Succession in churches: A battle between business, spirituality

Posted by News Express | 16 October 2021 | 701 times

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It has always been a battle. In most churches in Nigeria, especially ministries when the founder dies, there is a battle for leadership between church leaders and the spouse of the founder. The latest in that is the fight between Evelyn, wife of the Synagogue Church of All Nation, the late Pastor T.B Joshua and the leaders of the church. In this report, TAI ANYANWU looks at the previous battles by other wives of founders, who held firm to their husbands’ dreams. He found out that it is a mixture of the good and the bad

In the days of the early Prophets, a trainee prophet, Elisha, had expressed strong desire to step into the shoes of his Master Elijah. His cry was: ‘How can I inherit ‘a double portion of Prophet Elijah’s anointing?”

Elijah, his master and mentor to several other prophets in training, had pointedly told Elisha: “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” Elijah’s response is indeed instructive. It goes without saying that transference of leadership anointing goes beyond mere desire.

It is a spiritual affair that is never tainted with inordinate ambition. In his own case, Elisha was required to humbly and meticulously follow in the footsteps of his master until he watched Elijah being taken up to heaven. Having gone the extra mile, over and above other apprentice Prophets, Elijah witnessed the remission of Elijah into glory.

He also picked up Elijah’s prophetic cloak, the symbol of the master’s anointing. Immediately, he was saddled with task of crossing over the Jordan River either with the aid of a boat or vessel, he could easily rely on the God of Elijah; and great faith, he struck the water with the cloak.

The water opened up, and Elisha walked across on dry ground. Undoubtedly, that act affirmed the transition of the prophetic office from Elijah to Elisha as well as the fulfillment of Elisha’s request. Worthy of note also is the fact that the miraculous crossing of the Jordan was witnessed by other trainee prophets.

Hence the Bible noted: “When the sons of the prophets, who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. From that point, the sons of the prophet accepted Elisha as their spiritual leader. 

According to elder Josiah Odunayo of Christ Apostolic Church, LAWNA Territory, the foregoing is a clear example of how transference of leadership/anointing was conferred on a worthy servant of God, in early ecumenical movement.

“This pattern of succession is hardly the same as what we are witnessing in our churches today; and it’s worrisome,” Odunayo stressed.

Sunday Telegraph survey on succession battles in several Christian denominations in Nigeria reveals a catalogue of ecclesiastic rumbles akin to worst case scenarios ever recorded among rival contenders in political or secular power tussle. 

In most cases, the battle for succession in churches is drawn between family members, spouses of the demised leader of the churches in question.

Wives who succeeded demised husbands


After the gruesome murder of the founding Bishop of Faith Revival Ministries World Outreach, aka Victory Christian Church, Satellite Town, Lagos, Bishop Harford Anayo IIoputaife, in 1995, the leadership was suddenly thrust on his wife, Apostle Nkechi Anayo lloputaife.

But that did come through, until she had fought and conquered so many battles over her succession bid. Bishop Harford was shot at close range by suspected assassins.

He died from gunshot wounds, few days after he was rushed to a hospital for treatment. 

His wife took charge of the ministry. Mrs. Iloputaife had a tough time running the affairs of the ministry because she had to deal with a number of issues and intimi-dations from conspirators within in the fold.

According to her, a group of people who were supposed to provide support and assistance at a time she needed them most suddenly turned to her foes. Mrs. Iloputaife eventually rose up to the task with the support of Bishop Mike Okonkwo of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission. 

Since her conquest, she has steered the affairs of church but not much is heard of the church as at today.

Back in the early 90s, all roads led to Wonder City Church, Ajah, where Apostle Gabriel Oduyemi, the charismatic oil mogul turned minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, held sway. Until his death, Oduyemi, the first Nigerian cleric to own a private jet, held his followers spellbound with a combination of powerful oratory, miracle making prowess, bold predictions even though they hardly came through and flamboyance.

But unlike Mrs Iloputaife, it wasn’t difficult at all for Rev Roselyn Oduyemi to succeed her husband, after Apostle Oduyemi went to join his ancestors. Mrs. Oduyemi has been steering the affairs of Wonder City Church, without interference in the past 30 years.

However, the glory of the latter house has not measured up with the standard that was left by its founder and late leader. Similarly, Mrs. Margaret Idahosa, the first female Pentecostal Archbishop in Africa, mounted the saddle of leadership in March 1998. 

Her husband, Archbishop Benson Idahosa, the flambuoyant founder of Church of God Mission International Incorporated died and left her and their four children behind.

The 77-year-old Mrs. Idahosa now runs the church alongside her first son, Bishop Feb Idahosa. Twenty three years after the passage of Archbishop Benson Idahosa, the ministry has enjoyed smooth running and remained successful primarily because of the vast business investment the late founder left behind.

Currently, Mrs. Evelyn Joshua is embroiled in a fierce battle to succeed her late husband and world renowned televangelist, Senior Prophet T.B Joshua. Media reports suggest that a cabal comprising foreign and local aides of T.B Joshua is giving Mrs. Evelyn a good fight in order to hijack the leadership of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). 

Like other widowed wives of demised Christian leaders, Evelyn is asserting her claim on what some people have described as her rightful heritage.


 (Sunday Telegraph)

Source: News Express

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