Church Crawler: Christ Embassy


‘Demola Adesina

Debonair.  Suave.  Sophistication.  No single word can entirely capture the aura that traditionally surrounds the Christ Embassy brand.

For the past few years, the church and its leader, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, have been the subject of constant controversy – the kind of scandals that keep the soft-sell industry a lucrative one.  First was the battle of the ‘Chrises’, where Pastor Kris Okotie challenged Chris Oyakhilome’s anointing and association with controversial Prophet T.B. Joshua. Then came the issue of the authenticity of his miracles, which allegedly led to the NBC ban on ‘unsubstantiated miracles’. In the midst of these, rumours of the collapse of Pastor Chris’ marriage still managed to escape. In recent years, we’ve heard of his growing business empire and the alleged maltreatment of his workers.

Expectedly, these stories die down in a way that suggests that they were inauthentic anyway, and through it all, the man and the church he leads continue to handle the rumours with an amazing maturity. For this, I deeply respect Pastor Chris.

When I visited Christ Embassy, K & G Centre, Oregun Ikeja, my aim was to experience that ‘Christ Embassy spirit’ firsthand. As I walked towards the auditorium, I was spotted out as a first timer by a man who I suspect to be a psychic. He immediately got my fake phone number, and we agreed to meet after the meeting so he would guide me through joining PCU as my cell coordinator. I don’t remember asking for one though.

As I took my seat I immediately recognised the auditorium from the TV episodes. Expectedly it didn’t look as out of the world as on television, probably because I was experiencing it in real time. However, the stage exhumed a classy theme and was indescribably lighted. The church’s audiovisual equipment was first-rate – enough to make any commercial videographer envious. I was more interested in the ladies who handled them. They ensured that my mouth intermittently remained ajar during the course of the service. The time was 7:40am – ten minutes later than the advertised opening time – and I could not help but notice how empty the hall was. As people trooped in leisurely over an hour later, I thought to myself how a lesson on punctuality was badly needed here.

The service started with a worship session which was followed by an ‘Enter the Healing School’ session. Here a testimony from the healing school was displayed over the projector with the aim of helping the congregation to build up their faith in God. The themes of prosperity and health in body continually permeated all the parts of the service.

Much time was spent preparing for the Reach Out Nigeria Campaign, Christ Embassy’s yearly campaign to celebrate Nigeria’s independence through religious and social impartation. The former is achieved by distributing Rhapsody of Realities, and the latter is done through the donation of amenities to social institutions. I could not stop my mind from estimating how many billions of naira would be committed yearly to the Reach Out Nigeria Campaign. I was taken aback by the fact that though the money could have been committed to the purchase of a Gulfstream IV for Pastor Chris, it was being used for the benefit the Nigerian cause.

When the service was over, and I took a walk to the snack stand. I guzzled a bottle of soda while trying to hide from the psychic and his PCU meeting. All in all, it was fun to have a practical experience of this much talked about church. You should try it someday. There’s much more to it than the television shows.

P.S

I must say that I noticed the comments on the St. Dominic Issue and I find them quite interesting. Just to be sure, I do not intend to ‘caricature’ or ‘ridicule’ any place of worship. In actual fact, these reports could be more of an appraisal of the ‘softer’ religions.

And the point? Interacting with other churches helps us to understand other people’s beliefs and faiths, thereby breeding tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Removing the close-minded outlook of contemporary religions helps breed the much sought after religious peace – this is a step in that direction.

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Comments (15)

  1. The good summary helped me a lot! Saved your blog, extremely interesting topics everywhere that I read here! I appreciate the information, thanks.

  2. And here you have it Anon!

  3. @Demola: Well written article as always. As a Lagos JJC like me looking for a place to worship, your "church hopping" is saving me the trouble…Keep it up;)

    @Evbu and 'Dare: Stop taking yourselves so seriously…You're making us, Christians, look totally humourless…These articles are objective, respectful and insightful, so y'all need to get a grip!

  4. Demola u have to stop crawling and start walking,maybe u won't get on the nerves of religious extremist,

  5. @Jummy, i think i should make ridiculous and long comments so you can have time to reply to my ranting to and you can call me 'sweetheart'……………………..

  6. O sweetheart it is. When you claim to defend christiaity, you must defend it with the bioble., Anything else is uniformed and unbiblical. The bible says it is only "all screipture" that is "profitable for reproof" sir.

  7. Mr. Dare, can yuou support any of this rambling with verses from the scripture???

    1. Jummy, I was not rambling. Just saying the truth, and yes there's scriptural backing for what I said. But this is hardly the place for making bible quotations.

  8. I seriously think Nigerians are too blinded to reason when it comes to religious issues and that's why we buy ALL that's sold to us in this regard. Religious issues are sensitive, yet they should be open to discussion. I look forward to reading another beautiful piece next week and who knows I just like Olar might be inspired to go to one of the churches you write about. I find this a very positive and laudable idea.

  9. Lol @ olar and the jerry curl.n evbu, I do not think he made a mockery of anyones religion.a word for u demola,jus dnt get lost while crawling.nice pieces so far!looking forward to the next one..

  10. So you think being a "church crawler" is an interesting occupation? I understand you are just trying to show things as they really are and I can see your article is written in an objective way. But I would love to advise you, hopping from church to church in this manner, for this purpose is not proper. If you are a Christian, it is not your business what goes on in another church, just remain in your own church and focus on being useful there. It is not in your place to say that a church needs lesson on punctuality – no matter how true it appears – or any other thing. It is God that builds a church, He is the one they are responsible to for any action. What goes on in a church is serious business affecting the lives of millions. If your article influences someone negatively, you have God to answer to in this world (and in the world to come), and believe me, the consequences of such actions are very grave. Find something wholesome to write about, this is too high for you.

  11. Naija and religion sha. We can fit not to think!

  12. Evbu, you are not particularly smart are you? Did you actually read the piece? I found it quite enlightening. It almost makes me want to make a service (as soon as I can get over the jerry curl!)

  13. Am disgusted by not just your article but by the colunm as a whole. If this is creativity or the lack of it am still yet to find out. Your aim is to do what sensitize us on the empitness of churches or make a mockery of peoples faith and beliefs , whould you do a mosque crawler? Am a young person and there are so many
    Ills and vices you could have picked as a subject , not religion Adebola and Chude you should know better . We will answer to God for idle words spoken and this is one of them . You may think its ok but people who don't know God can never be encouraged and that means one more person goes to HELL. When I saw the Y mag I expected
    It to be like a teething baby and of course mistakes but this is unforgivable. If you guys want to be an instrument of change this is not how u start

  14. Wow. I am proud of you guys for not talking down on a church!

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail