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Archbishop Emmanuel Chukwu Emmanuel of Christian Community Ministries International, CCMI, runs the biggest African church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Anambra State-born cleric is visiting Nigeria for the burial of his forester mother and to futher opening branches of his church in Asaba and Owerri. In a chat with Tony Iwuoma, he blamed the pervading economic crisis in Nigeria on poverty of leadership and poor wealth distribution, stressing the need for leaders to have the fear of God.
You are in Nigeria during the Easter festivities. So, what message do you have for Nigerians?
Easter is the fulcrum of the Christian faith. If God brought it to be, He can fulfill all His promises. People should believe in Christ. God does not lie. The word of God cannot fall to the ground. It does what He says. Nigerians should anchor their hope in God because when you believe in God, He makes all things possible and causes your dream come true.
The Nigerian economy is currently in recession. Do you think it will soon abate?
We serve a God of miracles. God provides our needs. We are not led by the economy of this country but by God’s financial supply. As God says, He supplies all our needs according to Philippians 4:19. When you believe in God, He supplies all your needs; He is not a man that lies. He has been supplying my needs; there is no lack. Supernaturally, God has been seeing members of my church and me through. We have number of testimonies. He makes dreams and goals come true. I know it that God is not a man that lies. The God we serve is true, come, taste and see.
It is not as simplistic as that. What other measures, apart from believing in God do you think Nigerians must take to overcome their ugly situation?
Of course, people must work hard and go about their legitimate businesses. But God says if my people call upon me and seek my face, I will heal their land. There is hardship in the land because of the lack of fear of God. Africa is the richest continent in the world but does not know how to manage its wealth because the leaders are not God-fearing. They do not believe in the wisdom and knowledge of the distribution of wealth because they lack the fear of God. It is not about going to church but being transformed. If Nigerians are transformed in the same manner and zeal they pray, everything will be all right. We need to know the will of God. In CCMI, we preach practical Christianity and know the will of God and hear from Him. God showed Moses His way; he walked in it and miracles came. We don’t run after miracles because you are a miracle already. We are not moved by miracles; what is important is to know the will of God and do it; breakthroughs will come.
Obviously, you have accomplished much in Brazil but not much is known about you in Nigeria. Who is Archbishop Emmanuel?
I am from Obosi in Anambra State but I grew up in Port Harcourt. My call can be likened to Apostle Paul’s. People knew me then in Port Harcourt and never believed it because of who I was and who I was transformed to be. Young people then used to call me Lord Simple and were surprised at my transformation. I encountered God and my transformation came as result of that. I was living the life, night clubbing and all that until I saw the light. God opened my eyes to see people in chains, in tatters. I asked God who they were and where they were going. He told me they were people who did not believe in God and going to hell. I saw Christ saying they must not go to hell. God gave me a scripture, Jeremiah 1:4-10. But I did not have a bible. That was on a Saturday but by Sunday morning, a woman came to me and said God said she should give me a bible. I asked her to read the passage God had given to me and that led me to church. I gave my testimony in church and began the journey of a new life in Christ. I later became a youth pastor and attended Zoë Bible Institute owned by an American, Robert K C, in Umunze, Anambra State. I became a pastor in Body of Christ Ministries, Port Harcourt, before traveling to Brazil on a missionary journey
The Lord told me in a crusade ground in Calabar to go to Brazil. I told my wife about it and she said she too had got the revelation in a dream. When God says a thing, He does it. He made a way for me to be in Brazil and I have seen many miracles of God in my life. In fact, my church is the biggest African church in Brazil. When I got to Brazil, there was no African church. I started with preaching in restaurants and today; God has brought us a long way.
So, why are you in Nigeria at this time?
My mission to Nigeria is two-fold. Firstly, I am attending the burial of my forester mother in Owerri, Imo state. I am also here with regard to my plan to establish church in Asaba and Owerri. My church is based in Sao Paulo and about 16 years old. My plan to establish the church here is in fulfillment of prophecy. God told me when I was going to Brazil that he was going to bring me back to Nigeria. So, I intend to return home eventually to fulfill God’s word. My choice of Asaba and Owerri is God’s specific instruction. I have lived in Brazil for 21 years.
Would you say proliferation of churches is good?
When you go into the ministry without hearing from God, you make a mistake. The most important thing is the motive for establishing the church. When I was in Brazil, God did not tell me to open a church in Nigeria. However, I started a church in Lagos because I was told that if I didI would make it. For years, I spent my money funding the church without any headway until I closed it down. In ministry, don’t move by sight or what you hear but listen to God before you do anything.
On the other hand, proliferation of churches is somehow good because it is Christ that is preached. All work will be tested eventually. It will stand if Christ is involved or collapse with time if He isn’t. By their fruits, we shall know them.
Can you compare the Brazilian church with Nigeria’s?
There is not much difference between the church in Brazil and Nigeria. There is a great move of the Holy Spirit. The church is alive. In both Nigeria and Brazil, the church operates in the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is great enthusiasm and transformation of the spirit. When you are in Christ, you become a new creature and change takes place in you. When you are transformed you live the life of God.
What has your experience been like?
My experience in ministry has been awesome. Many souls have been won for the Kingdom. There have been signs and wonders. God has been so good to me and ministry, making impossibilities possible and making people to actualise their goals in life. There are uncountable miracles and testimonies, prophecies coming true.
What do you think is responsible for the Brazilian economy’s better outlook than Nigeria’s?
Brazilians invest their money in Brazil and the economy grows. But in Nigeria, one man is richer than the country. Nigerians carry outside the country money that should have been invested within, thereby stagnating the economy. Government should do God’s will. We will all die one day. A situation where one man is richer than the country is wrong and that is because of wrong distribution of wealth. There is no magic to advance the economy if our leaders do not know how to distribute the wealth through investments in the country. That will be possible when we have the right people in the right places. When we stop being greedy and think about our brothers, infrastructure will be better than what we have presently. There is no need taking money to Switzerland that cannot be accessed by your children when you die.
What word do you have for President Buhari?
I remember having a dream about Buhari before he won the election. In that dream, I saw Pastor Sunday Adelaja, Nigerian-born Ukraine-based evangelist, praying for him. If Buhari and his vice President have the right pastors around them and heeding their advice, they will do well. If they seek the right people and hear from God, there is nothing God cannot do including changing the country for the better in their time.