Most Nigerians cringed in either disappointment, disapproval or disgust when the news of Christ Embassy charging N1,000 gate fee for the 2015 Cross Over Service, came to the public. Headed by popular Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, the church, also known as Believers’ Love World, failed to show love to both members and guests when they placed a price tag on the gospel of Christ.
According to NewsroomNG, an Usher from another branch of the church, having noticed that no one was allowed in without the mandated N1,000 electronic gate pass, could not hold his peace as to why people should pay to be in God’s presence. The young man, whose name has been withheld, made a scene when he started questioning his superiors – other ushers and pastors, about the tax collection in form of gate fee. He said Christians should have liberty to walk into their father’s house at anytime especially on a day such as New Year’s Eve.
His superiors, not comfortable with this probing, immediately relieved him of his ushering duties and locked him up in one of the church offices. Unknown to the church officials who locked the usher up, he had earlier contacted a journalist the moment they relieved him of his duties, but never thought it would get to the point of arresting and detaining.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were collecting money at the gate something I’m not sure the Jesus we preach about would do. I just couldn’t believe anyone who follows Jesus would do that.
“I just had to speak out. But they didn’t want to be questioned. I wasn’t surprised when they told me I was off for the night. I thought they would just allow me go into the church service but they didn’t. They took me into one of our offices and locked me up.
“That made me more angry, it was just unbelievable,’ he added.
Mr. Usher kept in touch with the journalist days after the New Year 2016, but stopped picking the journalist’s calls after a while, so as to get over the shock, before speaking to the public about it. However, this is not the first time Christ Embassy is charging for their ministerial services. The church, whose headquarters is located on Billings Way, Oregun, Lagos is known to sell its seats for fees during crossover services, especially when it is Pastor Chris Oyakhilome himself presiding. Christ Embassy first introduced the widely condemned measure on 31 December, 2010.
The church said it imposed the charge to control the heavy crowd its New Year’s Eve services attract. They also mandated anyone who wanted to attend the service to purchase a N1,000 ticket before hand. No one, who didn’t have the ticket, was allowed into the worship center. But on December 31, 2015, a concerned Usher could not stomach his disapproval to the church selling tickets for the gospel, and he got detained for protesting.
Meanwhile, since early 2015, the members of the church have been covering up for their lead pastor, Chris Oyakhilome, who has been having marital issues with his lovely wife, Pastor Anita. The lead pastor was said to have had extra marital affairs with another female pastor in the church. His wife, after their allege divorce, sent a letter to the public expressing her experience of being abused in her marriage and also stating that she is moving on with her life, irrespective of her ugly past as the wife of Pastor Oyakhilome.
With this recent issue of tasking cross-over service attendees, and detaining an usher who spoke against, the controversy raised by Chris Embassy, its pastors and also followers, is bound to increase. Come to think of it, the Christ Embassy headquarters, were the gate fee was taken, is reported to have the capacity to seat 20,000 people in a single service. That means the church made a whooping sum of N20,000,000 during 2015 cross over service. Such Wealth!