LIVING Faith Church founder Bishop David Oyedepo has defied critics attacking Nigeria’s evangelical clergymen for amassing wealth at the expense of their worshippers boasting about how he can cart his riches to heaven in trailer loads.
Bishop Oyedepo, 64, is the head of a church popularly known as Winners Chapel and is believed to be the wealthiest of Nigeria’s new breed of pastorprueners. These wealthy clergymen collect 10% of their congregations earnings in the form of tithes and with their large following have become millionaires.
Most of them own strings of businesses, have fleets of posh cars, own private universities and travel around in private jets, with a retinue of body guards. Bishop Oyedepo is estimated by Forbes to be worth $150m as he exerts control over churches in 45 African nations, as well as several in Dubai, the UK and the US.
Other similar wealthy Nigerian pastorprueners include Chris Oyakhilome of Believers’ Love World, Temitope Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Of late, however, these pastorprueners have come under attack for exploiting their followers as they collect money from poor parishoners who cannot even afford to send their children to their universities.
Hitting back at these critics, however, Bishop Oyedepo said he is now so wealthy that he can afford to cart his wealth to heaven in trailer loads. He added that since 1982, he had never failed in paying his tithes, noting that God had been faithful in lifting him up because of this.
Bishop Oyedepo said: “You don’t have to steal to shine, you don’t have to rob to prosper. If it is pastoring/founding a church that makes people prosper, there are many pastors/church founders who are paupers.
“You can’t go up except by tithing. From 1982 till date, my tithe hasn’t failed once and now I cart it to God in trailer loads.”
Stressing that one did not need to steal to shine or rob to prosper, Bishop Oyedepo maintained that faithfulness in the payment of tithes would bring prosperity. He added that starting or pastoring a church did not lead to automatic wealth.