•Why I don’t take tithes and offerings from some people
Pastor Lazarus Muoka was born into a Catholic family in Umuhuokabia, Orsu Local Government Area of Imo State. After his primary and secondary education, he moved to Lagos in 1975 and worked for a company for some time, before starting up his own business. He was in the business before he gave his life to Christ. Later, he became a branch pastor of the Church he was. Thereafter, he had many dreams from God in 1994 prompting him to pull out of the church he was serving as a pastor to set up The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministry with the aim of “preaching the undiluted word of God”. The church, which he started with a few pioneer members has grown to become one of the most popular churches in Nigeria today. In this interview with GILBERT EKEZIE, he spoke on the current political and economic situation in Nigeria, the Biafra struggle by the Igbo, what God is telling him about the country, the world, need for good leadership and what it will take to rebuild the Nigerian society.
As a minister, does God ever talk to you about Nigeria?
Yes, God really talks to me about Nigeria and I always say whatever He tells me about the country.
Could you tell us what God is telling you about the country now?
In the first place, I will say that what we have on the ground in Nigeria presently; be it economic or insecurity problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. However, it is the end-time programme of God. It is established that in the last days, perilous tims will come, just to show the people that the time is at hand, so that everyone will have the need to turn to God. Obviously, all over the world today, we are experiencing economic crisis and God allowed all to happen to tell the people that the end- time is at hand. And as result, people will get ready for the coming of Jesus Christ. If you recall when the people of Israel wanted to leave Egypt, they were kept in Goshen where various calamities were befalling them, yet they were blessed and protected by God. So, as it is now, I want to let you know that Nigeria is in God’s hands, and God is ready to bless Nigeria and Nigerians, especially those who run to him for cover. In one of our morning programmes inside the church recently in Lagos, before the announcement that Nigeria has come out of recession, God revealed it to me. And, as prayer was going on, the Lord put it in my heart that because of these people (worshippers), henceforth, God will change the economy of Nigeria and I said it as I was told. After the proclamation, it was announced next day that Nigeria has gone out of recession. So, looking at that, it is obvious that God has the interest of our country at heart and can change every situation because of the chosen people, no matter how bad it may be. So, what He is telling me about Nigeria is that no matter the situation, things will surely be better, provided the leaders and the led are on the right track with the knowledge of God.
Being a man of God of Igbo extraction, how do you feel about the cry of marginalization from your fellow Igbo people?
Everyone must know that the world is not our own, we are strangers. Every country of the world has one problem or the other. So, we should not see our own as exception. So, all should think heaven and work towards that. If one has God, he does not need to bother because one with God is a majority.
Why do you not reel out prophecies like other pastors do at the beginning of the year or are you afraid of your prophesies not coming to pass?
Well, people should understand that what we are doing in the ministry is spiritual. But unfortunately, in most cases, people do it because they want to do it to be noticed. You talk when God asks you to talk, and no one can force God to do something. God always speak to me. You see, the issue of prophecies must not be at the beginning of the year as many see it. Why must it be a yearly thing? Does it mean that God is silent throughout the year and then comes out to talk at the beginning of every year? In a nutshell, I want to tell you that God speaks to me always and each time He asks me to talk, I will. I am not the kind that waits for the beginning of the year before reeling out prophecies. It is not a matter of being afraid that my prophesies may not come to pass because there is no prophecy that comes from God that will fail, unless otherwise. I do not think that since we started this church, I have said anything that did not come to pass. So, it is not the issue of that fear, rather one must fear God so that you do not speak your mind and say that God said.
How do we know a true church since there is proliferation of churches these days?
The Bible tells us that by their fruits we shall know them. So, there is no other way one can identify a true church, if not by the activities of the church and its members. The number one reason God established a church, through Jesus Christ is for the salvation of souls. And, as disciples of Christ, we are also his ambassadors. The Bible made us to understand that for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. So, if one establishes a church for monetary purposes, I do not think the person is for God because God is not after money, but the salvation of souls. “And Jesus said follow me and I will make you fishers of men. If one is running a church, he must not be economical with the truth. He must tell the followers the truth. Anywhere I go I tell people about salvation and there is no message I preach that has no salvation undertone. We spell it out to them so that they can escape it. We are happy that our vision is working and others are copying us. No matter how they preach theirs, the issue is that the message is preached. We are happy that churches are now coming out to preach about salvation and against sinful acts.
What is the secret behind the regular miracles that happen in your church, especially as it concerns armed robbers?
Well, I can say that other churches also perform miracles . But what stands us out among them is that God called us specially to deliver people from bondage and to provoke other churches to know that we are duly called by God. So, it makes the people attest to our calling. God made it clear to me that this church was raised to bring succour to the body of Christ. When you come to Chosen, everything about you changes for good. So, the success of Chosen is God, not man. He employs the masters to work in the church both in physical and spiritual aspects. You see, The Lord’s Chosen does not change, our system remains the same all over the place you find our church. What many people do not understand is that, as we have doctors in the hospitals who are working for the body to be good, there are specialists among them who other doctors refer patients to. It is also like that in the church sector. As we are all working for the same purpose of winning souls for Christ, we have special callings and anointing. At The Lord’s Chosen, we do not struggle for miracles because God raised the ministry to show other churches that He is still alive. Looking at this aspect, you will see that the issue of miracles happening in Chosen is not because we are answering a miracle church, but because God chose us for a particular purpose and for that reason, He gave us something to show that He really chose us. Our church is the only church in the world that you mention, whenever an armed robber wants to attack you, he will surrender. And if the robber tries more, he will be disarmed. That has happened in thousand times where our members collected guns from armed robbers. So, if you look at the church, you will see that we are specially chosen by God to do that. We are not the ones advertising the church, but what God is doing in the church. Another unique aspect of the church is that every member can perform miracles. It is not about me alone, God made it to be so. It is about what God wants to do in Chosen. It is not by struggle or competition; when it is not God, it becomes parochial.
You always bar some people from paying tithes, giving offerings and donating to your church, why is it so?
Like I usually say, we are not after money, but the salvation of souls. I always announce in my church programmes that armed robbers, kidnappers, cultists, adulterers among others must repent before stepping out to pay tithes, offerings and other donations in the church. The God who called us is always with us and we know that He will supply all our needs including money to finance the church. That is why we always advise sinners to repent from all their evil ways so that God will forgive and give them good business that conforms to the word of God.
How do you identify those who are sinners in your church?
We may not know them, but God knows them and will judge them for going against His will.
How do you plan to actualize your target of winning 10 billion souls all over the world?
You see, if you look at the aspect of God’s vision for the whole world, it is not different from ours. The point is that we have God’s given mandate to reach out to 10 billion souls. But one thing is to win and the other is for God to save the won souls. It is God that is working. Though the world is not up to ten billion, the vision is to continue to preach and reach out to the whole world. So, as a generation comes and goes, it will continue. It is something that has no end. The mandate is wonderful.
At what point or figure are you presently in your drive and what strategy are you going to use to achieve that?
Well, I cannot say because I am not in other parts of the world to know the figure so far. But all I know is that the message is on course across the world. By the grace of God, we are working seriously to ensure that we reach every part of the world through regular missionary travels around the world. As we talk, we have cable television through which we reach out to the whole world. We also have branches in many countries of the world where God’s messages are preached. So, it is a gradual process and we are optimistic that we will get there.
When are we expecting your private jet in the light of the fact that you travel often on the gospel mission?
Well, the issue of a private jet is good, but it is not our primary concern for now. What we need is the money to move around to spread the gospel. Even if we have the money to buy a jet, it will be better for us to use it to establish our churches all over the world and ensure that more souls are won for God. So, I don’t see it as an achievement, considering the mandate God gave me, which I am working on.
Do you ever face temptation?
Yes, temptation is common and inevitable.
Could you share some of the temptations you encountered?
What I can say is that one should pray for those who are instrumental to what is happening to him. Actually, there were persecutions which I may not be able to highlight here. But God is taking control.
In the light of the current political situation where the Igbo are threatening to secede from Nigeria, what is your advice?
Igbo should pray for God to take charge of the situation in Nigeria so that there will be peace, love and the desired unity. All I know is that God has a plan for the country. So, they should pray hard for the will of God to prevail and it is only in an atmosphere of peace, love, and unity that things would be better.
Can you recall the beginning of your ministry as a preacher, pastor and deliverance minister?
Well, The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Ministry was founded on the 24th of December 2002, as a result of the vision that God gave me. We started first in a rented apartment at No.16 Odunaike Street Ilasamaja, Lagos, and in few months God increased the church and the apartment could no longer contain the worshipers. Shortly, the Lord provided for us and we bought 10 plots of land at No.10 Odofin Park Estate, Oshodi-Apapa Expressway, by Ijesha bus-stop, Lagos, where we presently worship. Thereafter, we started building and by August 2003, we parked in with about 25,000 worshipers.
There, the Lord continued to walk with us and was confirming His word with miraculous signs. Sinners were being saved, the sick healed, the captives were set free and the poor made rich. Through the undiluted word of God that we preach, the Lord added to the church in thousands weekly, and we grew to about 30, 000 worshipers in a single service. As a result, the church could no longer contain us. Miraculously, in October 2003, God provided us another 60 plots of land beside our church and we bought it. The place is currently under development. In fact, The Lord’s Chosen is a revival ministry inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring the knowledge of salvation to all the kings and their subjects, to the masters and their servants, to the rulers and the people they are ruling all over the world. For those who doubt the spiritual roots of the church’s foundation, I am telling them that the birth of the church was in response to the divine call of God received by me.
What are your challenges in the ministry?
Initially, we had the challenge on how to train the ministers and where to go. As is common when great projects are begun, I came under many tribulations and attacks by forces who were afraid of my ministry’s bold approach and the extraordinary public response to God’s many and varied interventions to free humanity from bondage. The miraculous healings in my ministry spawned many troubled souls to inundate the ministry. We are going through the challenges not because we are doing something bad, but because we are progressing rapidly. You are aware that growth provokes envy. Yet, with God, we triumph over all the challenges and God is still expanding the ministry to cater for His increasing flock of faithful handed over to me.
What does it take to rebuild friendship in a Nigerian society now divided along ethnic lines?
It will take the fear of God and love for our fellow Nigerians, no matter the religious and ethnic differences. They should understand that they need to be their brother’s keepers because they have many things in common. Moreover, once Nigerians identify their mistakes and correct them, the friendship, which is no more, would be rebuilt.
What vision is God showing you about the world?
God is telling me that even as almost every country of the world is having a problem or the other, He will surely intervene in their respective situations, but it takes patience and love for these things to be actualized. Also, there is an urgent need for everyone to turn to God so that the world would be more peaceful and a better place to stay.
Who are your mentors and what have you learned from them?
I have Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Holy Bible where I learn from. More so, my ministry did not just start like that, I came from a ministry where I also learned a lot from the minister. I also learn from other ministers. Notwithstanding, there are those who I mentor; who at a point, handed over their ministries to us.
What is your advice for the leadership of the country?
Any leader without the fear of God cannot succeed, no matter the policies and strategies he may apply. Presently, we do not have stability in education and that needs to be given the desired attention because it is the best asset. Nigerians want to read, so we should give them that access and the conducive environment to read.
What is your advice for Nigerians?
I would say that Nigeria is in God’s hands because of our fervent prayers. So, we should stop blame game, remain as one entity and embrace God in all we do because He is the ultimate.
Could you talk about your upcoming programme ‘God’s Blessing for a higher level’?
The programme is a special inter-denominational crusade meant not only to restore God’s blessings upon man for higher level but to reposition him to his height at creation. It is also to strengthen man’s grace to have control and dominion over his economic, political and social environment. This shall eliminate the economic disfigurement created by the burden of recession. Although the country has been proclaimed to exit the economic recession, the citizens are yet to experience the reality of the proclamation. As a result, hopes are still dampened and the situation has not been ameliorated. Seeing the situation, God who has the power to change situations and perfect everything that concerns us has decided to transform into reality, our political, economic and social lives by showering on us, His blessing for a higher level that will enable Nigerians, particularly, participants to be distinguished from others. It does not matter that the effect of the exit from recession has not affected businesses or families, our assurance is that God has set aside the two days to prove again that it was because of man that He created every other thing in the world, and that was why He gave him dominion over other creatures, which was the beginning of the blessings of higher level. Also, the programme was borne‑ out of what God has for us in this ministry, many who will attend the programme and the entire nation. God Almighty has decided to visit us and bless us in such a way that He would put us where we should be. It is like the blessings of Abraham, which were above other blessings. Without such blessings, he would not have been known. God really does His things according to His timing. So, I believe that He has something in mind to have given us the topic.