A Former Otukpo Assembly Member Speaks about Samuel Ochenjele
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
In order to understand fully how we left Samuel's ministry I think I should tell you how we met and established fellowship.
My father is a retired military officer and in 1979 he traveled to England so we decided to leave the military barracks to live temporarily in Benue State where we belong, leaving Ibadan in the west. Samuel was a soldier in Bauchi State and served under the military police but in 1979 he left the military saying that God had called him into the work of the lord. He came to Benue state and we were living almost opposite each other in Otukpo city in Benue State.
Here we were attending a fellowship where Samuel was a member. This fellowship did not believe in naming churches with specific names because it leads to denominationalism or division among the body of Christ. They were simply called ogbolojo in a local dialect, meaning “those who listen to the word of God”. Now the group is called CEFN (Christian Evangelical Fellowship of Nigeria). They reach out to illiterates in the villages and educate them to know the word of God through crusades and Gospel campaigns, Bible Studies, etc. with video films or cinema which fascinate the minds of illiterates of those in remote places without electricity.
A leader there was very close to our family, and Samuel’s wife was the closest companion of my mother and they shared everything in common. At this time, I was barely 5 years old. Samuel got in contact with Justice James Ogebe when the Justice called for a meeting of all evangelists in Benue State to establish a strong evangelistic outreach in rural areas. Justice James contributed spiritually and financially to reach out to souls in underdeveloped rural areas.
At that meeting Samuel linked up with an American brother who invited him to come to America to buy a cinema projector and films. Justice James prayed with him and gave him God’s promises from psalm 34.
In America, the brother disappointed Samuel, but he came in contact with Roger Grant, an elder in the Chicago Geftakys Assembly, who brought him to George Geftakys. The work in Nigeria was then affiliated with the Geftakys ministry and Samuel invited them to Nigeria. Around 1980 or 1981 the Geftakys team began to visit Nigeria.
At this time, we were back to the military barracks after our father’s military course in England. After some few years, there was a problem between Samuel and the church over the gifts given by the American brethren. Some claimed that he diverted the gifts, and the church was divided. Samuel left them with a handful of people and succeeded in winning the big Americans to his side.
In December, 20th 1988 we left the military barracks after our father’s retirement from the military and came back to Otukpo. Without knowing what had transpired, we went to CEFN to look for Samuel who was our close friend and spiritual help in 1979 when we were there, but we couldn’t trace him until January 1989 after we got a hint of what happened. We visited Samuel’s house, and found him absent, but his wife entertained us and told us about their affiliation with the big Americans. Samuel latter visited us at home and we were accepted into the fellowship.
Our father was married to three women, but the first wife was divorced before I was born and I did not know about her until her death. We were living together with his second wife and our step brothers and several relatives. Only my mother's children (three boys and three girls) were attending the church. Our mother brought us up to serve the Lord and we were the only ones in the family working with the lord. The brethren come regularly and taught us how to study the Bible by preparing a chapter summary.
There I met a sister who showed me a beautiful American Standard Bible Steve Irons gave her in 1988 and I saw his picture. I was told that he would be coming around November, 1989, so I made up my mind to receive my own copy from him, but unfortunately Steve did not come to Nigeria again and instead, Danny Edwards came.
In the Otukpo Assembly we were not allowed to have close relationships with the white visitors, because it was thought that some would use the opportunity to run to America to pursue dollars or try to receive gifts from them. All letters go through Samuel who scrutinizes them before delivery and so letters are not sealed. Letters were delivered by hand and nobody was permitted to collect the address of any American brother.
After some few years Samuel told the Assemblies in Nigeria that Steve Irons' son was a drunkard and homosexual, and Steve did not allow the brethren to punish him, and that Steve left the Assembly in America and was writing petitions against the brethren in America. I remembered the way I admired his picture and the Bible he gave and I felt bad about it, but this Reflections website has illuminated my understanding.
In 1991, during the reign of president Ibrahim Babangida in Nigeria, many military officers were lured into politics. Our dad sold his car and invested all his money into politics and failed. This brought our family house project to a stand still, our house rent bill accumulated until we were sent away packing by our landlord. This separated us from our stepmother and extended family as we lived separately in different little houses to economize the little we had.
I was still in high school and to keep life moving, we decided to run a small restaurant with our mother. After leaving high school, a Leading Brother in one of the Assemblies who owned three high schools approached Samuel to send me to his school to teach Bible knowledge and take care of the Assembly there, since there was no mature brother to look after the fellowship after the vision of the Assemblies. I worked in the church and received my salary as a teacher in the school (the church was located inside the school) because the Assemblies here, like those in America, don’t believe in employing and paying a pastor.
My elder brother was a student in a nearby polytechnic and was also helping in the church and school programmes, and received financial help from the school.
I spent almost five years (1st May, 1994 to January, 1999) teaching and working in the Assembly after my high school and I couldn’t save enough money to go to a tertiary institution. My elder brother finished a 2-year programme in Law (Diploma in Law) and couldn’t move further. My younger brother finished high school, but we lacked the wherewithal to ascend to tertiary education.
Samuel called my mother and told her that her evil marriage with our father [a polygamist] was responsible for our inability to go to the University. He told her that nobody would sponsor us in the University and that she should look how we were, that we would be useless in life without help. I was not happy to hear that.
God heard our prayers and removed that curse, and my elder brother and I got admission into tertiary institutions. He was reading law while I took a two-year programme which could enable me to go for medicine. After my programme, I used one year to complete our family house project so that we I can stop paying house rent. My control of the finances was necessary because previous attempts by my Dad and some extended relatives led to embezzlement and collection by fraudsters.
We moved into the house on Saturday, 8th December, 2001 and on 2nd December, 2001 and 9th December, 2001 I preached during the evening fellowship and there was no problem between Samuel and us. On 10th December, 2001 (on a Monday) I was in his house and did some manual works for him. On 12th December, after a Wednesday Bible study, he told me to wait behind to see him and other Leading Brethren. (He actually asked for me and my two brothers, but they were not in the town).
At that meeting Samuel and two other brethren and two sisters (five in all) confronted me with our packing to the family house. According to Samuel, our mother should make restitution for leaving the house since she was not the first wife. He told me that our mum was not rightfully married to our father according to the Biblical standard, that we were born in fornication. He used I Corinthians 5 to support his motion.
Others in the meeting supported his motion that they would discipline us. They were provoking me with words so that I would rebel against them and be punished, but I was wise to keep quiet. They gave us between Wednesday and Sunday to obey their restitution policy or face their verdict on Sunday, 16th December, 2001.
My younger sister had earlier informed the church through Samuel that she would be coming to Benue State (Otukpo) to introduce her fiance to the church, but this happened at the peak of our crisis. On Saturday we went to Samuel’s house with my sister and her fiance who came all the way from Kaduna state, but Samuel was not happy to see us and he entered his car and left us. We waited in his house for about two hours and when he came back he still refused to sit with the intending couple.
The next day Samuel announced the suspension of our mother in the church and warned everybody not to visit us anymore. He did not explain why she was suspended but everybody obeyed him. We resolved not to leave the Assembly, but things began to get worse.
On a Saturday evening we normally go out for evangelism and visitation of members. We go out in pairs. Sometime in January, 2002, three sisters were worried about us and decided to disobey Samuel’s verdict by visiting us during witnessing/evangelism and visitation time on. Some spies in the church reported it immediately to Samuel. Samuel sent somebody to call two of them that evening, and quarreled with them.
The third sister is well placed in the government, her husband is also a wealthy man well placed in the Nigerian government, and also a Leading Brother, so Samuel couldn’t send for her. The class of influence and affluence could not be touched, but the two other women, who were relatively poor, suffered for visiting us.
One of them couldn’t attend the Sunday service the next day. The other sister (a poor woman) was praying in the church on that Sunday, but before the whole congregation Samuel shouted, "Shut up!", And stopped her from praying in the church simply because she visited us. That was when we resolved to look for another fellowship. I was so troubled and emotionally unstable.
For the first time in my life I went to the internet in January 2002 and narrated these events to brother James Ogebe who is a justice in the High Court of Appeal here in Nigeria. Justice came in March 2002 after we left Samuel’s ministry and invited us for a meeting, as I instructed in my letter to him.
Only two members of those who summoned me earlier in the Bible study of December 12th, 2001, were around, while the rest had only witnessed what Samuel said during the services. I raised the issues one by one in the meeting in the presence of Samuel and it sparked off violence.
In the meeting on December 12th, 2001, Samuel had told me that the Leading Brethren would have dealt with our mother long ago but that they were only respecting us, the children. I raised this matter up and he denied it, but one Leading Brother (John) admitted it. The violent meeting couldn’t come to an end, so Justice James prayed and sent us out of the meeting so that they could handle it in our absence.
I was surprised in the meeting that nobody except me came with a Bible. I showed them I Timothy 3 which outlines the qualities of an overseer. And we, coming from a polygamy home, should not be sent away from the church, but the man who is married to more than one wife should not be a leader in the church. Justice, supporting Samuel, said that what is applicable to the man is applicable to the woman. Before we left, Justice said that the mother should be punished and the children should be allowed in the Assembly, so I knew that nothing good would come out of that meeting. I closed my chapter on the Assembly completely.
In July my sister was having her traditional marriage in which we invited Samuel and many Leading Brethren, but in their Leading Brothers meeting (Workers meeting) Samuel and Justice James convinced everybody not to attend. Many members of the Assembly have been isolated from us, including our best friends.
Samuel went to America and told them that we had left the Assembly, but did not explain why we left. Brother Danny Edwards, who was very concerned, wrote through Samuel to verify why we left and encouraged us in his letter to return to the assembly. He included his email address on his letter and I used this email address to tell him everything, but his reply was intermediate between pleasant and unpleasant.
Danny Edwards earlier before this time sent Samuel on two occasions to deliver some money to my younger brother to assist him in his education. On the first occasion Samuel said it was twenty dollars and the second was seventy-five dollars, but Samuel stopped him from communicating directly with us.
Samuel used the pulpit as a weapon of criticism against us and one of his popular topic is “the spirit of offence”. In the Easter conference of April, 2002, Doctor Wayne Matthews was present and Samuel used the theme “The Spirit of Offence” to criticize former members. If Wayne Matthews reflects properly on the teaching, he can derive many meaning to it. On one occasion Samuel told the church that the youths who left the Assembly have become miserable, and he cited some examples.
The church is not a political organization and being a leader in the church is not an official state. The church is a place where learned men like apostle Paul will listen to a fisherman like apostle Peter, a place where James, who is not even an apostle, can chair the Jerusalem council (see Act 15). I've have handed over everything to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who is the only authentic and legal owner of the Church.
The Lord Jesus has taken upon himself the responsibility of restoring our destinies. Our eldest brother has graduated as a law student and would soon be in law school. My younger brother is in his third year in Electrical Electronic Engineering, while I am in my second year in chemistry, and God had been faithful. We don’t need any of their big Americans to succeed. We only need the God, who owns America and the world at large.
There was a brother E. who visited the American assemblies some years back during his trip for medical check up. He was a building contractor and Leading Brother in the Assembly, a millionaire with influence and affluence, but he was suddenly brought down to low ebb when he confronted Samuel on two issues.
First was on the issue of a brother called Abiodun. Abiodun was a gambler in America and when he gave his life to Christ, the brethren in America sent him back to Nigeria to stay with Samuel, and gave his academic certificates. He was a student in the College of Agriculture at Xandev in Benue State. The American brethren were sending money to him through Samuel, but the money seemed not to be reaching him. He was starving in school, and to cope with his studies he began to sell water to the public. Brother E., moved with pity, confronted Samuel to give account of the money meant for Abiodun.
The second issue was on the money given by the Geftakys team to build the church hall. (When Steve Irons came in 1988 the church was still renting a building). Emmanuel Ogidi, being a building contractor, confronted Samuel to give the value of money sent by the Americans to assist the building project, but there was no financial accountability since he was not accountable to anybody.
This was the beginning of the crisis in the family of Brother E. His wife left him, he was suspended from the church, his wealth dwindle as he sold all his assets and his children dropped out of school due to lack of finances. He got married again and divorced, and a spell seemed to be working against him.
One of his sons is now a pastor in one of the Pentecost churches Abjua (Federal Capital Territory) and God has started blessing them again. Another of his sons met me in an interdenominational ministry and told me that a spell seemed to have destroyed his family while in Samuel’s ministry, and was looking forward to see brother George Geftakys to pray and counsel with them. But I gave him this website and he was greatly encouraged. He promised to contact you and shore his testimony.
A poor woman brought her teenage daughter who had a child out of wedlock to Samuel’s ministry (Otukpo Assembly) because she wanted to repent and walk with the Lord. After two weeks of fellowship, Samuel met with the Leading Brethren and resolved to sent them away, and she was sent away with her daughter. According to Samuel, God is not interested in multitudes, but the few who are able to abide in holiness. He told the church that if even everybody goes away, leaving only him and his wife, they would serve the ord alone.
Another brother committed adultery and reported himself to the church and was suspended. Samuel went to his house and prophesied death punishment, but the brother was offended and stopped fellowship. Attempts by Justice James to restore him back proved abortive. The brother withdrew his family from the church but his first son was too loyal to the Assembly. A letter was said to be sent by Nancy Carter in America to the brother’s first son to encourage him to remain in the Assembly after Samuel had gone there to give report and blow the trumpet of holiness (the punishment that met the sin of adultery).
This boy abandoned his parents and was staying somewhere in Samuel’s custody. The brother hiding him was confronted by a minister in another ministry, and he returned him to his father. The boy became very wild and left home to an unknown destination designed by some of the Assembly members.
After many months the mother cried out to an influential brother in the Assembly, who was away for sometime, and he called the brethren to release the boy to his parents. When this was done, he was found to possess some mystical powers and was mentally disturbed (i.e. insane).
The boy confessed to many people that Samuel initiated him into a cult after eating rice in his house and he called the name of one American brother as a member of this initiation. He also said that his bone of initiation responsible for his mystic powers was buried in Livingstone Academy (the school built by the church), and had been taken to America by Samuel. (That was last year when Steve Irons met with him).
He also confessed that Samuel gave him an assignment to kill his own father, but the Assembly dismissed the issue on the basis that the boy was not in his right mind and hence was speaking fallacy that cannot be relied upon.
Medical Equipment Saga
Doctor Wayne Matthews visited Doctor Sunday (Samuel’s younger brother) in Nigeria and promised to assist him with medical equipment in his private hospital. When the goods arrived in Nigeria, Doctor Sunday spent about 1.2million naira on government taxes, and other health authorities to claim them.
The church refused to assist financially because it was meant for Sunday and not the church but Samuel, interested in the gift, convinced the church to claim it after Sunday had brought it home. Doctor Sunday said it was not a church property but his personal gift by the American brothers, but Samuel used the church to fight against him and isolated everybody from him, including the American brothers.
When the ugly events occurred in America, they reconciled with Doctor Sunday and gave him this website, which I later collected from him. You can get full details from the team that visited Nigeria--Doctor Tom Hines, Doctor Jerry Starr, and Doctor Gordon Kim (the handsome American brother who looks like a Chinese man).
Lack of Compassion
There is no passion or compassion for the souls of men, so I see the ministry as a business enterprise with America as the sponsors.
Ignorance is the force used by the spirit of oppression to maintain control. Sometime ago, when we were still in the Assembly, Samuel came from a conference in Colorado and told us that Roger Grant (a computer scientist in America) gave a teaching on the satanic nature of the internet, and so many don’t want to work on the internet. He brought a videocassette titled “Revelation” where a computer programme called “Virtual Reality” (a programme where a computer operator can appear on any part of the world he desires by simply sitting at his computer) to display.
I printed some portions of this Reflections website (High-Demand Church) and posted to some members of the Assembly without disclosing the identity of the sender. Samuel told them that the brethren in America suspended George Geftakys because his grandaughter (Timothy’s daughter) was impregnated out of wedlock, while his son David divorced his wife. He convinced them that George Geftakys did not commit any personal sin, but was being punished for his inability to control his mature children.
He also told them that one brother (Steve Irons) who backslid and wrote petitions against the brethren, came to apologize and promised to shut down the website he opened against the Assembly.
Samuel promised that when Roger Grant visited in November, 2003, he would testify that Geftakys was innocent and that because of his age was no more traveling, but was busy training missionaries. When Roger came to Nigeria he preached the Word of God but was completely silent about George Geftakys.
May the lord bless you abundantly till I hear from you.
A brother in Christ