Nigerians Blast Pastor Chris Oyakhilome For Collecting Gate Fees To Attend New Year’s Eve Service

Many worshippers at the
headquarters of Christ Embassy Church ‎in Lagos who had to pay N1,000
each as gate fee to attend a New Year’s Eve service presided over by
Pastor Chris Oyakhilome have blasted the man of God for collecting gate
fees to enter his church.
Worshippers who wanted to
attend the crossover service at Christ Embassy’s headquarters on
Billings ‎Way in Oregun Area of Lagos on 31 December, 2014, were made to
obtain gate passes that sold for N1,000 each.

Those who could not afford
such passes were turned back and told that they could go elsewhere to
worship or watch the service online for free.
While the practice ‎is not new
in Christ Embassy Church, it led to an uproar in January 2011 after it
was first introduced on 31 December, 2010.
Many people described it then
as extortion, abuse of ‘Jesus’ teachings and another confirmation that
some Nigerian churches and pastors are more interested in making money
than winning souls for God.
But the church explained,
though informally, that it was a way of controlling the crowd and
discouraging thousands of people who come to church once a year on 31
December and prevent “real worshippers” from securing seats at the
headquarters on that important night.
The argument did not win many
fans and under a barrage of criticisms, the church prayed the matter
would be forgotten. Nigerians also hoped gate fee collection would stop.
But the practice has continued
and is now seen as routine with those who cannot afford the money being
turned back on 31 December of every year.
With a sitting capacity of
roughly 20,000 seats, Christ Embassy might have made at least N20
million from the sale of gate passes used for the crossover service.
Worshippers in Christ Embassy
and former staff have complained in the past that the emphasis was often
too much on money in the church rather than on spiritual things Jesus
Christ taught his disciples.
While virtually all prosperity
churches in Nigeria apply the principles of “giving ‎to the church to
receive from God”, many say the level of financial demands and pressures
in Christ Embassy Church is unusually high.
Since the revelations about the
gate fees collection at Christ Embassy Church were made public last
week, Nigerians have continued to express shock, outrage and indignation
with many finding it hard to believe it.
Many Nigerians expressed their indignation on the social media, especially Facebook.
‎”Gate fee collection appears
good for crowd control in a theatre or secular concert, but not sound
enough in the house of God where Christ the head of the church bids
everyone to come, even when they only respond once in a year,” ‎said
Femi Olulowo on Facebook.
He said the church should
rather see their once in a year response as an opportunity to reach out
to the loss (non regular attendees) and make disciple of them as Christ
commanded.
“Even if the church prefers his
already saved members to partake in a particular service, gate pass
should have been given to them at no cost and they will have the
privilege of going in first.
“The crowd control rationale for gate fee collection in church in my opinion is world based,” he said.
According to ‎Onyeka Daisy Okochi, salvation doesn’t come at a cost.
Daisy said in the Bible, a man who wanted to pay for salvation was refused.
To Oyagha Anthony, Nigerian worshippers are gullible. “Did God come down through him (the pastor) that day?,” he asked.
“I have watched the man preach
severally and I don’t know the magic in his sermon and anointing that
keeps making people fall for his tricks and gimmicks.
“He quotes one Bible reference
and shouts as if he just revealed what no man had ever read or seen in
that passage before and then takes a run front and back and they all
starts shouting. Just disgusting most times,” he said.
To Clement Ali, “‎does it mean if I don’t have N1000, I won’t be allowed into the service?
In that case, his intentions is the money.”
“Let them continue to pile up
riches for themselves here on earth where moths will eat up and where
thieves will break through,” Ali said.
He added: “SALVATION IS FREE and cannot be bought with money. Jesus said, freely l gave you, so also, freely ye shall give.”
According to Erijery Reuben Mateta, some people are born spiritually blind, deaf and dumb.
“However you preach to them they will never hear and understand,” Mateta said.
Eyitope Akeju could not believe
that gate fees were collected at Christ Embassy Church on 31 December.
“Somebody should please tell me this is not true. If it is true it means
corruption is now everywhere,” Akeju said.
Patrick Orkuma asked
sarcastically; ‎”Are you people just realising now that most of these so
called Men of God are con men? People have been paying for prayers, so
why can’t they pay for venue?”
‎To Aderibigbe Oluwasanmi;
“‎Why are we going to blame a business name for doing his business, he
is bussines man not a Pastor for real‎”.
‎Many others who commented on
the social media were critical of Oyakhilome and Christ Embassy Church,
urging the church to stop the practice.
Others even asked for tax officials to step in.
With over 70 per cent of
Nigerians living in abject poverty and on less than two dollars a day,
many believe that demons are responsible for their financial, physical
and emotional problems.
They run to pastors for healing, miracles, blessing and protection.
But once in church, pastors
often tell worshippers that to prosper and be blessed by God, they need
to give ten per cent of all their income as tithe to God. Some also say
they need to give ten percent of all their increases.
By giving to God, they mean,
they need to “sow a seed in the church”. When they give money to the
church, worshippers are ‎told, the “money goes into their future” to
transform their lives.
To refuse “to sow a seed” is “to condemn oneself to a life of hardship and misery”, pastors say.
But while few worshippers eventually prosper, it is the pastors who end up becoming extremely rich.
Many Nigerians pastors now own
businesses, cars, houses, and investments within and outside the
country. Some even own private jets.
Many say with his business
model and financial strategies in the church, Oyakhilome was named by
Forbes as one of the richest pastors in Nigeria.
He travels around the world in a jet and moves around Lagos with bodyguards and heavily armed policemen.

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