By Obong Akpaekong
The 2017 edition of Free Indeed, the yearly evangelistic convention of Christian Central Chapel International, CCCI, which ended in the church’s City of Testimonies in Ikot Enebong area of Calabar, the Cross River State capital, is one event the delegates will remember for a long time. Some of the spiritual activities and the impact they exerted on the delegates, will doubtless also live with them for entire life time.
Such activities include the vow redemption promoted by Rev. Uma Ukpai, the Uyo-based frontline Nigerian evangelist and one of Africa’s fathers of the faith of Sunday, September 10, during the last session of the seven-day gathering. Rev. Ukpai in a prophetic stance declared there were four people inside the Faith Mansion World Centre, as the expansive ultra-modern auditorium of the church is called, who had cheated themselves by failing to redeem vows including financial commitments they made to God. He said like Hannah, the wife of Elkanar in the Bible, the four persons had told God that should He let some N4 million into their accounts, they would give back N1 million out of that amount for the work of God. He said God did his part of the deal but none of the four persons redeemed the vow.
There was complete silence in the hall when Ukpai demanded that the four, whom he insisted were in church, should walk up to meet him on the platform for prayers for God’s forgiveness. They would later redeem the vow and move forward on their prosperity road. Then a lad who resembled a student walked up to kneel at the platform. His action encouraged five other young persons, including two women to make it to the platform.
The man of God later invited all the people who had failed to redeem various vows made to God in church, in the course of time, to come out for prayers. Close to 2000 persons stepped out to the altar. Ukpai prayed for the crowd and gave them a time frame to redeem the vows. After the prayers, the people returned to their seats happy that they made use of a second chance to demonstrate faithfulness in the walk with God. This lesson on faithfulness for consistent prosperity will not be forgotten by the delegates for a long time to come.
Rev. Ukpai also conducted series of deliverance for people afflicted in various areas of life. These included marriage and family, education and the professions, ministry and business. When he spoke on family, Rev. Ukpai extolled the virtues of women, saying husbands should reciprocate the love and warmth of their wives by providing them with the good things of life even before they ask for them. He said a woman who wanted her husband to love her more than any other man’s love for the wife must do for her husband what other women have not done.
He called on husbands to take their time to appreciate their wives, since according to him, women remained very happy when they were appreciated. Rev. Ukpai was also very philosophical when he spoke about health and eating habits. He said costly foods were not the best for the body but the very cheap ones including vegetables. He said those who wanted to be rich and enjoy financial freedom must give their offering and pay their tithes. According to Ukpai, people who pay their tithes faithfully are always blessed with godly ideas.
Teachings sessions taken by Taiwo Victor Adelakun, the presiding bishop of Victory International Church, Ibadan and founder of Dominion University, a private university also in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, were in themselves unique and awesome. To be sure, Adelakun emphasised the need for the faithful to seclude themselves from the wave of corruption and other negative vices that are currently pulling down prominent Nigerians. He enjoined them to lead lives that did not make them a disgrace to their families and the Christian faith. Adelakun said human life was delicate and called on the delegates to keep close watch over certain key areas of their lives, if they must succeed in the race of life. These were their faith, their names, their marriages and home, their health and their words. They were also to watch over their hearts, vision, relationships, character and integrity.
Speaking further, Adelakun said the world was plunging into deeper crisis with the new day, with both ordinary people and Christian faithful becoming victims to satanic manipulations and sinful and criminal tendencies. He told the delegates that as Christians, they had become the only hope of the nation, and that they should earnestly uphold their faith and not be discouraged by the disobedience and wickedness that was sweeping through the Nigerian and global space.
He described the conference theme of “Go and Sin No More” (John 8:11), as a timely invitation to encounter Christ and not go back into sin. He lamented that today’s church was full of hypocrites and pretenders and that the people who brought the woman that was caught in adultery to Jesus were not only Pharisees but big time hypocrites. He asked “Two people were involved in the adultery in which they said that they caught the woman in the very act. But only one of the adulterers was dragged to Jesus for stoning. Who was the man involved and why did the Pharisees not bring him along?”
Emmah Isong, bishop of CCCI also admonished the worshippers to eschew sinful habits and mistrust of one another if they must make a success of their lives and move the country forward at this crucial period of its experience. Isong who was speaking on the topic “Assumption in Ministry” urged the delegates to always ask questions on any grey area of life rather than assume certain things after which they will habour ill-feelings and hatred for fellow human beings. Isong, who is also the national publicity secretary of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, lamented that in today’s Christendom, many people have become victims of hatred, blackmail and false accusations because their prosecutors failed to find out the truth. “If you must be a good Christian, walk with a clean mind and conscience. Ask questions to overcome assumptions. That way, you will help to banish suspicion in the church “, he said.
He urged the people to pray to God to cause those who hated them to turn around and become channels of blessings to them and even become the ones championing their celebrations. Speaking also on what he tagged, “Sound Christian Relationship”, Isong warned that Christians were citizens of heaven and not just Nigerians or Biafrans. “You are not Biafra or Arewa but a Christian. So do not discriminate. Do not relate in church in small nomenclatures. If you do that, you will neglect the great price that Jesus paid for the salvation of your soul”, Isong said, adding “all ethnic and tribal sentiments are broken down in the church.”
Isong lamented that the kind of division that tended to exist between the people of the north and those of the south of the country was seen even in church circles and among very prominent Nigerians. Hear him, “Nigerians should continue to live as brothers. Arewa should not give the Igbo quit notice. The Igbo should not give the Arewa quit notice. The Niger Delta region should not give the north quit notice but continue to live together as brothers.”Isong told the delegates that he was shocked to learn that the man that allegedly issued the quit notice to the Igbo to leave the north was married to an Igbo and that the wife actually grew up in the city of Calabar.
Rev. Gomba Oyor, general overseer of God Will Do It Ministries in Ibadan, was another guest speaker at the conference. Oyor’s focus at the event was purely on spiritual wellbeing of the delegates. When he drew the attention of the delegates to convention theme of “Go and Sin no More”, he insisted that everybody that ever had encounter with Christ and experienced new birth after confession of sins and forgiveness should not entangle himself anymore in sin.
Oyor insisted that those who go to church must be born again. He spiced his messages with prayer sessions and deliverance prayers. Oyor said from time immemorial, people who trusted God and lived righteous lives were never disappointed in life. As he ministered, he kept telling the people that God was healing and delivering them from every trouble they found themselves but not without warning that those “seeking deliverance from their troubles must lead upright lives.”He urged the delegates to look unto God in all their battles of life.
The various choir groups of the church added a lot of life to the event as they ministered during the event. Gospel singers Samsong and Gideon Isong ministered in special music at the seven-day event which ended on Sunday.
Akpaekong, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Calabar