Ajibade Omape
Pastor Oye Baruwa of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Talitakumi parish in Ijoko, Ogun State, speaks with AJIBADE OMAPE on what prompted his decision to discontinue the collection of offerings within his congregation.

Could you share the reason behind your recent decision to cease the collection of offerings within your congregation?

My name is Prophet Dr Emmanuel Baruwa (JP) popularly known as Baba Talitakumi. I’m the pastor at the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church Talitakumi model parish based in Ijoko Otta, Ogun State. I have some reasons for taking the decision.

First, during the time immediate period after the fuel subsidy was removed, many people could not come to church because they did not have money. Also, with the situation in the country right now with the cost of foodstuffs, it became clear to me that people are suffering. Food is now expensive. Let’s forget about me, I think all of us should put ourselves in the position of these church members. If we put ourselves in the position of a church member, we will know the problems a lot of them are facing. When somebody is coming from a far place to worship at the church, and he is to spend N2,000 on transportation. And that person has just N3,000 and will still want to pay the Church offering from that money, How will he survive? If I stop the offering, it doesn’t mean I will not eat. If I stop the tithes, it doesn’t mean God will not send a helper to me. So, I have to be considerate. Many people believe the Bible says we should pay for offerings in Church, and it is when we pay for offerings that God will bless us. But when somebody doesn’t have the money to pay the offering, is God not going to bless that person?, of course, God will bless the person.

We are more or less forcing people who have no money to pay offerings. God will not accept that offering. That is my opinion for now. So, we are not collecting the offerings in our church. Also, to help our members during this period, we are distributing food to those who need it every first Sunday of the month.

I started this last year, and I’m doing it every first Sunday of the month to all my members. Also, on the 22nd of June, I’m selling a bag of rice worth N80,000 for N20,000. All the Church members, people in the community, and even Muslims that come for our programme can get it. We would also sell garri and other food items at lower prices to everyone that attends the programme. This is to help people with the high cost of living because times are tough.

So, as a pastor, I am against those who believe that if Church members don’t pay tithe or offerings, then God will not open the way for them. I’m not collecting offerings and tithe in my church and I’m doing the church project.

Do you believe that your call for other pastors to adopt a similar stance has been heeded by some churches?

Many of them are not doing so. There are a lot of pastors who are richer than me, but they are refusing to do it because they want to get richer while the poor will continue to be poorer. I think they don’t have mercy for poor people. But for us at INRI Evangelical Church, we have stopped collecting offerings until the economy improves. We still stand on our point. Also, every first Sunday of the month, we shall continue to distribute food to members.

They (other pastors) cannot do it because they don’t believe that God called them, if God called you, if he called you, He will provide for your needs. These members are struggling. Some of them don’t have money for their children’s school fees. I’m paying for some of them in my church. I pay for WAEC JAMB for the children of my Church members.

Let me use this one as an example, when the synagogue Pastor (TB Joshua) was alive, the place was always full of people, but when you go past that place now, there are no people there again. There are no people in that place because the Pastor offering them food is no more but his record of helping people remains.

A lot of pastors, and a lot of prophets, are thinking about their pockets, they are thinking about their children, but they should remember, that the child they spend so much money on might end up not being useful to them in the future and that is life.

I’m doing as God directed me, and I’m still on my point, and I will never change my point. I don’t care what people say about me. I don’t have as much money as some people have but they cannot do what I am doing because they don’t want to do it.

Is this the first time you have stopped the collection of offerings in your church or has it happened during any other time?

When there was COVID-19, we stopped it, but we didn’t put the information out on social media. We stopped it that time, and after the COVID-19 problem eased, we started collecting offerings again. However, with the situation now, we’ve stopped collecting offerings. I am following the path of my boss, Primate Babatunde Elijah. Whenever he says yes, it’s yes. Baba always stands his point, and as a son, to him, I stand on my point that for now, we shall not collect offerings.

How do you respond to social media comments that your declaration was motivated by a desire for attention?

For me, I didn’t believe what I did in my church could go viral. I never thought that would happen, so we were not doing it for social media attention. But now people are sending the video to me. God knows that we were not doing it to get attention.

Was this decision influenced by divine guidance or by the state of the state of the economy?Two people prompted that decision. Two ladies who worship in my church, one is coming from Atan, and the other one is coming from Giwa Okearo in Ogun state. Those places are far from Ijoko where the church is. They were discussing that they had exhausted the cash they had at hand and I was on a phone call but I was paying attention to what they were saying, and I went into the church and said there would be no offering that Sunday.

Is this decision only applicable to your branch of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church or does it extend to all other branches?

It applies to all branches of the INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church. Also, at all INRI branches all over the world, we are giving people who come to our church on the first Sunday of the month food free of charge. The food is not just for Christians but for everyone including Muslims. Anybody who comes will get food free of charge.

Some people online have condemned your action saying it is not right, what will you say about that?

You know, a lot of people have been calling me, saying what I said was not right. But I asked them all one question: I asked if they know how God blesses people. Some people do not even pay tithe and offerings in church, and God still blesses them. Some pay tithes and offerings regularly, but things are hard for them. Some people who pay tithes and offerings are hired killers. Do you think God will accept such money? But some pastors will tell you God has accepted the money out of greed. I’m not collecting offerings, and I’m still doing a project now on the church. Now, God will make a way when there’s no way. Let’s all pastors stop collecting offerings for now; they will see if God will not bless them. Are they not praying for people? As long as we are praying for people, they will show us mercy

If the economic situation persists, would you maintain your current stance or reconsider the collection of offerings?

If the situation remains unchanged, I will steadfastly adhere to my convictions, confident that God will bless me. Let me pose this question to all pastors: if we were to forgo the collection of tithes and offerings, would God withhold His blessings from us? Let’s acknowledge the truth that God always provides.

Reflecting on a personal experience, there was a time when I lacked a ticket for an overseas journey despite having a visa. Engaged in social media, someone reached out to me for prayers, then generously provided the funds for my ticket shortly after. This serves as a testament that if one is called by God to serve as a pastor, divine provision is assured.

I refuse to impose undue burdens on my congregation simply because the church requires assistance.

People assert that church offerings are essential for sustaining its operations. With your request for members to cease offering contributions, how do you intend to ensure the continued functioning of your church?

You know, I’ve said it: if I do not collect offerings or tithes, some people will assist me. When people come to me for prayers, they can also be moved to offer assistance, and I will also use that to assist the church. It’s not about shouting in church; it’s about making the members happy. Food is scarce, and most people are not eating well. In Nigeria today, we are not plagued with ancestral and family curses; it’s now the war against expensive food and lack of money for people to survive.

Did your church project commence before you decided to stop collecting offerings, or was it initiated afterward?

No, we started the church project before we stopped collecting offerings and the project is still ongoing. It’s not going to stop. After the project had started, an individual opted to give us 15 bags of cement and asked that we pay in installments. Is that not God’s grace? God will surely stand up for those who believe and trust in him. Nigeria will be good and if Nigeria is to be good it is in the hands of the pastors. Many pastors are encouraging ‘Yahoo boys’ in their churches, how will a child of 23 years old pay a tithe of N2 million? Where did he get it? Some pastors won’t ask where most of these people get the money from because they are greedy. That’s why they believe that if they do not collect offerings they cannot stand but I want to prove them wrong. We are all in service to each other.

Stop collecting offerings for three months and see if things will not work out. I am sure if you pray to God for help, He will send help your way.

What are the primary sources of income or compensation for full-time pastors?

I’m a full-time pastor and I don’t have a job. I serve the church and take care of the church and my children are educated. I have a child in the school of nursing and another one is serving I took care of all their bills and built my own house. I built my house and church with sand from the gutter, and nobody knows. I started it gradually and it’s all completed. But some people close to me know. It is God that blesses those whom He has called to serve him.

To whom should one offer their first fruits?

The tradition of giving the first fruits to one’s parents is significant; their blessings are invaluable. When my son started working, his first salary was presented to his mother and me. We offered prayers for his success and allocated a portion for him to contribute to the



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