The Presiding Bishop of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, otherwise known as Winners' Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, is a great man of faith dedicated to serving God and preaching good news to His children. He is one of the richest Pastors in the world. His church is ranked as one of the most populated in Africa while the Church's headquarters boasts of hosting the largest christian auditorium in the world. He has branches of the dynamic ministry scattered across the lenght and breadth of the universe. Bishop Oyedepo is successful as an evangelical agent of change.
In the consciousness of millions of Christians around the world he is a strong-willed spiritually-fortified powerful servant of the living God. He is not afraid to say his mind (no matter how inconvenient) and speaks undiluted truth to power. Like Bishop Hassan Mathew Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese Bishop Oyedepo preaches evangelism of fire. Both are patriots dedicated to the salvation of the faithful.
Bishop Oyedepo could have conveniently elected to keep a dignified silence in the face of national leadership failure or other failures of the Buharian system. But he chose to speak often like a man possessed by celestial spirits. He does not pretend to 'love' those in power because they have failed to do the right thing.
His university, the Covenant, is reputed as one of the best Ivory Towers in Nigeria. And whoever graduates from there is sure of employment in the public or private sector. The Winners' Bishop is into other mundane investments much like other men of God of his generation whose insatiable quest for wealth cannot be over-emphasized here.
They preach the gospel yet see nothing wrong in the acquisition of wealth beyond the celestial realm! Many among them preach about prosperity as if their entire lives depend on it.
When the controversial CAMA law came into being Oyedepo raised hell describing it as a diabolical piece of legislation aimed primarily at controlling the church. During the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency Oyedepo's exorbitant limousine was reportedly stolen at gun point on a street in Lagos. He reacted angrily to the theft by asking 'Baba' to find and return the luxurious automobile or risk God's wrath! Days later the sophisticated car was found across the border in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Addressing the congregation during the church’s programme last weekend tagged: "Covenant Hour of Prayer" Bishop Oyedepo was fired up against the Coronavirus and the vaccination process currently going on around the world to curtail its spread. The high-profile preacher of the gospel could be described as COVID-skeptic or suffering from Corona phobia but on this day, surrounded by thousands of his members, he struck a discordant chord that resonated around the world.
Sounding supremely omnipotent he had these to say: "I have never seen a generation where you force people to take vaccines. It is inhuman; it is immoral sir. I’m not a lawyer but I don’t think it is legal. You can’t come to my house and want to give me an injection...For what? Did I invite you? They are confused. But the church has the answer. Did you see any outbreak of virus here? How will it enter the gate? Will it come through the air? How? One woman just got down after that injection in Kaduna. What kind of life? Are human beings now turned to guinea pigs?
And waxing authoritatively dogmatic the senior evangelical cleric went on: "The world is confused but the church is lighted. So the triumph of the church will humble the pride of the world. They don’t know what to do sir. In the last days, the church will be reigning in power and glory. That is God's agenda".
COVID-19 is real and it is here with us. It had killed Presidents, Kings and Queens. Mallam Abba Kyari, the late former Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, joined his ancestors courtesy of the pandemic. President Pierre Nkurunziza (of Burundi) and John Magufuli (of Tanzania) had kicked the bucket as a result of their Corona ignorance and denial.
Incidentially the two late Presidents had played the 'God' card believing ignorantly that with fasting and prayers God could send the deadly contagious disease away. Alas, it struck at their presidential abodes taking them six feet below!
By dismissing outright the Coronavirus fatal invasion of our planet, a pandemic that succeeded last year in putting humanity in global socio-economic stress, killing close to a million souls and leaving millions more in hospital beds Oyedepo could be said to be playing to the perilous gallery.
Today the Jewish state of Israel ranks as the most successful nation in terms of mass anti-COVID vaccination. If Jesus the Christ were alive today and lived in the holy land He would have submitted himself to the vaccination policy of the state. After all, when the issue of paying tax came up He had wisely told His disciples to give unto Ceaser what was his and to God His dues!
So christianity has little or nothing to do with it. Rather than linking the celestial hosts to the Corona pandemic we hold that the devil is more in the detail. God cannot be party to the mass suffering of His children. Even though we have all sinned and come short of the divine glory COVID-19 could not have been a scourge from heavenly hosts.
Bishop Oyedepo's Corona ignorance is shocking because he is a learned, highly-respected widely-travelled man of God. He is a religious leader of repute in Nigeria and beyond. So every word he utters matters and is taken seriously no matter how 'stupid' or indefensible. Given these circumstances he ought to know better; his COVID-19 acrobatic dance before a world audience was nauseating to say the least.
He has the right to refuse taking the Corona vaccines but he has no right to 'order' his congregation, directly or indirectly, to shun same.
It is criminal and unworthy of a renowned evangelist of his status. He must be made to see reason by his handlers or associates or the government would force reason on him.