The Story Of Rev. MOBIYINA & TOSHO OSHOFFA
As at the time he died in 1985, at the age of 76, the Prophet, Pastor & Founder of Celestial Church of Christ, Rev. S.B.J. Oshoffa left 35 children behind. After his death, the church witnessed a quick succession of leaders like Superior Evangelist S.O. Ajanlekoko, Rev. A A Bada, Rev. P.H. Ajose. Right now, 2 of late Oshoffa’s son’s run the church at the highest levels. One is His Eminence, Rev. Pastor Emmanuel Mobiyina Friday Oshoffa, who is the Pastor & Spiritual Head CCC Worldwide. The second is Superior Evangelist Olatosho Matthew Oshoffa, the Shepherd-in-charge of International Headquarter, Ketu in Lagos. Let’s tell you more about them.
Rev. Pastor Emmanuel Mobiyina Friday Oshoffa is the Pastor & Spiritual Head of CCC Worldwide Every year he leads over 100,000 pilgrims at the Christmas Eve service at the Celestial Church World Headquarters, Imeko.
He is 71. He was born 25 December 1948. As the pastor and spiritual head of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Emmanuel Oshoffa controls the affairs of the church, and the Holy Pilgrimage city in Imeko where the founder, his father, was buried. Oshoffa was installed as head of the CCC in December 2002 as successor to Pastor Philip Hunsu Ajose, who died in March 2001. Mobiyina Oshoffa is the first son of the Pastor Founder (Late Reverend Prophet Samuel Bilewou Joseph Oshoffa) and he is the pastor of the major faction of Celestial Church of Christ, worldwide.
Rev. Pastor Mobiyina Oshoffa was born in 1948 at Kpave, French Dahomey (now Benin), and he has been part of the choir at Port Novo church before his migration to France. As instructed by his father, only he and First Shadrach Hospital management knew about the whereabouts of the founder of the church for over twenty-four hours following the accident of September 1985. He was therefore in a position to give some account of the prophet’s final moments. Oshoffa attended university in Paris, earning his bachelor’s degree in Animal Biological Science in 1976 and a master’s degree from the University of Biological Science, Nancy, France in 1977. The Diocese of France and the Overseas Departments and Territories largely founded by Ivory Coast Celestial Christians and frequented by many West Indians, among others; since 1986 has been led by Emmanuel Oschoffa. He was appointed the head of the CCC Diocese of France by a predecessor, Reverend Abiodun Bada in 1997. Other sources state 1987. In 1989, Emmanuel Oshoffa baptized the Congolese doctor and Catholic, Malela, who had come to Paris for a surgical operation, hence starting the church at Brazzaville. In December 2002, while preparing to travel to Port-Novo from France, he was called to Imeko to pastor the church.
Let’s tell you about his dad. Rev. Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa was the founder of the Celestial Church of Christ. He died in 1985. He founded the church in 1947 after being lost for 3 months, near Porto-Novo in the Republic of Benin. The church now has its main branches in Bénin and Nigeria. Five percent, or 400,000, of the 8,000,000 people of Benin are Celestial Christians. Oshoffa was reported to have had 3 wives and 53 children when he died in 1985.
Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa was born into a Yoruba family of mixed religion. His father was a Muslim but had become a Methodist, while his mother followed the traditional religions and objected to Christianity. His mother left him when he was only 3 months old to return to Imeko, where her husband lived. His father was a Carpenter (a fact which was later thought important to a person who later reported receiving visits from Jesus Christ).
He was born May 19, 1909, in Porto-Novo, which is now the capital of Benin, but was then the new capital of the French colony of Dahomey. His family was also involved with the Cherubim and Seraphim Church. Felicia Yaman was Oshoffa’s first wife, and she was involved with the launch of the new church. She was said to be able to prophesy conflict and was invited to many of Oshoffa’s meetings.
Oshoffa was working in the Ebonywood trade in 1947 when he was instructed to found the new church. He reported that he had been searching in the forests to find the correct type of tree. He said he lost his way and had to live off the land for 3 months. When he emerged, he was empowered with the gifts of healing and prophecy.
A spiritual purification ceremony in Cotonou in the Benin Republic in 2009—100 years after the birth of Oshoffa
His first act of healing was reportedly the resurrection of his nephew. As a result, his elder sister, Elizabeth, was the first convert. The nephew was to become recognised as the first prophet of the new church. Over the next few years, several other people were reportedly brought back from the dead by Oshoffa. Between 1947 and 1951, the church grew in the country of Benin. In 1976, it was relocated to Nigeria because Oshoffa was in a minor conflict with the government of Benin. This was timely as he was just about to be arrested. Very soon after arriving in Nigeria, Oshoffa cured a madwoman, although many people doubted the healing. Oshoffa held a public meeting in Yaba, Lagos, where those who gathered reported his ability to prophecy. In the same year, he again claimed a resurrection.
The new church grew rapidly, and it attracted followers across West Africa and the world. The church was estimated to have several million followers in 1998. In Nigeria, Oshoffa was sold a large piece of land after the owner was assisted by the “holy man’s” intervention in a legal dispute. The new church continued to the resistance from the Nigerian authorities, but it was officially recognised in 1958. He took on two partners for the church, namely Reverends Alexander Abiodun Bada and Samuel Ajanlekoko.
Oshoffa died on 10 September 1985 after he was told of the death of his driver during an accident in which he was involved. After the accident, SBJ OSHOFFA was taken to hospital and later got better. He asked about the other persons in the car and was given bad news of their death. Therefore, to avoid any bad rumour that he used them to prolong his life, he asked God to accept his soul, which happened as he prayed to God. He was buried at Celestial City, Imeko. Oshoffa was the sole source of authority for the church and because of this, his death caused some problems of succession.
After some confusion, Alexander Abiodun Adebayo Bada was appointed his successor by the church trustee. Nigeria is considered a diocese of the worldwide church, and with its supreme headquarters at Porto- Novo. Therefore, Benoit Agbaosi would be appointed by the Supreme headquarters leaders to lead the church. In the beginning, those who became leaders of the Celestial Church of Christ parishes were appointed by the Pastor Founder Reverend S.B.J. Oshoffa. A church is called a Parish and the Spiritual leader of the parish is called a Shepherd. To be a Shepherd of a Parish, one must be called through spiritual revelation. After the revelation was confirmed, the would-be shepherd was required to serve as an apprentice under established shepherds. As the church grew, it became necessary to establish some form of training system for the clergy. A seminary to train shepherds was established for male clergy a year after Oshoffa’s death.
Porto-Novo, the supreme headquarters, chose Benoit D. AGBAOSSI (1931-2010) to succeed the Founder. The church celebrated the 100-year anniversary of its founder’s birth with a music festival and had awarded prizes in memory of him in Benin. Five percent of the 8,000,000 population of Oshoffa’s home country of Benin were Celestial Christians in 2009.
ABOUT THE CELESTIAL CHURCH
Many don’t know that the Celestial Church of Christ is a spiritual, world-wide, united, indivisible Holy Church, which came into the world from heaven by DIVINE ORDER on the 29th of September 1947 in Porto Novo, Republic of Benin through the founder of the Church, the Late Reverend, Pastor, Prophet, Founder Samuel Bilehou Joseph Oshoffa. The Church is well known with Parishes, Dioceses all over the world with its International Headquarters in Nigeria.
The movement was founded by Samuel Joseph Bilewu Oshoffa, a son of a carpenter born in Dahomey (now Benin) in 1909. He was raised as a protestant (Methodism), he had a divine revelation on 27 May 1947, during a solar eclipse, in a forest where he was lost. He felt called to pray, to heal the sick, and to raise the dead, and he founded his church in September 1947.
Having appointed himself a prophet, Reverend, pastor and founder, he occupied the highest office of the movement he had just founded. The control he exercised on doctrine and discipline issues made succession difficult after his death in 1985 in Lagos, Nigeria.
The Celestial Church of Christ (CCC) was recognized and authorized by the Republic of Dahomey (former name of Benin) in 1965. From 1976, the church launched an evangelistic campaign in the former colony of French West Africa, which became independent in 1960. From the late 1990s, the church had shown its willingness to use the Internet as a privileged means of evangelisation thus allowing the many existing branches of the church within the Africans in diaspora (United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, USA) to maintain contact with one other and with Nigeria, the country in which the church is the most popular.
How about Superior Evangelist Olatosho Matthew Oshoffa? He is the Shepherd -In-Charge of International Headquarters Church at Ikosi-Ketu. City People recently asked him to tell us a bit about his late dad, Rev. S.B.J Oshoffa
“By the grace of God, I am one of the biological children of the founder of the great C.C.C. St. Samuel Bilewu Joseph Oshoffa, who happened to be the only son of his father. His father was Joseph Oshoffa Ojopola, from Ojopolo lineage in Owu Abeokuta. His father was sold as a slave to Dahomey which is now Benin Republic. The day he was to be resolved to a new Master, he became so weak and sick and the new master couldn’t take him with him instead he paid for his freedom to the old masters.”
“So my grandfather ended up in the family of “Tanimowo”. When my grandfather got married, he started having children, but every male child dies before the Christening. One day, he met a woman that came from Emeko. Emeko happened to be the Headquarters of Church in Ogun State, Yewa. The woman came to trade in Port Novo, where she met my grandfather. When it got to the level of getting married, my grandfather told her how all his male children die at birth and he made a promise to her that, if you can give me a male child and he doesn’t die like that others do, the child will do the work of God. Fortunately, my grandmother became pregnant and she gave birth to a male child after the fourth day, my grandfather was so happy and he went to his neigbours and told them that, you all know that all the male child I give birth dies immediately after birth, but today is the fourth day my wife gave birth to a son and nothing happened to him. He further told them that, if the male child should remain alive, he would call on his Pastors to come and name him.”
“On the 8th day, the Pastors from his church, Methodist Church came and a proper naming ceremony was held. During the ceremony, the Pastor named the child Samuel. But as a Yoruba man my grandfather was they named his son Bi ile aye ba wun o, ko gbe, Bi orun ba wun, o tete pada lo bi awon ti saju which means. (If you wish to stay for the rest of your life, stay and if you want to go back to heaven, you can go) And he said, “but, I have told God that if he can keep you alive, you will work for him, you will be a man of God.”
“That was why he was named Samuel Bilewu, the son of Joseph Oshoffa. While my father was growing up, at age 7, his father enrolled him in a missionary school because of the vow he made to God. When he got to Grade 6, the school authority told them to carry out an assignment but all the students refused and they all went back home, but my grandfather remembered all the promises he made to God and he took my father back to school. But the school authority said No because they have sent all of them back home, that they couldn’t enroll only him.”
“After the school rejected him, my grandfather who was a carpenter, started teaching his son the carpentry job. And that was how my father became a carpenter. On the 15th of June 1939, when my grandfather was about to die, that was exactly 30 years after my father was born. He was born on 15th of May, 1909. My grandfather called his son and said my son go on your knees, let me bless you before I die. He said Samuel Bilewu Oshoofa, do not forget that we are from Owu in Abeokuta. We are slaves in Dahomey. And we don’t own any property, but I bless you, Samuel, you will be surrounded by many children. Don’t forget my father was his only son and he had a sister called Elizabeth Oshoffa, married to Guto because she got married, she could not bear Oshoffa again.”
“We have just one Oshoffa in the world except those that wish to be Oshoffa children and they adopt that name. My grandfather also said because you are the only one that bears my name. You will be blessed with all the material things that you need and people all over the world will pay homage to you and that was 8 years before Celestial Church of Christ was founded.”
“My father never knew he was going to establish a church. So that was his beginning. Like I said earlier, my grandfather died in 1939. So in 1945, my father decided not to do the carpentry job because my father was a very fragile person; he didn’t like anything that would harm him and since his father wanted him to do the carpentry job had already died, he also decided to drop the job. He then decided to start ebony trading, (tree trading). He goes to the forest to get trees and he will come and sell them in the city.”
“In 1947, there was a particular day he went into the forest. He went with a boat paddler and it was just the two of them. The man usually takes him to the forest while they were in the forest, my father went into the bush to start gathering the trees and when he came back, he noticed the Paddler was rolling in boat, he was in so much pain. He asked the man what happened and he confessed that he stole his soup and of course, he usually travelled with lots of food. When he told my father what he did, my father touched his stomach and prayed for him and the stomach ache stopped. The man got scared and wondered what kind of man he was. The man jumped into the river and let my father alone in the forest. My father could not paddle a boat which made him spent 3 months in the forest. While he was in the forest, he said the only thing available for him to eat was fruits and sometimes honey. Which means he survived on fruits for 3 months in the forest because he couldn’t paddle the boat. But something strange happened on the 23rd of May, 1947. There was an eclipse of the sun and my father been a good Christian; always travelled with a Bible. On that faithful day, he knelt down and he was praying to God and everywhere became dark. After praying, he opened his eyes and saw 3 creatures and that is why some people say Celestials worship animals. The first one was a “white monkey” with two upper teeth and two lower teeth. The second creature was a “Peacock” and the third creature was a short size snake. When he saw these 3 creatures, he heard the white monkey mentioned a particular name he has never heard before, and the name is “Luli”. Luli means the special grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Was it the white Monkey that told him the meaning?
“No, he said he heard the meaning in his ears; the Holy Spirit translated it to him. That was when he became transformed and he became an extraordinary being. He said he was wondering why God showed him 3 types of animal and God told him the meaning of those 3 animals.”
“The 3 animals show that God is about to send him on a mission, and God told him what each animal symbolises. The first one means: when you go on a mission, many people will come with worldly ideas to deviate you from what I assigned for you, but you have to be very careful. You have to be humble before me and I will glorify you, that is for the white monkey.”
“The Peacock which is the second animal means Pride. A peacock is an arrogant animal although it is the most beautiful of all birds, but when it exposes all its colours it becomes very arrogant. This is to say, as a man of God, you have to be very careful, while you are on your mission, do not be arrogant. I am the Lord who chose you, you didn’t choose me. The snake which is the third creature, the snake is a very deceitful creature, which means a lot of people will come with different ideas to deceive you, do not follow them because if you do, you will fall.”
How did he escape from the forest?
“After 3 months of his stay in the forest, there was heavy rain. He entered the boat and don’t forget that he couldn’t paddle, it was the current of water that led the boat without him paddling. The current of the water led him to the first village he got to. The village is known as Agange village. This implies that he waited until there were heavy rain and enough water in the river. When he got to Agange village, he was looking unkept due to the fact that he spent 3 months in the forest. He hair was so full, and while he was away, many people believed he was lost or perhaps dead because they couldn’t find him for 3 months. He had a friend in Agange village he normally visits before he went missing. When he got to the village, those that knew him went to him and told him, Samuel your friend just died; we are going to bury him soon. My father said, where is his body and don’t forget he is a transformed person. He went into the room where his friend’s body was laid. He touched the body and prayed and his friend resurrected and that was the beginning of his mission according to the revelation he got in the forest. The whole news started spreading everywhere. Meanwhile, during his stay in Agange, one of his friends called Yesufu, was also in Agange that time, when he heard the wonder he performed, he ran to Port-Novo to tell the adopted family of my father, that I saw Samuel you have been looking for, in Agange, he is now a lazy person; he is busy showing people that he has a power and he is raising the dead. That was how the news went all over Port-Novo.”
“But despite all these signs and wonders, he was still a poor man; he had absolutely nothing. When he moved from Agange to Port-Novo, people received him with joy, and he started performing miracles. The lame started work, the blind got their sight back and a lot of miracles happened, but he still remained a poor man. While he was performing all these miracles, he never had any plan of establishing a church. His plan was to go back to Methodist Church, which was his father’s church, but on 29th September 1947, among those that were sick, that he normally keeps in his house was a lady called Alexander Iyanga, and her husband also came to visit her. My father asked a seven days prayer for her and 29th September 1947 was the seventh day. After the prayers, my father asked the lady what she saw while praying, she said she saw Jesus Christ held my father’s hand and took him into a room and when he came out of the room, his eyes were red and nobody could look at him in the eye. He asked her husband what he saw, the husband said, please give me chalk, I have something to write. He told my father that the Lord ask him to tell him that his church will be named Celestial Church of Christ. He wrote it on the wall like a rainbow sign. At first, it was written in French, later translated into Egun, then into English and lastly into Yoruba.”
“The two of them asked my father what he saw, he said he saw a lamb and as the lamb was getting closer to his eyes he saw the image of Jesus and Jesus said to him that, son of man, “I will give you a church and whosoever worship me in the church without adding any unclean thing, whatsoever they ask in my name shall be given to them, but for the world to believe that I truly sent you, because if people don’t see signs and wonders they won’t believe in you. The Lord told him that Samuel, you will raise up dead, the blind will see, the lame will walk and so on. That was how the church started. In the early ’50s, my father had a friend called Emmanuel Afoyan, they had been friends before my father became a missionary man. One day, the man died, but my father didn’t know until 3 days after his death. My father went into the place where the man was laid. He prayed for him and he received life again. When he got back to life, my father asked him, my dear friend, when you died what did you see? His friend answered and said, I didn’t die, I only slept. My father said okay when you slept what did you see, he said yes I remembered! I saw you, Samuel, besides our Lord Jesus Christ and I was standing in the front of the two of you. And Jesus asked me, Emmanuel!, do you know this man standing in front of you? I answered him that I know Samuel very well, is he not the same Samuel that we used to drink garri together. Jesus then said, are you describing Samuel in such manner, that Samuel is my servant and I live in him. Jesus said to me, Emmanuel you are dead, but for me to glorify myself in Samuel’s life, I will bring you back to life and you will not die until that Samuel who is poor today becomes rich. And of course, despite all the signs and wonders were performed, he was still very poor; he wore torn sultana’s, dirty sultana because he couldn’t afford to buy a new one.
Shortly after that, my father needed a big space for his church, so he went to the head of the Tanimomo’s family that adopted him and he told him to please give him part of the land owned by the family so that he could build his church. The head of the family said so many bad things to him, like, didn’t your father tell you that you are a slave in this house? Have you ever heard that a slave inherit a property? What he said really got my father angry.
What was your father’s reaction?
“He decided to relocate from the Benin Republic to Nigeria; he moved to Makoko, from there he moved to Ketu.”
“In 1983/1984, the same head of the family that rebuked him and called him a slave came to him and asked him to help them renovate the house that he grew up. He said to him that he is now a great man of God and he has money, and it doesn’t speak well of him that a whole Prophet Samuel family house is demolished.”
“My father was so eager to help renovate the house not minding what the man told him when he went to him for help he sent his P.A. and his driver to the village in Port-Novo. He gave them enough money to go and rebuild the house.”
“They went to the village and after a week, they came back to tell my father how far they have gone. My father was so happy and he said they would go and complete it the following week but that night my grandfather appeared to my father and said, Samuel, do not forget that you have been regarded as a slave in that house if you should add a block to that place, you won’t like the outcome. Believe me, up till tomorrow nobody will be able to rebuild that house. Those who tried to finish the building always face one problem or the other. They all withdrew and this happened because they have spoken ill of the man of God.
When I see people that talk evil of Papa Oshoffa, I pity them because they don’t know what they are saying. That man was more than what we are seeing. Well, a lot of people look at him from the angle of polygamy. They will say Oshoffa was a polygamous man, while he was alive. It he was really a man of God, he shouldn’t have married many wives, but let me tell you, my father had 3 wives before God called him. If God was to judge by the number of wives he wouldn’t have chosen him; he would have been the first to be disqualified. If God called him while he had 3 wives then. It was for a purpose. And my father always says, he preferred to have them as wives than having concubines. And today, as many as we are, we know ourselves and we hold meetings often and we are at peace with one another.
The children of Oshoffa are 53 in numbers and you know one another…
Yes we know ourselves, I can tell you the mother that gave birth to all my siblings. And the good thing about my father is that the smallest of my father’s wives is my mother. We call all of them our mother because that was how he taught us. Nobody can ever intervene in Oshoffa children’s problems because they will be the ones to face the repercussion. We may have our disagreement but believe me, the love that my father has planted in us will always bring us back.
How has it been running the family of Oshoffa after the death of your father? It is a big family. We all have different behaviours even set of twins don’t have the same behaviour, so we have no choice than to accommodate ourselves because Oshoffa is only one. The uncles that we have are former President Olusegun Obasanjo and also late Professor Mokolu Adebayo who trained me in school. The late Akin Olugbade Olowu of Owu is also our Uncle, but we don’t have any Uncle that bears Oshoffa, so, therefore, we don’t have a choice than to manage each other.
Although, it is very normal to have misunderstanding but we will always remain one; we are not divided.