The church is expected to be an institution of sound teachings and an upholder of high moral standards. The Bible says about the body of Christ that it should be the model for the world; the light for a world full of darkness and unholiness.
After the Pentecost, the apostles and other members of the church lived in one accord and as one family. According to Acts 4:32-35, everyone brought to the table what he had for the church to share for the needy. However, in the church today, it is scary that the social vices the church is expected to preach against, have crept into the church.
For instance, in 2021, one of the branches of Believers Love World (popularly known as Christ Embassy) in Port Harcourt was besieged by victims of MBA Forex fraud, protesting and demanding that Pastor Chris Oyakhilome should return investors’ money which was donated by an alleged fraudster, Maxwell Odum.In a video which surfaced on social media, the protesters were seen carrying placards and banners inscribed with the words of their various demands.
Maxwell Odum, who attends Christ Embassy Port Harcourt Zone 1, was awarded the Partner of The Year for 2019 and 2020 consecutively at the church’s IPPC Presidential Awards by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. The award, according to those familiar with the report, was in appreciation of his donation of over 1 billion naira to the church.
In December 2021, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) declared Odum wanted. The commission accused him of conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence and money laundering to the tune of N213 billion.
In 2019, the United Kingdom Charity Commission indicted a UK branch of the same church in a wide range of fraudulent practices including illegally paying more than N827 million (£1,767,250) to entities and organisations the church shares close relationships with.The inquiry by the Commission incriminated the leadership of the church for shoddy management of the church’s account, arbitrary and curious payments, failure to comply with its grant-making policy, inadequate recording of its decision-making processes and serious misconduct and mismanagement in the charity’s administration.The Commission found evidence the church may be laundering or diverting funds of up to N288 million (£615,420.00) from its UK branches to six accounts controlled by the church’s Nigerian branch, Christ Embassy Nigeria.
In 2003, a cashier with the Lagos Sheraton Hotels and Towers stole his employers’ N39million and donated it in instalments to Christ Embassy. In recognition of his generosity, the church wrote the cashier a letter of commendation that was personally signed by Pastor Oyakhilome, who concluded it with, “God will notice you”.
A few months later, another church member donated stolen N10million to the church. The member who was with the now defunct Eko International Bank allegedly stole about N40 million from his employers and donated N10 million to the church to receive the blessings of God.
In Adamawa State, a pastor’s wife, Jumai Mala, accused her husband, Pastor Yakubu Kefas Ayuba of Heaven Gate Bible Mission, of sleeping with women right inside the church. She told a court of law in Yola, where she sought dissolution to their marriage, that her husband has a bed in his church office which he uses to commit adultery.
The Delta State Police Command, in 2021, arrested a pastor and one other for the alleged murder of a 13-year-old girl whose heart was ripped open and other vital organs removed. Heart-wrenching as it is, the victim and her mother, a petty trader, were members of the said pastor’s church.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of all churches, was set up to proffer solutions to these impending issues, enable churches to consult together and make common statements, take common action, and to cater for the spiritual and moral welfare of Christians and the country.
The unfortunate thing is that the youths who are the strength of the church are at the centre of it all. To this end, the President and General Overseer of the United Apostolic Church of Christ (UACC), James Bayo-Owoyemi, urged youths to have the fear of God.He advised them to be resilient in faith and not be distracted by worldly things in order for the grace of God to dwell with them throughout the phases of their youthful uncertainty.
“Be resilient in faith and do not be distracted by worldly things so that God’s grace will continue to dwell in you throughout the phases of youthful uncertainty.It is that same grace that will restrain you from being involved in drugs, kidnapping, and other vices that have become features in contemporary society.As leaders of tomorrow, you should put on the armour of Christian life, and be disciplined to earn the respect and confidence of the world,” he said.
He also advised the youths to be united and shun evil deeds in order to remain relevant in the scheme of things within the church and the society in general.