Dr. Abayomi Ilori, Superior Evangelist, Prophet and Shepherd in charge of Celestial Church of Christ, Ilupeju Parish One who is also the general secretary of the Central Working Committee overseeing the 70th Anniversary of Celestial Church of Christ reveals the four agenda items the committee rests on and responded to other issues bothering around the 70th Anniversary in this exclusive interview with Omowale Dauda of Covenant Echoes. Excerpt below:
Sir, who and when was this committee inaugurated?
Reverend Pastor Emmanuel Mobiyina Oshoffa appointed 70 members and inaugurated the committed on January 21st, 2017 at National Headquarters, Makoko in the presence of Celestians all over the world present to oversee the planning and operations of 70th Anniversary all over the world.
What are the charges that was given to the committee?
The charges are cogent ones. One, to oversee the cathedral at Imeko that has been left for years unattended to. To give it a facelift especially in the area of roofing. Two, to look at such project that would benefit the host community and Celestial at large. Three, to plan out such programs that will ventilate the mandate of this church. That will present to the world the core mandate of the church which is winning souls for Christ. That will impact on the people and the nation. And not only on the people and their area of domicile. That is why we have outlined programs, we started from Port Novo and thereafter, Tafa Balewa Square (TBS). We mandated all dioceses across the world to replicate what we did at TBS on 7-7-2017. (cuts in)
Was the replication achieved?
Yes, it was really achieved. In fact, that day there was appearance of the rainbow, which was a testimony of to the presence of God.
The rainbow appeared here in Nigeria, did it appeared in any other part of the world on the said day?
We won’t be too sure, it was a rainbow that appeared here, which is the world headquarters and it is a testimony that God is still with this church. That day is unique; one, it has a unique number – the divine number of seven (7), two, it is the seventh month and three, it coincided with the Annual Holy Mary Service that we observe every first Friday in the month of July. God really moved through the people.
Sir, concerning the charge to the committee (cuts in)?
Let me give the fourth, which is to basically harmonize the human potentials, to de-fractionalize the church. To bring about every fraction to unify the church. To that end, letters were sent out to people under different leadership that we may use the platform of the anniversary to reconcile our differences.
Would you say this was achieved?
Not really, because some of them decline the invitation for reasons best known to them. We have a cross section of them. We have Abuja Central, which controls the whole of the northern parishes and whatever is impacted, achieved at Abuja Central is deemed to be achieved in the whole of the north. If Ikeja 2, Horeb Cathedral is participating too, it shows we are coming together gradually.
Is it that they only participated in the anniversary or they are coming under the leadership of Pastor Emmanuel?
I think it starts by participating. If there is no forum to bring people together, you can’t reason together. To some extent, we have been seeing things differently as if we have uncommon goal. We have been working differently and things are not going on well with this church. The church have a common mandate which is to go and win souls. As off-shoots of Papa Oshoffa, we all have allegiance to a common tradition, which has not been altered. Therefore, we should have a common ground to factor a way out. Every organization do experience their period of gestations – a period of crisis. Catholic, Anglican and others too have and probably are still experiencing theirs. It is nothing new that we are have some skirmishes or differences. What is important is to have a platform to bring everybody together to harmonize their differences.
Now, what are the challenges you are encountering as you plan and execute your plans?
Quite a lot of challenges. Number one is trying to let the people know the intention of this anniversary committee as commissioned by Rev. Mobiyina Oshoffa. Another is trying to bring the people together and not only that, getting some form of commitment from the them such as moral, spiritual and commitment that has to effect the achievement of this exercise. The mandate is very tasking and you know people will want to advance their own argument and intention. You cannot rule out the human tendencies, we are people of diverse orientation and bringing them together to achieve a common purpose is not easy. And you know, these are chieftains in their respective field, convincing them to plan and execute the anniversary is really tasking – financially and spiritually. You will have powers and forces in high places rising up against the success of this programme more so when you want to bring unity to the church. Because if the church is united, Satan will be destroyed. If the church is united, they will cry with one voice and God will intervene and we will be sending Satan out of business.
Permit me to ask here sir, how much of support do you have from the authority of the church?
For now, we have no financial support, we have only been having spiritual and moral supports. We do know that with time before we get to the climax of the events, it is not unlikely that they will still give us some.
What about individuals and parishes?
Yes, they have been responding but not as much as we expected. We have a levy of one thousand naira (N1,000) per member. There are parishes that have been responding and we are going to document every money paid. We expect that if one thousand naira is paid per parishioner across the world, we should be having a substantial amount. We are trying to intensify effort towards revenue drive. We have been mobilizing people to parishes and there are promises. We have list of those who are paying and we are going to make a book out of the list.
What are the successes of the past and the forthcoming programs outlined for the anniversary?
It has been wonderful. We started from Benin Republic in May and it was a success. In July we had a major program at TBS – it a two in one program; Annual Holy Mary Service and prayer for the nation and it was well attended. Like I said, it was so symbolic as we had the appearance of the rainbow. We felt the impact of God. The emergence of that rainbow is a testament and a confirmation of the acceptance of that program.
We will be having other major programs in September; the 5th of September, we will be having symposium on the church with the theme – The Emerging Century: The Challenges of the Church. We will be having a lead paper and other discussants. The ‘B’ part of this is ‘The Role of CCC’. The secretary of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State Chapter is one of the resource persons. It will hold at Makoko. Another like it is the National Crusade holding at the National Stadium on the 8. By 9th, there will be Women’s Program. 15th is for the youth and 22nd is the Luli Concert with the theme: A Night of A Thousand Praise where we will have a mass choir of 1000 choristers. It is going to be praises galore. This is in tandem with the 1000 sacrifices of Solomon. By 23rd, we will have Brunch and Award and we will have distinguished personalities. The chairman of this event will be Chief Olusegun Obasanjo the former president of the nation and the Rev. Mobiyina as the Chief Host. It will take place at the academic inn, Agidingbi Road, Lagos. And by 26th, it will be arrival at Imeko with special prayer at the Mercyland. 28th will be project commissioning, musical concert and press conference. The grand finale will be on the 29th with a worship session.
Sir, what is/are the effects of the outline programs on the church as a whole?
It should be a major impact because 70 is a landmark, a divine figure of God. At every 70, God comes around to do something unique. I know our church is going through challenges. This is a time God should cause some revolution of restoration in the church. We expect that the spirit of the 70th anniversary should cut through every soul to bring us back to the presence of God and to the fundamentals of this church. It is going to be a beginning of a new thing – the beginning of the rebuilding the walls of this church. One thing that is clear is that it is a business of God and he is passionate about his business. At a certain point in time, God comes with supernatural intervention. This is a time we expect the God of Oshoffa to rise. And you can be sure that this God we serve is a listening God. Basically, this is a time I see God moving like never before.
A word for the church sir?
There is strength in unity – unity of purpose, unity of direction, unity of aspiration. Love, unity and harmony threatens the seat of the devil. This church is spiritually endowed and it is possible to tap into it again. It is possible to enjoy grace once again. It is possible to enjoy Luli once again. It is possible to allow God work once again. Let us of all close our ranks and give God a chance once again and we will all live to enjoy it. Irrespective of our affiliation or believe, let God work through this church once again. Let the whole world come to terms with presence and workings of God as of old in this church. The world is yearning for solution and there is no solution anywhere except with God. Solution to the country, solution to humanity. Let us give God the chance once again and we will celebrate God much more than ever for it.