Chris Christian is the Shepherd of the Locust Army International, a Pentecostal church with branches all over the country and different parts of Africa. He is a renowned apostolic-prophet captured with the vision of raising an altar for the messiah in the heart of Africa. Christian is not your regular, flamboyant pastor –right from the beginning, he made the vow of poverty, which means he owns no personal property anywhere in the world and is not entitled to riches, too. Rather, he spends his money solely on the ministry and on charity. At 54, Christian, who has been a preacher for 26 years, has remained unmarried. This is deliberate, however. He told Saturday Sun in this interview that he has no plan to marry at any time in the future. Find out more about his “unusual” lifestyle.
How was it like growing up?
I was born and raised in Umuchu in Aguata LGA of Anambra State. It was when I entered the University of Jos in 1986 that I left home. My parents were local farmers. My father, in particular, was partly a carpenter. From carpentry work, he joined trading, selling building materials in our town. So there was no silver spoon for us. My parents were just struggling to survive, but God was there to help.
Why did you depart from your father’s occupation when you grew up?
It was the will of God. He was involved. It had to do with preordination. God chose me from the womb to do his work. Initially, I followed my path before I eventually discovered what I was meant to be.
At what point did you learn that you were going to be a preacher?
It was clear I had love for God. But I had the awareness early, and it helped me. From the ages of 10-12, I had that awareness to know the importance of certain things like consecration and knowledge. I was born into Salvation Army Ministry. I was taught Bible as a youth. I had the awareness to know different things. So it inspired me. I was able to know the difference between light and darkness and the consequences of certain actions. So I got devoted to God very early. It was the sign that helped me to come to this path.
For many men of God, there is always this life-changing encounter that retrace their footsteps and draw them closer to God. What was your own experience?
I was in a church meeting, and a man of God was laying hands on people, and he laid hand on me. That was in 1993 in Jos. When he laid his hand on me, I fell down. By the time I rose up from the ground, I discovered my tongue had changed. That’s how I came to be prophetic. From that particular point, whenever I saw people, I would know their needs. I can say it was a supernatural hand that was laid on me. God gets his people the way he gets them. Perhaps he thought the only way I could come to the gospel was through that means. I studied Physics, and I know that, if one plus one is not two, it cannot be three (laugh). Until then, I believed in what I saw, because I was trained on practical things.
So you have left Physics?
Yes, I have left what I studied in the university. You know, Physics is the study of natural law. However, the knowledge I have gathered in Physics still helps me in the gospel to reason intelligently.
The most surprising thing is that you studied Physics and most scientists don’t believe God exists, but here you are doing the work of God. So how do you reconcile both realities?
(Laughs) Science has to even help us believe there is God, because, all my life, I have seen supernatural things; I have seen an end; I have seen where the human capacity stops. For instance, there is the case of a lady who dedicated her new born babies in my church not long ago –she was delivered of a triplet –and she waited for about 10 years to get pregnant. She had gone to different doctors. They wrote her off and said she couldn’t take in. When she came to this church, we started praying, and God intervened. When I see such thing, I believe in God, because what men said could not happen happened. Science has helped me to believe more.
But your own case is an isolated case. For many scientists, God does not exist, and they don’t believe in miracles…
Because they are not involved. The omnipotence of God cannot be ruled out, especially the interventions. The scientists should know the limitations of human knowledge. It is not everything that goes on that you can interpret. There are certain things that go on earth that we don’t have interpretations as scientists for, especially the supernaturals: they transcend human knowledge. I think science should submit, because it is merely interpreting knowledge in its part, but God is vast.
From that point when the man of God touched you and you had an encounter with God, how did you push through?
I started a process. You know, developing a ministry is developing the man. The man started developing, and the Locust Army was born. Ministry is a vision born from the heart of man. I am still at the process. There are many things God wants me to accomplish that I haven’t accomplished. We recently moved to Lekki on the instruction of God from the Surulere headquarters. Now, we have started developing the church. It is not yet what I want it to be; I am having a big plan for the church. It is a virgin area with many possibilities. The other day, I was discussing with somebody who said he was passing by and God directed him to enter the church –my church is along the road. I didn’t have this kind of testimony in Surulere. But I did not arrive here today; I started as a freelancer, preaching from place to place in Kano. My personal ministry is 26 years now.
The Locust Army started out in Kano, a highly Islamic society in northern Nigeria. How did you manage to do that?
It was very difficult, because the church was resisted, but God was with us. There was a time they wrote some of our names that we were disturbing them, and threatened to kill us.
When was that?
In the early 1990s. We started praying over it, and God delivered us from them. That was shortly before I came to Lagos. You know God honours labour. Before I relocated to Lagos, we made impact in Kano.
In many new generation churches in Nigeria these days, one often sees the picture of the General Overseer side by side with that of the wife of the church. In your own case, it is not so. I am aware you don’t have a wife and there is no woman in your life…
I have an Oath of Chastity –I am a celibate. I also have the Oath of Poverty. My calling does not involve having a wife and so it affected the church. The women’s role in this church is not significant, because I am not married.
And you are in your 50s now?
Yes, I am 54, and am not going to marry anytime. I was born a eunuch. I can’t marry anytime. Pressures were there early from my family when they thought I would change, but when they saw I had insisted and had remained like this everybody allowed me to have my way. A 54 year old is not a baby.
You are a successful preacher and a handsome man, the type women will be interested in for marriage. How do you fight off romantic advances?
When you come to a church and you tell them this is what you want, people will give you time. When you insist on it, and you are honest about it, they will allow you to have your way. I think that’s what happened.
So you don’t fall into temptations at all?
I don’t do anything close in my office with women. My receptionist is a man. Women don’t work as secretaries for me. So it helps me to keep women at a distance. I don’t live with them. They don’t visit my house. It is a law. I come to the church daily and spend 10 hours and I come back in the night and spend another 6 hours. So any woman who wants to see me should only see me in the church.
You are as a celibate and a proud one, yet we have gay preachers, especially in Europe, who want to be recognised as married couples. How do you see this contradiction?
It is end-time prophecy. It is like what happened in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Anytime you see such things, it points to the end of an age. Those things make us to know that Jesus is about to come. It is the height of abomination. It happened in the age of Sodom and Gomorrah, so we are not surprised. It is not actually negative in itself, because it is fulfilling prophecy. Bible said it would happen. It is part of the beastly manifestations that will usher in Christ.
Another interesting thing you mentioned here is the Vow of Poverty. Does that make you a poor man or what?
What that means is that I should not own anything. Right now, I don’t own anything.
This is strange, because most pastors in Nigeria are rich. How do you spend your money?
The money goes into church projects and other things God asks me to do with it. We are developing a camp for the church. We have added some rooms there, and we are about to paint it. This takes money. I am trying to print 16 books, which will cost me up to 5 million naira. I am an author.
So you are not under pressure to have a private jet like many Nigerian pastors?
I am not against owning a private jet, but I am not under pressure to have it (laughs). Many preachers are called to be travelling, so they might need it to be travelling from place to place. I am not a travelling preacher.
If you get a gift of private jet, what will you do with it?
I will do with it what other preachers do with it (laughs). People give me money, too. I invest it; I don’t make it private. I can give the jet back to the church and anybody can use it. People give me cars –they have been giving me cars for more than 20 years. This January, I had three cars. The Lord asked me to have only one. So I sold one and gave two out.
A major talking point in Nigeria now is the negative influence of social media and cable TV programmes, like Big Brother Naija. What’s your take on this?
I am thinking that families should take individual responsibilities on such things. There are many negative things that are happening right now. Social media is part of it. When we were growing up, we had people who were into watching porn. Those things have always been there, but we have to take individual responsibilities. The earth is a place of choices, although government has to check their excesses. Individuals should make choices and families should take responsibilities, finding out what their children do on social media and placing limitations on them. I don’t think the issue of social media has come to where the government can close it.
Similarly, the church should also intervene in programmes like Big Brother. It should give the nation a covering against such evil. The government should also do what is right concerning that. Why should you give 60 million naira to the winner of such a programme? It is still part of what they are trying to copy from the western world –a mark of the end. Parents should also take charge of their childrenWhat’s your dress sense?
I am not a dress freak. I just wear what makes me look fine. I wear jackets, anything that makes me look presentable before the public. Dressing fine is okay when it is necessary.
Not like the Gucci Pastor who has been in the news of late, accused of rape…?
(laughs) When something came up on social media, sometimes it is difficult to get the full story. And when people take sides, sometimes they find it difficult to hear the other side. But I think Pastors should be very careful. The church sometimes looks like a market: somebody can walk into the church sometimes and hang around (he is not really a member); sometimes pastors are mistaken to believe that everybody who comes to the church is a member; sometimes journalists who mock still go inside the church to look for stories to write.
You are quoted as saying Nigeria is one of the strategic countries chosen by God to spread Christendom before the coming of Christ…
Nigeria is a country in prophecy. Africa is very important in this millennium, and Nigeria is just a trigger. You cannot talk about the destiny of a black man without talking about Nigeria, according to prophecy. It is even in one of my books. Nigeria is very important to God. The reason Nigeria has not gone to war with all the things that are going on is because the security light of God is upon the country. God has a special interest in Nigeria, especially Christians, and I am thinking that he will keep protecting the country. As corrupt as the country is, Nigeria still has some preserved people who God respects. God wants Nigeria to be one indivisible entity. He is not interested in dividing this country.
The entity Nigeria, as I said, is a country in prophecy, whether the people are Muslim or Christians; they are Nigerians. Some people don’t know it is not only things that are positive that fulfill prophecies. Sometimes it depends on things that are negative to fulfill the prophecy. Judas had to sell Jesus because God allowed it. Among the 12 disciples were diverse characters. Nicodemus was a doubter, yet he was among the 12; Jesus didn’t send him away.
Concerning Judas, Jesus was aware of his character, but he tolerated him, because he wanted to fulfill prophecy. He needed Judas to sell Him. The Bible had already prophesied in the Old Testament that Jesus would be sold for 30 pieces of silver, and a traitor should do that. So the negative in Nigeria compliments the positive. God stays in the middle, because the sphere is for both Satan and God, but God is in charge. Sometimes it is like God overrules Satan. It takes some balance. So we need the north and its landmass to make up the giant of Africa that will fulfill big prophecy.