Christ Embassy : Hallelujah or Highway to Hell ? Rev. Oyakhilome Convicted for Fraud.
Media reports that Pastor Kenneth Oyakhilome, currently pastor of Christ Embassy (CE) Church in Houston, Texas, USA was convicted in a South African court in 2007 for fraud and corruption have provoked a minor public storm amongst members of the faithful, with clarion calls for him to step aside. Court records made available to Huhuonline.com, revealed that on September 11, 2007, Kenneth Imo Obome Oyakhilome, a.k.a Pastor Ken was convicted of fraud; fined R20,000.00 and received a two-year suspended sentence for three years with choice of imprisonment .
“We are shocked by this revelation that Ken is a convicted criminal. He is a fraudster and this is not a matter that is subject to any debate. We cannot have the Gospel of Jesus Christ besmirched by such people, who hide behind the innocence of genuine believers to commit fraud”, exclaimed Pastor Javed Masih of the Jesus Fellowship International Society in Randburg, South Africa.
When Pastor Ken left his family in South Africa and boarded a plane back to Houston, Texas, where he currently serves as Pastor of the Christ Embassy Church, CE officials in South Africa, qualified the move as a spiritual sabbatical.
But it is now emerging that the decision to transfer Pastor Ken from South Africa to the USA was a well contrived attempt to douse the smoldering inferno that was threatening to consume Ken’s pastoral career and that of his elder brother, Pastor Christian Oyakhilome, who founded the Ministry and himself is now locked in a huge public relations battle to salvage his own battered credibility.
The Christ Embassy Scandal
The moral questions hovering over the head of Pastor Ken, has cast a huge shadow of doubt over his elder brother, Pastor Christian, who has refused to take the blame for any problems associated with his brother’s profligacy and lack of moral character. The Christ Embassy Church in Houston, Texas, scorned requests for explanations from Huhuonline.com while Pastor Ken continues to defy public criticisms of official misconduct, and still retains his high profile position as Pastor of the Houston Church. Yet the Pastor Brothers have been pushing to make sure that the public remembers them — or rather, remembers what they want them to remember. Pastor Ken is a troubled man. As long as allegations of official misconduct continue to swirl around him, the Pastor will forever be distracted from his official pastoral duties.
The distraction will come chiefly from a scandal that threatens to weaken his capacity to function as an effective Spiritual guide and leader of the Houston church. At a time when the Pastor ought to be preoccupied with issues that affect the welfare of his congregation, he has been busy rehearsing how he would defend himself against serious allegations of financial impropriety and abuse of trust. Some Christ Embassy Church members have expressed genuine alarmed at the way in which Pastor Ken is reported to have run riot in South Africa and questioned whether he still has the moral high ground to continue working in Houston as “God’s Messenger.” If religiosity in general comes with the capacity to numb the intellect, and defraud and exploit the innocent faithful, the brand of Christianity that has been on the ascendance in Christ Embassy for the past decade fosters a certain incuriousness that borders on total intellectual surrender.
For the truth of the matter is that in its practices and dynamics, the Christ Embassy Church itself has become an expression of the character of its founders.
In the current configuration, the Christ Embassy Church operates more or less like a business enterprise out to make profit. It was no coincidence that Pastor Ken was more to be seen mixing it with the South African political elite (governors, ministers,), than with ordinary members of his Congregation. Such was the social proximity between the Christ Embassy Church officials and the South African elite that rumors were floated that the Christ Embassy Church and Pastor Ken had the political benediction of the ruling ANC party in South Africa.
Pastor Ken, in a dynamic that works quite well for the Church and serves the ends of holders of political power, attends their (office holders’) birthday ceremonies, blesses their respective families, and, at the end of each year, unfailingly prophesies positive things for the country they so spectacularly misgovern.
In return, he reinforced public perceptions of being a handmaiden of political power in a country where the majority of the population (including most of his own congregation) continues to wallows in absolute immiseration?
Shell-shocked Christ Embassy Church members in South Africa are still at a loss to understand a situation where Pastor Ken who was (and in some quarters, still is) widely respected for his preachings on austerity and moral rectitude, has now abandoned Christ’s gospel of austere pietism to embrace material aggrandizement and conspicuous consumption. Before his sojourn in South Africa, the Christ Embassy Church was renowned for its emphasis on a rigorous, no frills personal regime for its members. Such unflattering apothegm was a testament to the perceived doctrinal severity of the Christ Embassy Church.
This image was to change with the ascendance of Pastor Ken – and the Church’s rapid transition into a new era, marked by a departure from this somber model and the development of a new, less abstemious, theological outlook whose modus operandi was primitive material accumulation.
Court records showed that Pastor Ken owned a fleet of luxury cars including: a Red Chrysler; a Silver Mercedes Benz; a Gold-pleated Peugeot 407 and a Black Audi 8-cylinder series. And although married with three children, Pastor Ken paraded a harem of wivelets and mistresses drawn mostly from the congregation, including married women, who share his bedroom under the euphemistic guise of “serving the man of God.”
For emphasis, the point now is not about the criminal conviction of Pastor Ken or his material possessions, including his harem of girlfriends. The central nexus of the unraveling scandal raises fundamental questions about whether it is morally ethical for Pastor Ken to continue as Spiritual Guardian of the Christ Embassy Church in Houston, Texas. In the interest of full disclosure, if Pastor Christian, the founder of the Christ Embassy Ministry is certain about his junior brother’s innocence; if he is concerned about the impact of this salacious affair on the integrity of the Christ Embassy Ministry (not to forget his own patchy morality), he should advise his junior brother to step aside in order to facilitate an independent inquiry.
An independent inquiry is guaranteed to produce one of two outcomes: a moral acquittal that should help to cleanse Pastor Ken of the stench that began to gush out since the scandal broke; or an indictment that would shred forever his name, his honor and his status in society.
If he refuses to step aside, he can expect to preside over a disorderly Congregation for the rest of his tenure as Pastor of the Christ Embassy Church in Houston, Texas.
In proceeding, it is only fair to state that in taking its message to the world, the Christ Embassy Church has also, almost predictably, taken in a considerable part of the world. Today’s Christ Embassy Ministry, with churches worldwide, is no doubt a successful religious brand, but like all brands, it has had to forge all sorts of shabby accommodations with sponsors and politicians, including even fraudsters and criminals.
Obvious material success and a fatal conflation of ethos with criminal enterprise mean that the Christ Embassy Church that redefined Biblical economics is now in clear danger of being consumed by its creation.
It is certainly not a good evidence of moral leadership for a Pastor to be confronted with daunting revelations of criminal conviction. With or without Pastor Ken, the Christ Embassy Church in Houston will still continue to exist. But whether it would be an effective Church or a disorderly House of worship would be determined by current and future events.
culled from HUHUONLINE
see also Crisis Rocks Christ Embassy