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Despite COVID-19, Deeper Life unlocks heavens for successful December retreat


By Adeola Ogunlade 

 

For many believers and non-believers conversant with the Deeper Life Bible Church in its over 40 year’s existence, two events are usually sacrosanct on an annual and national scale. That is, the National Easter Retreat and the National December Retreat of the church.

In response to government directives however, the 2020 National Easter Retreat was canceled due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown imposed by the government on cities across the country in a bid to curtail the deadly virus.

Similar fate was about to befall the 2020 National December Retreat, themed, ‘Turning Bitterness to Sweetness’; as government both at state and federal levels issue stringent directives in trying to curtail the dreaded second wave of the pandemic for fears of being caught unawares.

Initially, the retreat was scheduled to take place at the group head quarters (comprising about 6/7 districts as the case maybe) but due to the Lagos state government instruction, which came at the 11th hour that church gatherings should not be more than 50 persons or more, the Church hurriedly came up with contingency plan, especially in Lagos to hold the retreat at district level which comprises of a fewer number of worshipers.

“The just concluded December Retreat is a proof that God works even in odd situations to perform His will. Despite the disruptions occasioned by COVID-19 regulations and the drastic adjustments that the church made in compliance, the Lord truly visited us with remarkable spiritual refreshing,” said Steve Obidi from one of the locations in Lagos, stating that “this is the uniform testimony from different clusters and locations within and outside Lagos where the programme held”.

Following government directives on the usage of non pharmaceutical protocols, many churches in Lagos had made provision for sanitizers and hand washing points, with a ‘no mask no entry’ signage at every entering point while seating arrangements were readjusted to meet government directives on social/physical distancing within church auditorium.

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One of the worshippers who pleaded anonymity disclosed to The Nation that more people had the opportunity to attend the retreat this year as they attended the retreat very close to their house unlike other times that they have to travel to the Deeper Life Conference Centre (DLCC) camp ground along the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

According to him, having the retreat in smaller clusters emphasizes two things. First is the need for believers to draw closer to God no matter the challenge the devil throws at us, since we know that God is a sure refuge; even while maintaining physical and social distance as the COVID-19 protocols demanded.

The second benefit of having the retreat within the immediate localities of the worshipers means a lesser number of them are exposed to accidents and other casualties involved in traveling along the ever busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway and being resident on the camp ground.

Hence, participants need not worry about traveling out of base neither are they requested to think about the cost of commuting to DLCC which has been the case over the years. “They trekked to their district church which was closer to their houses,” he stated.

The Young Professionals Forum (YPF) President, Daniel Bamigbayan said the retreat was a great time in God’s presence. According to him, it was an opportunity to take a break from the hustles and bustles of work and get refreshed spiritually.

He states further that though the retreat was decentralized on the back of the COVID-19 restriction nationwide, the spacing of the messages gave more room for deeper reflection.

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“The most visible impact of the sudden change in venue is the effect on the planned human and material resources for the event. However, this impact was not significant because the change in venue also came with reduction in participants’ size at the new locations,” said Bamigbayan stating that it made management of the retreat easier.

According to Bamigbayan, the last minute change in the initial programme and venue of the retreat reinforces the priority of agility as a key skill in this era. He opined that the church is not exempted from this necessity of being adaptable to change in order to survive.

“The change in messages rubbed a bit on expectations especially in view of the theme of the event. However, because the new messages were still the word of God, I benefited immensely and got new leanings from the retreat,” Bamigbayan stated.

Another participant from Deeper Life Bible Church, Ketu Area, Yemi Shoyemi, who spoke to The Nation said that his experience a wonderful time in God’s presence at the Retreat.

He noted that I gain a lot from the water from Christ, The Smitten Rock bring salvation, sanctification, Holy Spirit Baptism.

Also, a Representative of the Young Professional Forum, an arm of the church in Old Festac  Nnamdi Alex Onyeukwu said that the retreat was successful despite the challenges. According to him, the only challenge was the change in messages which did not conform to the program sheet that was distributed earlier.

Onyeukwu opined that the turnout of young people during the retreat was impressive. The message meets our aspiration,” he said.

Speaking on the 11th hour change in venue by the church, owing to the government directives in regard to the  COVID-19 protocols, Onyeukwu said, “Well, the impact was not discouraging because since we did not go to DLCC many people took it as normal. I appreciate their swift response to the government directives”.

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Onyeukwu further states that the leadership of the church was on top of the situation, and were flexible to take decision in the light of the present realities in the country and the world at large.

Taking a consensus of responses given by participants, the 2020 National December Retreat of the Deeper Life Bible Church was less expensive both to the church in management and participants in terms of financial commitments when compared to others that are residential.

This time around the church leadership made it flexible for all participants, as they have to leave their houses before 8am to attend faith clinic and by 11am they are back to home. In the afternoon, they would eat at home and go to church around 4:45 pm for the afternoon session and Bible study that runs till about 7pm.

Participants at the four day retreat disclosed that they were blessed with the usual Faith Clinic and sermons like The Bride Covenant with the Heavenly Bridegroom; Come Believing, Go Rejoicing; Profiting from the Word; Sounding the Alarm to the Uncovered; Triumph of Patience in all Circumstances; Royal Ambassadors for Christ and Sanctification with Christ Enthroned on our Heart.

Choir ministration like ‘Faithful to the end and The only one desire of my heart’ got the participants reflecting on the theme of the retreat ‘Turning Bitterness to Sweetness’ while the worship sessions got them all to further embrace the power of praise in the believers’ life.



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