Twenty years ago, a young man of about 32 years had a spiritual motivation, indeed a visionary dream, to sow the seed of what he called “The Home of Success”, otherwise (and more popularly) known as the Salvation Ministries.
Moving from the riotous city of Lagos to the more conservative domain of Port Harcourt, the Garden City, David Ibiyeomie had a challenge that bordered his mind; no local church or pastor based in the city of Port Harcourt had been able to hold a crusade in the locality.
For David Ibiyeomie, that was a signal for spiritual vacuum and emptiness, a great void that had to be avoided and. filled.
Having graduated from the Bible School of his mentor, David Oyedepo, in the Winners Chapel, in Lagos, Ibiyeomiye, moved by the spirit, relocated to Port Harcourt despite all the physical and material challenges that dared him.
There was no capital in his possession, no physical structures on ground, yet his ministry started in the high profile part of the city, the Government Reservation Area (GRA) where the High and the powerful live.
That area was literally a noiseless zone and most of the residents in that part of the city regarded Ibiyeomie and his colleagues as impostors who should have no business loitering around that serene environment.
Yet, because it was a mission directed by the Spirit of God, Ibiyeomie and his team of pastors conquered and prevailed, despite numerous physical threats and intimidation including a planned demolition that fizzled out due to the power of ceaseless prayers.
Interestingly, the Salvation Ministries is now occupying a large proportion of the area where the headquarters of the church operates.
According to records, the initial membership of the church was less than one hundred persons, but today its population has grown beyond comprehension.
In 2003, about six years after its establishment, the ‘Home of Success’ as the church is fondly called, was able to fulfill one of its original dreams of being the first Port Harcourt based Church to organize and hold a crusade which held at the Civic Center tagged the Port Harcourt Miracle Crusade.
The crusade reportedly was a huge success and was attended by an unprecedented crowd of faithfuls with numerous miracles and healings recorded.
Since then, there has been an upsurge in the growth of the church both in membership and spread. In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, the Salvation Ministries has over 114 satellite centers with a huge number of adherents.
The church has also spread to other major cities cross the country including Abuja, Lagos, Benin, Calabar, Asaba, Uyo, Enugu and northern part of the country.
The church has also spread its tentacles to the United States of America where it presently has a branch in Maryland.
The Salvation Ministries operates a holistic spiritual engagement programme for its millions of followers’ worldwide.
On Sundays, it holds five services simultaneously from its headquarters to all satellite branches in Port Harcourt and the nation at large including those outside the country. The services are held from 6am to 2pm. Each service lasts for one and a half hour within which period there are sections for prayers, testimonies, opening hymns, the sermon, praise and worship and alter calls and sometimes thanksgivings.
The segmentation of the services is to take care of the huge number of worshippers to enable them choose their own time of worship as well as ensure efficient crowd management.
The services are usually relayed by satellite telecast which is received in all the branches worldwide including online worshippers.
In addition, the church holds two midweek services on Thursdays at 4.30pm and 6.15pm respectively with all the events obtainable on Sundays.
There is also the monthly spiritual empowerment programme which holds at the beginning of every month for a period of one week with three different sessions daily.
The early morning session is for prayers; the Holy Ghost hour by 12noon and the evening session which holds from 4pm witnessing the sermon, prayers and Holy Communion.
As part of the Salvation Ministries’ spiritual management structure, it runs a Home Cell system in which not more than ten members are gathered in a member’s home every Tuesday to hear the Word, pray, praise the Lord and worship Him.
Indeed, it is by membership of the home cell a worshipper confirms his or her membership of the church.
The church has what it calls “the service or workers groups” in which every faithful believer is expected to belong to at least one group or unit. There are about 16 service groups.
The church conducts an average of 35 services in a month with an average of days of prayer within the month. It runs a Bible School in which thousands of adherents had been trained in the Word. Known as the Word of Life Bible Institute, it has graduated several hundreds of thousands of students, some of whom are leading ministers in the church and other ministries.
By all standards, the Salvation Ministry has become a universal church, known all over the world. It runs a radio and television networks in which it makes daily broadcast. In addition, it relays programmes in several radio and television stations within and outside Nigeria.
The membership of the church is at a conservative figure of over five million, but estimates from the global attendance of the Nights of Glory in the past two years put the figure far above that.
In 2015, the total figure of attendance was over four million, and in 2016 there was an increase of over two million.
Simply known as Pastor, or the General Overseer, Ibiyeomie has never hidden the fact that the church is successful and stupendously blessed and favoured perhaps because the church is keeping its own part of the agreement with God.
Ibiyeomie postulates that the main preoccupation of the church is to obey and serve God and that, according to him, is what is making the church to grow.
The church is presently building a new structure as its headquarters. The upcoming structure looks marvelous with a state of the art architectural design which is unique and peculiar. It is expected to be completed hopefully by next year.
The church already has primary and secondary schools which are models of excellence. It is also putting in place what it calls ‘The Pacesetters University’.
Pastor Ibiyeomie made his alter call in 1995 and thereafter proceeded to the Word of Faith Bible Institute belonging to Pastor David Oyedepo’s Winners Chapel.
He was born in the island of Bonny, Rivers State on the 21st of October, 1962 though his parents came from Bolo Town in the present Ogu/Bolo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
A detribalized Nigerian, Papa usually describes himself as a citizen of the world based on the universality of the Kingdom of God.
He said excellence and success know no race or boundaries. He believes anyone with faith, knowledge and wisdom, irrespective of place of origin or birth could get to the highest peak because according to him, the Word had said so.
Papa is a quintessential Bible scholar, teacher of the Word, foremost prosperity teacher, poet, management expert, philanthropist, healer and a world patriot. His fame is widely acclaimed and acknowledged. That huge success has reflected on a.k.a church.
The growth of the Salvation Ministries, is truly Phenomenal. Twenty years on the march, the church is still showing traits of climbing higher.
Elder Martins is a member of the Editorial Unit of Salvation Ministries.