By Vivian Onyebukwa and Oyinlola Adewale
On the D-Day, the church auditorium was filled to overflowing with members and their guests. Faces beamed with smiles. Different groups dressed in different colourful uniformed attires added to the beauty, not only of the occasion but also of the environment. Throw up any colour and you are likely to see its wearer there. The congregation sang joyfully and with excitement to various songs raised by the choir. Worshippers, guests, and spectators came from practically the four cardinal points of the world. They include bishops and other ministers of God. The scripture lesson for the day was taken from Acts of Apostles 17:1-9.
Welcome to the official dedication of the ultra-modern Cathedral of Christ Holy Church International (Nation Builders), at Alahun Osunba, Maza-Maza, Lagos. Some members who witnessed it all from the beginning to this stage of the development said that it was quite unbelievable that the church which started as a mustard seed has germinated and grown into the big tree that it is today. God, they say, has transformed the place from a swampy area to a beautiful place of worship. The Alahun Osunba branch which has, reportedly, existed for 13 years, was said to have started off on a setting, which was so flooded, especially in the rainy season, that members had to meander their way through the waterlogged area to participate in worship service. But with the successful completion and dedication of the structure all that now seems to belong in the past.
His Grace, the Most Rev, Daniel Chukwudumebi Okoh, the General Superintendent, Christ Holy Church International, who served as the officiating minister during the dedication, said that much when he preached. “The first time I came to this place in 2008, this was a big pool of water where you could catch fish,” he said. “It was not just a swamp, it was challenging to build. When they wanted to build, I told them that they should not place any block there until a soil test had been conducted. It was so. I am glad that we what did then has become a standard in this area. Now, no one here puts up a structure until a soil test has been carried out. Today, we are in this comfortable place of worship because we want to be part of what God is doing for His people. Although we have eternal fellowship with Him, we decided to do something to separate us from school, club, etc. We decided to set up a church with a vision.”
Speaking further on the topic for the day, “Continue To Raise Missionaries,” Okoh noted that as “Odozi Obodo” (Nation Builders), the church embarks, from time to time, on projects that impact families and members, and pledged that they will continue to raise congregations. “We don’t just receive from the Lord,” he enthused. “We also give back to Him. As we dedicate this church, our mission has not ended. We will begin to look at what we do on daily basis. How does it impact and change people with us and around us even now that we have a more beautiful image? People came into the church and found brothers, sisters, families, etc. Our pioneers took care of the poor. We have a tradition that has transformed lives in different ways. Prayers, food, health, were offered. We give hope to the hopeless. This is a legacy that we have sustained – a legacy of being missionaries.”
He urged members not to relent in their efforts but to continue in prayers. “There is so much danger around us,” he said. “But this year must be dedicated to prayer. Support the spreading of the gospel. Let us continue to raise missionary congregations.” Lamenting the fact that most members absent themselves from Sunday School he asked them to change their attitude. He concluded his homily by promoting the Alahun Osunba branch to a District Headquarters, and charged the minister-in-charge, Senior Evangelist Joseph Igboanugo, the Station Minister, and members to build five other branches within a space of five years. He described Igboanugo as a builder and dedicated man of God.
Earlier, in their welcome address, members of the church recalled their journey to the newly built cathedral, which they said, began in 2007 when the station was opened by their mother church station, CHC International, Olodi Apapa, then under the leadership of Very Rev. N.O. Udemba, Bishop-elect then, but now retired. He was assisted by Senior Evang. now Pastor Alex Anyakorah. The members also appreciated the men and brethren who worked tirelessly to see that church members could have a place to worship. They include Douglas Okonkwo and Vitus Onwuegbulem who is said to have sustained injuries during the course of laying the foundation and Snr Evang Anthony Anayo Uba.