A church member ingesting alcohol throughout service (Photograph: TheNation)
Doubtless, church buildings have denominations and patterns of worship differ, however while you discover one, the place bizarre actions are the order of the day and alcohol, animal sacrifices and biblical villains like Nebuchadnezzar, Ahab and even Devil are deified, then you definately’ve simply encountered worship redefined. Tabitha Pearl writes.
A Christian worship centre or church is a spot the place you anticipate all the pieces however the absurd and the bizarre. However this was exactly what this reporter beheld few weeks again when she went snooping at “As God stated, It Should Be Executed, The temple of the Most Excessive God,’ positioned in Oke-Aro in Ifo Native Authorities Space of Ogun State.
A mere N100 bus experience from the favored Agege/Pen Cinema Bus-Cease, took this reporter to As God Stated Avenue – the road is known as after the church. A brief business bike experience took this reporter to the church’s doorstep.
The temple is flanked on one aspect by what was a mosque and the opposite by a Celestial Church of Christ, which, unusually, wasn’t holding any service this Sunday. This reporter was, nevertheless, to quickly uncover throughout the practically 10-hour-long service, that the mosque and the Celestial church needed to evacuate their areas due to the brand new “Sheriff” on the town.
The very first thing that catches your consideration as you stroll into the church premises, relying in your keenness of sight, would both be the relatively heavy use of the colors crimson and white; or the slaughter slab on the far proper nook, although rigorously hid by the large crimson gate. Beside the slab, this fateful Sunday was a black goat ready to be slaughtered and served to worshippers. Makes some sense although. If worshippers have to remain in church as much as 10 hours or extra, it simply could be regular to think about feeding them.
Contained in the temple, the love for crimson is much more pronounced. The ground has a fading crimson color, which tells you it had initially been painted with shiny crimson paint; even the choir and some members bear a touches of crimson on their clothes. No usher is seen ushering folks in; there really isn’t any want for one, because the sitting association is evident sufficient, even to a primary timer. Male worshippers sit to the best whereas feminine worshippers sit to the left.
One other factor you can not miss as you stroll into the temple is the altar. It’s divided into two sections: a really excessive one, in all probability the holy of holies, reserved for the Most Excessive, ought to he come visiting; after which a decrease one, presumably the place the seer, fondly referred to as Papa, preaches from, at any time when he returns from a go to to the Most Excessive, which he claims he does typically.
“I still communed with the Most High last month. I sit and discuss with Him often. I know his form. Who says we can’t see God?” he boasted amidst wild cheers from his followers.
On the upper altar is an enormous chair, the sort you discover in kings’ palaces. That’s in all probability the place the Most Excessive sits when he visits. On the decrease altar is a reproduction of that very same seat, presumably for the Papa. On the far left of the decrease altar is a seat like the sooner ones, solely smaller in measurement. That is the place the spouse of the seer sits throughout service, albeit solely on the invitation of her husband.
Proper above the upper altar or holy of holies, is a line-up of some relics, the type you’re solely more likely to discover in a herbalist’s shrine. Probably the most conspicuous of those could be an elaborate type of a cranium, positioned in the course of two crossed bone-shaped items of woods – just about just like the acquainted cranium and bones picture, used to depict hazard and demise. There’s additionally one thing like an enormous calabash, positioned within the center, leaving a first-timer questioning if it is a shine or a temple the place God is worshipped.
Sunday Nation’s go to coincided with the sixth Anniversary Celebration of the worship centre. It was with nice pleasure that the seer, Blessed Dike-Oji-Ofo Chukwu introduced to the dance-intoxicated congregation that, “Today, we are celebrating our sixth year of moving to this temple.”
This announcement was adopted by an excited cheer from the worshippers.
The service, which was stated to have begun at 8:30 am, ran for hours never-ending, with greater than half the time spent singing and dancing, and – look forward to this – spraying these perceived by the seer to have danced finest with cash. Curiously, the kids gave the impression to be extra favoured within the cash rain, above the adults. To be able to make sure if this was the overall mode of worship or only a one-off factor to commemorate the anniversary celebration, our reporter sought the opinion of a feminine congregant.
Her excited response was, “When we come to the temple on Sundays, we are not in a hurry. We close when the seer says we will close, even until night, if that’s what he wants.”
After hours of singing, dancing and gathering contributions (tithe of essentially the most excessive, answered prayer providing, temple providing, Caesar’s providing, providing of the earth altar – Exodus 20:24) from the congregants, this reporter was nearly giving up on the hope of seeing the seer come out to ship his sermon, when, to the reduction of all members, he emerged at precisely 2:00pm – six entire hours into the service.
After talking elaborately concerning the sixth anniversary and outlining the achievements the church has completed within the final six months, a part of which, in keeping with him, contains having the road the place the temple is positioned named after it, the evacuation of the mosque and celestial church within the neighbourhood, amongst others; he pronounced many blessings on the worshippers and commenced the day’s sermon.
“In just six years of our moving to this place, the street has been named after us; the mosque and Celestial church that we met here have left for us; no member of this temple has died; I have been made the Mayegun of Fakile land… I prophesy to you, you will not fail, you will succeed, you will prosper; old and young will take risk for you to succeed; big and small will swear an oath for you to rise up and shine. In the name of the ancient of the days, I bless every one of you… In your marriages, you will succeed in the name of the living God. The sun will not smote you by the day, neither will the moon smote you by the night; you will be protected. So shall it be in the name of the king of kings, in the name of the lord of hosts. In the name of the ‘God’ of “Nebuchadneze,” I bless thee. The ‘God’ of my ancestors, “Nebuchadnezzar” will change your story. As you have got been serving “Nebuchadnezzar”, on this primary day within the month of September 2017, “Nebuchadnezzar” is your ancestor and he’ll reward you; Pharaoh will reward you, Ahab will reward you. Within the identify of the dwelling God I bless thee.”
After the prayer rain, the seer bellowed, “You’re free to ask me any kind of question after the teaching this afternoon. We are not operating the way other men of God operate; we operate by the inspiration of the living God.”
After this announcement, the sermon started with none introduction. The seer spoke about bishop and pope, how they’re titles given by males not God.
“Bishop and Pope is not recommended by God. Check from Genesis to Revelation, you can never see the title of Pope. If you check in the book of Titus, you will see a bishop is a man who is up and doing. All our deacon and deaconesses here, you are the same rank with bishop, there is no special title in that name, bishop. They can deceive men, not somebody like me.”
Quoting a passage in Titus, the seer requested the congregation to open their Bibles, so they may learn collectively what the bible says about bishops. After looking the ebook of Titus with out success, the seer’s reader got here to the congregation’s rescue. The passage was really in 1Timothy 3:1, not Titus. After the studying, he started one other speak about Moses and Zippo rah. Quickly, it was query time.
“Before I open the floor for questions, I want to appreciate one of my sons. I was in my palace when he called to say he had a gift for the temple. It was surprising what he brought; three cartons of big stout, one carton of ’33 Larger and one carton of Captain Black. We will soon share the drinks, but before then, come forward, my son, let me bless you.”
After praying to the Most Excessive to bless the younger man and prosper his enterprise, the seer referred to as ahead a girl whose face betrayed no emotion. It was exhausting to inform if she was glad, unhappy or simply didn’t care. By advantage of marriage, she had simply change into a brand new member of the church and was given a particular seat among the many ladies who sat in entrance row.
Quickly, it was query time. The primary query got here from a boy, who was residence for the lengthy trip. He wished to know why the seer preaches that Jesus will not be the saviour of the world and why they don’t pray within the identify of Jesus. Certainly, this reporter had observed all alongside that they weren’t praying within the identify of Jesus, neither was the identify talked about all through the service. Actually, songs that had the identify within the identify of Jesus had been rigorously edited and changed with Saviour, Lord or Most Excessive.
The seer’s response to the boy’s query nevertheless, was, “God is the Saviour of the whole world, not Jesus. It is the gospel of John that claims Jesus died for the sins of man; but let me tell you, the New Testament is a lie. The original word of God is the Old Testament; the New Testament is the gospel of men, and untrue.”
The clearly dissatisfied questioner, was, nevertheless, quickly silenced with a promise of scholarship for an educational session, for exhibiting nice intelligence. The worshippers additionally went wild with pleasure at this pronouncement, and everybody quickly forgot that the boy’s query wasn’t fairly answered.
Subsequent, a person who spoke impeccable English, took the mic and requested, “Do you believe in life after life?” The seer’s response was affirmative. “Of course, there is life after life. Every time we say somebody died, what happened is that the person just changed address. Maybe the person closed his eyes (not died) in Oke-aro, he may wake up in Cotonou as a foreigner; or somebody else may sleep in Oke-aro and wake up in Ibadan. That is life after life, continuation of life. That is why the Most High gave everyone 1,000 years to live in this life. When you’ve lived up to 1,000 years, you’d have completed your sojourn in this life, you will now become among the ancestors.”
The thought of turning into one of many ancestors happy the worshippers and acquired them cheering once more, loudly.
One other worshiper, a girl, requested what this reporter thought-about an important query: “Why do you say that our ancestors are Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh, Ahab? In other churches, they pray against these names.”
The seer’s response was, “They lack knowledge. Nebuchadnezzar is my ancestors. Satan is my elder brother. See, that name Nebuchadnezzar is not a personality but a phenomenon. It means the wrath of God upon his children. But all those churches that pray against these names don’t understand. Is it possible to have the goodness of God and not have his wrath? That’s Nebuchadnezzar. My daughter, do you understand?” This was adopted by a nod from the worshipper and a loud cheer from the congregation.
At this level, this reporter burned with curiousity and wished to ask a number of questions: “Can they name themselves Christians in the event that they don’t imagine in Jesus Christ? Why do they nonetheless carry out animal sacrifices? Why is the altar divided into two sections and what do the relics on it symbolize? Why do males cowl their head whereas praying? Is it true they drink alcohol throughout service and why?
But it surely was one other feminine member, who acquired the mic to ask her query. She started by introducing herself as a first-timer, however the seer recommended her to not name herself a first-timer. “Don’t name your self a first-timer. There aren’t any first-timers within the presence of the Most Excessive. You’re only a misplaced little one, who has discovered her method residence, and the Most Excessive is at all times able to obtain you.
Her query was, “Why did you direct us to read from the New Testament this morning, even though you said it’s all a lie?” That was to be the final query of the day, as a result of the seer was clearly thrown off steadiness and occasions quickly overtook the query time.
“This lady you are seeing is a very intelligent lady;” the seer started. Pointing to the male part, he continued, “That’s her husband over there and it is whatever she says that happens in her marriage.” Quickly, the query was left unanswered and a prayer and thanksgiving session started for the supposed couple, whom the seer stated was believing God for the fruit of the womb. It seems that this assertion was false, as this reporter had met the couple on their method out and so they revealed that they weren’t even engaged, a lot much less married, and neither had they want for youngsters because the seer had declared.
However, why didn’t they refute what he stated because it wasn’t true? The man, who gave his identify as Ade, stated, “We were directed by a friend to consult the seer to see if we are destined for each other. But with that false prophecy, we know better than to believe anything he says.”
After praying for the couple, the seer requested for the drinks supplied by the male worshipper to be introduced in. After taking two bottles himself, he opened one bottle every for the ladies occupying the particular seat in entrance, after taking a swig from every bottle. Youngsters and adults who don’t take alcohol had been served 7’UP.
Amidst the ingesting, one woman started staggering for practically 15 minutes. A straightforward guess could be that it was the impact of the wine, however she quickly steadied herself and requested for the mic. She had an affidavit. Based on her, her menstrual circulation had ceased for about three months, however when she ate kolanut in church the earlier Sunday, her menses started to circulation once more. The seer took time to clarify that within the early days of his ministry, he used to serve his members the logo utilized in different assemblies (unleavened bread and fruit of the vine) however after some time, the Most Excessive warned him to not give the bread and fruit of the vine to his sons and daughter or else he’ll slay them. Now, their emblem for communion is kolanut and blended alligator pepper.
In a bid to show his place on the common emblems, the seer went to his ‘palace’ to supply the unleavened bread, which he ordered them move spherical for the congregants to see. A couple of of them, who had at one time or the opposite taken the bread, requested to have a style of it. He obliged them, whereas asserting, “I know that I said the most high asked me not to give you people this thing, but don’t worry, this one you are eating will not kill you.”
As at 5;00pm when this reporter quietly left the temple, the service had but ended. Kolanut was about to be served and so they nonetheless awaited the meal that was being ready with the goat that was slaughtered earlier on.