Chris Christian: My life as a eunuch

Chris

He has drop-dead good looks. Very witty, he leads one of Nigeria’s fastest growing Pentecostal churches, The Locust Army International Ministry. But, at 51, getting married isn’t on the wish list of Rev. Chris Christian. He is a self-made eunuch. Moreover he has taken the vow of poverty, which means he won’t even own personal property anywhere or have a bank account. Strange as it sounds, he is living his dream.
The Anambra-born preacher, whose ministry started in Kano, has since moved the church headquarters to a big structure in Lagos among other branches all over the country. Widely respected among his peers as a prolific author of Christian books, Christian spoke to Sunday Sun on his celibate lifestyle, his vow of poverty and recent killings of Christians in Abuja and Kano.  He also spoke on the current economic hardship plaguing the country, submitting that “President Buhari isn’t Nigeria’s problem”. Find out what, then, is the problem with Nigeria.

When and how did you receive the call?
Call is of God. Different people are called in different ways based on their assignments. God met me by the power of His anointing, and, as I continued to minister, I discovered more. Ministry is about discovering who you are and gradually discovering what God wants you to do for him because who we are is not even separated from what God wants us to accomplish for Him. What brought me into the ministry was the anointing; that’s what caught my attention the power of the Holy Spirit.
 When was that?
As early as 1996.
 At 51, you are still a celibate; do you intend to remain like this when you are not a Roman Catholic priest?
I didn’t choose myself; I was born a eunuch. So, if I was born a eunuch, I have to remain like this. I don’t intend marrying any time, because trying to marry is trying to be another person. I am a eunuch, and that’s the way I will remain.
 How do you handle temptations as a man?
First of all is to accept who you are, and then to accept the life you are born to live. Overcoming temptation will be part of living well.
 Have you ever been tempted by a lady?
I pastor a church. If a standard is created, there will be no room for that because the standard will overcome any such thing around you. There is a difference between how you were born and something you are trying to be. There are some people who were not born eunuchs, but choose to become eunuchs; some of them can struggle to sustain it (the oath). But, if you are born a eunuch, you won’t struggle, just like the sun doesn’t struggle to bring light. Trying to be somebody else, to live a life you are not born to live, will definitely bring in struggles.
 How do your parents cope with your celibate lifestyle, because ours is a society where raising a family is prioritised, especially when you are the first son of the family?
It has not been easy.  They put pressure on me to change, but when they find out it is my life, there is nothing they can do about it. And it is not just being a celibate –there is a duty attached to celibate lifestyle.  I have written over 100 books, and that’s possible because I am a celibate. If I was married and I had family duties, I couldn’t have done that. I have been sitting here (office) since morning. There are things only celibates can achieve, at least in the service of God.
But you haven’t written about celibacy, though you are a prolific author…
I want to make it as early as next year, a book on eunuch, because it is very important.
It seems incredible to believe you are a eunuch with your comely appearance and multiple gifts. Anybody who hasn’t come across you before may even think you are deceiving people about it and that there may be a fetish angle to it…
I also have the Vow of Poverty. The Vow of Poverty is also in agreement with being a celibate. Somebody who is not a celibate can’t take a Vow of Poverty.
 What do you mean by a Vow of Poverty?
That means I won’t have anything on earth.
 Like property?
Yes. My name, for instance, can’t be on any property, and things I buy, like books, don’t bear my name. I don’t have a personal bank account.
 Was that a personal decision or God told you?
That’s my life. I knew it from discovery that there was no need to own anything.
 And your family is comfortable with that?
My father asked me to come over –I am from Anambra State and am the first son –for the family land sharing, and I told him I wasn’t interested.  I didn’t take any land, and I will never get any.
 Does being celibate in any way make you a special Christian?
I preach immortality –immortality life is a hard life; it is a life that should be without blemish because death is the greatest enemy of man. There is life that should be lived that should not be contented. There are negative forces that want to stop me, but I confront them as a single man. And because I don’t have attachments to a family, they don’t have anyway to get at me. That’s about the celibate life. I don’t think I will preach immortality if I am married.
 How did you manage to grow this church to its present status?
It is with vision and struggling, fighting and winning.
 You started out in Kano, a predominantly Muslim society. How did you cope?
It was very difficult. Yes, Kano is a Muslim society, and Christianity is not easily accepted, so we had to face persecution. There are things you can’t do in Kano because of the nature of society, but we still prevailed because we were determined. I was on a mission, so I couldn’t submit.
 Recently, a female preacher on a morning cry was killed in Abuja by a group of Muslim fanatics not long after another female Christian was murdered in Kano. Is this a hard time to be a Christian in Nigeria?
The first thing I think Nigeria should do is to bring to justice those involved in the killings because nobody should be above the law. They should seek out those who killed them and bring them to book as quickly as possible if they don’t want Nigeria to have problems. Ours is a mixed society where we have Christians, too. So, we won’t tolerate intimidations. We are not at the time when somebody will slap you and you turn another cheek.
We can’t do it. It is not a time for this. Jesus is coming back as the Lion of Judah, and a lion roars. This is the time for the church to wake up to dominion, and somebody who is looking at dominion should not accept some intimidations.
 As a secular society, as enshrined in the constitution, we are supposed to be tolerant of one another. Do we have enough of this in Nigeria?
There is a way Muslims look at Nigeria as theirs.
 What informed that thinking?
It has to do with indoctrination and impartation.
 The state ought to be the arbiter between different faiths in the country. What should be done to increase religious harmony in the country?
To increase it, we have to set boundaries. And those involved in killing others on religious grounds have to be brought to book to the glare of everybody. All of us are watching to see what Nigeria will do to those who murdered those Christian women in Abuja and Kano.  Those who are concerned should do what is right if they want peace.
Nigeria has been experiencing untold hardship recently. Is there a religious explanation to this?
A pastor should not live on economic strength. We are citizens of eternity and our hope should be on God. We should not, for instance, think of trying to depend on Nigeria.
I am talking about Nigerians in general…
I think that the church should lead the country out of pain. The land needs healing and God can heal Nigeria if we cry. When people talk about economic distress or meltdown, I don’t feel bad about the economic situation because I believe God, who is the owner of the earth. So, he can change anytime, anyday. So, the people should come back to God. If you look at what is happening now, God wants us back.
Can we say that the present hardship in the country is the result of punishment by God for our countless sins?
I think that Nigeria is evolving.
 Yet things are getting worse by the day…
Whatever is getting worse is looking for something in us. A man’s environment can’t be more valuable than a man. So, the environment listens to what we are. Those who squandered Nigeria’s money that brought us to this level brought it from primitivity. What are the things that can lead a man to greed? Ignorance, short sightedness, etcetera. If we are looking for men, and the mental state of the people is not elevated, it is a problem. If this is not corrected, there is no amount of resources we have that will be sufficient for Nigerians as long as we are breeding thieves.
Nigerians are not honest. Even the EFCC men who are hunting people are not honest. They are just like the hunted [corrupt]. We can change it with prayer. With time, God will bring a new spirit into men. As a preacher, many people hear what I preach and find it difficult to do what I say. So, sometimes, when I try to put pressure on them, I don’t really make it. So the grace that is working in me, that made me eunuch, is not achievable.
You hold the view that Africa is the future of the world. Looking at what is happening on the continent, it raises a question mark on the tenability of your belief. Are there pointers to the fact that Africa is, indeed, the future of the world?
Even though there are evil men in Nigeria, there are many good and devoted preachers in the country. Nigeria has the largest number of Christians in Africa even in the midst of evil. The number of devoted preachers we have in Nigeria is among the highest in the world. So, that is a sign. Do you know that some people feel awesome when they encounter me? You wouldn’t have believed I was a eunuch if you didn’t come for this interview. It takes grace.
Apart from that, we are not basing prophecies on men if we say that men should complement what God says. Nigeria is a trigger of Africa.  This last millennium is dedicated to the Blackman, the African Blackman, and the pointer is Nigeria. Some people are not happy that Nigeria is evolving, but the country is evolving.
 Evolving positively or negatively?
Positively. Nigeria is developing. We should be happy with ourselves. Development has nothing to do with money. Hardship or no hardship, Nigeria is evolving. The human value of Nigeria is appreciating. That’s why I said people should stop blaming President Buhari for everything. We should pray for him. Buhari is part of God’s plan for Nigeria because he is our leader. We should give him some time. Buhari is not Nigeria’s problem, or do you believe he is our problem?
I didn’t say so, but many people are making disparaging remarks about his leadership style and economic policies…
Nigerians are insatiable. When Jonathan was the president, many people were against him. It is because they wanted change, that’s why they brought Buhari. Now, they are fighting against their change.
Reverend Mbaka, among other great men of God, prophesied that Buhari was the political messiah to come, while some others said Jonathan was the one. Why do we continue to have contrasting prophecies and goofs in Nigeria?
There are many laws that govern spiritual inspiration, which includes prophecy. I saw where Mbaka said all the things he had been saying were right; I know he is lying. A prophet cannot prophesy everything that is happening today. There are many laws that govern prophecy. So, it is not right for a prophet to say that everything he says happens. Even a prophet that has prophesied something that came to pass wouldn’t say, at a point in time, he hadn’t given prophesies that didn’t happen. Prophecy is like a growing child. If you connect a tap to a pipe borne water, the first water that comes out of that pipe is to wash it. When the pipe is clean, you don’t drain it. That’s how a prophet is. When God is spitting fire to make a prophet or bring him into the room of that office, he can make a mistake.
Mistake?
A prophet can he  ar from God; a prophet can hear from Satan; a prophet can hear from himself.
 Without distinguishing which is which?
If a prophet is a man, sometimes he comes under emotions. A prophet can give you prophecy based on discernment, maybe by looking at your appearance and guesses that you are suffering out of poverty (laughs). Just like a baby, a prophet grows; and, like a baby, when you grow, you fall. That’s pride to say that whatever he has prophesied has happened. He is not correct.
 Are you trying to say that Nigeria will soon overcome these hard times?
We will evolve. Nothing is permanent, just like Buhari is not permanent. The problem is with us. I want us to look beyond Buhari. One man can’t solve the problem of a nation. This is democracy, and he is not completely in charge of affairs. Buhari met the problem in Nigeria. Even if he leaves tomorrow, one single person cannot solve Nigeria’s problem. If a Christian comes tomorrow, he will still meet agitations from the other side: Muslims will fight him. If he is an Igbo man, the Yoruba won’t accept him; the Hausa may not accept him also.
What’s the way out?
We should commit the country into God’s hands and allow the country to evolve. I think Nigeria becoming better is more important than the problem we have to solve. When somebody is an illiterate, you use chain to guide him, but when he is enlightened, you use the mind.

What do your honorary degree and the chancellorship of  Osun State University mean to you?

It means a whole new level, especially as  Chancellor. I’m a custodian of  four other honorary doctorate degrees and this is the first time a woman is appointed the Chancellor of a  public university in the whole of Nigeria. I think I heard the governor saying South of the Sahara, I had to check on that. (She smiled). To God be the glory, elevation does not come from man, it comes from God but God ministers to people and he gets them to minister  and  act on His wishes, desire and  purpose. I guess I’m working according to  God’s purpose because I didn’t influence the decision to make me chancellor . I believe  it’s the Lord’s doing and it’s marvelous in my sight. I congratulate Osun State University for taking such a bold step in this government owned university  to appoint a female Chancellor. I’m  really  humbled and proud.  I thank God for this opportunity.

The appointment and award coincide  with International Women’s Day. How do you feel?
I’m very proud to be a woman especially at this time. I expect more women to give the best to their education, especially in Nigeria and Africa generally. Women and the girl-child are very much under-represented especially in higher institutions  of learning and in the economy as a whole. Giving  women the opportunity to achieve their  potentials must be a priority. The  first female PhD holder in Nigeria, Prof.
Grace Alele- Williams emerged 63 years ago and became the first woman to head a university in Nigeria. She’s the first female Vice Chancellor at the  University of Benin. In information technology and sports, our womenfolk have made  their mark as  Nigeria won her  very first Olympic gold medal in 1999 and by a woman. In the field of Information technology, Mrs. Florence Seriki of Omatek Limited pioneered a computer assembly plant and  our first female Rear Admiral, Itunu Ihonu an engineer who was rejected by the army was  celebrated by Nigerian Navy.
In times past, few women had  formal education as they sat  at home and were  married off early.
They took  to domestic education and vocations like  dressmaking, hairdressing, mat making etc.

How does  your husband feel about your appointment?
I thank my loving, kind and indefatigable husband, a legal luminary who has been a pillar of support to me.  Mr. Modupe Alakija is really elated about it  otherwise I won’t be here now. This is also my very first time in Oshogbo and I know it will not be my last as I have accepted this five-year tenure as Chancellor.

You were rewarded for your  entrepreneurship. Could you comment on that?
I love entrepreneurship. I love buying and selling, making sure that your money goes a long way by  making sure you are getting value for your money and that’s what trading is about. When you get what you want and I get what I want, then the world goes round and everybody is happy. We’ll  continue to improve and impact our world by enlarging our coast because when you turn one thousand to ten thousand as the bible says, you know what the multiplication effect is. Fruitfulness and multiplication in every area.

You still dote on your husband like a teenager who just found love. Could you comment on your marriage so far?
My husband is my best friend, biggest adviser and supporter. We’ve known each other for 40 years and have been married for 37 years now and with four boys. Even though we work in the same office, I always ensure that we kiss twice in a day, morning and night.
I still wash his undies until six years ago that he insisted I should stop. I also prepare his special vegetable dish, do his manicure and pedicure regularly. I  go to the airport to pick him whenever he’s returning from foreign trips. It gives me joy whenever his friends praise my vegetable dish based on what my husband tells them.

In your speech today and anytime you hold the microphone, you hold your audience spell-bound. How do  you do it and what’s your advice to younsters?
Life’s wisdom pill that has helped me over the years taught me that  I shouldn’t  accept no for an answer. I’m reaping the results today? I’m determined and I believe there is always a way where there seems to be no way. Persistence and  diligence are keys. I advise youths that time is money, so spend  it wisely. Say no to corruption. Find mentors for practical guidance in your chosen career.
Be patient and be courageous, always remember that anything worth doing at all is worth doing well. Seek  solutions and follow through. Don’t sit on the fence.
My family inculcated  strong ethics in me as a child which I have imbibed.  I usually like to do the right thing and this would  be my guiding principle throughout my tenure at Osun State University.


 

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