By Henry Akubuiro
With 260 published books so far, Rev. Chris Christian, the Shepherd of Locust Army Ministry, Ajah, Lagos, is regarded as Nigeria’s most prolific author. The preacher-author, who published his first book in 2002, writes predominantly Christian literature, though they have social relevance across faith. He was interviewed by Henry Akubuiro in Lagos where he responded to questions on his writing career and his ongoing literary project.
You are one of the most prolific authors in the world with 260 books published so far, how did your journey begin? Was it fortuitous?
In the beginning, at the age of nine, I had the consciousness of light. I knew the value of knowledge. I have always been interested in acquiring and imparting knowledge. I knew the dangers of ignorance and how outrageous it was. So I tried to do whatever I must to enlighten somebody else, to help him open his eyes so he can live well, because, if people don’t know, they can’t live well. Light orders life. Having that in mind, it wasn’t hard for me to be inspired to write.
I started writing Bible Study in my mother’s church in 1993. That was 28 years ago. I gained a lot of experience doing that. When I read a good book, I admired the writer. If a book impacted me, I would get very happy, and I prayed in my heart that God should give me such grace to write something that could help somebody.
So when exactly did you write your first published book?
It was 19 years ago, in 2002, and since then, I have been writing progressively. Before I wrote the first book, I had already written Bible Study and pamphlets. Now, I have 260 books.
Did you ever think you were going to get to this number when you published your first book?
To be honest with you, I never knew I loved reading and writing. As you can see on my table, you will find John Maxwell and other authors. I believe in imparting knowledge. It wasn’t easy for me to write this number of books. But I continued to write. One of my books, Self-discovery and Identity, is being printed in the US. They will circulate it around the world. After I wrote it,
I improved. I wrote it about 11 years ago. I made a discovery on stylish writing. It was at that point that I made a discovery on how to relate with the second person of your thought, get information from God directly without struggling. I didn’t have it before that time. After I had it, life became easy for me. That’s the only way I can write many books at the same time. But then, that’s the major thing I do.
Don’t you think the pulpit has suffered on account of your scribal excursions?
The books preach for me; they go where I can’t go, like we have started translating into French. 260 books all over the world! In Germany, France, USA, UK, Canada, so many nations. Some buy ebooks while others buy hard copies.
You once told me your encounter with the Jews concerning your books…
Yes. I wrote a book entitled Third Eye, which got into their hands. So they started making inquiries about the author and came to Nigeria and started having a cost on it. It went far. Recently again, there was another enquiry from Germany who came looking for The Third Eye. It’s one of my best books. It’s very deep. I had written Third Dimension where the Lord asked me to write on “The Third Eye”. It was a chapter in Third Dimension. So I took the chapter on “Third Eye” and made it a full-length book with the title, Third Eye. A lot of my books followed that way. Sometimes I will take a chapter from a book and turn it into a full-length book.
What’s the sweetest thing you have heard from your readers?
That my books blessed them and opened their hearts. I don’t only write; I preach, too, in the church, on radio and TV. So many places. When people tell me that the book blessed them, I get inspired to write more.
Does writing pay? How
lucrative is it?
If you look at the environment —Africans are not really readers — but, then, I have the Oath of Poverty, so writing is not for money making, though we sell, but it’s not the overriding factor. My books go between N600 and N1000. There is one that’s about 700 pages, which we sell for only N1500. Sometimes, too, I give out free books.
Who read your books most —Nigerians or foreigners?
Church members read it more, followed by other Nigerians and foreigners —they download from ebooks; some others buy from me.
You are quite prolific, how do you decide what to write at a particular time?
I have Consecration. There was a time I was on a prayer tower for 14 days, and an angel came there one afternoon and asked me to come down. So when I came down, I was on the floor, and the angel said they sent sun to the tower to make me come down. He told me to write two books, including The Power and Immortality of Vision. I asked, ‘How do I write these books?’ The angel replied that I would get help from them. I heard it loud and clear. I know when angels inspire me. When I lack the words, I wait.
If you are asked to choose your three best books, what would be your favourite?
I have mentioned Third Eye already. I have God Used to be a Man, and Self Discovery and Identity.
What fulfilment do you derive from being an author?
It is fulfilling God’s work. It’s enough for me that God asked me to do it and I am busy with it, just like the eunuch lifestyle. It’s not easy all the time —my parents didn’t like it. My father wanted a biological seed from me, but I didn’t have the opportunity. Sometimes you have to go through pain, but the consolation is God’s will. It’s bizarre to be different from other people and some people may be wondering, what are they talking about?
In fact, I have written the first chapter of The Native Man of Amandula since. It is a work of fiction. It’s awesome. Sometimes I feel somehow that I am trying to create a story that’s not real (laughs). In the narrative, it looks as if I am trying to lie. I am trying to depict a village setting by the side of the coast to tell the story of a barren woman who, eventually, is visited by God, leading to a conception of a unique boy, who grows up to become a warrior.
It makes you feel uncomfortable that you are a liar?
So how soon are we expecting it?
I don’t know yet, but it’s going to happen. I am trying to build the narrative from a Bible story and make it human. I have not left the novel. If you look at it, it has a lot of imagination. That is my restriction. However, the story is in my heart. I intend to write 15 chapters.
What’s your advice to Nigerian writers who complain they don’t break even?
It’s not having things immediately; prosperity starts by having valuable people. Look at Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, John Munonye, Cyprian Ekwensi or Shakespeare; they have produced awesome literary works! Look at Apostle Paul and Jeremiah: these are great men whose impact can’t be quantified with money! I still remember verses from Shakespeare’s Merchants of Venice, which I memorised in 1982. I played the role of Antonio.