It was a time of confession for Bishop Mike Okonkwo, one of the prominent leaders in Nigerian christian community recently as he told members of his congregation that he has been deceiving them on the issue of payment of tithe.
Okonkwo, who is the founder of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), told members of his church that contrary to what he has been telling them over the years, anyone who refuses to pay tithe will not be under any form of curse.
He also confessed that he and his colleagues employ the 'threat of curse' to frighten church members to part with their money.
Mr. Okonkwo said he threatened members of his church to pay tithe in the past out of ignorance.
In a video that has now gone viral, the Bishop said pastors are in the habit of using certain “semantics” to manipulate their members into paying tithe.
He said, “The first mention of tithe, there was no curse in it. Abraham gave the tithe of all to Melchizedek which was before the law. There was no curse and he did it willingly.
“I have frightened the church with curses for not paying tithes and that was because I didn’t know any better.
“You know we conjure all kinds of semantics like, ‘If you don’t pay your tithe, your life will be tight,’ and the people pay out of fear without God’s blessing.
“God wants you to pay tithe out of love, it shouldn’t be about the money, but about Jesus.”
In another video, the pastor dispelled the first fruit doctrine - a teaching by some pentecostal pastors to their members to give all of their first salaries in the year or the first profit realised from their business undertakings as offerings.
Bishop Okonkwo said other pastors have approached him to also enforce payment of first fruit in his church, but he had always refused the counsel.
“Can you imagine all the businessmen, all the profit you made and you bring them at my feet. Even if I did not read it in the bible, my conscience will not allow me.
“It is not all the gifts you take, take only the one you will be able to go to bed," he said.
He said he had to let go of a pastor who wanted to imbibe the first fruit doctrine in his church.