The Pentecostal church in Nigeria has no doubt, come of age. Today, many Pentecostals stand at the same level with the older orthodox like the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and others. But with this development has also crept into the church, a strange new phenomena, that of configuration. For there is presently an explosion in the number of churches, and the new ones springing up daily seem to have run out of nomenclatures to designate them. The result is the influx of churches with names, from bizarre to funny, to outrightly unbelievable names. For instance, when the reporter was first told of the existence of a church called “Jesus no dey Fuckup Ministries” in Benin City, he scoffed at the idea. But coming face-to-face with some of these churches, like ‘Jehovah Sharp Sharp Ministries’, in FESTAC Town, Lagos have since changed this position.
In the heart of Ekosodin, the largest off-campus hostel community for University of Benin, in the loneliest area of the village lies a shack with a white flag and red cross on it. At first glance, one would think it is the home of a juju priest, but two large posters with Jesus on them revealed that the grounds were supposed to be anointed by the spirit of the living God. On a yellow cloth banner were clearly printed these words “Meet with the spiritual guru master, Evang TB Michael, alias Urgent Solution. It was like a marriage of Indian Hindu ministries, TB Joshua and juju priest and all. The place was deserted, but the earth floor was well swept, indicating that the evangelist was serious about his business.
A survey around the country revealed that Benin City is not alone in these bizarre names. Up north, right in Jos is the ‘City of Vengeance’, where faithful give their enemies, who no doubt are usually witches the fresh fish treatment- point and kill! But that’s not the only church boasting of the fresh-fish treatment, as Jesus Fire Ministry, Asaba also has point and kill as its theme. What’s more, the pastor in their poster is shown with a catapult, aiming at a black cat. Then comes another point and kill church, this time in Abuja. It shows the pastor in three places, dressed like a soldier, and armed with a pistol. But what’s more, were pictures of Hollywood movie actors armed with guns, including Arnold Swarzenegger with two guns. The pastor must love Hollywood action movies.
The Mega Church in Abuja also has dreadful plans for the devil. In its poster, the pastor is armed with a horse whip, popularly known as koboko, and is flogging a red devil. The poster advised the faithful to ‘come with their kobokos’, and ended by saying that God should punish devil. Another poster advertising a church programme showed a pastor literally armed with a cutlass. The programme, tagged ‘Radical Night for Jesus’, showed the pastor looking very threatening, and one may wonder whether it was aimed at frightening people away rather than attract.
‘Mountain of Swallowing Problems Ministry’ is another church. One only needs read the signpost to know that his problems are to be swallowed. Only it did not state whether it is the pastor or Jesus who will do the swallowing. Another bizarre name for a church is the ‘Guided Missiles Ministry’, which reminds one of the era of missiles during the Iraqi-Kuwait uprising in the 90s. Located in the heart of Lagos, the church would have fitted a country like Sudan where rebels have refused to stop aiming missiles.
One which would send readers to titters is a poster roughly written with a coloured marker. In very bad English, it read “Holy Japhet Munistrys”. It stated that all days are for God’s work, and spelt out the costs for each work of God- ‘bamutism (baptism)-N200, anoiting(anointing)-N250, deliverance-N400, special prear (prayer)-N150, ordinary praer-N100, and ended by stating that ‘donations are happily received’ in capital letters. However, this other poster did not look like its real. It read ‘Fire, Power and Thunda (thunder) Efangelist (evangelist) Mynistrey (ministry)’, and it came with a price list as follows: ‘anonyting power-N1,500; deliverance-N1000 per demon; strong demon-N5000;miraculous-N5000;receipt(receive) husband-N10, 000;receipt wife N5000; born shildren (children):twins-N20,000; boy/girl-N10,000;receipt job-N50,000;uk visa-N5,000 pouns(pounds); us visa-N10,000 dullars (dollars)’.But it was the last sentence with an asterisk that cast doubts whether this was a serious poster. It read ‘dozen price dey o’.
Another backdrop also announced the name of a church as ‘Elshaddai shall not Die’. However, on closer inspection, the reporter was shocked to learn that the programme was ‘powered’ by Viagra, Yem-kem and St Remy, products associated with sex and alcohol.
One other poster invited single ladies, stating that God is offering 1000 husbands. They were probably up for grabs. To buttress their point, several good-looking men were shown on the poster. Yet another cried “My father my father, release my money!”
Another church signpost sounds like an advice- “Run for your Life Chapel”, and one may wonder where the members should run to. In the city of Port Harcourt is the church “Laboratory Church of Christ, and one can’t help wondering whether the pastor was not successful as a surgeon, and decided to try his hands on spiritual surgery. Probably keying into the fuel subsidy problems of 2012, Word Chambers Church, Ibadan decided to make a sticker titled ‘My Year of Divine Subsidy’. Another outlandish poster advertising for Dr Fireman’s church is one which reads ‘All the HOT girls in Lagos attend Dr Fireman’s church apart from you!’ To balance the poster is the photo of a snazzily-dressed Dr Fireman with a flock of really hot-looking girls laughing at the reader. The disturbing question is, has it become a sort of brothel? But Dr Fireman has always been associated with such controversies. In 2008, a poster of his had church read ‘The God of Dollars- when much money comes like a dream’.
But Winners’ Chapel, Choba Port Harcourt beats them all. Its poster is telltale that whoever is the pastor is also a die-hard Chelsea fan, as Chelsea players are clearly shown on it, celebrating with the champions cup.
Daily Newswatch could not also help coming across the poster of another church. It is called ‘The First Nigerian Church of the Crazy Mother’, and states at the bottom that they devote themselves to the crazy mum. Don’t ask who this crazy mum is please. Such church names have become inexhaustible, but some other churches Daily Newswatch made some effort at gathering their names are: ‘Go and tell Ahab that Elijah is here Ministries – Benin; God is Real Ministry. motto: “Jesus no get muscle but he get power”; Jesus The Landlord, We The Relaxing Pew Ministry- Port Harcourt; Best Spot In The Land of God Church – Apapa Lagos; Trigger Happy Ministry. Motto- “always firing the devil’; Kasabubu Church of God – Ibadan; Jesus Knows His Children Ministry – Benin; Seven Thunders of Jesus – Abuja; Face to Face Ministry- Kogi; Angels on Fire Chapel of Peace; Liquid Fire Ministries (Suleja, Niger State; By Fire By Fire Ministry; David Killed Goliath Ministry (Kaduna); House of Jehova’s Padawans (TransAmadi, PH); My Brother is a Christian Church Of God- Benin; High Tension Ministry; Devil go hear am Jesus Ministry- Warri, Delta; Accredited Church of God – Abuja; Chukwudi & Son Evangelical Ministry, Aba; Power Pass Power Church Of The Mountain Ministry Incorporated; Ministry Of The Unclad Wire – Bayelsa State; God’s Mennonite Church; Hurricane Miracle Ministry; Healing Tsunami Ministry; Satan in Trouble Ministry; Fire for Fire Ministry; Fist of Fury (NTA Road, Port Harcourt).