Let me begin by asking this over-flogged but truly reflective question: what are Nigerian churches turning to? It seems there is another definition of Christianity that some leaders of faith in Nigeria are privy to. I simply believe that with their uncouth expressions, acts and displays, they seem to be reading another Bible different from the universal one. Or perhaps, they live on another level of grace that endorses despicable, wicked and unremorseful acts, yet still ensures they are blessed unimaginably.
I seem to be sounding too generic and you may find it clumsy. So, let me be more specific: I have been closely monitoring an incident between a popular, mega white-garment Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church situated along the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi Expressway in Lagos State and a faith-based magazine publisher for more than a year now and with what I have seen so far, I make bold to say that some rots within the church are far more than redemption. They have become deadly infectious and cancerous.
The Bible states that our body is God’s temple. In other words, the physical structures are mere sanctuaries where we meet to worship. This invariably means that the nature of the heart of the men in a church determines how good or bad the church will be. The Bible records in Genesis 6:5 that “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” With the experience in reference, I can assert that the hearts of many self-acclaimed men of God haven’t been cleansed of perpetual evil.
I guess you are asking “what is exactly the case?” The case is this simple: a faith-based magazine publisher was involved with the church (the church he belongs to but in another district and city) to publish a magazine, documenting the life, achievements and giant strides of the most impactful leader of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church and Cherubim and Seraphim sect at large to mark his 5th year remembrance. The ‘Special Compendium’ magazine was to serve as a way of immortalizing the late sage who, till date, stands as one of Nigeria’s Leading Lights of the Gospel who revolutionized Christianity worldwide through evangelism. Not only was this man respected across the world regardless of religion, creed or religious orientation, but he brought the Cherubim and Seraphim Church brand into prominence with high reputation.
Back to the main issue: The real work started in November 2019 when the publisher of the said magazine was asked submit a proposal which turned out to be an 8-page proposal, documenting all that the then-proposed compendium would cover. After many deliberations on the proposal between the publisher and the church leadership, it was approved and then, the two parties needed a Memorandum of Understanding which, in principle, would be binding on them. The terms of the MoU were prepared, discussed and agreed to by relevant parties.
Work started in earnest and within 3 months, the publisher produced a widely celebrated 160-page compendium which was launched on March 11, 2020 during the remembrance anniversary of the District’s patriarch.
I guess you are asking where then did the problem arise from? You can make an informed guess—one of the parties FAILED TO HONOR THE FINANCIAL AGREEMENT. People like me wouldn’t be taken aback by this revelation because it seems to be the trademark of this particular church. They want to have everything for free. They have a stinking sense of entitlement, always hinging everything on ‘service’ but hardly engages in charity from the countless donations, levies and fear-driven monies they collect from members and other sources.
As an insider who was part of the project, I know that there were some adjustments in terms of engagement of the production but those modifications did not affect the ultimate agreement between the two parties. For example, the proposal talked about the suggested and preferred mode of funding for the project, stating clearly that the church was not to dip hands into its pockets to fund the project but it would rather rely on “a combination of sponsors and advertisements to cover the production costs of the compendium.”
The next line of the proposal stated that “Based on the selected and preferred funding option, tremendous support was needed from the District Headquarters (the Surulere church) in bringing the project into fruition.” According to the agreement, the church was to help scout for sponsors within and outside the district headquarters, urged its branches to advertise their programmes and paid tributes. However, the church abandoned the publisher immediately after the agreement was reached.
Since he had committed his personal funds into the project, it was not going to be a wise option for him to abandon the project half-way. Hence, he had to go the extra-mile to ensure that the project became a success by borrowing funds to bring the project to completion. The church neither encouraged anyone to advertise nor appealed to its branches to do tributes. It was the publisher who made contacts with some select people within and outside the church. And it was a bit successful.
When it got to the last lap of the project and all roads seemed blocked, the publisher needed to arrange a meeting with the leadership of the church to salvage the situation. Again, the church was hesitant, behaving as if the project was being forced down their throat. Despite all odds, the project came out successfully and even the ‘naysayers’ suddenly became ‘praise-singers’. One would think that was enough to trigger them into doing the needful but it was far from it!
In the discussed and agreed MoU, it was stated that the compendium would be launched during the 5th year remembrance anniversary of the late leader of the church. In fact, all invites sent out and jingles run on media outlets captured launching of the magazine as the core part of the remembrance service.
Irritatingly, the job of scouting for launchers of the magazine was still left on the laps of the publisher as if he was a member of their church and in a pole position to ensure its success. All along, the leadership of the church behaved as if they had no interest in immortalizing the late sage, what was happening or in what the project would yield. It was a mere pretence! Another case in time past was a case of a prolific and enterprising writer and journalist who was an image-maker for the church and the late sage for 33 years who was wickedly and unceremoniously driven out and banished from the church for no cause after the demise of the late sage. This, of course, is another story for another time.
The D-Day came and some evil intrigues began to play out even before the commencement of the programme. The publisher of the magazine was written and informed would be part of the magazine launching team. Another blow! The magazine team’s representative to monitor donations and promises made in relation to the publication was vehemently sent out of the corner earmarked for that purpose. In other words, they did not want the magazine team to be in the know concerning donations. It is sad to note that the head of the Launching Committee perpetrated this absurd and shameful act went on to become the Church’s Conference Supervising Pastor who is regarded the number one and head pastor of the Cherubim and Seraphim Movement Church worldwide. This is a mega church along Apapa-Oshodi Expressway that claims to pride itself on the grounds of probity, transparency and accountability. Their mouths confess good, great virtues but their hearts are too burdened with evil to exhibit them.
The Proposal and Memorandum of Understanding clearly state that the church was to remit 30% of the total donations to the publisher of the magazine while the church would hold on to 70%, part of which would go to the widow of the late sage which again never was until the death of the widow. Almost two years after donations were made in millions of naira, the church has neither accounted for all the donations received nor give him his due portion. It is a typical case of reaping where one did not sow.
Also, the agreement had it that a copy of the compendium would be sold for N2,000. While N1,700 belongs to the publisher, N300 will be for the compensation of the church. Sad enough to note that not a dime was remitted to the widow of the late sage in spite of the fact that she was the one that gave the ultimate approval to the church and the magazine publisher of the project.
It is unfortunate that the church has not accounted for the number of copies sold so far nor has remitted any amount to the publisher in this regard, more so, the publisher has not been reimbursed his own invested money to see the project through. Perhaps, the leadership of this church hasn’t read 1 Timothy 5:18 which records thus: “For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” This white-garment church, sitting on a 15-acre parcel of land with multiple sanctuaries and a college has surely muzzled a publisher who treaded out the corn for them. Little wonder then why the Church’s Senior District Secretary who happens to be proxy of the church and the link between the magazine and the church leadership was always quoting 1 Corinthians 6, verse 7 to the publisher throughout the course of the project, neglecting the previous 6 verses of the same chapter including its 8th verse and beyond.
They oppressed an innocent soul without remorse. Took what does not belong to them with pride and gained unduly from the wrong source. If a church can flippantly violate a gentle-manly agreement in this manner, what do they have to teach the world? The Bible says that a man cannot serve two masters; no one can concurrently serve God and money. While this is not an indictment on the church, it seems they have decided to go for the latter on this issue.
All efforts by the publisher to settle this issue amicably failed as this Surulere church has thus far, failed to cooperate. Even when the publisher engaged the services of some lawyers to interface with them and reach an amicable resolution over the lingering issue, they turned down all the lawyers’ invite for meetings. Likewise, they didn’t show up for various scheduled zoom meetings. Even when the lawyers volunteered to travel from Abuja to Ibadan so that the church leadership from Lagos would join him there for a meeting, they saw the journey as too long for them, a journey that was not too far for them when they needed the publisher to hold their hands to one of the launchers and donors in Ibadan. They ignored the arrangements made for amicable settlement. To them, they would meet no lawyer elsewhere than within their church premises, a dangerous adventure for any discerning mind to embark on!
This is the chronicle of a church that supposedly preaches the gospel of Christ. If I may ask, what do they teach in church these days? Cosmetics, flamboyant wealth and pride, I guess.
This is just a tip of the iceberg. There are more revelations to come on this multi-million ‘fraud’ and many more ill practices from an established church!
NOTE: This is a sponsored article published through the request of one of the parties involved in the controversy.