By Jude Ndukwe
Recently, the Garden City of Port Harcourt in Rivers State was thrown into jubilant mood as men and women from all walks of life converged on the city to witness the grand opening of Nigeria’s church-sponsored first free specialist hospital built by the Omega Power Ministries, a church that has now become famous for its sacrificial philanthropic gestures to the people in diverse areas of life.
In a clime where the avaricious possession of highly expensive goods of ostentatious value have become the order of the day for “men of God” who have been accused severally and criticized severely for living fat on the tithes and offerings of their members most of whom live in abject poverty and squalor, it is highly commendable that Apostle Dr Chibuzor Chinyere, the General Overseer of OPM, as the church is popularly called, has chosen to deploy the tithes and offerings members of the church pays to the service of mankind by impacting the lives of the poor, destitute and helpless, and providing succour to the needy, the vulnerable and the downtrodden members of the society, most of whom are not in any position to pay him back in any way.
No doubt, with these gestures, Apostle Chinyere has shown that he is one pastor with a difference who strives not only to teach his followers the True Way of Christ but also leads them by example: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me” (Matthew 19:21 NIV).
Surely, it is such scriptures as this and in obedience to the Word of God irrespective of what others are doing, that has inspired the GO to rise beyond his own human cravings to build, yet, another humanitarian infrastructure, the OPM Free Specialist Hospital, in the heart of Port Harcourt, to cater for the health needs of the people absolutely free of charge irrespective of race, creed, tongue or religion. The hospital which offers specialist services also offers antenatal and postnatal cares. This is surely a welcome development especially as hundreds of people die daily owing to their inability to access quality healthcare because they cannot afford it.
The facility which is fully fitted with cutting-edge facilities and top-notch medical personnel is also already fully functional. Its grand opening on April 17 attracted personalities like representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), leading media personalities, and renowned medical practitioners, etc, all of whom were obviously very pleased with what they saw.
In a society where most GOs have relentlessly embarked on the primitive accumulation of wealth at the expense of their members and to the detriment of the integrity of the Gospel, and whose stomach has become their god, Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere has chosen to be different and serve God through sacrificial service to the people.
Gladly, this is not the first humanitarian service the OPM GO would be embarking upon in the service of the Lord through the people. This was not a fluke. It is correct to say that it has been part of his deliberate principles to touch lives with what God has blessed him with, hence, he also has built several schools where there is no form of any fees paid by the pupils. Apart from the fact that these OPM Free Schools which have since grown to eleven and still counting are located in Ohanku in Abia State, Ikpe in Akwa Ibom State with one in Bayelsa while the remaining five are sited in Borokiri, Eleme, Isiokpo, Obigbo, and Port Harcourt main city, with a total population of about 2,000, and still growing, OPM provides the students with all they need for their education, from pencils/biros, school bags, sandals, uniforms, and books, to the fact that they are also fed a meal every school day and ferried to and fro school with buses provided by the church, free of charge. These whole burdens the revered Apostle has taken off the wearying shoulders of parents.
Another fact worthy of mention is that these provisions are not in any way limited to members of OPM but open to all members of the society irrespective of faith, denomination, ethnicity and or such other primordial considerations.
In a world where materialism has seized the priorities of men of God who traverse the earth with opprobrious flamboyance that spits in the face of their church members in particular and the Christian faith in general, it is highly commendable that Apostle Chinyere has chosen a different and biblical path to further entrench the Gospel by meeting the essential needs of the people. Like he himself said, “Prayer is not only in binding and casting, prayer is also in giving”.
Apart from also operating free restaurants where the hungry are fed without screening, questioning or discrimination of any kind, OPM has maintained the rare culture of giving free raw food like garri, rice, beans etc to as many as are in need of them right after their Sunday service, a culture that has been maintained for the past 8 years unbroken!
By this generous acts of his, Apostle Chinyere is contributing immensely to the reduction of crime to its barest minimum in the society, giving hope to the hopeless and a future to the needy and the less privileged. Just like the example of Christ whom no one encounters without being touched or filled, OPM has been touching the lives of many and impacting the society positively. He has become a shining example to other men of God on how a true Ministry of the Gospel is run. There is no doubt that there are special graces following such a man and his ministries. Rather than envy him for the good job he is doing, and the commendations he is already getting from all quarters, both local and international, other Pastors should rather emulate him. For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?
It takes a man with a merciful heart who has the unfettered freedom to spend the money available to him without being questioned, just like it is with the OPM GO, to deploy such funds to meet the needs of the people in such a cheerful way as he is doing. It is my wish that all Pastors/GOs/Priests and such other men and women in whose hands God has entrusted the care of his people copy the example of Apostle Chinyere in following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ on how to take care of his sheep!
—firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @StJudeNdukwe