It’s December and the mega city famously known in times as these; as the country’s entertainment capital plays host to numerous concerts and festivals, but that appears to be far from the reality this year – no thanks to COVID-19.
For a year widely described as “difficult,” meetings like The Experience; Africa’s largest concert would naturally offer hope of a platform for many (Christian faithful especially) to congregate in worship to their creator; having survived 2020. This however, a took a different turn as the organisers settled for a virtual concert dubbed ‘The Experience 15 – Global Edition’ instead of the popular Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS).
Before any major publicity started, the expectations of many may have been that the usual faces – Don Moen, Donnie Mclurkin, Sinach, Tope Alabi, Chioma Jesus and a few others would headline this year’s edition and probably do the usual. The organisers of the annual event inspite of the restrictions on mass gatherings and challenge of physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, stretched themselves to put up a memorable experience.
As Pastor Ifeanyi Adefarasin, Co-convener of the event puts it: “Though the pandemic caused a restrain in movement, it did not cause a restrain in the move of God.”
Live-streamed on satellite television and social media, the organisers realising the challenge data cost may place on the virtual congregation, made announced that Glo and Airtel subscribers could stream the meeting from the church website for free. Masterstroke! yeah?
Apart from increasing the number of music ministers, the organisers introduced collaborations among the ministers which saw them harness each other’s gifts to the delight of the audience.
In a blend of prayer ministrations, word ministrations and goodwill messages, the 2020 edition lived up to the global tag as it had prominent ministers from around the world play one role or another. They include: Archbishop Justin Welby, Bishop T.D Jakes, Bishop Wayne Malcolm, Dr. Younghoon Lee, Joel and Victoria Osteen, Cindy Jacobs, Fitness evangelist coach; Angela Davies, Caleb Wehrli, Folorunsho Alakija, Mensa Otabil, Russell Evans and Bishop Mike Okonkwo.
Other special ministrations include those of Dr. Billy Wilson, President of Oral Roberts University and Dr. Nevers Mumba, former Zambian Vice President.
Roll call of Song Ministers:
Chee, Eno Michael, Segun Obe (Lagos Metropolitan Gospel Choir), Beejay Sax (Nigeria),Ana Paula Valadaoas (Brazil), Tope Alabi (Nigeria), Sonnie Badu (Dallas, USA), Matt Redman (United Kingdom), Sinach (Nigeria), Travis Greene (USA), Sheldon Bangera (India), Don Moen (USA), Onos Ariyo (Nigeria) and Chevelle Franklyn (Jamaica).
The line up also had Ada, Eben, Mercy Chinwo, Nathaniel Bassey (Nigeria), Donnie McClurkin (USA), Sidney Mohede (Indonesia), William Mcdowell (USA), Tasha Cobbs (USA) and Nokwe the Poet.
Groups include: Hillsong United (Australia), Capetown Philharmonic Orchestra Choir (South Africa), Maverick City (USA) and The Planetshakers (Melbourne, Australia)
Moved from the traditional date to the second Friday in December, the event struggled for attention among Nigerians and some African Christians who were either physically present or glued to their television sets connected to the annual Holy Ghost Congress of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), as well as the global convention of Living Faith Church Worldwide, #Shiloh2020 which had an estimated 2 million delegates at its CanaanLand Headquarters in Ota, Ogun State.
The Interdenominational Gospel concert and word-based gathering convened by Paul Adefarasin, Senior Pastor of House On The Rock, first held in 2006, at the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos Island, with an attendance of 70,000 people. It’s attendance has since grown to 700,000 persons as evident in the 2017 edition.
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.