The establishment of Pentecostal Churches is at an alarming rate in Nigeria. They are found almost in all the nooks and crannies of the country. Many Christians in the Mainline and African Independent Churches are found drifting daily to such churches. One of the latest Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria that is widely accepted in the 21st century is the Living Faith Church (Winners Chapel) who's teaching and focus is on prosperity.
The Church was introduced at a time when Nigerians were experiencing economic depression, poverty, un-employment, corruption and sicknesses. These are socio-economic problems being witnessed in Nigeria because of bad leadership in the country. The Living Faith Church's theology is both material and spiritual with a promise of hope to the hopeless in exhortation, divine healing, and establishment of schools and provision of some socio-economic infrastructures, thereby leading to a large followership.
This paper, therefore
attempts an examination of the contributions of the Living Faith Church
to National Development in Nigeria. Some of the findings indicate the
establishment of Covenant and Landmark Universities, Printing Press,
and provision of employment to Nigerians.
A global study and research on Pentecostal churches is an on-going assignment because of its impact on the religious, political and socio-economic life of the people. A survey of the available number of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria as shown that they are emerging daily in the nooks and crannies of the country. The emergence of Pentecostal churches is daily challenging the existing Mainline and Aladura Churches in national development. It has therefore become a fundamental concern for scholars of Church History, History and Sociology in Nigerian Universities to devote much time to study such churches. Essien opines that "this situation calls for continuous research of their forms, the socio-religious and economic conditions that necessitate their emergence and their relevance to the social life of their adherents and to the society at large"1. In Nigeria, some of the established Pentecostal Churches are: Church of God's Mission, founded by the late Arch-Bishop Benson A.Idahosa in Benin City, Edo state, Household of God's Church, being led by Rev. Chris Okotie in Oregun, Lagos, the Redeemed Christian Church of God founded by the late Pastor Josiah Akindayomi and presently under the leadership of Pastor Enock Adejare Adeboye with International headquarters at Mowe, Ogun state. The Deeper Life Christian Church founded by Pastor Williams Folorunso Kumuyi and based in Lagos.Rev.Gabriel Oduyemi's Bethel Ministry at Wonder City, Lekki Peninsular, Lagos, Pastor Patrick Anwuzia's Zoe Ministries, and Pastor Tunde Bakare's Latter Rain Assembly in Lagos, Rev.Tunde Joda's Christ Chapel International, Lagos and Bishop Wale Oke's Sword of the Spirit Church based in Ibadan. Others are the Victory Life Church International established by Pastor Mike Bamidele at Ilesa, Osun state, New Testament Church based in Ilorin and established by Pastor M.R.Popoola, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, founded by Pastor Daniel Kolawole Olukoya with its headquarters in Lagos, the Synagogue of All Nations, established by Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua in Lagos, Rhema Chapel, Ilorin established by Rev.George Adegboye, the Word Assembly being led by Rev Isaac Omolehin and of course the Living Faith Church (a.k.a Winners Chapel) founded by Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo. Many Nigerian scholars have researched on Pentecostal churches in the country. For instance, Deji Ayegboyin, Matthews Ojo, Michael Ogunewu, Richard Burgess, Hannah Ishola, and of course Rotimi Omotoye. Generally, Pentecostal churches are "Christians seeking deeper experience of God beyond regular church attendance. They rely on the new birth and the power of the Holy spirit".2 In other words the churches are seen emphasizing the importance of the Holy spirit in daily worship.
Our focus in this paper is the Living Faith Church and its contributions to national development in Nigeria. A major focus in the study of the church is on prosperity message which has become popularized and is affecting and influencing the teachings of other denominations in the country.
The emergence of Pentecostal Churches in Nigeria.
The emergence of Pentecostal Churches is seen as another phase in the history of Christianity in Nigeria. The first phase was introduced in the 19th century by the Mainline churches such as the Methodist, Church Missionary Society (Anglican), Baptist and Catholic. Another phase was introduced in the second decade of the 20th century by the Aladura churches such as the Cherubim and Seraphim, Christ Apostolic Church, Church of the Lord (Aladura) and the Celestial Church of Christ. The third phase was the introduction of the Pentecostal or Charismatic Churches in the 1970's in Nigeria.
Dada opines that "Neo Pentecostalism found its way into Nigeria in the mid-sixties through the activities of some American faith –healer and Televangelists like Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Coopland, John Avazini,T.L Osborne and others"3. I disagree with Dada and align myself with some other church historians like Ojo and Ogbu Kalu that Pentecostalism is not alien to the Nigerian Christians. Ojo says that "Charismatic movements in Nigeria have indigenous roots, and are sustained because of their affirmation of African cosmology of spiritual powers … the interconnections that exist between American Pentecostalism and their African counterparts do not automatically translate into corresponding historical and ideological roots because Christianity as a world religion shares certain features in common across cultures and boundaries"4.Ogbu Kalu also believes that "Nigerian Pentecostalism is not an off-shoot of Azusa Street revival … or an extension of American electronic church or a creation of televangelists. It has a certain uniqueness which could best be understood from its fit in African primal worldview … Its problems and idioms are sourced from the interior of African spirituality"5.Omotoye says elsewhere, "that the phenomenon of spirituality is not a monopoly of any race or tradition"6. Therefore, Pentecostalism is inborn in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. However, it cannot be denied that American Televangelists had access to science and technology in the propagation of the gospel message before their counterparts in Africa. As a result of this, it is believed that it was the late Arch-Bishop B.A.Idahosa that introduced televangelism to Nigeria. According to Akhilomen, "B.A.Idahosa commenced the first ever television preaching program in Nigeria … Idahosa was able to eloquently present the Christian message; teaching faith healing and financial prosperity, effecting a phenomenal growth of Pentecostalism in Nigeria"7. Arch-Bishop Idahosa, like others strongly held the view that God is rich and, as such, his worshippers must be rich. Owoeye has this to say: "Undoubtedly, he preached prosperity during crusades, radio and television programmes to such an extent that newspaper pages as well as the wall of most city streets became recipients of massive advertising patronage. Further, he prayed for poor or indigent people in anticipation of their being healed of poverty. Besides, he healed many people of physical ailments. His teaching about prosperity and other prosperity preachers' belief about prosperity today are the same."8 Therefore the prosperity teaching of Arch-Bishop Idahosa was a foundation and bedrock for Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church. In fact, Owoeye argues that "David Olaniyi Oyedepo was converted in 1969 and was ordained Bishop by the late Arch-Bishop Andrew Benson Idahosa, the founder and President of the Church of God Mission International in 1985"9. Ojo also says that "by the end of that decade, the emphasis had been popularized by David Oyedepo, whom Idahosa consecrated and enthroned in August 1988 as the Pentecostal Bishop of Northern Nigeria"10. Our investigation has shown that the claim is contestable. This is because a recent research by my PhD student, Opoola indicated that David Oyedepo was ordained by Pastor E.A. Adeboye in Ilorin on 20th September, 198311.However, it is uncontestable that Bishop David Oyedepo inherited the prosperity message from the late Arch-Bishop Idahosa.
A short profile and call of Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo into the Christian Ministry.
The founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo was born in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government of Kwara State in 1949.He had his primary and secondary education in Omu-Aran. Thereafter, he went to the Kwara State Polytechnic as a student of Architecture. He is happily married with a wife named Faith in 1982 and blessed with four children namely: David, Isaac, Love and Joy.12
The parents of Pastor David Oyedepo were Muslims and he was born into a polygamous home. However, he was converted into Christianity and eventually became a founder of a Pentecostal church.
Kuponu and Owoeye gave a brief history of the calling of David Oyedepo in their earlier works. It was on a trip to Ilesa on a visit to a friend of his. Unfortunately, he did not meet the friend at home. The option he had was to go to a hotel for accommodation. It was at that night that he heard a voice saying "The hour has come to liberate the world from all oppressions of the Devil through the preaching of the Word of Faith, and I am sending you"13. In the Holy Scriptures, Jesus Christ called His disciples at different times, even at a time one did not expect. In the Gospel of Luke 5:10, Jesus called Simon Peter, a fisherman when he was busy with his work as a fisherman. "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men". Pastor David Oyedepo returned to Ilorin as an apostle of Jesus Christ. According to Kuponu, "He started LFCW with about 48 members and within nine months of its existence, membership rose to about 128"14.He started the fellowship with a programme tagged "Liberation Hour". He eventually established the Living Faith Outreach Centre in May, 1981.Pastor Oyedepo then relocated to Kaduna. It was from Kaduna that he went to Lagos in September 1989 before he moved to Ota, Ogun state which is now regarded as Cananland and International headquarters of the church. The church has over three hundred branches in Nigeria alone. Opoola says that "the Living Faith Church in Nigeria is divided into regions with each tagged as Diocese. Each Diocese has her headquarters strategically located to enhance the co-ordination of the churches under its coverage. The Diocesan headquarters are situated in the following cities in Nigeria, viz: Kaduna, Port-Harcourt, Warri, Ibadan, Owerri, Abuja, Ilorin and Kano15. The church organizes an annual programme called "Shiloh" at the International headquarters every year in Ota in the month of December. The church building at Ota is assumed to be the biggest auditorium in Nigeria seating fifty thousand and four hundred congregation as at September 2000.
Living Faith Church and National Development
Religious impact of the Church.
Religious worship in the Mission churches, most especially at the introduction of the churches in the 19th century used to be solemn and done in a quite environment and atmosphere. Adiele captured the scene thus "every prayer or address was in the spirit of, "the Lord is in His Temple let all the earth be silent before Him" (Hab. 2:20)16.The scenario suddenly changed with the emergence of the Aladura churches in the second decade of the 20thc.The tempo increased phenomenally in the 20thcentury with the introduction of Pentecostal churches. The focus of the Living Faith church is Prosperity teaching. The concept of Prosperity has been given different nomenclature by some scholars of Religion. Adiele calls it, the "pro-world" or "pro-material"17, Sebastian Kim refers to such churches as "name and claim it" 18and Abogunrin refers to such churches as "health and wealth"19 churches. Adogame and Ayegboyin refer to some Pentecostal Churches as "security gospel"20. The concept of Prosperity teaching is that God's intention for all Christian believers is to ensure that "all is well" in all areas of life of man. Abogunrin summarizes the prosperity churches thus "If you come to Jesus he will save you, give you all you want, including good health, make you rich and successful; and free you once for all from poverty and disease"21. In the Living Faith church, the teachings of the Pastors are motivational and seen as an encouragement to the members of the church. Poverty, unemployment, sickness, lack of promotion, untimely and unpleasant death is seen unworthy for a Christian. These are seen as part of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and still being experienced in human life as a result of sin. Therefore, it is believed that such unfortunate scenes should be cast away in human society.
David Oyedepo was quoted by Dada thus:
So one of the principal consequences of sin was poverty. No wonder when God came, He made it part of His business to restore the dignity of wealth back to humanity … Man became naked immediately he fell. Now that he has entered righteousness, should he still remain naked? No he must be clothed with glory of God. That is why the Bible says. "He became poor that we, through his poverty might be made rich"22.Opoola also quoted a common saying in the Living Faith Church thus:
Success is our birthright; if you won't succeed go to another Church, when your shoe is opening its mouth (developing holes) I will tell you to go to the next church. No death is permitted here, prosperity is my heritage, and financial hardship is an insult to your identity, your location, your position, your kingdom. Marriages don't collapse here. Nobody is stagnating here; you are not a biological coincidence. We make rich here. Winners Chapel provides supernatural financial, social, spiritual, marital, academic and business take off23.
Ojo quoted Oyedepo that prosperity "is a state of well being in your spirit and body. It is the ability to use God's power to meet every need of men … In prosperity you enjoy a life of plenty and fulfillment. Prosperity is a state of being successful; it is life on a big scale"24. Elsewhere, Oyedepo wrote, Riches are God's will for you. Wealth is with God, but he has given men the power to get it … Looking at the above quotations one would think that Christianity has become a magical religion!
Abogunrin in his paper titled "Jesus pronouncements on wealth in the context of Health and Wealth Gospel in Nigeria"25 exhaustively explained the attitude of Jesus to wealth and poverty in the Gospels. He examined the following stories:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit (Matt.5:3; Luke 6:20)
2. Anxiety and care about Earthly Treasure (Matt.6:19-34; Luke 11:34-36, 12:22-31)
3. The Rich Young Ruler (Matt.19:16-31; Mark 10:17-30; Luke 18:18-30
4. Parable of the Dishonest Manager Luke 16:1-18
5. The Rich man and Lazarus Luke 16:19-31
6. The Rich Fool Luke 12:13-21
All the above cited passages are to show the concern of the Lord Jesus Christ about the poor in the society. The above teachings for a very long time were the focus of the 19th century missionaries in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. In fact many Vicars in my home church, at Christ Anglican Church, Erin Ijesa, which was established in 1897 never rode a car and lived simple life of contentment because of the understanding of the gospel in line with the above cited passages. However, with the new interpretation of the gospel in terms of wealth and health gospel many young men and women have been carted away to the Living Faith Church. The new interpretation is in line with the influence of Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin.According to Copeland "the gospel to the poor is that Jesus has come and they do not have to be poor anymore".Abogunrin gave some reasons why Kenneth Hagin believed that Jesus was not poor.26
The teaching of America
Prosperity teachers is a source of inspiration to the Nigerian Prosperity
preachers. The Living Faith Church initially started with a church in
a town or city. Today with the increasing number of members' branches
and fellowship centers are found in some big towns and cities. Young
graduates who are fluent in English language are employed to serve as
Pastors in such churches. The theology of "Prosperity" has been
a sort of hope for the young people who are looking for jobs in the
country. In meeting the spiritual need of church members the church
allows Sunday service, Midweek service, Liberation service, Impartation
service and the annual Shiloh programme to hold. According to Kuponu,"these
are directed towards manifesting its ideological position about alleviating
poverty and rescuing the masses from the clutches of the devil"27 From our investigation, these programmes are challenging the members
of the Mainline and Aladura Churches. In fact in Ilorin some
members of the Aladura churches do attend Living Faith service
at 7.00am on Sundays and other special programmes before going to their
churches at 10.00am.
In ensuring that the gospel of prosperity is made available to the members of his church, Oyedepo being a prolific writer has written quite some books on Prosperity related matters. Some of these books are:
Signs and Wonders Today,
Exploits in Ministry, Winning the War Against Poverty, Walking in Dominion,
Possessing your Possession, The Wisdom that works, Exploits of Faith,
Anointing for Exploits, Understanding The Power of Praise, Walking in
Newness of Life,Maximise Destiny, Commanding The Supernatural, Winning
Invisible Battles, Success Systems, Understanding Financial Prosperity,
Success Strategies, Understanding Your Covenant Right, Operating in
the Supernatural, Miracle meal, Exploring the Riches of Redemption,
Towards Excellence in Life and Ministry, Anointing for Breakthrough,
Releasing the Supernatural, Excellency of Wisdom, Breaking Financial
Hardship, The Release of Power, Walking in the Miraculous, Satan Get
Lost, The Winning Wisdom, Walking in Wisdom, The Healing Balm, Emergence
of the Glorious Church, Breaking the Curses of Life, Overcoming Forces
of Wickedness, You shall Not be Barren!, Exploring the Secrets of Success,
Winning Prayer, Understanding the Anointing, Fulfilling Your Days, Riding
On Prophetic Wings, Towards Mental Exploits, Making Maximum Impact,
Understanding Divine Direction, Keys to Divine Health. The Force of
Freedom and Born to Win. Other books are Showers of Blessings, Riding
on Prophetic Wings and In Pursuit of Vision. Other books regarded as
mini books are: All You Need to have All your needs Met, Operating in
the Supernatural, Ruling Your World, The Blood Triumph. Keys to Divine
Health, Conquering Controlling Powers, Put your Angels to Work, Covenant
Wealth, The Miracle Seed, Understanding Divine Direction, Miracle Meal,
The Hidden Covenants of Blessings, Overcoming Forces of Wickedness,
The Law of Faith and Understanding Vision.28The Church has
a well equipped publishing company known as Dominion publishing home.
All books written by the founder of the church are published there.
Apart from regular and
constant writing of books, David Oyedepo has a regular column in some
Nigerian daily Newspapers. For instance, he writes regularly on Sundays
in Sunday Tribune. The wife, Faith Oyedepo has a regular column in Saturday
Tribune. Her article is usually on family related issues, most especially
the stability of marriage.
Physical and Spiritual Healing
One of the features inherited
by the Pentecostal churches from the Aladura Churches is in the
aspect of divine healing. Moses Orimolade of Cherubim and Seraphim,
Ayodele Babalola of the Christ Apostolic Church, Josiah Olunowo of the
Church of the Lord and Samuel Oshoffa of the Celestial Church of Christ
all claim and demonstrated the healing power of God. This was a factor
why people in the Mainline Churches join them in their various Churches.
Another phase is being witnessed in the 21st century with the healing
power of the Pentecostal church leaders. Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo
claims to be healing sicknesses and poverty. In the various books written
by him there are many testimonies of miraculous healings from physical
sicknesses. Apart from this, he claims to have the power of healing
poverty through the application of anointing oil29. In other
words, any member of the church who is looking for a job is expected
to apply anointing oil before the interview. At the 2011 annual Shiloh
programme, many members of the Church testified to the miracles they
received from God as a result of the prayer of Bishop David Oyedepo
at the last year Shiloh programme. Some people testified that God had
healed them from deformity, blindness, cancer or even HIV/AIDS.
This method has been
an attractive method of having converts into the Ministry. It is observed
that women who are having marital problems from other religions and
denominations often join such annual and local programmes because of
testimonies they heard from people.
The Use of Media.
The Living Faith Church
like other prominent Pentecostal Churches like the Deeper Life Church,
the Redeemed Christian Church of God is adequately making good use of
the media in the promotion of its ideals. Since the International headquarters
of the Church is based in Ota, which is close to Lagos where many daily
newspapers and magazines are based, it is very easy to read about church
events and programmes in the papers. There are advertisements of in-coming
events of the church. They patronize the radios, televisions and regular
events are seen on the internet about the church. The church introduced
the use of satellite in the annual Shiloh programme about two years
ago. The members Worldwide are encouraged to stay at their various local
stations to watch the programmes. In other words, it has reduced travelling
on Nigerian roads and congestion at the International headquarters in
Ota when such programme is held. Handbills and posters of different
quality and shape are seen daily in villages and towns advertising some
programmes of the church.CDS and recorded cassettes, songs and drama
staged by the church are sold at annual conventions and local churches
at reduced prices. This is a way of promoting the name of the church
in particular and Christianity in general. Coupled with this is the
establishment of the Africa Gospel Invasion Programme(AGIP) in 1994.This
programme is to propagate the gospel and establish the Living Faith
Church in other countries in West Africa and beyond. According to Ojo
"the church's membership grew to about 10,000 in Accra and Tema
in 2003"30.He went further to say "there is a burgeoning
trade and exchange of Pentecostal products such as recorded audio and
video cassettes, home video films on religious themes, religious songs
on cassettes and CDS,devotional literature, etc.mostly produced in Nigeria
and distributed widely in the West African sub-region. These products,
found in homes, offices and bookstores, provide a continuous flow of
Nigerian Pentecostal culture into other West African countries; hence
they have become tangible resources for a new religion."31 Therefore the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria have become International
agencies promoting Christianity and the name of Nigeria abroad. Today
the church, under its Africa Gospel Invasion Programme (AGIP), has expanded
to about thirty African countries with subsequent increase in membership.
In fact the church has to purchase an aircraft, so as to facilitate
and ease transportation to other countries.
A major contribution
of the Living Faith Church to National Development in Nigeria is in
the area of Education. Western education was introduced to Nigeria by
the Christian missionaries in the 19th century. It was a
strategy adopted by the early missionaries to get converts into Christianity.
In fact, Ade Ajayi recorded that "the school was Crowther's chief
method of evangelization. He introduced the mission into new places
by getting rulers and elders interested in the idea of having a school
of their own, and usually it was to the school that he asked the senior
missionary at each station to give his chief attention"32.
In our earlier study, we highlighted some of the schools that were established
by the Mainline and Aladura Churches in Nigeria.33 In another study the schools that were established by the Pentecostal
Churches, were highlighted. The Living Faith Church went into the establishment
of schools early, unlike the Deeper Life Church that ventured into education
lately in the history of the Church. The Living Faith Church has to
its credit a conglomerate of Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Universities.
The nursery and primary schools are under the name Kingdom Heritage
while the Secondary section is named Faith Academy. These schools are
found in all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. The first University
of the Church was named Covenant University and was established in Ota
in 2002.The second University was named Landmark and was established
in Omu-Aran, the native town of Pastor David Oyedepo in 2010.The importance
of the establishment of schools has shown that that it provides employment
to a reasonable number of people, most especially the youths who are
roaming the streets of the country. The Universities as also complemented
the efforts of Federal and State Governments in providing admission
to many applicants who are seeking admission to the Universities in
Nigeria. We also believe that that the missionary orientation of the
schools would minimize cultism and moral decadence in the Nigerian Universities.
The Church provides employment
for the teeming youths, and adults alike in Nigeria through the World
Mission Agency (WMA).At least not less than two thousand people are
on the pay roll of the church alone. A major social problem in the country
is un-employment. Apart from providing jobs, scholarships are usually
provided by Pastor Oyedepo for indigent students, most especially in
the Covenant and Landmark universities. He was once quoted saying that
"All school age children, not in school, due to inability of parents,
will be fully taken care of by the church"34. The church
has demonstrated its love to the poor and destitute by providing food
and clothing on a regular basis to the people of Koma Hills in Adamawa
State. The Church also supported the Liberian victims with relief materials
during the civil war in the country in 1996.As part of social services,
the church have many business ventures at the Covenant University campus
in Ota.For example, bakery, water bottling, petrol station, restaurant
and shopping stores. Three banks have branches on the campus while the
church operates a Community and Micro-Finance bank.35
Our understanding of
Bishop David Oyedepo is that he is apolitical, however, he constantly
prays for political stability of the country. Many politicians of note
usually attend the annual Shiloh programme and he is being invited to
some national programmes for prayer for the nation.
A Critique of the Living Faith Church
A critical study of the
activities of the Living Faith Church has shown that there is a need
for an appraisal. As a Pentecostal Church founded by an individual all
decisions, powers of employment and sack resides with the founder of
the Church. The concentration of power may give room for abuse of power,
dictatorship and intolerance. Of recent some Pastors of the church were
sacked without fair hearing by the church authority. They complained
thereafter that their necessary pensions were not paid36.
The highhandedness of the founder of the church is leading to proliferation
of the church in Nigeria and beyond.
After the sack of forty-nine
members of the Academic Staff at the University of Ilorin, Ilorin in
2001, some of them were employed by the Covenant University. As a result
of the conditions operating in the University, some of them resigned
with immediate effect. The University staffs are expected to attend
Living Faith Church on Campus and are expected to pay their tithes to
the church. These conditions were strange to people coming from conventional
Universities. Students admitted to the University like other Christian
Universities are expected to attend Living Faith Church programmes,
irrespective of their denominational background and religion. This attitude
is against the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria. Section 35(ii) of the 1979 constitution says: No person attending
any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction
or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if
such instruction, ceremony or observance relating to a religion other
than his own, or a religion not approved by his parents or guardian.
We are aware that it was a strategy used by the Christian missionaries
in the 19th century. We think that by the 21st century, the methodology should by different because Nigeria is regarded
as a secular state whereby every individual should be able to practice
his or her religion without any hindrance.
The efforts of the Living
Faith Church in the area of education has been mentioned earlier, however,
Odumuyiwa, Omotoye and Bakare observed in their studies that the
tuition fees being paid in the Christian Universities are too exorbitant
and beyond the reach of the common man in the society. Odumuyiwa opines
"A situation in which churches establish private universities, charge
exorbitant fees should be replaced with technical colleges that can
be maintained within the resources of the church"37.Omotoye
also says "In many of the Private/Christian Universities, the students
pay between 200,000 – 300,000 naira every academic session"38,Bakare,
observes thus "…If these Universities are missionary endeavors they
should have a human face to the extent that pastors laboring in such
ministries should enjoy some benefits and scholarships for their children,
because they labour side by side …"39
It is necessary that
the Church should re-visit the theology of prosperity again. It is good
to be prosperous but the means and process should be without any doubt.
Many of Nigerian youths are interested in amazing wealth, any becoming
prosperous without any commensurable job. Is prosperity being preached
today not a delusion as concluded by Dada? The teaching of prosperity
has replaced the teaching of salvation in the church today! The essence
of Jesus coming and death on the cross of Calvary is about saving man
from his sin and death. This is summarized in the Gospel of Matthew
6:33 "Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom
of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with
all these other things". It seems today that people are much more
interested in the accumulation of wealth than the Kingdom of God.
The church is also placing
too much emphasis on the use of anointing oil as a means to a petition
from God. Members of the church who are seeking for jobs, going for
visa interviews, pregnant women, workers looking for promotion, women
seeking love from their husbands etc rely more on anointing oil than
on prayer and fasting. Bishop Oyedepo was once quoted to have said that
"anointing oil is not the symbol of the Holy spirit but the life of
God in a bottle"40. Pastor Tunde Bakare was quick to respond
that the position of David Oyedepo was heretical and not in agreement
with the words of God.However, Oyedepo defended his position that it
was a revelation to him from God. It is also necessary to mention that
the rate at which the members placed emphasis on the picture of the
founder of the church than that of Jesus is a concern to other Christians.
Jesus should be the focus of all, instead of putting confidence in man.
The issue of succession
in leadership is a problem in Pentecostal churches. Some of the Pentecostal
churches are run like family business. After the demise of Arch-Bishop
Benson Idahosa, his wife, Pastor Margret Idahosa became the anointed
leader of the God of Church Mission in Benin, Edo state and one of his
children became the Chancellor of Benson Idahosa University. So also,
Mrs.Nkechi llloputaife became the leader of the church after the demise
of her husband, Walter llloputaife of the Victory Christian Church41.
We are aware that the wife of Bishop David Oyedepo is already an ordained
Pastor and she is featuring in many of the programmes of the church.
It may be a way of preparing her for the future leadership of the church.
It is also necessary to note that one of his children is already leading
the church in America. Is the church a family business? Time will tell.
The Living Faith Church
like some other Pentecostal Churches like the Redeemed Christian Church,
Deeper Life Church and Christ Embassy, no doubt have contributed to
the sustainable and developmental growth of Nigeria in the rejuvenation
of the religious life of the people within and outside Nigeria. Jobs
have been provided for the youths in churches as Pastors, teachers in
schools ,drivers, clerks, messengers etc. In some cases, the headquarters
of the church has become a refuge for the hopeless and destitute in
the society. However, there is a need for the church to focus more on
Jesus Christ as the Alpha and Omega of all things. The teaching and
reliance on accumulation of wealth should be de-emphasized because it
should be an additional gift from God after accepting Jesus as the Lord
and savior. It is also necessary to mention in conclusion that education
in a missionary school should not be seen as profit oriented business
but as humanitarian service to the general public. On a final note,
the Living Faith Church has contributed significantly to national development
in Nigeria and beyond.
Notes and References
1. A. Essien, "Dynamics of New Religious Movements in Nigeria" in the Journal of Religious Studies, vol. no1 1998, Department of Religious Studies University of Uyo pp. 93-94.
2. Matthews A. Ojo, Inaugural Lecture Series 227 titled "Of Saints and Sinners: Pentecostalism and the Paradox of Social Transformation in Modern Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife p.4.
3. O. A. Dada, "Prosperity Gospel in Nigerian Context: A Medium of Social Transformation or an Impetus for Delusion?" In Orita Ibadan Journal of Religious Studies volume XXXVI/1-2 June and December 2004 p.97.
4. Matthews A. Ojo p.21
5. Ibid p. 21
6. Rotimi Williams Omotoye, "Pentecostalism and the Yoruba World View: The Case of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Nigeria" in the International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Bill Cope (eds) et al University of Illinois Urbana USA Volume 1, Number 2, 2011 p. 188.
7. Don Akhilomen, "Televangelism and the Development of the Nigerian Child" in Religion, Ethics and Regulation Development in O.A. Odey (eds) et al Published by the Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions, (NASR), Ilorin, 2007 p. 32.
8. S.A. Owoeye, "Pentecostal Churches and Prosperity in South Western Nigeria" in E.A. Odumuyiwa (eds) et al in God: The Contemporary Discussion. The Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions Ilorin: Decency Printers, 2005 p. 414.
9. S.A. Owoeye, "Solution to Poverty: Oyedepo's Prophetic and Healing Mission in Nigeria" in the Journal of Religion and African Culture (JORAI) Published by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Nigeria, Volume 1 & 2, December, 2000 p. 59.
10. Matthews A. Ojo p 43.
11. E.O. Opoola, "The Living Faith Church and Sustainable Development in Nigeria". A Ph.D 1st Seminar Paper Presented at the Department of Religions, University of Ilorin,Ilorin,on 1th August, 2010 p.5.
12. An Oral Interview with Mr. Gabriel Babafemi an Indigene of Omu-Aran at Ilorin on 20th March, 2011.
13. S.I. Kuponu, "Man, Nature and Religious Reproduction: An Interrogation of the Living Faith Church Worldwide in Chris Ukachukwu Manus (eds) et al Biblical Studies and Environmental Issues Africa, NABIS WEST Biblical studies p.263.
14. Ibid p. 264
15. E.O. Opoola p.6.
16. S. N. Adele, "The Challenges of the Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria" O.A. Odey (eds) et al. in Religion, Ethics and Population Development ,Published by the National Association for the Study of Religions, Ilorin Decency Printers, 2007 p. 140.
17. Ibid p. 141.
18. Sebantian Kim and Kirsteen Kim, Christianity as a World Religion, London: Continuum International Publishing Company, 2008 p.88.
19. S.O. Abogunrin, "Jesus' Pronouncement on Wealth in the Context of Health and Wealth Gospel in Nigeria" in S.O. Abogunrin (eds) et al, Biblical Studies and Corruption in Africa, Ibadan: Aloge Nig. Enterprises, p. 239.
20. Afe Adogame, "Dealing with Local Satanic Technology: Deliverance Rhetoric in the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries" CESNUR 2005 International Conference June 2-5, 2005, Palermo, Sicily, see also, Deji Ayegboyin… But Deliver us from and its implications for the Reverse in Mission: Orita Ibadan Journal of Religions Studies XXXVII/1 & 2 p. 37.
21. S. O. Abogunrin P. 240.
22. O.A. Dada p. 96.
23. E.O. Opoola p. 8
24. Matthews A. Ojo P. 43
25. S. O. Abogunrin pp. 248-268
27. S.I. Kuponu p. 266
28. The title of the books written by Bishop D. Oyedepo are stated in some of the books. For example see The Release of Power by D.O. Oyedepo Dominion Publishing House Lagos, 1996.
29. S.A. Owoyeye, JORAC pp66-67
30. Matthews A. Ojo p.39
32. J.F. Ade Ajayi, Christian Mission in Nigeria 1841-1891 the making of a New Elite (London: Longman 19645 p. 218.
33. Rotimi Williams Omotoye, "The Role of Christian Missionaries in the Development of Western Education in Nigeria" J.O. Abiri and A.A. Jekayinfa (eds) in Perspective on the History of Education in Nigeria, Ilorin, Bamitex Printing, 2010 pp. 72-86.
34. E.O. Opoola
36. Ibid p. 20
37. E. Ade Odumuyiwa, "Christianity, Governance and Development: A Case Study of Nigeria in the 21st Century" in R.A. Raji (eds) et al Religion, Governance and Development in the 21st century, A publication of the National Association for the study of Religions, Ilorin Decency, 2006 p. 211
38. Rotimi Omotoye, "Christianity and Educational Development, A Case Study of Christian Missionary Universities in Nigeria in the 21st Century, R.A. Raji (eds) et al in Religion, Governance and Development in the 21st Century. A Publication of the Nigerian Association for the Study of Religions, Ilorin, 2006. p.141.
39. E. O. Opoola p.16.
40 S.I. Kuponu p. 270
41. S.N Adiele p. 155.