Ola Ajayi is the daughter of Rev Esther Ajayi, founder of Love of Christ Generation Church, an arm of Cherubim and Seraphim Church.
She is a filmmaker with experience in supporting production teams in all stages of development, including pre-production, post-production, and delivery through Digital media across the United Kingdom, USA, and Africa.
She is described as a competent backstage/off-camera producer with a good knowledge of production works in live multi-camera production, documentary, and film production.
Ola Ajayi holds a Master of Art Film and Television production at College of Art and Design (SCAD) – Savannah, GA USA and Studied Bachelor of Science Television and Broadcasting University of Portsmouth.
She is the CEO of Melanoid Rich Film; an independent film production company that produces films and documentaries. Recently she produced a documentary film on the White Garment Church (C&S).
In this interview with Church Times Nigeria, she shares her experience on the documentary. Excerpts:
What informed your documentary on Cherubim and Seraphim church?
The idea of the documentary first occurred to me when I was behind the stage for Celebrate the Comforter, the annual programme organised by my mum’s church. I saw an amazing gathering of people in white garments. I was enthralled by the scene and it began to occur to me to do something on the Cherubim and Seraphim Church and about the founder. But the idea became stronger when I was in my third year at the University studying film and television production. I needed to do something different from what I used to do.
So I decided to do my final year project on the church. I shared the idea with my mother who introduced me to Chief Dele Momodu, founder of Ovation magazine. Chief Momodu gave me some contacts. He specifically called Mr. Richard Mofe Damijo and got him to hear me out on the project.
Mr. Damijo saw the prospects. But then he advised that we needed to expand the scope. He gave me some people to work with me.
So the work began in earnest. We went to Ikare the founding place of the C and S Church to make our own findings because I did not want to go by what the people have said or written about the church. I wanted the research to be organic.
So we went to Ikare and spoke with the king of Ikare and quite a number of people. We spoke with some of St. Moses Orimolade’s family members still alive. We did a lot of interviews. We went to the cathedral church where he started his ministry and got a lot of people to share experiences.
It was an impressive outing. That was what birthed the documentary. But then, I never liked to identify with the church when I was younger because of the negative views of people. And primarily because I was too young to understand some of the practices of the church.
You talked about people having negative views about the church. What kind of views are you talking about here?
People say C & S churches are dirty. They say they are fetish and they worship idols because of the way they practice their faith. People are also curious about some of the worship practices in the church like bowing down our heads in the place of worship.
They query the manifestation of the holy spirit in our midst. They ask why we burn candles, why we don’t wear shoes. Some are curious about the white garment we wear. In the course of my research, I also found out that people don’t know the difference between the white garment church and the Celestial church.
Majority of the time I find myself explaining that Celestial Church members don’t wear shoes immediately they put on the white garment. But for C and S it is only when they are in the church they don’t wear shoes. So, you find out there is a lot of misgivings about the church which needed to be addressed.
You said you distanced yourself from the church when you were in your teens?
When I was in school in the UK I was attending a catholic church because of the negative views of people about the church. But then, I found out that we have a lot of similarities with the catholic church. I later found out in the course of my research that Moses Orimolade attended a catholic church in the early years of his life.
I distanced myself from the church because I was young and I actually did not understand some of the doctrines of the church. But then the more I asked questions and interacted with other churches I had a clearer view and understanding.
How did your mum take it when you were not attending the C&S church?
My mum is not the type of person that pushes you to religion because she was a Muslim before she became a Christian. When she married my dad, my dad was going to an Anglican Church. It was when she gave birth to my brother and had some complications that she got to know the Cherubim and Seraphim church. That was where her love for the C and S Church started. She is not a fanatic. She gave me time to find God by myself.
I’m sure if I do not want to be a Christian today, she would rather pray to God to touch my heart than push and force me to remain a Christian.
By the time I decided to start attending C and S Church, it was difficult to attend the regular ones because my mum’s church has Pentecostal and Cand S elements. When I was in the US I was going to a Pentecostal Baptist church. For me, I believe I could worship anywhere as far as it is Jesus Christ that is being worshiped.
Let’s talk about the documentary. What were your findings?
I found out a lot. We did street interviews and talked with people from different denominations to get their views on the church. I also spoke strictly with Pentecostal people. Like I said earlier, many from the various interviews don’t still understand the idea of not wearing shoes by C and S members. They don’t understand the seven candles on the altars in our churches.
Ironically the founder did not start some of the practices in the church now. People along the line found a way to pollute the church. He never wore coloured clothes for instance. It was pure white he wore.
I found out he was lame throughout his life and was being carried about for his evangelical works. He was never married. I found out that he was doing revival in Ikare and God asked him to take off his shoes. That was how C&S started not wearing shoes inside the church.
I discovered that the doctrines of the church have been polluted. The name of St. Moses and the church have been dragged in the mud over the years. It will interest you to know that before he died his followers had already begun to betray him. As time went on it got worse.
It is also interesting to note that the founders of many of the churches we have today including the Redeemed Christian Church of God have a background in the church. Apostle Ayodele Babalola was said to have attended the church. The late founder of the Synagogue Church, Prophet Temitope Joshua also attended the church. He worshiped at the mountain where Moses used to pray.
Some of the people we spoke with don’t understand the idea of people going into trance in the church. They don’t understand our relationship with the holy spirit. I had to do some personal studies on the holy spirit and found out in I Corinthians 13 and 14, Paul talked a lot about it.
When I began to read my Bible I understood certain things that were hitherto obscure.
A lot of myths surround the birth of St. Orimolade. He was said to have walked almost immediately after he was born but the midwife had to force him to sit. How authentic is this from your findings?
There are some things I don’t understand yet. I went to Ikare and everyone I spoke to had the same story about his birth. I went to the place he was born. I went to the place of his mother which is also at Ikare and spoke with people there. They told us the same story.
Let me say that I have my reservations about the story of his birth. I don’t believe it 100 percent. But then we can’t rule out some of these things because the forces of darkness are real and God is real in His manifestations. We don’t fight against flesh and blood.
Maybe God wanted to make the people see something different. All the people I spoke with said the same thing that he walked immediately. They recalled the name of the nurse called Yemisi. who of course is no longer alive. In those days, God may want to prove a point because the people were highly idolatrous.
How long did the documentary take you?
It took us two years. I started in 2019 and it was concluded in 2021. When I submitted the idea to my professor he first rejected it. I worked on it and re-submitted and it was accepted. I did about a 60-page proposal.
He later found it extremely interesting. By the end of the documentary, I submitted an abridged version to my professor which is just about 15 minutes but there is a more inclusive one which is about1hour. That is one for the public
You probably have seen some other documentaries on him?
Yes. I saw one that was done on him. But I needed to take it further from what has been done. I read a lot of books on him too, probably lost count of the books I read on him.
The church has many sects. How did you manage that while working on the documentary film?
You are correct. The sects are too diverse. The documentary is one hour five minutes. We had about 16 tracks. There are a lot of dimensions to the church if I was not careful I would not have been able to achieve the primary purpose of documenting the story of the church and the founder.
We found out how St. Moses laid a curse before he died. He said his followers will always be divided and not come together. But because I did not want to base the documentary on the divisions I did not dwell much on that. I based the documentary on the founder, his birth, and his activities when he was alive.
To talk about St. Moses would mean producing a movie of about 72 hours film if not more. There is an aspect of him not getting married. There is an aspect of the various miracles he performed at Ikare and all over the country. If I focused on the miracles, it will take me far. There is also the aspect of his journey in Lagos. There is the aspect of the miracle he performed with the queen of England and many other perspectives. And then, you come to the aspects of the many sects like the Agbo Jesu, Ayo ni o, Eternal Sacred Order, and many others I can’t mention now. They are too diverse.
There is a story about his mysterious transition. What were your findings in this regard?
He died in his room at Ojokoro according to our findings. But then, we were told stories about how he would stay in his room and at the same time appear in several parts of the country performing miracles. No one knew how he was doing that.
There was also the story of how he told his mum he wanted to cook for all those who came for a miracle service in Ikare. The mother was wondering how that would happen. But he told her not to worry. Before long, people were bringing gifts to him and food items. That was how all the people who came for the miracle service were fed.
One of the things I discovered in the course of doing this documentary is that we have a poor means of documentation in the country. The only thing people were pointing at were vestiges of his activities. Some of the evidence have have been decimated to a ridiculous level.
The yardstick I used is to have an aggregate of views. If I interview 10 people and they have the same story then I take it to be true.
So can you really vouch for the documentary in terms of its veracity and authenticity?
Yes. One of the first things I did is not to involve C and S members in the team that worked with me. I was the only C&S member on the team. My narrator, Mr. Mofe Damijo saw the film in its raw form before he agreed to do the voice-over. I am sure he must have been fascinated by the way the documentary was put together.
But what is your own position on the miracles? Do you believe them from your findings?
Let’s even forget about people back then. I can count a number of miracles that God has done through my mum. I see a lot of people come to her for prayers and the Lord performed wonders in their lives. Many come to the C and S church because of the prophetic gift in the church. People want to know about their future. They get to know that in the C and S.
Back in the days, some said St. Moses Orimolade performed a lot of miracles which their grandparents testified about. They testified how God used him to deliver them from bondage. I guess we Nigerians are so crazy about faith because our parents have seen some fetish scary things and they saw how Jesus glorified himself in their midst. They knew Jesus from a different perspective from the white man.
Nigerians can pray and believe God for healing because they have seen instances of God’s intervention. I have seen it in my own life too. For instance, we were once homeless and God turned things around. I have seen God’s intervention in my life and other people’s lives.
What would you say the documentary has done to you as a person?
It has changed my perspective. But then there are still some things I still find incredible. The idea that Moses Orimolade began to walk almost immediately after birth is still strange to me.
Jesus was born normally and he grew normally. I still don’t understand the idea that he walked the day he was born. I also don’t understand the idea that he was in the room and yet going around performing miracles. But people say he did it. These are things that cant be authenticated. But then, there is nothing impossible for God to do. That we do not believe it does not mean it did not happen.
It seems St. Moses Orimolade has attained the level of a deity among the C and S people. They can’t do without mentioning him in their prayers?
I don’t think so. But then I can only speak for myself. When people pray, saying, Olorun Moses, for me that does not mean he is being idolised. They are only referring to his God which we all believe is Jesus. I believe in the Bible I don’t encourage anyone to worship him.
At the end of the film project, what did you come out with, in specific terms?
It is hard to take St. Moses Orimolade away from the C and S church. I believe God used him in miraculous ways to deliver people from strong spiritual bondage. But I think because people abuse the power of the holy spirit that is why the church is what it is today.
St. Orimolade was a man of God and nothing can change my mind about that. But the only problem he had was the lack of education. That was a great detriment to his ministry. If he was educated the church would have been better off. The reason why the RCCG seems to be doing well is that the founder of the church handed over to an educated man in the person of Pastor Enoch Adeboye who has been able to turn things around.
But the tide is changing in the C and S church. My mum’s church and many other branches of the church are changing the narrative.
I think the Yoruba culture which does not allow an elder to be queried even when the elder is wrong is also our undoing. There is also this culture of silence. Nobody wants to rock the boat. But then, I believe an educated mind will not see anything wrong in correcting an elderly person in a respectful way.
Those who took over the leadership of the church arrogate too much to themselves. They do not want the young to grow. It is only in the church we see people who are over 60 still claiming to be youth leaders.
There was evidently no clear secession plan in the church?
Yes. After the founder died people started scrambling for positions. Ironically, the church has one of the biggest followings in the world. The church is massive. You can’t even count the number of branches in the UK not to talk of Nigeria.
So what will be your recommendations going by your findings?
Let me say I did not just interview people for the documentary. I deliberately interviewed people I never met and who never met me so we can have some authentic feedback. I did not interview anybody from my mum’s church too so their views will not be patronising.
I wanted interviewees to voice their opinion without being intimidated and I was ready to get the backlash. I am not scared of curses because I have read my Bible and I believe God is able to keep His own.
One thing they told me is the need to caution movie producers who use pastors in white garments to portray bad pastors in their movies. They also expressed a lot of disappointment in the church concerning the division.
It will interest you to know that I never knew a sect called Agbo Jesus was in the church until about 7 years ago. I used to think we were one. I discovered Agbo Jesu Ayo ni O. and all kinds. I went to a village, in Oyo state and the whole village people belong to the Agbo Jesu sect. Even in Ikare where the founder was born, there are all kinds of sects. Members are really not happy with the division. That is one key area the church must work on and I think that is presently being done with the efforts at unifying all the sects.