His Eminence, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Mobiyina Friday Oshoffa, Pastor and Spiritual Head of Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide, is the first born of the late founding pastor and prophet, St. SBJ Oshoffa. He holds a Master’s degree in Animal Biological Science. He was head of the Diocese of France till 2002 when he succeeded the third pastor Philip Hunsu Ajose who died in March 2001. He is a multi-linguist and multi-instrumentalist.
In this exclusive interview with our Editor/Publisher, Gracious Akintayo, he speaks on many issues and says, Celestial Church is God’s gift to the world. Excerpt:
Sir, Congratulations on the 70 year anniversary of Celestial Church Worldwide
Thank you for rejoicing with us, God bless you. We thank God for His faithfulness and goodness over the church.
What was your growing up like?
I was born a year after Celestial Church of Christ was established in Kpave, Benin Republic, where I grew and schooled. I have a Master’s degree in Biology/Animal Science and had worked as a vet scientist in France for many years. I grew up in a strict religious setting and was always in the church; I have no time for social life or do what other young men of my age do. I was a member of the choir and play the piano and other musical instruments. I was a choir leader and a good singer.
Describe your late dad, the founder of Celestial Church and your relationship with him?
Papa was a great man and hero; a loving, caring and affectionate father after God’s heart. He was godly, principled and a disciplinarian. He never treats me with kid gloves. He was not just my father; he was my pastor, mentor and model. I had a good relationship with him, despite his schedules, we were close and he was always part of my decisions.
What do many don’t know about your dad?
He was unassuming, humble and had a relationship with other church leaders. He never criticized any church. Throughout his lifetime, he never travelled by air, but people who travelled out of the country started the church abroad. He prayed simple prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, God answered and things happened. God used him tremendously to raise many dead people and also healed many sick people.
How was the journey to your current position?
It is not my position. It pleases God to put me there. It is not hereditary or a family thing and I was not keen or expecting to be in this position, but God, in His wisdom, made it so. Humanly, it was not easy; I tried to reject the call when it came because it is big with high responsibility. I would have loved to remain as the head of France Diocese. But, God’s plan is not our plan, He had planned and destined me to be here, so I had no option than to obey the call and accept the responsibility. Like every other person, including my late dad, knowing what it involves and the demands, when God calls you, you will be scared, try to dodge or run away. In all, I thank God for wisdom and grace to do the work, though, we are not there yet, but we are pressing on to reach the mark. Let me appreciate the members of the Board of Trustee (BOT), Pastors in Council (PIC) Shepherds in Council (SIC) and every organ of the church, including members worldwide for their support, encouragement and contributions towards the growth and development of this church, the God of Celestial will continue to bless them.
Tell us about your family
I am happily married to an understanding and accommodating wife, a better half God chose for me. We are blessed with children and things are going on beautiful for us.
Describe Celestial Church at 70 years
Celestial Church of Christ is God’s gift to the world and mankind. That is why it is a divine order from heaven. It is a glorious church, people will come to understand, appreciate and follow.
How would you assess the church’s journey so far?
The church’s journey has been daring, challenging and tough, but glorious and wonderful because it is of God with the commission to preach the gospel of one true God to the lost, reach out to Christians who still run after fetish things to assure them the power of God, challenge the powers of darkness and cleanse the world. It has been a tough journey with a big task and great work; so far, so good we are celebrating our significant Ebenezer and symbolic 70 years of God’s goodness.
32 years after the death of the founder, how will you position the church?
The church is doing great and marching on. His sudden death created a big vacuum yet, though, the church is waxing stronger, growing and expanding globally, but we still miss him.
What has kept the church going?
It is the covenant and power of God when the founder, heard the voice, “LULI”, which was interpreted to him as, ‘the Grace of Jesus Christ’. “It is the wish of God to send you on an errand of preaching in the World to many nominal Christians who are confronted with difficulties and problems of this world. They run after fetish priests and other powers of darkness for assistance. Consequently, on their death, they cannot see Christ because, by their action, Satan has left his mark on them.”
Kindly emphasis on the church’s doctrine and worship mode
There is nothing extraordinary about Celestial Church doctrines and the mode of worship is not peculiar, they are biblical, symbolic and divinely instructed. Papa Oshoffa had many angelic visitations and received revelations with specific instructions on mode of worship. the word of God says, we should not come into His presence empty handed, it doesn’t really mean money, it can be anything tangible –fruits, candle, water, salt, sugar etc; all these are spiritually symbolic to worship and biblical, they are not rituals or occult. The fact that we use some of these things does not make us idol worshipper, it is for our own convenience and has to do with faith. God has given us those things to use positively for our well being, above all, we pray in Jesus name. Are they not the same items commonly used in homes or consumed for healthy living?
Talking about special prayers for people, we are talking of intercessory prayers where a group of people will stand in the gap praying fervently for a person. That person may be in the church, like going to camp or mountain under the watch of a shepherd. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ and forbid the worshipping angels. Michael and other angels minister to us the heirs of salvation. There is nothing we do or practice as a church that is strange.
It was learnt Papa prophesied there would be crisis in the church for 30 years after his demise?
That is what is happening now. He foresaw what is happening now because the heart of man is full of evil and deceit. The crisis has created a lot of divisions and threatened the church, but nothing or nobody can pull down what the Lord has built. Jesus Christ said, I will build my church and the gate of hell shall not prevail against it. What you see happening is evidence that the church is of God and He exists there. Satan cannot fight what belongs to him, he only fights and attack what is of God. Among the 12 disciples, there was Judas Iscariot and wherever the children of God gathered, Satan will always be there with his agents to distract and foment trouble. Those causing the crisis and creating the division are doing it for selfish purpose and not primarily to do God’s work. Notwithstanding what the enemy meant to do, Celestial Church of Christ is one and built on the solid foundation of Christ. I am optimistic and trusting God that, it will soon be over and become history; ranks will be closed, unity and glory will be fully restored, because the glory of Celestial is one and the glory of latter rain shall be greater than the former one.
What effort have you put in place to bring members together?
We are doing everything possible and making efforts which are already yielding fruits. We have achieved almost 80% with most divided parishes are now in one fold, not relenting, we believe God will perfect what He has started and the enemy will be put to shame.
What is your advice to Nigerian Christians, church leaders and people in government?
First, have the fear of God in our hearts. Love God, obey His commandments and follow Him diligently. Church leaders should build the fear and reverence of God in the hearts of their followers, teaching them to be patient with God. People in government should not do evil; they should follow the part of peace and remember they are representing people in their various positions. They should always seek God in everything they do, so that God can reign in the affairs of men and peace can reign in our country.