Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here

Clouds Without Water

The "superstar syndrome" seduces leaders to become arrogant and greedy.
Pastor Henry Madava has experienced the power of God firsthand. Once when he was leading an evangelistic meeting in Pakistan he prayed for a boy's clubbed foot and watched it become normal in an instant. The child's Muslim parents saw the miracle and immediately decided to become Christians.

Seven people in Madava's 6,500-member Victory Christian Church in Kiev, Ukraine, have been raised from the dead. Every Sunday dozens of people are healed at the altar while Madava prays from the stage.

"Lots of cancers are healed," says Madava, a native of Zimbabwe who came to Kiev in 1986 to study aeronautical engineering at a communist university. He began his church in 1992 with three people. Today it is the one of the largest churches in a country where few Africans live.'

Victory is not the only large church in Kiev pastored by an African. A few miles away, Sunday Adelaja—a Nigerian who came to Russia to study journalism—leads a 25,000-member congregation, the Embassy of God. Both men are successful, but they define success differently than many Americans do. Both Madava, 40, and Adelaja, 38, are concerned about what they call a "superstar syndrome" that is spreading from the United States to churches around the world. It seduces leaders to become arrogant and greedy. When Adelaja hears about the glamorous lifestyles of some American ministers, he gets a puzzled look on his face. "Is this a virus?" he asks.

Then he tells of one American minister who recently sent word that he must stay in the presidential suite in the most expensive hotel in Kiev when he visits. Adelaja can't understand why ministers should be pampered like rock stars. He measures New Testament faith not by the size of a preacher's personal jet but by how he loves and serves people.

Both Adelaja and Madava have endured persecution in a nation that still struggles with communism, racism and mafia control. Madava has received death threats, and the government has tried to deport Adelaja numerous times. Newspapers have run cartoons portraying both men as savages with bones through their noses.

Both men have built impressive ministries with little support from the West. Victory has planted 85 churches in Ukraine and another 23 in other parts of the world. The Embassy of God has spawned 450 autonomous congregations that do not tithe to the headquarters. Adelaja is opposed to starting a denomination, and he doesn't want his name on anyone's marquee.

"Everybody is busy building a big church. Let's build the kingdom," he says. Madava was brutally honest when I asked him about the American church. "Many leaders in America have received the anointing but they have become clouds without water," he says. "Most of them seem to lose the anointing. I wish the American church could keep the water in the cloud."

Americans who visit Adelaja's cavernous church in Kiev are surprised when they see the modest lifestyle of this modern apostle. He and his Nigerian wife, Bosé, and their three children live in a three-bedroom apartment. He drives a 2002 Dodge Caravan. He also spends one week a month praying and fasting.

Why is it that Americans whose churches are not even one-tenth the size of Adelaja's think they deserve five-star treatment?

Madava offered me the answer: "God asked me once whether I wanted to be (1) more powerful, or (2) more important. I decided I would rather be powerful in God than to be part of 'the club.'"

I wish Madava and Adelaja would spend some time in the United States. They need to give us a brotherly kick in the rear end. After listening to these guys for a few hours, it was obvious to me that God has anointed men and women from the developing world to lead the church into the 21st century. We need to emulate their radical humility.

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women (Charisma House). His ministry, The Mordecal Project, focuses on empowering women in ministry and confronting abuse. To read past columns in Charisma by J. Lee Grady, log on at

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Rev. Samuel Rodriguez was the first Hispanic pastor in history to pray at a presidential inauguration.

    At Trump Inauguration, Charismatic Leaders Pray Boldly in Jesus' Name. Is This Foreshadowing a New Day in America?

    It was an amazing day to let religious freedom ring in America.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what was going on!

    Jennifer LeClaire Releases Urgent Prophetic Warning Over Washington, D.C.

    When I flew into D.C. yesterday, there were so many Secret Servicemen on the plane I wondered what ...

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Does any of this reflect what's going on in your marriage?

    9 Characteristics of a Healthy Sexual Relationship for a Believer

    A healthy sexual relationship for a Christian couple takes effort, and it's worth working for.

  • Churches don't address this topic affecting women.

    The Secret Sorrow Women Carry

    This woman breaks the silence about a taboo subject to help restore many women.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit