What stands the church out is that it neither collects tithe nor offering from members. The church, according to the pastor, is dedicated to the service of humanity especially Nigerians who are mostly poor in the midst of plenty.
Givers Embassy has a football club called, “Givers Shooters FC (1Timothy 4:).” The players were selected from local football fields, it was gathered.
During the inauguration service, the church commenced with greetings and after a warm welcome address, an opening prayer ensued.
The first hymn followed thereafter with praise and worship. There were scriptural readings and intercessory prayers for the nation. Thanksgiving and personal prayers were also offered.
After a drama presentation, there was Psalm chant and a presentation called, “project free Nigeria,” a talk show magazine programme on nationhood.
Just after the second scriptural reading was offered, special guests were celebrated with another special hymn and thereafter, the preaching of the word.
There was dedication with a second set of worship songs, benediction, hallelujah chorus and withdrawal hymn which followed with dance.
After the dance, food was offered to members before the second service – business and investment service which commenced at 3pm.
“Givers Embassy exists to raise Consular Generals for God’s kingdom on earth. We give visas to houses, cars and businesses. Above all, we give visas to things that make life meaningful.”
“These consular generals would, through their devotion to God’s word, worship, and worthy living, inspire the much needed spiritual and socio-economic transformation in their lives and that of others,” the pastor of the church, Edward Olutoke said.
The maiden church service had a former presidential adviser, Dr. Sarah Jibrin in attendance where widows were given forms to fill under “Project Father A Child.” (James 1:27).
Widows who filled the forms will start receiving N20, 000 every month starting from August.
“The problem of our society is greed. It’s not Boko Haram, it’s not biafra. If we can solve the problem of greed in Nigeria, we will be better for it,” the pastor of the newly established church, Edward Olutoke said shortly after the first church service.
“In Nigeria, we don’t give back to the society. People who give back, give peanuts. We don’t need to only feed the people who are in poverty, we need to give them life. Instead of giving them fish, we teach them how to catch the fish,” Olutoke said.
Speaking on why his church doesn’t collect tithes and offering, Olutoke said the vision came from God.
“God told me that as the owner of the church, he would build and sustain the church. God asked me not to collect tithes and offering. We are to help the needy. God said any member of the church who wants to touch other people’s lives can do it directly to the needy.”
“The Holy Spirit is leading us and we don’t want people to believe that they must bring offering to church before they are blessed, no. If I give offering in the church while a woman close to me is dying of hunger, what have I done? As a Christian, I should not allow that woman to die. The God who created the woman won’t be happy with me if I packaged an offering to the church while she is suffering,” the pastor said.
He called on Christians to allow the Holy Spirit to lead them adding that, “People set up churches in the villages that don’t even have roads and instead of catering for them, they collect N100, N50 from them and take it to the city to people who are already rich. Something is definitely wrong because that community may not have water, electricity, good roads and other essential things that make life meaningful.”
“So, we are supposed to look at our environment. Let us learn to take care of our environment and that is what we do at Givers Embassy. If you want to be packaging your tithes and offering directly to the poor, we don’t want to know, just do it.”
“This is not our project. It is God’s project. We know that people make a lot of money in Nigeria. Some don’t even know how to help others. We will be reaching out to people who are doing well in Nigeria that can be giving widows N20, 000 every month.”
“I know over 500 people I have helped who are doing very well in businesses. I’ve contacted some of them and on a monthly basis, as God is blessing them, some of them have taken the responsibility of given not less than five women N20, 000 each every month. We have started with the first batch and as more people give, we will be expanding it to every community in Nigeria,” Olutoke said.
The pastor said that apart from the morning services, they will be doing business and investment services in the evening of every Sunday to help in the empowerment of the widows and other Nigerians.
“We have state coordinators that will be training the widows on how to do businesses from the monthly N20, 000 they will be receiving under the project Father A Child.”
“These same children of the widows will turn out wealthy tomorrow and they will build houses for the poor. That is how we want our society to grow,” he added.
Pastor Olutoke sited Deuteronomy 15:7- 11, Luke 6:38 and Proverbs 14: 31.
Even though the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) could not immediately comment on the newly established church, some Christian leaders and theologians have expressed divergent views over the giving of tithes and offering.
A Christian author, Richard Anthony who wrote about tithe, said the first time “tithe” is mentioned in scripture is in the book of Genesis.
“In Genesis chapter 14, there was a war. Abram was victorious in this war: Proverbs 3:9, says: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase. See also I Peter 5:2, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind,” he said.
The National President, Nigeria Christian Graduate Fellowship, Prof. Charles Adisa said “If we are talking about tithes and offerings, we have laid some scriptural background which can be summed up as ‘’Tithing is an ordinance instituted by God in the scriptures, and continued even in the New Testament, never condemned by God, Jesus Christ nor his disciples/followers.”
“It is the basic minimum of 10 percent of our total income and earnings. There is no restriction on giving more than the 10 percent by God, but severe penalties for not practising it. Read Numbers 18:21-24, Mathew 23:23, Luke 11:42; Lev 27:30-32.”
“Truly, I don’t know anything about this church, but reading the statements made by the pastor, I believe that the tithes and offerings are not being discouraged from being brought into the church, however, they are specific about who it goes to and that’s to the widows and the orphans.”
“Tithes and offerings are not meant to enrich pastors and their families. That is one massive sickness plaguing most churches in Nigeria.”
“I pray that God will bless their ministry because honestly I have prayed and fasted for years for a church in Nigeria that will address the ever growing needs and horrible plights of widows and orphans, and I’ve not given up,” said a Christian leader, Mrs Vivian Pam.
Rev Zenald Zidon Love while reacting, said, “Those who are receiving tithes are not ungodly and no one should condemn those doing it. From the time of old, tithe has its use in the house of God so if others are not using tithe for its original purpose does not mean that receiving tithes is evil or wrong,” he said.
Another Christian leader, Jacob Marshal Neyu said there was no any place the Givers Embassy pastor condemned any church that collects tithes and offering.
He said: “Our duty as Christians is to pray, if really it’s God’s vision, it will stand the test of time. That’s my opinion and I stand to be corrected.”
Responding to an enquiry, another Christian leader, who only gave his name as Rev Dr Shuaibu, said addition or subtraction in the Word of God has its consequences.
“What is the motive behind such an operation if it is not the Gospel we preach? Jesus Christ would teach that give to Caesar what belongs to him and to God what belongs to Him. If Jesus came to fulfil the law, how did he fulfil the area that is championed?”
“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now here with, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:8-12 KJV,” he said.
“Read Hebrews 7:5-6 KJV. Some may say that tithing was only practiced in the Old Testament, but the Bible, being complete also speaks of tithing in the New Testament. In fact, in the New Testament, it is a command for the priest to collect tithes of their members, their brethren,” said Malachi Agwaatyap.
For Joseph Oloyemi Olotu, in Matthew 23:23, the Master Himself didn’t condemn tithe.
“Even offering too. He commended the widow who gave her all. The New Testament is the fulfilment of the old with some amendment by the Master. After all, most of the serious promises we claim are from the Old Testament, why didn’t we say they are New Testament stuff? The scripture is whole, written at different times but inspired by His Spirit. Therefore, though some were written under Judaism, they are still powerful even today.” Olotu said.
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