27 years after Okotie’s transition from stage to pulpit

By Ohio-Michael Elakhe
In Nigeria News Feed
Feb 1st, 2014
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It all started 27 years ago, when Rev. Chris Okotie opened the doors of his Obasa Street, Ikeja, Lagos duplex to the first service of The Household of God Fellowship. As the news filtered around, many who could not fathom the transition of the pop star to pastor, believed that the historic event would be eclipsed by the demise of the ‘flash-in-the-pan’ gospel ministry, which has otherwise survived every calculated act of calumny inflicted on the man and the unshaken foundation of the ministry, from within and without.

Many who held negative views of the church had never even been there, nor heard Okotie speak, but formed their opinion based of what a section of the media wrote. Okotie said sometime ago: “It hasn’t been smooth sailing, if it was, God wouldn’t be in it. God indeed uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.”

But how does one unravel the Okotie enigma? The man, the musician, the pastor-politician, the prophet?

Three years after he became born Again, following a whirlwind stint in the music industry, which saw the release of the epoch making debut album, and as he puts it, phenomenally successful I Need Someone, came the one-year stint at the bible college of His Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, where he went for ministerial training. Rev. Okotie again stunned Nigerians by announcing what has become Nigeria’s most celebrated church, The Household of God Fellowship, which was later to be rechristened The Household of God International Ministries.

Rev. Okotie said in his self-penned commentary during last year’s anniversary of his church: “It is indeed a rare privilege and honour for which my gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ cannot possibly be expressed in words… I have come to realise that ministry is all about service. It is probably the best nursery and training ground for leaders in any sphere of human endeavour. It is in ministry that the complex problems of humanity stare you in the face. You encounter circumstances that only God could handle because of their sheer complexity and bizarre nature.”

He added that “despite all we’ve accomplished in ministry- the prosperous, impact-driven church, my monumental book, The Last Outcast, which revealed the Anti-Christ, it is my forays into elective politics by the leading of the Holy Spirit, which for me, is the high point of my entire life.”

From the hoopla of its creation, through the relocation to its permanent site at the then National Bank Road in Oregun, the acquisition of vast properties on both sides of the street, and beyond, the publishing of his first book, The Last Outcast, the Apokalupsis radio and TV ministrations, his divinely inspired political project, to the recent purchase of a Rolls Royce Coupe, 2014 Bespoke Edition and a Range Rover (Autobiography) 2014 model to mark this ministry’s milestones, Rev. Okotie and Household have always been in the news.

But there is more about Rev. Okotie and Household that has been left unsaid. Come Sunday, February 2, 2014, the church will celebrate quietly. But, 30 years as a born again Christian, and 27 years as a Pastor are landmark achievements in anybody’s book.

Household has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and has left many landmarks which have radically changed the face and perception of Christianity in Nigeria. For those who have visited or attended the church, several things stand out which define the Reverend’s call and ministry.

The trajectory of the ministry shows that there is a certain uniqueness about it. At a time when ministries have engaged in ploys aimed at generating income and followership, Household has maintained its focus and vision. Focus, which is characteristic of Rev. Okotie is one attribute that many admire about him.

The camaraderie of brotherhood which characterises the Household family is palpable, and is evident in the smooth running of the church, even in the absence of the amiable Reverend. The structuring of the deferent departments and months celebrations have become a trend in different churches, and even the celebration of Easter and Christmas with a million and one lights which adorn shrubs on the street that dissect the church, and the sprawling car park.

The pioneering church structure that was introduced by Rev. Okotie has become a model replicated widely today, and many churches had over the years come to understudy this model. His sermons have been replicated severally by other ministries, who avail themselves of the churches tape ministry, because of the Pastor’s unique teachings.

GRACE celebrations, the church’s only public programme, is one which displays Christian benevolence to some charities, while the subsumed Karis Award celebrates Nigerians deemed worthy of recognition for selfless service to the nation. This holds every week preceding Christmas.

Over and above all this, I believe the depth of revelation that comes from the pulpit is probably the most fascinating attraction of the Pastor’s ministry.

Of his foray into the murky waters of Nigeria’s politics, Okotie told a reporter recently that “my political assignment is an expression of the Melchezedek Priesthood epitomised by the Lord Jesus who is both a king (political leader) and priest (spiritual leader). This is the biblical basis of my political assignment.”

But amidst the cacophony of voices that have tried to befuddle the man Okotie and his ministry, some recent articles have become a pool of refreshing objectivity about the man.

Omolara Olalekan in an article titled Okotie: The Pulpit and the Podium wrote “It is only through God’s divine grace and celestial lissomness that a man attains the lofty height of 30 in God’s vineyard. It is not of works, but of ecclesiastical gift. That is why reading through his interview in the Punch Newspaper, one is constrained to join him in celebrating a milestone as a soldier of the cross, a beacon of spiritual light; a preacher of the gospel and a defender of the truth. I have wondered why a man would not be contented with only preaching the word of God… But today, that conviction has been smoldered to smithereens”. Need we say more? Happy double celebrations.

­Ohio-Michael Elakhe, a public affairs commentator and member of Household Church, wrote in from Lagos.

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