PHOTOS: Inside Nigerian Church Where Members Awaited Second Coming Of Christ
Naija News House brings to you Inside Nigerian Church Where Members Awaited Second Coming Of Christ
The Whole Bible Believer Church, popularly known as Ondo Church, was a relatively unknown church until last week when about 77 members kept in its basement were forcibly removed by security agents. The 77 members, including 23 kids and 54 male and female teenagers and adults, were in the basement awaiting purported second coming of Jesus Christ in September.
It was a chaotic situation as the church members resisted the move by a combined team of Amotekun operatives, policemen and vigilance group to remove them.
With the demise of the original founder of the church, events had taken a different turn as a new head, Pastor David Anifowose, took over. The teachings of the new head focused on rapture (the second coming of Jesus Christ) and the need for children and youths to defer to their spiritual fathers rather than their biological ones.
Many members of the church who sensed danger in the new order had left the church, but many of their wives and children had already been indoctrinated. Hence they opted to abandon their husbands and fathers in preference for the teachings of the church and its leader. Many of the youths abandoned their education.
The efforts made by some parents to withdraw their children from the church were said to have been rebuffed by the pastor and his assistants while several interventions made by the police in that respect also came to naught. Some husbands were said to have been beaten for daring to ask their wives to leave the church. Many parents who attempted to stop their children and wives from attending the church have sordid tales to tell.
For instance, a former member of the church, Oluwaferanmi Kehinde Aderonke, revealed that her children abandoned their studies to stick to the church.
She said: “It was just a few years ago that things changed as the pastors in charge of the church brought some new doctrines. Some men who disagreed with the new ways of the church abandoned their wives and left while the wives and their children opted to stay with the church.
“My daughter stays in Ibadan, but they said I should tell the girl to come and serve God here in Ondo to the point that they did not allow her to finish her HND programme in Ibadan. She abandoned her education and came to Ondo.
“The church later said that there is a deity in my family and that I should go to my family house to do some spiritual things in order to destroy the deity. We felt that it was God that said so, not knowing that it was a lie.
“The reason why I finally left the church was that my 15-year-old girl, Rhoda Oluwaferanmi, said she would not go to school again. She claimed to have had a vision that she should not go to school again. For almost one month, she did not go to school.
“One day, Pastor Peter told my girl that she should listen to what God had told her. I frowned at it and said that I would not tolerate that at all. I also came to the conclusion that their visions in that church were fake.
“I stopped going to the church, but my children were still attending. Then suddenly, these children started disobeying me at home. If I cooked food for them, they would not eat it.
“I was fed up to the extent that I went to the police station to report. The police invited the pastor that he should sign an undertaken that he would release the girl for her to further her education. After so many issues, we eventually landed in court on the matter.
“I went to the pastor again to complain that what they were preaching in the church was destroying my home, but since then, my children stopped listening to me.
“The founder of the church is dead and things changed when new pastors took over the administration of the church. They started preaching that rapture would soon come and whoever did not attend the church would not go to heaven. They even said that no child in the church should take immunization, that it is a sign of Satan.”
How the bubble burst
Mrs. Elizabeth Reuben whose four children were indoctrinated by the church said the pastor surrounded himself with the book of Eden and other contraband documents.
“The pastor was the main problem of the church. He is surrounded by people he has brainwashed like he did to my children. He did not cater well for those he camped in the church. He made it a law that they must not eat any processed food,” she said.
She said she left the church when she became uncomfortable with its doctrines. She said the teachings of the pastor made the children not to believe in their parents but him alone.
Mrs Reuben added: “My problem started when I stopped attending “Ondo Church” about two months ago because of the dangerous doctrines that I noticed were practised in the church.
“The sermons of the pastor were the cause of the problem. He made sure that the bonds between children and their parents were broken.
“Parents are rendered useless by him and children are taught not to reckon with their parents. What they were preaching and practising in the church is against the word of God. So, I asked my children to stop attending the church too but they refused.
“When I realised that they were determined to keep going to the church, I went to the Civil Defense office at Sabo to ask for help.
“They were able to help counsel my children about the dangers of going to the church. My children promised that they would stop going to the church and even wrote undertakings, which made me happy.
“We went back to our house and everything was normal for a few days. To my surprise, on Monday, June 22, 2022, I returned from work to find that my children had gone back to the church.
“I called my daughter’s phone but she did not pick the call. She later called to tell me that they had gone back to the church and would be spending the next seven days there. I knew very well that once they are inside that church, nobody can get them out and they will not be allowed to go to school.
“That was how Gideon was forced to stay in the church when he was supposed to write his Mathematics examination because they told him that God did not want him to write the examination.
“I went back to the Civil Defence office and reported what had happened. A letter was drafted to explain to the church why my children should be released to me.
“The Civil Defence officers took the letter there but they were not allowed into the church. They knocked the gate for a long time but they were not allowed in and had to leave.
“The officers went back there again but they were still not allowed in. So, they pasted the letter on the gate of the church on Wednesday.
“On Thursday, my husband and his siblings went to the church but they were not allowed in. So, I went back to the Civil Defence office to inform them that I would be going to the church to get my children.
“They advised me not to go to the church for my own safety but I did not listen. I did not want what happened to Gideon with his Mathematics examination to repeat itself with Blessing in her Common Entrance examination.
“On my way to the church, I stopped at Fagun Police Station to inform them about my mission to Ondo Church to get my children.
“When I got to the church, I started begging them to open the gate for me. I saw brother “Ayenbo” through the fence and begged him to at least release my daughter who was to write the Common Entrance examination.
“He had called me on Tuesday and told me to leave my children for God. He even promised to return the money I paid for the Common Entrance to me just to leave my children in the church but I refused. So, he just stood there and did not respond to my request.
“So, I went to a nearby house and took a stool which I took to a side of the church. With it, I was able to jump over the fence into the church.
“A member of the church named George came to where I was and started beating me. Other members of the church like Stephen, Precious and Clement joined George to beat me up.
“Stephen then asked them how I got into the church and they told him that I jumped over the fence. They beat me till I was tired, threw me out over the fence and I landed in another compound. The people in that compound came out to help me.
“I was injured in the neck and other parts of my body. It was God who did not allow me to die right there.
“I called my family members to tell them what had happened and went back home that day to take care of myself.
“The next morning, a woman I had known for some time sent for me. She told me that she would be taking me to the CAN Chairman to report the issue. So, I was taken to the CAN chairman’s office and that was how the journey began.
“The chairman was worried that such a thing was happening in the community and promised to help me get my children. He immediately sent some people to accompany me to the church to get the children but they still did not open the gate for us.
“We went back to the church and continue knocking the gate but they did not open it for us despite the presence of the police.
“One of the human rights defenders who accompanied us jumped into the church and was immediately attacked by George. Other members of the church soon joined him as they beat up the human rights defender. They then threw the man against the fence, leading to the collapse of a part of the fence and the man fell outside. One of the police officers who accompanied us was wounded in the process.
“Police officers were mobilised to the church. But despite the presence of the police officers and other groups around the church, the members continued with their programme. They did not show any remorse for their actions.
“When the DPO arrived, he ordered the police to go into the church and they did that with the other mobilised groups. My elder brother joined us in searching for my children.
“Members of the church violently resisted the attempt by the police and other groups to enter into the building.
“When I saw my children, I called them to come to me but they told me that they would follow their people. As I was dragging them, one of them bit me while the other who was defending himself with a chair hit me on my forehead with the chair. I was beaten up by members of the church.
“At the end of the day, the police were able to arrest the members of the church. They also arrested the pastor and his wife. My children were taken to the station by the police together with the other children and adults rescued from the church.
“In Akure, my children refused to follow me home. I had to beg people to help me catch my son when he tried to escape. This also happened to other parents who came to pick their children in Akure. We had to bring them home by force.”
Engr. Omoseebi James Oluwole, whose child was among those detained, said he was still in shock. Oluwole stated that his son, a student of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) claimed that God called him and told him to leave his parents.
He said: “Around February last year, during the COVID 19 lockdown, we didn’t see him at home. I called my brother and he said I should come to Akure. I started suspecting that something was wrong.
“I went to his school and called his school guardian and our search for Moses Ayobami led us to Ondo town.
“When we got there, we saw the man who called himself the General Overseer, Pastor Anifowose. We told him we were looking for my son who was supposed to be in school in Akure. He said he was helping my son.
“He was violent together with one of his sons. They wanted to beat us. We later took our son home.
“When we got to Ilorin, he went back to school and we told him not to go back to the church. During last Christmas, my son said he was going to Ondo to attend a prophetic service. I said he should not go.
“When my daughter was about to wed in April, I called my son, he said he had to obey his spiritual father more than his own biological father. He said God had called him just like He called Abraham in the bible. He said God had told him to leave his parents like Abraham did.
“He said I worship idols in Deeper Life. He is in 400 Level and one of the most brilliant students, but this pastor told them not to go to any school again or do any work. I want to take him back home.
A teacher, Olaniyan Patrick, said his pregnant wife refused to leave the church when he left alongside three of his children. He said the wife gave birth in the church and refused to return home. He said that all the entreaties he made, including involving the police, failed. He said the wife’s parents went to the church but were driven away.
“I have not seen my wife and my four-month-old baby since then. She said she was going to follow the lord and not her parents or husband,” he said.
Neighbourhood residents rejoice
Residents of the neighbourhood said they were happy that the authorities have sealed the church. They said the church was notorious for warding off strange faces from its premises.
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ondo West Local Government Chapter, Rev Sunday Olowoniyi, described the incident as one of the challenges faced from churches not registered under any of the body’s five blocs.
At the Ondo State Police Command Headquarters where the supposed victims were taken to, it was a dramatic situation as the children and youths refused to follow their parents’ homes. What shocked the police officers the most was that they also refused to eat any of the foods offered them. Even after they were released, they refused to go home in solidarity with their detained pastor.
Olasunkami Olafisoye, who claimed to be a graduate from Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, said she joined the church because her parents were not doing the will of God.
She said: “My parents are not in that church. When we left our former church, they usually stayed at home, and before then, I was not comfortable with the Bible teaching of their church.
“I later decided to join this church because my parents were leading me away from God and I want to make heaven. I love the way the church follows Jesus and the way they hold on to Christ.
“I disowned my parents because they are leading me away from Jesus and I found the way to heaven from this church. I cannot because of the parents leading me away from God and obey them.”
Ondo State Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr Bunmi Osadahun, said the children were already hardened from the manner they spoke during interaction with them.
According to her, “the way they are speaking showed they have been hypnotised. They are speaking boldly. They are speaking with confidence that God will soon come. They had not eaten for seven days and they are ready to do more fasting.
“They said they only eat fruits. They said the basement was a camp. What we are witnessing from the interviews indicated that the children are already hardened. They are ready for any interview.
“We have found out that the pastor who does not believe in education has two children who are graduates and are now members of the church.
“Some of the parents said their children refused to take immunization. The children said it is evil for them to be immunised. We want to have correct information about what is happening; the database of the children and how these children became hypnotised.
“Some of the children need to be taken for rehabilitation.”
An Assistant pastor of the church, Pastor Peter Josiah, said they only taught pure Bible in the church.
“I teach them what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ. The prophesies that are being fulfilled at this time show that the rapture is close. I never even mentioned years to the church. I never taught them to run from their parents. I only teach them gospel. I only tell them to obey their parents in the Lord.”
Pastor Anifowose, who denied hypnotising or abducting the victims, said he only preached the undiluted words of God to members but not for the children to disobey or abandon their parents.