperity and my clothes are ragged, who will follow me?- Brazilian Edir Macedo
Forbes Africa magazine estimated his wealth at $150 million (Sh15 billion) making him one of Africa’s wealthiest preachers. What is known as Winners Chapel was founded as the Living Faith World Outreach Ministry in 1981, it has grown to become one of Africa’s largest. His Faith Tabernacle, is Africa’s largest worship centre, sitting 50,000 people.
Forbes adds that “Oyedepo owns four private jets and homes in London and the United States. He also owns Dominion Publishing House, a thriving publishing company that publishes all his books. He founded and owns Covenant University, one of Nigeria’s leading tertiary institutions, and Faith Academy, an elite high school.”
Here are the other 10 richest pastors in the world…and all are also flamboyant business men like Oyedepo.
1 – Edir Macedo-Brazil: $1.2 billion (Sh120 billion)
The richest pastor in the world is a famed evangelist and media mogul. Raised Catholic, he converted to Pentecostalism in 1970. Macedo founded the Pentecostal Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s. Growth was immediate. Essentially combing the Brazilian religious market, Macedo expanded the church to such great extremes that it now receives $2 billion (Sh200 billion) each year in donations alone. He is the owner and chairman of Brazil’s second largest television network, Rede Record. Using the church’s funds to purchase everything from radio stations and television networks to real estate, health insurance and even an airline, Macedo has guaranteed his Sh120 billion net worth and faces criticism over his spending with simple logic. “If I preach prosperity and my clothes are ragged, who will follow me?, poses the 74 year old.
2- Pat Robertson-American: $500 million (Sh50 billion)
Born into a prominent political family in Virginia, this Southern Baptist minister has proven that he can be both spiritual and business savvy. Spending the last 50 years as the host of one of the most popular Christian programs on television (The 700 Club), the 89-year-old is also known as a media mogul and founder of organizations such as the ABC Family Channel and Regent University as well as the subject of many pop culture jokes on shows like South Park and The Simpsons.
He was drafted into the Marine Corp in 1948 and returned home to complete his law degree from Yale in 1955. Failing the New York bar exam, Robertson experienced a life-changing religious conversion that inspired him to enroll at the New York Theological Seminary. Shortly after his graduation, Robertson was well on his way to success when he established the Christian Broadcasting Network in 1960 after he was ordained minister in 1961.
3 – George Foreman -American: $250 Million (Sh25 billion)
Two-time World Heavyweight Champion and Olympic gold medalist, George Foreman is one of the greatest boxers to ever live. Launching his career in the ring in 1969, Foreman continued throwing punches until the 1990s with an impressive record of 76 wins and five losses including 68 knockouts that earned him a membership in the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Officially retiring in 1997 at 48 years old, Foreman is an ordained minister but that isn’t where he’s built his incredible $250 million (Sh25 billion) wealth.
Truth be told, we’ve all helped the 70 year old earn his millionaire status by purchasing one of his famed George Foreman fat-reducing grills. Marketed on convenience and healthy eating, the grills have earned Foreman over $130 million (Sh13 billion). But what about his ministry? After a near-death experience in 1977, Foreman announced his faith as a born-again Christian and took a break from the ring to become an ordained minister. Spending the next few years preaching on street corners and at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston, Foreman opened a youth centre and made special appearances on The 700 Club where he told the world that the devil finally got “knocked out” of him.
4 – David Oyedepo-Nigerian: $150 Million (Sh15 billion)
This Nigerian author, preacher and founder of Winner’s Chapel but who studied architecture before concentrating on missionary work, is Africa’s richest man of God. He also has a chain of Winners’ Chapel churches in Nairobi and is thus the richest pastor in Kenya, even though he is not a citizen.
Oyedepo claimed to have an 18-hour vision in 1981 where God called him to preach. Inspired to establish the Living Faith Church World Wide, Oyedepo was ordained a pastor two years later by Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Within five years, the newly ordained Bishop was ready to expand.
Hailed as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria, Oyedepo’s expansion led him to his most prized creation, the Faith Tabernacle, which holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest church auditorium with 50,000 seats. The 64 year old has built an incredible $150 million (Sh15 billion) net worth all because of his vision and divine ability to preach not to mention cornering every field of the gospel market including publishing over 60 unique titles.
5–Uebert Angel-Zimbabwean: $60 million (Sh6 billion)
Born Uebert Mudzanire, he founded Spirit Embassy in 2007 later renamed the Good News Church besides establishing the Angel Organization where he’s CEO. Forbes says this pastor offers services to the very wealthy who do not have the luxury of time. Little wonder he founded the Millionaire Academy which assists people in business ventures and provides mentorship for them. The 40 year old lives on a 14 acre estate in a mansion and is the owner of multiple luxury cars.
6 – Enoch Adeboye-Nigerian: $55 million (Sh5.5 billion)
Her had a promising career as a mathematics professor after graduating from the University of Lagos with a PhD, but joining the Redeemed Christian Church of God in 1973, changed everything. He began translating sermons into English and nearly a decade later, Adeboye was appointed the General Overseer of the relatively unknown church, but it was only a matter of time under his leadership before the church grew exponentially.
With his goal to “put a church within five minutes of every person on Earth,” Adeboye has overseen the RCCG’s expansion of over 14,000 branches in Nigeria in addition to churches in over 100 countries. Extremely powerful and wealthy (to the tune of $55 million (Sh5.5 billion), the passionate pastor has been recognized internationally for his leadership and was even named as one of the 50 most powerful people in the world by Newsweek in 2008. Although he may not be the richest man in Nigeria, the 77-year-old just might be one of the most influential.
7– Chris Oyakhilome-Nigerian: $50 million (Sh5 billion)
“Pastor Chris,” is the founder of Believers’ Loveworld Incorporated or the Christ Embassy headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. The faith healer claims he can cure HIV through prayers alone. Part of his success and growing reputation is his Healing School, a widely translated book titled Rhapsody of Realities, the Inner City Missions for Children in addition to three Christian television channels that promote his healings and miracles to an international audience. Because of energetic and charismatic approach utilizing entertainment value rather than ceremony, Pastor Chris has expanded his reach on a global scale targeting younger audiences in South Africa as well as areas of the USA and Canada. Amassing even more of the younger generation than ever before with over 1.2 million followers on Twitter as well as offering e-books in 557 languages, Pastor Chris is using everything in his power to bring a new flock to build his growing $50 million (Sh5 billion) net worth.
8 – Robert Tilton-American: $50 million (Sh5 billion)
Bringing televangelism and infomercials together in the 1990s, Texas native Robert Tilton found early success on his religious television program called Success-N-Life. Structured like an infomercial while spreading the Christian message, the series was broadcast in over 200 American television markets and put Tilton in front of millions of viewers on a daily basis. As a result, the show brought in over $80 million (Sh8 billion) in annual revenue and was quickly ranked as “the fastest growing television ministry in America.”
With the show on fire, Tilton was living the dream and making money hand over fist until everything came to a crashing halt in 1991 when Primetime Live investigated his fundraising methods. Accused on national television of exploiting vulnerable people by throwing away prayer requests and only keeping donations, Tilton and his Success-N-Life were taken off the air within two years. Though he later returned to television on The World Network and BET, the 69-year-old is clinging to his $50 million (Sh5 billion) net worth since he’s not nearly as popular as he was 25 years ago.
9 – Benny Hinn-Israeli: $42 million (Sh4.2 billion)
Born in Israel and raised as an Eastern Orthodox, Benny Hinn moved with his family to Canada where he converted to Pentecostalism and joined a singing troupe of young evangelicals. Discovering his new religious passion, Hinn moved to the United States where he began proclaiming himself as a miracle healer. Shortly after, the Miracle Crusades were born as thousands packed into stadiums around the world to witness Hinn’s miraculous touch documented on one of the most watched religious programs in the world, This Is Your Day.
Claiming his crusades feed over 100,000 children each year and support nearly 45,000 every day, Hinn’s miraculous abilities have supposedly cured everything from blindness and cancer to AIDS and damaged limbs. Obviously no stranger to criticism, his healing abilities came into question when he was admitted to a California hospital for shortness of breath after completing a mission in Brazil. With a $42 million (Sh4.2 billion) net worth and no signs of slowing down, the 63-year-old Hinn claims he’s helped over one billion people so far and won’t let anything stop him from helping one billion more.
10 – Joel Osteen-American: $40 million (Sh4 billion)
Easily one of the most popular pastors in the United States today, Joel Osteen has earned the nickname as “The Smiling Preacher” thanks to his Texas-sized charisma. Born to a Southern Baptist pastor who founded the Lakewood Church, Osteen studied radio and television communications at Oral Roberts University but left Oklahoma and returned to Houston without a diploma in hand. Taking the reins and producing his father’s televised sermons for 17 years until his father’s unexpected death in 1999, Osteen found himself behind the pulpit of the largest Protestant Church in the entire country.
Now serving as Lakewood Church’s Senior Pastor, Osteen took a lesson from his father and continued to televise his sermons, which fostered the church’s growth from 5,000 to 43,000 in addition to over 7 million weekly viewers in more than 100 countries. Now recognized as both a preacher and a brand, Osteen is also a New York Times best-selling author because of the outstanding success of Your Best Life Now. And, to put his $40 million net worth into perspective, Osteen lives in a $10 million estate and doesn’t take a penny out of the church’s $70 million annual income.