Mr. Obinku had decided to accede to his friend’s request to come worship with his Bible believing church.
That was the time when things were really rough for Obinku and it wouldn’t be out of place to change viewing positions in a carnival arena.
He was assured that his life would never be the same if he agreed.
The church had turned the main auditorium of Dolphin Cave Hotel, Ele Umudim Nnewi, into its worship centre.
That same auditorium used to be a dancing hall that had hosted great Igbo musicians like Osita Osadebe, Oliver de Coque, Mudy Ibe and Ozomena Nsugbe. Felix Liberty and Sunny Okosuns also performed at that arena.
Bro. Obinku was ushered into the beautifully decorated auditorium by smartly dressed young ladies that walked like air hostesses.
He was given a seat in the third row from the front which he later gathered was kept for new comers.
The music was very melodious and sobering.
The modern mellifluous rendition of gospel gospel music in this church was quite different from the ordinary monotonous hymns Obinku was used to at St. Peter Clevers’ Catholic Church, Akwunweke Otolo Nnewi.
He could relate to some of the numbers and sang along. He sang all the Don Moen’s music the choir rendited which left the old members confused as to whether he was new or old.
Obinku liked the way he was treated on arrival and the endearing welcome he was given in the new church and wouldn’t mind a repeat attendance.
Midway into the service, all the new attendees were persuaded to come up to the altar for a prayer which turned out to be a disguised biodata collection and registration of new members.
Dependable older member would be tasked to follow-up on a new attendee and ensures that neophyte is mentored into full membership of the church.
Obinku liked this new Christian group and their subtle way of operation but he made it clear that he would only attend their services for one Sunday in a month.
He couldn’t leave the Catholic Church just like that. He needed to make haste slowly.
Obinku’s love for good gospel music made him increase his frequency till he found himself attending this new church every Sunday.
Everything seemed okay until the day the general overseer reputed for performing instant miracles came visiting.
This founder of the church was well known in the East and his crusades were jam packed.
Therefore, the leader of Nnewi worship centre had to arrange for the the crusade to be held at the big Nkwo Triangle.
Obinku was swept off his feet by the confidence of the G.O (i.e general overseer) and the way he was commanding God to do his bidding.
He told the crowd that a christian had no business being poor and that the the riches and blessings of Abraham were the entitlements of every confessed born again christian.
The G.O decreed healing for all that came to the crusade with infirmities and many people came up the podium to give testimonies on how God had changed their sorrows to joy since they started attending this G.O’s church.
When Obinku told his prayer partner that he had observed that none of the people that were healed or that were called upon to give testimonies were members of their Nnewi circuit, he was advised to rebuke such thoughts which must be from the devil.
Obinku later gathered that he was not the only person that was marveled at how the G.O was ordering Holy Ghost about.
He would keep shouting “Move, move, move, Holy Ghost, I say move!” and people in the crowd would be falling.
Obinku was impressed that there exists a christian version of “ife aju” (i.e making someone fall down by remote inducement of temporary dizziness), an act known and understood in Nnewi. Ife aju is not considered a bad juju in Nnewi, therefore, Obinku didn’t mind.
But, he had issues with the G.O’s disrespectful command to Holy Ghost.
Not even Pope JohnPaul Il or Cardinal Arinze not to talk of his former parish priest, Monsignor Joe Nwaibegbunam could talk to Archangel Michael the way this G.O was commanding the third person of the Holy Trinity.
This Man of God who hails from Igbo speaking part of Delta state must be a special being with powers to decree and God obeyed.
For this G.O, Jesus was too docile in his prayers to his God his Father.
God must do G.O’s command not God’s own will.
The crusade was to last for two days.
The G.O intent on further proving his anointing instructed the young men in the crowd to go to Mgbuka or fairly used spare parts market, to buy keys of any cars of their dream and bring the keys to the crusade ground the next day.
Obinku came to the crusade venue with a key of Peugeot 505 Evolution.
On the second and concluding day of the crusade, the G.O asked those with the keys of their dream cars to raise them with a covenant offering for special prayers.
Holy Ghost once again was given instructions to ensure that the believing brethren, irrespective of their occupation or revenue status, get their dream cars within 12 months.
But the believers were required to drop their covenant offerings immediately into a bag held by accredited ushers but were to retain the car keys.
As the G.O started gaining national popularity, he found it difficult to repeat crusades at previous venues until he was nearly killed by some alleged former church members who didn’t receive either the promised miracles or refund of their seed money.
Obinku was not happy that the G.O survived the assassination attempt on his life not because he didn’t get the promised car or that he was milked financially in the church under many devices, but because he thought that the world would be saner without that kind of holy scammer.
The young man never returned to St. Peter Clevers Catholic Church again to avoid being made to appear before the entire congregation to apologize and seek for forgiveness, a policy the parish priest, Monsignor Nwaibegbunam adopted as an appropriate penance for returnee prodigal catholics.
Obinku rather reactivated his dormant faith at St. Peters Catholic at Odida, Nnewichi Nnewi where his defection sin was quietly forgiven by a more compassionate priest upon confession.
Many Nnewi boys have been hoodwinked by these prosperity pastors and their churches who lured them out from their traditional Catholic or Anglican churches, promised them heaven and earth only for the boys to find out sooner or later that they were being deceived.
Not all the new churches set out to lie. They have rather interpreted the Bible out of context.
The zealous new churches believe that they can remove the thorn from the crown. And there are Bible passages to support their Eldorado.
Who would blame the new christian bodies who don’t have any history about how the early fathers of the faith suffered and used their blood to water the garden of our faith?
He who was not present by the graveside when the dead was buried would never know the direction in which the head was laid unless he is told by someone who knows.
The orthodox churches have seen it all and are guided by history where Bible does not cover to ensure that they do not repeat past mistakes or to raise false hope in their members.
They have come to know that God’s answer to a prayer could be a “no”, “yes” or “wait”.
The old churches knew how long it took God to give Abraham the promised child or Israel to reach the promised land. They also know that a poor and leprous Lazorus can make heaven.
The Catholics particularly are aware that God turned down Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42 when he prayed thus: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Many Nnewi youths disillusioned by the abracadabra or the “instant noodles” kind of christianity are gradually going back to their former churches.
But some others, mostly not so educated ones, who feel betrayed by the new churches and who still believe the calumny or damaging tales told them by the new church hunters during membership campaigns or sermons would rather return to African traditional religion.
By going back to the religion of their ancestors, there is no confusion as to where they would go after death as they are sure to be welcomed home by their forebearers.
By Anayo M. Nwosu