If you don’t know Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere of Omega Power Ministry, Port Harcourt, Nigeria, then you probably have not been following the news. He is the quintessential apostle of welfare.
He is not your conventional general overseer. No airs around him. He perhaps does not belong to the first 10 pastors in the Pentecostal circle. Yet, he has been at the vanguard of an unprecedented welfare programme in the country.
Even at that his voice still seems subdued. The average church person don’t know him. Since the inception of the church in 2006 Apostle Chinyere has demonstrated that material wealth is not what any man should hoard to himself.
He has taken advantage of his leadership position to extend love and impact lives. While many of the leading churches don’t make welfare of members a priority, Chibuzor Chinyere has made it a priority.
The care of indigent folks in his church and even those outside his church are his concern. He chose to be different. He is often heard saying the tithe and offering are for the people
Some may see him as a show man. But this man has only shamed leaders who worship mammon. He has demonstrated over the years that the church should truly live according to its billing as a charity organization.
Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu
Ironically, not only members of his church benefit from his large heart.
Recently, Deborah Emmanuel Yakubu was hounded down in Sokoto by blood thirsty religious zealots for alleged blasphemy. Many condemned the act asking for justice. But Apostle Chibuzor would rather lend a helping hand to the poor family of Deborah.
He had read where the father of Deborah said he sold everything to send his daughter to school and now she has been killed. The immediate reaction of the Port Harcourt based Apostle was to offer to give scholarship to the siblings of late Deborah and give accommodation to her parents.
On Tuesday May 24, Apostle Chinyere made good his promise. A viral video shows how he handed over the keys of a mini-estate to the family of Deborah. It is an estate of 14 flats. Deborah’s father has become an overnight landlord. He will be collecting rents from the flats and use it to live.
That is charity at its zenith. The family of the late Deborah worships at the Evangelical Church Winning All. But this man has extended love to the family. He has shown that love is action not words.
But then, from available records, Apostle Chinyere is not just grandstanding. As noted earlier, he has been heavy on welfare programme for years. He has many schools that are run for free. He has hospitals where patients don’t pay bills. The Omega Power Ministry also has technical schools where people learn various trades. The church has a soup kitchen where people are fed free; all in Port Harcourt.
The state of welfare system in churches
The welfare programme of OPM is unprecedented. Apostle Chibuzor has only shown the possibilities in the Church .
Unfortunately over the years many of our leading pastors have made it look as if its difficult for the church to embark on such project. Schools in many of these churches are simply not affordable. Pastors in these churches can’t even send their children to these schools
Yet, those schools were built with the tithe and offerings of the people. Beyond the high fee paying schools, Many of the local churches attached to these big churches are being stifled. The branch pastors are put under undue pressure to raise funds and send to centre.
It is so bad that by the time some of the local churches are through with remitting money, they are left with nothing to run the church. They still fall back on hapless members to carry out welfare programmes.
Some of the local churches can’t afford to support events as little as naming ceremonies of members. Some chapters of the big churches are so impoverished that they can’t help members with genuine needs. The headquarter churches have turned their branches to ATM centers. They are only interested in the money coming from the branches and nothing more.
And you ask where this money goes, they tell you it’s evangelism. Pray, who should be funded for evangelism if not the local churches? The irony is that many of the pastors have bought into the narrative and they see nothing wrong because they are also bidding for their time.
They believe one day they too will be sectional heads. And somehow, they will be entitled to the largess of those who are in that office.
The Big Churches also heavy on charity but…
But this is not to say the big churches are not doing anything. There are myriad of charity programmes being carried out by them which really don’t get mentioned in the media space. The problem is some of their social interventions are too elitist. Some are not addressing the critical needs of the people.
While many churches are perceived to have failed on welfare, it is important to state that it is not failure in that sense. The problem with some of the well established churches is administrative bottlenecks.
They set out to impact lives, but some folks in the chain of the programmes are busy frustrating their plans. There have been cases where church funds are diverted to personal use by some members. This is all a consequence of too much money at the centre.
The church can make more impact
There is no doubt however that the church can make more impact. Today’s church can become the church of the Acts of Apostles where nobody lacked.
The beauty of what Apostle Chinyere does is that his good works are coming back to him. This is because the thousands of people that he has empowered are coming back to bless the church and the resources of the church is being multiplied. So the church is able to do more.
Unfortunately many of the top churches are not seen to be empowering their members. Rather their foot soldiers are busy destroying members businesses. On their convention days some of these churches can’t even afford to give free space for members to sell their goods.
A sister once told this writer she was asked to pay a sum of N50k as rent for a small space to sell snacks during her church’s convention. The programme only holds for three days or thereabout. Is this not sickening? Who is really behind all these atrocious levies?
And yet, we raise our voices condemning government for misrule. Why won’t government misbehave when they know that the church is doing the same thing they are being accused of.
What will it cost the big churches to have housing estates of which people can rent at a reasonable price? Let’s agree that it’s pretty expensive to run tertiary schools. Why can’t churches make their primary schools free? Why can’t we just make something free for the people.
Apostle Chibuzor, Oba Abolarin
Apostle Chibuzor has demonstrated that it is possible. The king of Oke-Ila in Osun State, Nigeria, Oba Adedokun Omoniyi Abolarin, has also since towed this line. He built a free school for students in Osun State. He also teaches in the school.
So the big churches really don’t have excuse. They should take cue from these people and have a rethink. Is it not pathetic that some churches throw out widows from their accommodation after their husbands’ death? No sympathy.
If a church carries offering bags around at every given service, why is it difficult to render basic assistance to people within the system? It is true there are members who take advantage of these gestures, but even at that, the church should be seen to be doing something to empower its members. The big churches can afford to sponsor business ideas of members they know are viable and help them to grow.
The truth is that no good deed is lost. The more the churches are a blessing to their members the more money that will come to them. Though some will not care, but there are many others that will love to give back to the system.
But then, it is pertinent to state that the works of charity are in themselves a fallout of our lifestyle as believers. They may attract people to the Lord and they may not. The Christian has a responsibility to make the gospel message clear to all who care to listen. While we continue to show love to people we must make those who want Jesus, the bread of life our priority.
By Gbenga Osinaike
1. My beloved brother Gbenga Osinaike, I commend your courage in head-on confrontations of topic issues that the body of Christ, especially on the African terrain needs to ponder on. For this episode, do not tell me you have paid spies in many of our denominations who give you feedback. I observe people hardly comment on your perspectives on this platform. Could it be that brethren want to be political correct? I told you before of a high up pastor who on your platform addressed an issue like this extensively but still kept a safe distance in other not to be like or resemble Jesus as in Matthew 23:4, 24-28.
2. Indeed materialism had been bloated disproportionately in today’s Christianity. It’s not as if I’m an advocate of poverty, but I observe that there are some emphasis on modesty and moderation in the Holy Scriptures. Anything extreme is never a healthy position for living. That’s why bible adjudged against gluttony. One can even “drown” himself if he drinks too much water or wine. The Lord wasn’t rich, neither were the apostles but they didn’t live in abject poverty. At least some faithful women met their NEEDS [Mark 15:40-41-NIV], not necessarily their wants, not their large insatiable appetites. Invariably the promise to support believers is specifically in the areas of needs or necessities (Phillipians 4:19). And of course, a need can often run into millions and still be a necessity without being a want.
3. Even though the bible, especially through James, didn’t say palatable things about the oppressive rich, the bible only mentioned that the poor will be in our midst always not actually that there should be massive, across the board poverty in the body of Christ. Otherwise who would take care of the needy that the bible encourages to be supported. That’s why I prefer to be like Agur, not poor, not rich!
4. We can easily misunderstand our Lord when He declared as part of His asset, “no where to lay His head”- no mansions in Asokoro, Banana Island, Lekki Peninsula, and such like of those days. In fact our Lord was more at home in Plantain Mainland than in Banana Island. If he had deliberately declared great assets to motivate people, as motivational speakers do, it would have been a false declaration that EFCC of Israel would have been after Him. But I have a feeling that having “nowhere to lay His head” must have been a parabolic literary expression because at least he was laying his head somewhere overnight even if it was in Peter’s boy’s quarters.
5. If He could have access to the upper room for a meeting, He would definitely not have been deprived of decent rooms to sleep overnight. But NLT gives an insight as to what the Lord was passing across, “….Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have NO HOME OF MY OWN…..”-Luke 9:58. But one thing was certain, the most expensive vehicle the Lord rode on was a donkey and He did not request for chariots from Herod or Caiaphas. Neither did he announce at the gathering of 5,000 men in the wilderness (probably up to 20,000 if women and children are considered) that seeds be sown to acquire him a chariot, the SUV equivalent of those days.
6. To whoever left houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for His sake, the Lord promised a hundredfold. He meant there will a hundred brethren, etc and homes to give them fellowship and a place to lay their heads. But the Lord did not mention leaving one’s wife to receive a hundred wives because He doesn’t expect us to divorce our wives to follow Him with a promise of a polygamous lifestyle.
7. Even 1 Timothy 6:8, does not necessarily imply that believers should only aspire for food and raiment (clothing). However, hardly can one see people without clothes on even if they are unemployed or underemployed. Greek words, as in this case, sometimes have multiple possible meaning. In NET, it is “food and shelter”, meaning that one will not go to perdition if he builds or rents a bungalow. That’s why in some bible versions, we see thought-provoking translations such “born from above” in place of “born again”; the earth “became” formless and void instead of “was” formless and void. Things are in tandem if we can only realize that the creation in Genesis 1: 2b of about 6,200 years ago was a re-creation of the original one that was judged after the rebellion of Satan and a third of the angels billions of years ago. I addressed this extensively on Facebook about 3 years ago.
8. Now, unfortunately, many of us are forever stifled from preaching on Matthew 6: 19-21, Luke 16:13 and such-like. Incidentally, these scriptures are in red letters from the mouth of the Master, Teacher, Instructor Himself! Within the bible, the most affluent people were not the Peter’s, Paul’s, John’s but the Theophilus’, Dorcas’, Cornelius’, Sergius Paulus’, Lydia’s, Jason’s, Mnason’s, Philemon’s, all were young believers not leaders. Those who were leaders gave me a jolt: Peter, James, John forsook their fishing trawlers, Matthew terminated his own appointment as Commercial/Revenue Manager of the Federal Inland Revenue of Israel, Barnabas gave up his landed properties, Paul called his ‘droves’ that were formerly gain to him a new name -dung, garbage. To mean business with the Lord, the Medical Director of St. Luke’s Specialist Hospital shut it down, His Excellency Theophilus separated himself from his Governorship or Ambassadorship.
9. It is only in the 21st Century, in Africa in particular that people in leadership of Christian Ministries live quality of lives that may be a hundred or a thousand times what it would been within their academic and other potentials if they had kept to their original professions- medical, engineering, architecture, legal practice, etc. In the beginning, as our Lord used to say, it was not so. In fact, automatic reverse were the vogue.There are people in leadership who are still in tandem with Christ’s and the apostolic pattern but very neglible. I recall Count Ludwig Nicolaus Von Zinzendorf who gave up his legal practice and extensively vast estate to coordinate the Moravian Brethren, a missionary body.
10. Today young dropouts are eyeing the ministry because of what they see around them. John Wesley will never cease to amaze me. At the onset of his ministry, he was ploughing back 50% of his income to the needy and kingdom purposes. Later in life till his last breath at 88, he increased the giveout to 95.2% monthly. Hear his words to his Methodist congregation, “If I leave behind me £10, you and all mankind bear witness against me that I lived and died a thief and a robber.”
11. I got to know of Omega Power Ministry, a.k.a. O.P.M. about a decade ago just by its name. I learnt that the overseer often say that there is money in the Church and I wonder how many branches the ministry has, to be able to make such bold remark. People used to call O.P.M. as Other People’s Money. So I was under the impression that the gentleman was lavishing other people’s money on himself. It was recently I learnt that he was using other people’s money to take care of other people. Well, granted that salvation is not by works, but Elder James reminds us that “Someone will say, ” ‘You have faith, I have deeds’. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds”- 2:18. Coming from an inspired Elder, our Lord’s half-brother, a practical slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ [ James 1:1], one who took over the overseership of the early church when Peter was displaced due to an infringement [ Galatians 2: 9, 11ff ], we’ll do well to hearken unto him.
12. Some may also feel the man was probably showing off but there is no way one can practice what he’s doing in the scope and dimensions of his in these days of social media without getting publicity. Even when our Lord healed or performed other miracles in His days when He would charge them not to make it known, the beneficiaries of His compassion were the ones who would still go ahead to publicize them. Besides I learnt the Overseer is a very humble person with no airs around him. Otherwise by virtue of the superlative welfarism stance of his ministry, he would have gone into extensive publicity to advertise himself.
13. To lend support to what he’s doing, please let me share with us about the greatest man of faith since Adam, outside the Bible characters–George Mueller. Apart from preaching throughout the continents till age 92, he built orphanages where he nurtured 10,013 orphans. Mueller wasn’t advertising himself or his ministry, but such wonderful works, like smoke, must leak out. The additional peculiarity of Mueller’s ministry was that He made up his mind from the beginning NEVER to seek for financial support from any human being directly but that he would touch God for Him to move men. In spite of spending over million dollars on the orphans and the orphanages, when he died, less than five dollars were found with him and nothing else stashed away in “Switzerland” or an underground vault or invested in properties in his or family’s name. He seemed to have replicated Charles H. Spurgeon’s saying that the Old Testament was a covenant of prosperity and the New Testament is a covenant of Adversity [ Acts 14: 22; 2 Corinthians 11: 22-33 ]. Adam, where art thou?