By Henry Akubuiro
A Christian chorus familiar to many sings of Jerusalem, my happy home. It’s a veneration of that special place and a longing to be enveloped in its grandeur.
Perhaps Christians may no longer be imagining that idyllic Jerusalem, for a New Jerusalem is about to spring up in Nigeria.
Last Sunday, Nigeria’s most prolific author and celebrated inspirational preacher, Rev. Chris Christian, and the Locust Army International family worldwide celebrated the silver jubilee anniversary of the church, which started in Kano 25 years ago.
Within this period, the church has not only grown in leaps and bounds in terms of branches nationwide and worldwide; it has also produced a cerebral preacher in Rev. Christian, who has written the most books by any Nigerian author — 260 — and still counting.
By the left side of the new Locust Army International headquarters in Ajah, Lagos, is the Shekinah Bookshop which sells Christian literature. On the occasion of the church’s silver jubilee anniversary, the Shepherd, flanked by his deputies, conducted newsmen around the bookshop after cutting the celebratory ribbon.
Nestled on different shelves were the 260 books written by the author from Kano to Surulere, Lagos, and Ajah, also in Lagos, places where he has lived and still living (for the latter) and where his writing career has flourished side by side with his clergy work.
If the greatest validation a man gets is from likeminds, then Rev Christian should be cutting a carper. The church’s regional coordinator of South South, Rev. David Jedidah, told pressmen at the Shekinah Bookshop that Rev. Christian was a special gift to mankind in this generation with his intellectual and spiritual gifts. He prayed to God to continue to keep him alive so that Christendom would continue to drink from the fountain of his knowledge.
His words were in tandem with that of Reverend Victor Mark, who superintends the Abuja branch of the ministry, who, in his sermon, asked: “Have you ever seen anybody, living or dead, who has written 260 books? Shepherd is the only man in the world that has achieved that feat. You don’t know how lucky we are to have him here.”
The twenty-fifth anniversary of Locust Army International was both a celebration of intellectual accomplishments and growth of the church. Resplendent in his white agbada ensemble, the Shepherd of Locust Army International received a loud ovation when he appeared on the pulpit. The day belonged to him in part, and he wasted no time to unveil the latest 26 books of his.
Usually sought after by pastors worldwide and consumed by Christians both within and outside his church, hardly had the books been unveiled when they were snapped by curious faithful at discounted rates. Even the best of book launches might struggle to beat the volume of copies that exchanged hands within 30 minutes.
If the enthusiasm shown by the Locust Army faithful and guests were unprecedented, the eagerness to see the birth of New Jerusalem was fever pitch. From a modest beginning in Kano where he went on to build the first cathedral of the ministry, Rev. Christian builr a multi-storey edifice of the ministry in Surulere where he stayed briefly before relocating the church headquarters to Ajah on an 18-plot of land overlooking the sea, which was a dream come through, for he had prophesied about it several years ago, even when the church had no resources to think of that.
Ongoing now at Umuchu is another multistorey camp capable of housing more than 1,000 people at a go, which is nearing completion. But his latest initiative is building a prayer city in the new headquarters called New Jerusalem. When the idea was presented to the congregation at the silver jubilee anniversary, they made instant donations running into millions of naira, including members following the service online from different parts of the world. They trusted him, for he had done it before.
The silver jubilee anniversary of Locust Army International also witnessed some spellbinding, artistic displays by children. In different groups, they entertained the congregation with choreography, songs and reviews of some of the author’s books. Not only did Reverend Christian shine on that day; the kids hogged the limelight, too.
The second segment of the occasion was award presentations to a select group of faithful who had shown rare commitment to the growth of the church in the last 25 years.
Among the honorees was Reverend Victor Mark, “the Bulldozer of Immortality”. In his citation, he was described as “a priestly king maker, and an apostolic teacher with the mandate from God to raise Capital Emperors in accordance with God’s revelation of total earth dominion for this season.”
Pastor Sarah Emmanuel was another pioneer member of the Locust Army International honoured. She was praised in her citation as a woman of valour who “followed a rough path to locate the Shepherd of Mankind at a time she needed foresight to have such in-depth knowledge.”
Such was her belief in the future of the church that she sacrificed her only car in December 1996 in Kano during the church’s first anniversary for the building of its cathedral at a time the church was housed in only one room.
But the biggest hurrah of the day was reserved for the Shepherd of Mankind, Rev. Chris Christian, described as “father, mentor, teacher and God’s arbiter of life and Immortality.”
According to the organising committee, “Reverend Chris Christian lives totally for God, Chukwu, to whom he has given everything imaginable which other people value. He is a sacred eunuch with an oath of celibacy and poverty that he will not own a property or any such thing. His life is a showcase of transparent and unparalleled dedication to the Lion God.
“A sacrificial giver with total commitment to the growth of the Apostolic Church symbolised by the Locust Army. In addition, he is an unapologetic lover of God’s word. A unique writer with over two hundred and fifty bestselling and life changing books, some of which are currently being used in Bible schools and by many believers for their family devotions and as their church leadership manuals.”
Rev. Christian was further lionised as a preacher “of an unusual breed, testamental on character and calling, not given to worldly accolades but widely recognised and acknowledged nonetheless.”
Everybody who attended the silver jubilee anniversary of Locust Army International went home with a souvenir. Each journalist got a copy of The Third Eye, a book that tells us, among others, that «third eye men are the best in all generations. People lose the value of their lives when they keep looking at the things they are not meant to see.»
The author acknowledged that he had written over 200 books, but “The Third Eye is profoundly inspiring and has the power of awesome enlightenment. Make it a must-read.”
Like he has done over the years, the modest headquarters of Locust Army International, Ajah, could, in a few years from now, transform into a big church by the sea, perhaps with many voices singing: Jerusalem, my happy home.