Forbes recently released a list of
It featured seven Nigerians and a couple of well known foreign pastors like Benny Hinn, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen.
The number one spot was held by Edir Macedo. Meet the Brazilian pastor and the founder of Grupo Record and Record News.
He was born on February 18, 1945, in the small town of Rio das Flores — Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was the fourth child of seven children. He was raised in a Catholic home with a strict father and a protective mother.
On his church’s blog, he wrote, “All of us were raised strictly, under the harsh rule of our father. Discipline was a sacred rule at home. My mother was the protector of the home, the woman who raised us with love and such great zeal, that even as teenagers, we wouldn’t rebel.”
Eventually, he converted to evangelical Christianity in the early 1970s.
Years later, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God was born after a traumatic experience with his second daughter, Viviane. She was born as a frail baby with a tiny frame, this tragedy sparked his faith in God.
Here is an excerpt from his story:
“Esther was attempting to wipe away her tears, but her face was soaked. I also cried. Then something exploded inside of me that lifted my mind up to God. My body was possessed with an unfathomable strength. My pain transported me directly to the throne of God. I decided to pray.
"But it was not a normal prayer. I clenched my fists in anger and threw punches at the bed countless times.God, no one is going to stop me now. Not my family, not my wife, not the future, not my feelings, nothing! No one can stop me now! No one! No one! I’ve had enough!That was the birth of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.”
The church started in a “filthy, foul-smelling pavilion” in a suburb of Rio de Janeiro in 1977. The first service was held on July 9, 1977.
From 225 people, the meetings grew to 400. With time, this number grew as the church got more time on radio and TV stations.
In 1984, Macedo got into the media industry with the purchase of Radio Copacabana, one of the most popular and well-known AM stations of Rio de Janeiro at that time.
Nine years after opening his church in Brazil, Bishop Macedo moved to New York in 1986, Portugal in 1989, Argentina and other countries.
Now, the church has grown into a huge ministry with over 8 million members in Brazil, and at least 12 million members across the world.
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Macedo met a young woman that would become his wife named Esther Eunice Rangel. They had a brief relationship that lasted for only eight months.
They tied the knot on December 18, 1971, in the New Life Church in Bonsucesso, Rio de Janeiro.
Here is the pastor’s recollection of his wedding day: “A simple but unforgettable celebration. The photos reveal a smiling and happy expression on my face, enchanted by my beautiful bride. I was smiling from ear to ear. From that day on, Esther and I have been one.”
They have been married for 46 years. Their union has been blessed with two daughters: Cristiane, Viviane and an adopted son, Moises.
Criticism and controversies:
Macedo has been heavily criticised for his prosperity teachings. Aside from prosperity, his sermons focus on freedom from unclean spirits, this has also been criticised. Reportedly, he justifies his prosperity sermons and lifestyle with this: “If I preach prosperity and my clothes are ragged, who will follow me?”
According to Forbes and Business Week, he has been involved in several scandals. They are usually about using church donations from his poor followers to buy jewellery, TV stations, and sustaining his lifestyle.
So far, Macedo has twenty-three TV stations, forty radio stations, two major daily newspapers, a real estate agency, a health insurance company, and an airline, all within thirty years.
Forbes reports that he has acquired 49% of a Brazilian Bank called Banco Renner.
These acquisitions have earned him the number one spot on the Forbes list of the world’s top 20 richest Men of God with a reported $1.2 billion.