WINNERS Chapel’s founder Bishop David Oyedepo has added his voice to the call for the ban on church congregations to be lifted saying he suspects there is an ulterior motive behind keeping them shut during the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
Across Nigeria, churches and mosques have been closed as part of the coronavirus lockdown but this move is not popular with evangelical clergymen, whose churches normally attract thousands of worshippers seeking miracles. Of late, several clergymen have even suggested that if they were allowed to operate, they would have been able to cure the infected by laying their hands on them.
Bishop Oyedepo, whose Living Faith Church Worldwide, is one of the biggest in Nigeria, is said to be the richest clergyman in the country, valued at $150m by Forbes. His church receives millions of dollars in tithes from members who attend every week, contributing 10% of their wages but with the closure, this money has now dried up.
Speaking yesterday, Bishop Oyedepo, who spoke during a Covenant Hour of Prayer Programme said if markets could be opened for six hours, there was no reason why churches should not be opened for two hours. He added that he believed there was a gang-up against the growth of the church in the country.
Bishop Oyedepo said: “There is something wrong. For people to be allowed to be in the market for six hours and can’t be in church for two hours, it is an upside-down way of looking at things.
“Which one is more orderly? The market or the church? I can smell a rat. The Lord spoke to me on it so strongly yesterday. Behind all this, how do we stop the church from exploding? The people involved don’t know it.
“The voice of darkness is influencing people at various levels, targeting the church because the growth and expansion of the church is the greatest headache of the devil but the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The devil and all his agents shall surely pay for this.
“I don’t know what hospital that records the kind of healings that the church of God records. And now hospitals, where people die every day, are open but the church is closed because the oppression of the devil has no medical cure.”
Earlier this week, the founder of Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, slammed church leaders who agreed to the lockdown of churches without praying and consulting with other pastors. Likewise, Pastor Jonson Suleman of Omega Fire Ministries International, said clergymen should be allowed to visit the sick and heal them through spiritual means.