The founder of the Believers Loveworld Ministries, also known as Christ Embassy, Chris Oyakhilome, on Sunday, enjoined his congregation to refrain from speaking against a man of God.
The church also suspended Michelle Okojie, a pastor in Lagos, for her “subversive activities.” The reason for Ms. Okojie’s suspension was not given.
At the church’s Sunday service, Mr. Oyakhilome described a man of God – as different from a preacher – as one who had been given a revelation from heaven.
“To speak against the man of God is to bring a curse on yourself and your children. When you hear people speaking against a man of God, move away from there.
“Men of God don’t just talk. When they speak, God is forced to move.”
Sunday’s service was Mr. Oyakhilome’s first appearance to the Lagos branch since the news of his divorce broke last month, and he meticulously stayed away from discussing the saga.
“This is the first service of this nature and I don’t know what you are expecting, but you will be blessed.
“It’s gonna be a short service but will be loaded,” Mr. Oyakhilome said.
Though he was not physically present at the church’s headquarters in Lagos, he conducted the service via a telecast from the branch in Pretoria, South Africa.
At the beginning of the service, the first moment the two large screens at the altar panned from choir to Mr. Oyakhilome, loud cheers erupted inside the capacity filled church in Lagos.
Ushers in dark suits and red ties motioned worshippers to their seats as the congregation sang along with a choir showing on the large screens.
Outside, armed police officers and church security officials ensured that everyone coming into the church’s premises was screened by a metal detector.
A sign at the entrance warned worshippers that cameras are not allowed into the church. Two Automated Teller Machines belonging to Parallex Micro Finance bank stood at a corner.
The service began with the launching of the Loveworld News App, a software application platform where the church will be showing its activities from around the world.
Mr. Oyakhilome, in a milk-coloured three-piece suit, sat in a panel comprising of three other pastors who took turns to share their experiences on the benefits of the App to church members.
“It makes you aware of the things that are going on in the ministry. It also inspires teenagers and gives them direction in life,” one of the pastors said.
“CNN and Fox news are reporting about the war in Ukraine, and then (I got) a breaking news (from the App) that our brethren over there are distributing Rhapsody of Realities. So it is not all gloomy. It was awesome,” another pastor said.
At the end of the pastors’ presentation, Mr. Oyakhilome began his sermon.
Speaking on the topic of the day’s preaching, ‘Children of the Word,’ he cited a plethora of Bible verses to encourage his congregation not to stray from God.
“Sometimes when you are going through challenges in your life, you many not know what steps to take. He says you should take these scriptures as a light shining in the darkness.”
He also used several other Bible passages to explain the difference between a man of God and a preacher as well as spiritually-minded people and carnal-minded people.
“A carnal minded person will say ‘How many times do we give offering? One, two, three, four times. Spirit people don’t think like that. A carnal minded person will come into the church and say ‘This place is hot,’ ‘The A/C is not working,’ ‘The fan is not working.’ A spiritually-minded person will instead say ‘How can I contribute to change this place?’
“Say I refuse to be a carnal person.”
The congregation chorused after him.
Mr. Oyakhilome is also renowned for his healing powers. So just before he rounded up his preaching, he announced a couple of miracle-receivers.
“A young man named Appiah, you are deaf in your right ear. You are healed.”
Another lady, named Maggie, suffering from migraine, was told that she had been set free; another unnamed “adult” having an infection creeping towards his spinal cord was also told to receive his healing.
“There is someone who is not far away from me. You’ve had three seizures in the last six weeks. You are healed.
“As you are sitting down, miracles are happening,” he reminded them.”
A pastor is suspended
After a list of offerings that included monies for Bible sponsorship, Children/Teens Ministry, Healing School, Reachout Nigeria, partnership with the church, amongst others; it was announced that Michelle Okojie, one of the Lagos pastors, had been suspended from the church.
“It has come to our attention that Pastor Michelle Okojie has been visiting church members in private and slandering the ministry, engaging in subversive activities that are against the scriptures,” read the statement issued by Ray Okocha, the church’s Secretary General.
Citing Bible passages from Romans 16:17-20 and Titus 3:10 wherein Christians were told to “watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles,” the church warned every member of the congregation to stay away from Ms. Okojie.
“The church is not a social club where you can walk in and walk out at will and live disorderly.
“Pastor Michelle is hereby suspended from the fellowship.
“Avoid her. Do not fellowship with her. Do not try to counsel her or receive counsel from her. All you can do is direct her to her pastor.
“Do not be a partaker of another man’s sin.”
Efforts to ascertain from the church members the real reasons for Ms. Okojie’s suspension were unsuccessful as all the church members approached for comments declined to speak.
But one who spoke over the telephone said that the pastor was suspended for blasphemy.
“She has been suspended for blaspheming against the ministry. But we don’t know exactly why,” said the church member who did not want her name mentioned for faith reasons.
“My zonal pastor just told us we should not have communication with her,” the lady added.