Using Nollywood To Fill The Pew | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Using Nollywood To Fill The Pew

Posted: Jul 23, 2016 at 6:51 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

In business, competition amongst rival brands is common. Everybody wants to be ahead so they create campaigns that expose their products the best. When it comes to religion, subtlety and moderation are expected when evangelising or inviting people to church since there is no product to sell.

But with over 200,000 registered churches in Nigeria, there are bound to be stiff competition and like the business world, many churches are employing aggressive campaigns to keep the number of their followers on the rise.

It seems that Godly messages and enjoyable songs from the choir are not enough to attract people to church. About two decades ago, there was an explosion of churches whose main message was about ‘prosperity and promise of instant wealth’ and affluence. Today, they make up the largest number of new churches.

But it seems the allure of wealth is no longer tickling the fancy of Nigerian church goers these days. This is not a surprise. Despite all the promise of wealth, majority of Nigerians are still as poor as ever. In fact it is getting worse in this economic climate.

Now there is a new trend sweeping through. Some churches seem to have seen a correlation between the entertainment world and massive turnout of crowds and they are using this to ‘advance’ the work of God.

It is now common place for churches to invite entertainment celebrities to their churches as special guests. They even advertise these visits and create posters so that everyone knows that they will be coming.

The most recent of such that made the news was that of Abuja based Pastor Joshua Iginla of Champions Royal Assembly. He did not only parade actors in the church, he also gave them 32 cars including 16 SUVs.

Enjoying the largesse were Nollywood actors including Alex Usifo, Jide Kosoko, Ngozi Ezeonu, Thelma Nwosu, Sunday Omobolanle aka Papi luwe, Bruno Iwuoha, Ejike Asiegbu, Francis Duru, amongst others got Hummer jeep 3 series, Mercedes G-Wagon and Mercedes CLS 550.

We cannot also forget the case of Jim Iyke, a prominent Nollywood actor, who was spotted at the Synagogue Church of All Nations just a few years back. The story became sensational as some disgruntled members of the church revealed that the actor was paid to act like a possessed man while the pastor healed him. The pictures of a possessed Iyke were all over the news. The actor had since debunked that no payment was received.

Also recently, a pastor of Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Toyin Ogundipe was sacked after he invited Fuji musician, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma to perform at his Mushin based parish. It is believed that he made the move due to the musician’s popularity in the area.

A church member confirmed that Ogundipe was sacked for inviting Fuji star Pasuma to the three-day crusade without consulting the National headquarters. What we hear angered the church administration is that in the poster, Pasuma’s photograph was blown so large while that of the pastor and a gospel artiste was made small. Also, Pasuma is a Muslim who also uses lewd lyrics in his songs.

Other stars seen gracing churches with their presence include: Actress, Patience Ozokwor who recently announced that she has given her life to Christ, Nollywood comedian, Bishop Umeh popularly known as Okon, Osita Iheme, Eucheria Anunobi, Larry Coldsweat, and Zack Orji.

Nigerians have however been baring their minds on this development. Many see nothing wrong in it while others condemn it.

According to popular radio presenter, Ifedayo Olarinde also known as Freeze, he calls the development ‘slavery’. “How long are Nigerians going to continue being enslaved, under the grossly misinterpreted shackles, of 1st Chronicles chapter 16 verse 22 that states:

“Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm? What is the biblical justification for giving out 32 cars, which in my humble opinion, is such a mentally impoverished act, in a country recently accused of being ‘fantastically corrupt’?

“The big question is, why did he give the bulk of the SUVs to Nollywood actors and celebrities? In a time when the people who probably provided the funds for this vulgar largesse, by bringing their first fruits to the church in the form of tithe and offering, can barely feed themselves and their families? This was why I reasoned with El Rufai, when he suggested a board be set up, to regulate religious activities, as these folks can dangerously manipulate the minds of their followers. Besides, less religious countries like Sweden or Germany are much better places than Nigeria, so who has religion helped?”