While the 2019 Harvest of the Celestial Church of Christ (CCC), Iyanu Oluwa Titun Parish, Ijedodo in Igando-Ikotun LCDA has come and gone, the spiritual and physical gains of this landmark event will forever remain in the hearts and minds of all those who were privileged to witness it. Our Community was on hand to record every minute of the event.
“Is it that place they are cooking and eating big, big cows,” the motorcycle rider (okada) replied when an invitee asked for direction to the Celestial Church of Christ, Iyanu Oluwa Titun Parish. The invitee licked his lips knowing full well that was his exact destination. No matter how expensive the Okada rider charged him, the invitee did not care; all that was on his mind was the “big, big cows” waiting for him! Not even the gates of hell could stop him from getting to this church flowing with milk and honey! October 25-27 (the dates for the three-day harvest celebration) had already been marked on his calendar and nothing could erase it! Upon arriving the gigantic two-storey Cathedral and sighting over six cows, he shouted a loud “Hallelujah” even though no one had said “Praise the Lord” to him!
While many attended the 1st day of the Harvest, tagged ‘Praise Night’, to satisfy their small and large intestines, truth be told, they went back home with a fresh impartation of the Holy Spirit via a large array of unending gospel songs. The stage was lit with Master of Ceremony, ‘Gbafida’, presiding over the power-packed Praise vigil. Before moving to announce the vast array of musical talents on stage, the understudy of MC Abbey first served some juicy jokes that got the crowd laughing to the point that some even coughed out the chin-chin they were earlier served! The Shepherd of the parish, Asst. Ven. Supr. Evang. (Dr.) Oluwole Gbere was the worst hit by the jokes as one could literarily count all of his 32 teeth as he laughed heartily.
The atmosphere changed a little when the star artiste for the night, Evang. Dare Melody, made his way to the ground, albeit very late. However, after the artiste put together a couple of scintillating melodies, the Shepherd, who had expressed his displeasure at Dare Melody’s lateness, responded to the tunes by displaying a couple of tidy dance steps that belied his age.
“I am surprised and amazed at the reaction I got from people”, an overwhelmed Sarah Olawoye, a budding gospel artiste, said shortly after her musical performance. The singer had just defied initial objection from the crowd who criticised her for speaking “too much English”, only to draw a standing ovation from the same crowd afterwards.
Sarah’s younger brother, Gabriel Oluwatobi Olawoye, who goes by the stage name ‘Choco’, also mounted the stage and sent the crowd into frenzy. There was basically no space in front of the stage as his adulating fans made sure to occupy every inch of it. Sadly, halfway into his performance, there was a power outage that plunged the venue into darkness. By the time the technical experts fixed the generator and everything was back in place, fans issued a rallying cry for “Choco” to get back on stage and finish what he started. One would be forgiven for thinking he was a Tope Alabi, Mega 99 or Yinka Ayefele.
It so happens that Gabriel Olawoye and Sarah Olawoye belong to a family where father and mother, Mr. & Mrs. Olawoye, are both wonderful singers that pioneer the parish choir — a testament to Gbere’s devotion to unearthing and harnessing the countless talents that abound in Iyanu-Oluwa parish.
Since all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the second day of the Harvest was all about games with many engaging in different sports. From table tennis to athletics, the church’s youths and a number of elderly ones slugged it out for sporting supremacy. The fun and games were much appreciated by the invited guest Shepherd, Superior Sunday Aro, who expressed his pleasure. Gbere had gone to great lengths to bring into the country the guest minister who oversees a large congregation in Minnesota, United States of America. It appears the aim was to transfer blessings from abroad to the good people of Iyanu-Oluwa Parish.
The moment Supr. Aro mounted the pulpit to deliver his sermon on Sunday, which was the final day of the programme, it became clear why the resident Shepherd went through all the trouble. Aro wasted no time in reiterating the main purpose of the Harvest – to bring unto the Lord “a portion of that which God has blessed you with from October last year till now”, quoting Deutronomy 16:13-16. He reminded the congregation of the Harvest levy and the importance of paying it. “Some will plant and instead another will reap the produce, but that shall not be your portion” Aro declared, to which the congregation replied a thunderous “Amen”. He then warned the church members not to attempt taking any of the bazaar items for free. “That is a terrible thing you can do to yourself”, the man of God warned.
His sermon then veered into the area of church ministers and the church’s stance on not really giving room to testimonies. “It is not as if we do not have testimonies; in fact we have uncountable, it is just that when you testify too much openly you can make the Shepherd’s head to start swelling” he said. He therefore urged men of God to remember their primary mission which is to fulfill God’s mandate for them on earth and not any other personal gains or false glory.
Supr. Aro went on to warn some persons who came to the Harvest for other purposes other than their spiritual needs. “You are not supposed to keep overnight any food from the Harvest”, he said, explaining instead that all food must be consumed there and also shared to persons. “We do not do that in Celestial Church”, he explained.
The cleric then shared an account of a woman in his US parish who failed to heed this warning and landed in the hospital afterwards. “This woman just kept on packing food into her car trunk,” he began. “When members called one of the Shepherds to see things for himself, the Shepherd told them to ignore the stubborn woman”, he said. “After midnight, this woman started calling the Olusho, complaining of stomach pain and before you know it she spent thousands of dollars on hospital bills,” he said. The minister’s warning was bad news to persons who had already bought black polythene bags with which to cart away food and meat. “What a waste of money”, they must have lamented.
By the time the church service was over, there were two priorities on people’s minds: the first was to purchase at least one of the spiritual items on display at the Bazaar; and since Supr. Aro had successfully warned people against hoarding of food, the second was to eat as much food and “big, big cow” meat as the stomach could possibly contain.
Asst. Ven. Supr. Evang. (Dr.) Oluwole Gbere had spent weeks in the Celestial prayer ground called ‘Mercy Land’, praying for each of the items that ranged from honey, salt, water and a host of others. With a handkerchief in one hand, Gbere, who is famous for having performed pilgrimage to Jerusalem a record 21 times, prayed further on the items before declaring the Bazaar open. Within a twinkle of the eye, the water was sold out. The honey had barely been put up when people priced it away. Those sitting at the back where not finding it funny at all as those sitting in front apparently had the upper hand. “Keep one for me” were the chants coming from the back as large numbers surged to the front. The spiritual items were many but the crowd was much more. At the end, those who were not able to purchase one of the spiritual items gnashed their teeth in annoyance knowing fully the efficacy of all the items.
Since they missed the spiritual items, they were never going to miss any of these fat cow meats being passed around by the servers on ground. Those who purchased at least one spiritual item could count themselves lucky as they were about to move on to the physical side of things having already gained their spiritual blessings!
When it comes to food, Iyanu Oluwa Parish considers it an opportunity to feed multitudes, especially the less-privileged, like Jesus did.