We run a church blog here, yeah? Anyone who has read this blog knows that we are fully engaged especially on Protestant matters, with special experience in Pentecostal Christianity, with more than 50 years post born-again experience between us.
Yet only one of us had heard about Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Fire Ministries before last week.
Before he suddenly seized on the Fulani Herdsmen issue, not long after he began to hold crusades in the Ekiti state run by the noisy Deeper Life-going Governor Ayo Fayose. And, of course, as he began to gain national currency with the issue, it was only a matter of time before he jumped the shark – and called for people to commit murder.
And now everyone knows him – that a man who identifies as an apostle of Christ advocates murder, or at least manslaughter, lies about it when there is an uproar and goes ahead to threaten the country with mayhem if the law takes its course.
His church is 12 years old next month, with branches according to him in 40 countries. We know there are branches outside Nigeria, and one or two in America. The church itself is headquartered on the Expressway in Auchi, Edo State.
There is a trend. And the trend is that Suleiman has been hugging the spotlight for at least one year. Last year he began to criticize President Muhammadu Buhari studiously. Then he “released” 50 prophecies. Then he made a loud noise of suspending a pastor for investing church money in the MMM scheme.
He has finally arrived.
There is another trend. There are two people for whom scandal is not necessarily a bad thing in Nigeria – politicians and pastors. If anything, it fuels their myth – and ultimately their ministries.
Tunde Bakare became a full-fledged national sensation after he predicted Olusegun Obasanjo’s death, and his prophecy failed. We moved on quickly from that. He became the nation’s conscience from the clergy.
Chris Oyakhilome earned the spite of his pastor-brethren and the suspicion of the larger faithful after he paid that controversial visit to Prophet TB Joshua in 2013. This followed a multi-month running battle with Kris Okotie. And mixed with the onslaught by the National Broadcasting Commission on its miracle programming, it successfully undermined the Pastor’s mainstream credibility. But for his core mission – Christ Embassy? It only blew up. Immediately after, and since, the church began and has sustained a rapid explosion across Africa, and then the world.
What about Biodun Fatoyinbo? His “robust response” is still pending for allegations of adultery leveled by Ese Peters. But what happened immediately after that low point? He became a national, mainstream sensation. His church’s social capital has only expanded. He has hosted everyone from the leader of the global healing ministry, Benny Hinn to the minister of petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu. His branch in Lagos has become the go-to for the millennial set passionate about God, and he is opening a Dubai branch this month.
The list is plenty. Bishop David Oyedepo and the multiple Covenant University (faux) scandals, TB Joshua and the drama that only makes him stronger.
This is not a moral assessment one way or the other. It is just a statement of fact.
There are many who expect that Apostle Suleiman will crumble under the weight of deserved opprobrium that Christendom and the Internet have heaped upon him in the past few days.
They will be proven wrong.
In Nigeria, fortune favours the bombastic.
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