When he first came in contact with the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) 40 years ago, he was more of a spectator. He wondered what type of church it was, where members wore white robes without shoes. Today, Right Reverend Gabriel Beni Omoge is the Pastor and Supreme Head of CCC Worldwide and in this interview with TAIWO OLANREWAJU, speaks on how the CCC has evolved over the past 70 years. EXCERPTS:
BRIEF about background
I am from IsuaAkoko in Akoko South East Local Government Area of Ondo State. I was born over 50 years ago. I am the fifth of my mother’s six children; four males and two females. My parents are late. My father was a cocoa merchant, while my mother was a business woman and the first of two wives. I was born into the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). I studied up to the Modern School and I was an auto-technician before I was called into the ministry.
How did you join the CCC?
My elder brother invited me to CCC Ikeja Parish 2, Lagos in 1977. Then, I jeered at him for putting on white robes without shoes, not knowing what God had in stock for me. I wondered what type of religion that was. It was a youth that was prophesying when we got to the parish and I was told that I was in the wrong profession, because I had been ordained to be a prophet of God. Of course, I did not believe the prophecy, but in 1978, during a revival service in Ondo State, I began to prophesy. I was told that I repeated the word beeni (yes) severally during the prophecy and before I knew it, Beeni became the name by which I was identified. I later adopted it as my middle name. At that time Pastor Bilewu Oshoffa was the head of the church.
One of the major problems of CCC since the demise of the founder, Pastor Oshoffa, has been that of leadership. How do you hope to address this problem?
The Lord says the race is not for the swift but for those to whom grace has been bestowed. And according to Luke 1:37, there is nothing God cannot do. We are praying that this church will become one. Those that are enriching themselves through the crisis are many, just as those who are unwilling that the church becomes one. But the Bible says in Psalm 30:5 that weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning. I believe that the Lord will unite His church.
When did you become the head of the church?
Leadership in the CCC is in phases. I was first a zonal evangelist for some years and I was promoted to district evangelist and later, I became a state evangelist. I was also the Archdiocesan Head of Ondo and Ekiti states for eight years. Shortly after, the then Head of the CCC, Pastor and Supreme Head, Maforikan, sent for me on May 14, 2015. I was afraid because I was not close to him. He did not know my house till he died and I wondered what I had done wrong. But in the presence of some elders and pastors of the church, he proclaimed me the next head of the church after his demise, saying that was what the founder, Pastor Oshoffa, told him. I was made his assistant, the deputy pastor. I took up the duties of deputy pastor and when Pastor Maforikan became aged, I did the work of the pastor. Even in his lifetime, I anointed people. On November 11, 2015, I was made the acting pastor and in August 2016, I was proclaimed the Pastor and Supreme Head of the CCC Worldwide.
What plans do you have for the CCC worldwide?
When Pastor Maforikan was alive, I used to tell him and the elders that whenever I travelled from Akure to Lagos, I closed my eyes as I approached the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry (MFM) and the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) campground. When I was asked why, I told them that I used to pray that the CCC would also have a campground on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, with people saying every month, ‘Let us quickly pass through the camp-ground of the CCC before a hold-up starts there,’ as it is being said of the MFM and the RCCG.
So, during Pastor Maforikan’s lifetime, I had told him and the elders that the time was ripe to revive the CCC. I said the monies meant for the Pastor of the CCC, that is, returns and anointing fee, would be used for the development of the church during my time. Hence, the church acquired 300 hectares of land at Kilometre 28, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, on which we have started building the CCC Golden City.
Did your parents tell you of any prophecy foretelling your headship of a church?
Yes, one of my elder sisters living in Lagos, a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, who is my mother figure because she is about 78 years old now, said she was told that one of her younger ones would become a pastor, a prominent figure in the society. I was younger and I did not attend a Celestial Church so I was not bothered. We did not know who the prophecy was about but when it was time, the Lord proclaimed Himself according to Luke 12:2 which says, “For there is nothing covered , that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known.” It is the covenant of God.
You mentioned earlier that you had donated the returns and anointing oil monies meant for the office of the Pastor and Supreme Head for the development of the church. What other doctrines of the church would you change?
I will not change the church’s doctrines, rather I would amend them. For instance, anointing takes place every four and seven years but now we can’t differentiate who is receiving anointing from who is being anointed. I will look into that for possible amendment. Also, different girdles, alien to the CCC, are now used in the church; we will look into this. The title ‘Mother Celestial’ is meant for elderly women in the menopausal stage, and not for some 18-year-olds bearing the title now, we will also look into this so that the church will become better than it was in those good old days.
Come September 29th, the CCC Worldwide will clock 70. What are some of the achievements of the church?
We thank God that we are alive to witness the 70th anniversary of the church. I wish to state categorically that the CCC is one. We will all come together and build a university, a printing press, secondary schools, hospitals, among others. Things are different from the time of our fathers. Within a short time, all these projects would be accomplished.
Why is it that members of the CCC put on white robes without shoes?
That is not by human wisdom. If we check Jeremiah 2:25, it states: “Withhold thy foot from being unshod….” The Bible says whatever is dead has become unclean. If you remove your shoes from your legs and sniff them, they will smell because they are made from the skin of dead animals. What alliance has an unholy thing with a holy one? Also, in Revelation 3:4 which states: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” I’m not saying those who do not put on white robes are not children of God. One can put on a white robe and not be pure in heart. The most important things are to fear the Lord and keep His commandments, for according to 1st Samuel 16:7, “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Another observation is that some male CCC members practise polygamy. Does CCC allow polygamy?
I don’t think it is a sin to have more than one wife but if one wants peace of mind and peace on his job, it is better to have one wife. But I, Pastor Gabriel Beni Omoge, am the husband of one wife. I won’t advise those who are already in polygamy to send away their other wives, but they should cater for them adequately and know how to control their homes. But for those of our male members who are yet to marry, I advise them to marry only one wife so that they will have peace of mind.
What advice would do you give to government on insecurity?
I pray that the Lord will restore Nigeria. The Bible in John 8:32 states: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” We know the truth in Nigeria but the truth has not set us free. We have rules but we don’t apply them. I know that a time is coming when the Lord will intervene in the situation of Nigeria but let us be prayerful.
What is your message to CCC members worldwide as the church clocks 70?
Hebrews 5 states that if a man of 20, 30 or 40 years still feeds on the bottle, he is not a good child. That means we are 70 without many significant things to point at. Saying I am for Paul or Apollo or that I have been a member of the CCC since 1918 or 1930 will not qualify one for Heaven. Hebrews 6:1 states: “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection….” It is that perfection that Christ demands of us. Let us unite to raise the name of the Lord. CCC is a church of God; some may not know. I am certain that the issue of factionalism will soon be history in the church.
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