•It gives spiritual protection
By WOLE BALOGUN
In Nigeria, the name Lazarus Peter Muoka is well known in Christendom. He’s the General Overseer of the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement and has a mass followership across the world.
However, while many know about the large congregation of Pastor Mouka’s church, only a few know that the pastor once had an experience that almost claimed his life. Also, many do not know that the man of God once died for four days, after a horrible encounter with a classmate in high school. Also, only a few know that Muoka lost his first wife, just as God asked him to break away from his former church and start the missionary that today boasts of over 300,000 branches all over the world.
In this encounter with Saturday Sun, Pastor Muoka bares it all, revealing shocking details about his life, as his missionary clocked 10 recently.
Beyond your popular status in the society as a cleric, many out there would be interested in knowing who you were before you became a pastor, particularly how your growing up was…
My growing up was quite eventful. I was quite a playful boy, but something happened that shocked everyone around me. I was in the secondary school then in my village, Mgbidi, Imo State, when a classmate hit me on the stomach with his leg while we were playing. The blow was so hard that my intestine went up to my chest and I vomited all the food I had taken. I passed out instantly. When I regained consciousness, I couldn’t eat nor drink normally. I was hospitalised and I think I went through some operation. In fact, I passed out for four days, before I came around. Nobody thought I would make it. It was a miracle that I survived that accident. From then, people began to see me as not ordinary.
I did not have much education before I started fending for myself at a very tender age. I came to Lagos in 1975 and worked for some time with a company before I decided to start a private business. I was buying and selling goods and within a few years, the business boomed. I was travelling all over for business transactions. I had already become a very rich man before I gave my life to Christ. In the early eighties, I was already using the latest car then, Mercedes Benz and what have you.
Although, I had been brought up in Catholic doctrine and worshipped in my village before I came to Lagos, I longed for a place where I could hear the undiluted word of God. I hungered for the pure word of God that could touch me deeply. And once I had the opportunity to hear it in a church that has also now become very big now, I eventually gave my life to Christ. While in Catholic, my baptismal name was Peter.
Would you like to tell us about your love life?
I got married at an early age because I didn’t want to womanise before getting married. So, I got married to the first woman that came my way.
Who do you regard as your mentor in the ministry?
I admire many mighty men of God in this country and outside, but I don’t want to mention names. As for my mentor, Jesus Christ remains the greatest mentor for me.
How did you come by the name of the church?
God dropped it into my heart. He actually dropped the word ‘Chosen’ in my mind and instructed that He didn’t want any word about Catholic. After much reasoning, I came up with the Lord’s Chosen. And it is a movement, because that is God’s vision for the church.
It is quite peculiar that your name is Lazarus, given the fact that a Lazarus was Jesus’ friend in Bible. How did you get the name?
My parents gave me the name Lazarus. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. I cannot remember whether it was my mother or father who christened me Lazarus.
Your church is 10. How has the journey been, given the tremendous success you have achieved?
We want to say that whatever we have achieved today we give glory to God and also we want to say that the press has contributed to the success of this ministry. We thank God for the media; we appreciate you. This ministry started on December 23, 2002; that was when a few of our brethren gathered for a crusade. It was on Monday and I told them my vision. I told them that the ministry will commence on December 24, which was Tuesday; we had a service; it was like a crusade because it was a December period; so we had an impromptu crusade entitled “Do the will of God and prosper.” it held for two days, December 24 and 25 and it was wonderful.
By the special grace of God, we have been doing the will of God. You can see the finger of God in our midst; the foundation of the church was laid on doing the will of God and then as we do the will of God, God prospers us.
How did you receive the call to break away from your former church, where you were already a pastor?
By the special grace of God, I used to pastor in a church very well known for preaching heaven consciousness in this country and the Lord gave me a call to pull out in 1994. At first, I doubted it because I was too engrossed in everything about my former ministry. I was wondering how I could go into this kind of mega ministry that I saw in the vision. I wondered how I could do that, as I loved my former ministry. However, I shared it with my former pastor.
However, the revelation kept coming. Whenever it occurred I went to my pastor and told him what I saw. The visions at first scared me. I remember the particular one that featured a very big man of God in the society who is well notable in preaching holiness and my former pastor. Two of them came and we were at an altar. I discovered that I was taller than them in that vision. Their height reached only my chest. I remembered another revelation where I opened my chest and it was so large. When I told my pastor, his interpretation was that maybe I would have a large ministry. That was what he said on the second vision, but I don’t remember whether I shared the first one with him because he was involved. I was getting revelation upon revelation and I was wondering what there were all about.
In 1997, I was in a vigil and something happened; we had a nap before the vigil so in the course of trying to sleep, I slept and a vision was given to me. It was in the book of Isaiah 60, 1- 12 and then I woke up and read to verse 22, so it was then I believed in the vision of 1994. The Bible passage was a reaffirmation of what I was told in 1994. As a result of this, I believed that God was talking to me. Then I did something in order to keep the vision alive in my mind. I printed the whole Bible passage and posted it on the door in my office and at home. I knew that it was about me that God was speaking. However, I continue with my former church and the revelation continued. It was also followed by telltale signs during our programmes in the church.
A very remarkable one happened in 1999. We had a crusade at the trade fair complex. In that crusade I was invited but I didn’t preach; it was the person our pastor invited that preached. It was about a four-day crusade. So, our pastor told the congregation on that fateful that he would call somebody who God had chosen for the miracles. I was an usher in the congregation then and he just summoned me to the pulpit. When I went to the pulpit, I prayed. A lot of things happened: the lame walked, the blind saw, people were falling down. After all these happened, he told me to give him the microphone and asked me to go and sit down. That incident triggered off some reactions from the congregation. Many people began to tell me that my time was up with the church. However, I was still reluctant to leave because God had not told me to leave. Even though I had the whole revelations and the visions, I was not prepared to leave. Many people came to me and said that I should do something, but I was still unyielding. That was in 1999.
By 2002, we had a crusade in my former pastor’s village and I was not initially informed about the crusade or rather I didn’t know that they were having the crusade in his village. But then, I had a terrible revelation the night before the crusade held. In the revelation, there were a whole lot of people fighting me. The people were so many; it was like the whole villagers were fighting me and I was wondering the kind of strange revelation. It was so strange and terrible that I fought in the dream to a point that a lion was released and I fought the lion and killed it and began the fight with others. I fought to the point that the people were becoming weak. And at that point I woke up. It was around 2 or 3 am.
The next Saturday, I was called officially to minister at the crusade, but the dream I had was bothering me. I couldn’t understand what the fight I had in the dream was all about. When I shared the revelation with my pastor, he said he couldn’t understand it and that he wanted me to come to his village and preach at the crusade. He added that I would be the one to preach first. And then I became afraid because I hadn’t prepared for the assignment. Eventually when I mounted the podium to preach, I saw somebody who was using two clutches and I said to him that God would start the miracle with him first and by the leading of the spirit, I instructed him to drop his clutches and walk. Immediately, the man dropped the clutches and walked normally. People were amazed at what had happened. Some were even insinuating that it could have been an arrangement between us. That incident generated further controversy.
The man was highly embarrassed with what the people were insinuating, and testifying to God’s power, he said that he has actually been to many places for a touch of God without any positive result. He said he was in Lagos and he actually had a problem, which crippled him. He added that there were two people that he went to for healing and those people died and then he heard that there would be a crusade in the village and that was how he came to the crusade. He wondered why he could have arranged anything with me since he never knew me in his life. The man said that when he heard me saying drop the clutches, something left him and he felt strong enough to drop the clutches and he began to walk. He said the thing that left him was a strange heavy weight on him that had prevented him from walking.
After that encounter, I began to pray for the people and many things happened: many received their healings and God delivered many from their problems. That was in February 2002. After that incident, we again had another crusade in Ebonyi State. It was around July, and I didn’t know that I was going to preach. Usually, subordinate pastors, like us, didn’t think of preaching whenever it was our General Superintendent (GS) that would preach. And it was almost getting to the end of the crusade, and it was about a four-day crusade and the G.S suddenly sent words to me that I should be getting ready to minister. He had also informed another pastor to also preach during that day. Knowing that we were two already asked to preach, I told them that I wouldn’t preach because I was not initially informed and was not even prepared to minister. The other person instantly said he had a message. He said he was ready to preach and that encouraged me to accept the assignment, but I was thinking about what I was going to preach. The time given was short, just two hours before the time.
The G.O had already preached for four days and the day assigned to us was the last day. That kept me wondering what was left to preach since the GO had addressed the congregation. So, the other pastor left me and went to prepare for his sermon and I was still thinking of what to preach. Then God suddenly gave me an unusual message. The topic was Because they do not believe. The topic just flashed through my mind and I grabbed it. And then I summoned courage to preach.
Now, let me explain what the significance of the message was. I took it from Mark 9: 20. I decided to tell the congregation that if they had believed from the first day of our pastor’s preaching till the fourth day, they would have had a miracle. I was wanted to tell them that since they didn’t believe, some of them had not received, adding that those who would believe would have a miracle. I had a peace of mind, convinced that it was the right message for the occasion because it didn’t go against anybody’s preaching.
When it was time for either of us to preach, the other pastor left where we sat to take something. While he was away, the GO came around and told me to mount the podium and preach. And by the grace of God, a lot of things happened that day and something was very remarkable. After I left that place, I went for another programme to which I was invited. I was asked to preach at the National Stadium and I had to obtain permission from my pastor. And so he approved it. And on the day I preached at the National Stadium, something happened and the situation was not fine. It was like at the last hour of that ministration, an instruction was said to have come from my pastor, although, I’m not sure he said that. I wondered how he could say that the converts on the crusade should not be directed to our church. I was just going to the pulpit when the instruction was said to have come from the General Superintendent of the church. And I had to obey. One has to obey in order to desire what you have. I shared it with my wife then.
How did you eventually pull out?
The incident at the National Stadium and several nudging from God after that incident propelled me to seriously reconsider pulling out. But then, at the time I was making up my mind, I experienced one of the saddest moments of my life. On the next Friday, while I was praying I had a terrible dream, but in the morning of that day, I was praying about the dream when my wife came to my room to interrupt the prayer and I asked her to go back to the room. I wondered why she came to interrupt the prayer. At about six o’ clock she rushed to me and I knew something was wrong. She was on ante-natal then. Her sister had gone for a vigil and our child was in the church. Then she stopped breathing. Suddenly, I lost her and I was in great mourning during that time. I was not happy that she wouldn’t be there when I would be starting on my own ministry.
Then as the spirit kept nudging me to act, I wrote a letter of resignation. Even as I was holding the letter, I was worried where to go from that point. I wondered how to start. Those issues worried me and even when I got to the office to deliver the letter, I turned back. I wanted to change my mind. I didn’t submit the letter that night. The following morning, at about 5 am, the voice came to me again, and it said to me: You will lose all. Immediately I heard that voice, I quickly went to the office to submit the letter and it was accepted. That was about a month before the December programme the church usually has. I was even invited to preach at the church’s December crusade and that Sunday was the last time I preached in the church and I told the congregation that it was going to be the last time I would preach there.
So, how did the mission begin?
The church began effectively on December 24, 2002. It was on a Tuesday; we started with something that was like a kiosk on a plot of land at Ilasamaja, Lagos. The first day, people were not many at all, but God, who had given the visions, began to bring people Himself. People began to come to us, saying God revealed to them that they should join our movement. I remember a particular man; he was very rich and he came to us, saying God revealed to him that there was a man of God he wanted him to go and meet. And the man traced me to Ilasamaja and began to worship with us. Many people were coming to us because they received revelation from God. And that is still happening up till now. I also remember that many who had appeared to first hate us then, suddenly began to welcome us. The church was growing in leaps and bounds and many were opening their gates for us. I remember on the street, we started having our crusade; people were opening their gates for us because there were many gathering for our programmes. Despite the fact that the street was a very lengthy one, it wasn’t still accommodating the people coming and that made owners of houses open the gates of their houses for our congregation.
Eventually, we were looking for a place for expansion and I soon found a policeman who introduced us to the owner of the place we are currently occupying in Ijesha, Lagos. When we first got here, we discovered that somebody had already brought some building materials and we were confused about the development; but when the person came around and saw us, he decided to leave this place for us. One day, God gave me a dream. I saw an old man in the dream who showed me the back of the place, the bushy vast land there. He said that we could take the whole of the land. The following morning I announced it to the congregation and then we eventually took all the land and were building the arena that is now there. Even at that time, I was wondering how the massive place we were building would be filled, but once we moved in, the place was filled up by worshippers. In three to four months, the crowd was getting too much that people were squatting by the express road. The whole place has been overfilled now. So, that is how it all began. I want to let you know that God has been so faithful to us. He has been leading and guiding us in His own way. Something that is remarkable about the ministry is that when we just began, many criticised us, saying who would listen to our kind of message? This is because we were telling people the truth about the Bible. We were telling them not to drink, smoke, not to use weave-on or attachment on their hair, and all that. Those were the things God instructed me to do and I was doing them and in our own case, the more I preach the truth, the more God brings people to the church. That is the secret of the fast growth of this church.
We preach only the truth and that alone brings the people. And I believe that as we continue to preach the truth God would continue to bring His people to the Lord’s Chosen. It doesn’t, however, means we have not been having our challenges. We have been faced with serious opposition, contentions, persecutions and terrible trials coming from all quarters. There were threats and warnings from occult people, native doctors and even churches! But God has been with us, such that the more we are persecuted, the more we are moving forward.
Could you tell us some of the challenges you have faced?
I will tell you some experiences I have with people. There was a man that came to join us. When the man came, one of his subordinates who came with him told me in confidence that I should beware of the man. The man’s subordinate had cautioned me about him when they came for counselling. Then after sometime, the man became a member of the church and he was soon working with us. He was even donating his residence for house fellowships and subsequently became a pastor under this ministry. After sometime, something happened and he was asked to stop preaching and pastoring in the ministry. He did something that wasn’t in line with what the church stands for and he was suspended. The man wanted to hit back at the church and he went about spreading falsehood about the church. He went to the newspapers to blackmail the church. It was the beginning of the church’s fight with the police and the court. We were invited to defend the church almost everywhere; both the courts and the police, but the Lord saw us through the ordeal.
While the fight was going on, the Lord showed me how the man was dying in a hospital bed. In the revelation, I was lamenting. I was praying for him not to die. The next morning, his younger brother came to me to tell me that the man was dying in hospital and I told him that I had already prayed for him. I assured his brother that he would not die. In spite of all that, the police and court matters still went on. Meanwhile, the time his subordinate had cautioned me to beware of him, I had instructed our accountant to keep records of any money the man brought to the church. So, we had a record of all that he brought to church and that helped us so much. After a while, the man came back with someone and said he was sorry for all the things he had done against the church. He was amazed that I could still pray for his recovery despite what he did. And that was how we resolved the matter. But then, it had done some damage; it encouraged others who had issues with the church to run to court, the press and police. That was the real battle, but I thank God that with the cooperation of the press and everybody around, God has been defending that cause. That was the only challenge we had and God has been on our side, defending us. He has been seeing us through in a very wonderful way. So, by the special grace of God, the church is clocking 10.
We learnt that other churches come to you to say they have a revelation that they should join the Lord’s Chosen…
That is the truth. And it happens everywhere in the world. Today, I can say that God has been very wonderful to us in all ways. In many ways God is fighting for us. Through us, He has touched many souls throughout the world. Mostly here in Nigeria, God has established the church in almost all the villages and cities. In Lagos alone, today, we can talk about over 200 branches of the church spread all over the city. The same applies in virtually all the capital cities across the country, Anambra, Enugu, Edo and so on. The church has spread to the west, north, south and east of the country. Everywhere you go now in the country, people say the Lord’s Chosen is not far from us. So, God has done so many great things for this movement. There is hardly any continent in the world that you won’t find us.
In Africa, there is hardly any country we don’t have a branch now. They may be few though. We have branches in Europe, Asia, Arab countries; we are in India, Dubai, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Korea, Tunisia. I have had the opportunity to visit all those branches. In America, South America and North America, we have branches all over the places. Even in Canada, there are Lord’s Chosen branches all over. God has used the church to change the lives of so many people who were very bad before. And those afflicted with terrible diseases. I have not seen a disease so terrible that God has not healed in this ministry. Whether it is HIV, cancer, kidney or liver problems, or insanity among others, God has healed all that in this ministry. And the signs and wonders happen in all branches of the Lord’s Chosen. That shows that this is just the hand of God.
Every missionary usually have specific assignment God places in its hands and that forms the visions of such missionary. What would you say are the visions God chose your missionary for?
When God was handing this ministry to me, He gave it with three visions; they are grassroots revival all over the world, apostolic revival of heaven consciousness and winning of 10 billion souls. The first is about turning people from the kingdom of darkness to that of light, bringing people that are dead spiritually back to life, and those who do not know God to Him. And this is being done all over the world through the church. The second is the revival of apostolic experience among the body of Christ. This is ensuring that we use our lifestyle as Christians to reach out to those who profess to be born again and even those who say they are born again but they don’t have the knowledge of what the word of God is all about. We ensure this through the preaching about the baptism of the Holy Ghost and His promise of the food and gifts of the spirit and the evangelistic revival that was found among the apostles of old. This time round, you see the approach to evangelism in a radical way.
If you see any of our members, they wear aprons. That idea came with an encounter I once had with party faithful in Imo State. We had gone for evangelism and it was the first time election was taking place and I saw party members wearing shirts on which are inscribed their party candidates’ images. I reasoned that if people could put on other peoples’ image in the name of politics, we can as well advertise the gospel using aprons without shame. And when I came back to the headquarters in Lagos, I announced it to the workers that we would make aprons and we would be wearing it to advertise God and that was how it started. But today, everybody in Chosen wears aprons. And what God is doing in Chosen, if you wear aprons, armed robbers see you, they would go away. If you wear aprons to dead people, they come back to life. If you wear apron, and they shoot you, it won’t touch you because this is God and not man. And also because what God is doing in Chosen can never be seen outside. I have never seen or heard it anywhere since I was born. So, anything you touch in Chosen becomes miraculous.
What would you say has been responsible for the rapid growth of the church?
We carry out our evangelism in almost everywhere, irrespective of the status of the place; we go to all markets, villages, everywhere, everyday; we are on the road and people ask if we have any other thing to do. This is what God has inspired us to do. And He has given us the grace to do it. People who tried to imitate us, many of them could not expect that God could use us to change so many people already changed. So, they could not achieve what we have. It is unique in the Lord’s Chosen. This is a very special ministry. Since the inception of this ministry, God has made us to actually bring the real revival to the church of Christ. This is because before the emergence of this ministry in 2002, it was like the whole churches in Nigeria were dead, and, in fact, on televisions, what you saw them preach was like one-sided, materialism. But since we came, we made it known to people that we are Christians that can dress modestly and we still maintain that standard; all that we do strictly follow the principles of the Bible.
The third vision God gave us is revival of heaven consciousness in the hearts of all believers all over the world. In fact, it appeared that heaven consciousness was gone before we started. People were just preaching prosperity everywhere. And how you came make it in this world but since this ministry came on board it was like our password: Heaven at last. Many churches are now doing whatever we do, to know if it was what led to the success of our ministry. So, if we choose this or that method in evangelism, people follow suit, but this is just fulfilling what God has called us into. You know that all things work together for good for those who love God. What we preach is the standard of God. And we thank God that people are following our example and this is fulfilling the vision on heaven consciousness. You would see that today, many churches are talking about heaven; it was not so before we started.
Today, many churches talk about heaven and propagate it. And I am happy about this change because that is our assignment on earth, to bring humanity back to God. And the mandate of souls to be won, as God gave us, is 10 billion. And you know the world population now is not up to seven billion. We know that generation comes and goes. And what the Lord wants us to do is to reach to every soul. Let them hear the word of God and be converted. The Bible says it is not the will of God that any soul should perish. In fact, the Bible said that God would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. And Jesus mandated us to go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature. So, our 10 billion souls mandate implies that our ministry’s mission is ceaseless until Christ comes. That means we will preach and preach; even if Jesus tarries, our children would take over from us and because the mandate continues, the 10 billion souls mandate can’t be completed in this generation. It continues till Jesus comes. These are the visions and the mandate given to us and by the grace of God we are covering almost all the continents of the world.
In the face of the current political problems, what words do you have for the world, especially Nigeria in 2013?
Last year, when others were predicting peace and prosperity for the year, we sounded a serious warning that if people hardened their hearts and refused to renounce their evil ways and come to God, the year would be characterised by political and economic confusion and above all more bloodshed would be witnessed. Within 24 hours of cautioning the country, the petroleum brouhaha erupted, which brought the socio-economic life of the country to a standstill and this was followed by mayhem that has continued till date. The hue and cry that has enveloped the nation will not abate this year, except we recognise God as our creator and His Son, Jesus Christ as our Saviour, and repent from our sin; otherwise, we and our children will not be saved from the mayhem. He reminded us that He has given similar warning to the world before now, that if the world failed to put a stop to the abomination pervading the high and low places of the world, God will destroy humanity again. And since the advice has not been heeded, God will continue to multiply His wonders in order to draw people to Himself.
The book of Exodus 11: 6-7 and 9 which says, “And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. 7 But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. 9 And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you; that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” The cleric comparing the situation of this present day to the contest between Moses and the Israelites on one hand, and Pharaoh and the Egyptians on the other hand and the demonstration of God’s wonders, said that, the plagues and death of all the first-born in Egypt was forewarned by Moses but was ignored. And God, therefore, allowed His wonders to fall on them.
You can see how slow God is to wrath. The plagues were foretold; the times were fixed and when angels slew the Egyptians, not even a dog bark at any of the children of Israel. So, it will be this year 2013, if our people would continue to ignore the existence of God, God will continue to multiply His wonders among them, but those that will come to Him shall be saved. At that time, men will know what a difference God puts, and will put to eternity, between those that serve Him and those that serve Him not.
The plagues against the Egyptians are standing monuments of the greatness of God, the happiness of the church, and it was a standing monitor to the children of men in all ages not to provoke the Lord to jealousy or to strive with their Maker. The wonders wrought against the Egyptians was a record for prosperity, that Jehovah alone, the God of the Chosen, was the sole Maker and Creator of the heavens and the earth. It was not to crush the poor that He wrought such mighty wonders, but to convince His enemies, to the end of the world, that no cunning or power can prevail against Him; and to show His followers that whosoever trusted in Him should never be confounded.