History: Papa Oschoffa in Public (Oschoffa’s Legacies Live on)

As expected, Oschoffa’s residence soon became a centre of attraction as more and more people visited him daily. There was virtually nothing he could do to minimize or regulate the frequency of visits. An attempt made for police control did not materialize. However, a suggestion by the police officer at Porto Novo that a convention should be arranged with the people in an open place seemed to have solved the problem. Consequently, an open air convention was arranged and people in the thousands thronged to Porto Novo. It undoubtedly offered an opportunity for those sceptical about the authenticity of Oschoffa’s power and credibility to see things for themselves.

Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, traditionalists and other interested groups were largely represented at the open air convention. It was a remarkable day because it was the first time Oschoffa was holding such an event. As earlier stated, at about this time the Cherubim and Seraphim Society, another independent African Church under the leadership of Prophet Moses Orimolade had established a branch of that church in Porto Novo. Oral tradition has it that Oschoffa was one of the staunch members of the Cherubim and Seraphim Society at Porto Novo but later withdrew his membership because of a misunderstanding between him and some members who claimed control over the local church. However, at Porto Novo, it was alleged that Oschoffa withdrew his membership from the Cherubim and Seraphim Society because of a charge of adultery voiced against him. The prophet denied this and claimed that he was never a member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Society though he was friendly with the society.

During a visit to Cotonou with Professor J. A. Omoyajowo on February 6, 1984 to cross-check the facts of the allegations, Pa Loko of the local Cherubim and Seraphim Church confirmed that Pa S. B. J. Oschoffa was with them in the C&S before founding the Celestial Church of Christ. However, every attempt at tracing his name in the Cherubim and Seraphim Church register at Porto Novo failed. We met other elders,–some of them in their eighties,–who confirmed that Pa. S. B. J. Oschoffa was very much with them in the local C&S. The inference one could draw from this is that the emergence of Oschoffa as a new spiritual leader of a religious group was not in the interest of the existing churches in Porto Novo, especially the Cherubim and Seraphim Church and the Methodist Church, both of which Oschoffa was said to have belonged to at one time or the other. It was therefore not surprising that the first question at the open convention came from a certain Alexander Aganyimi, a leading member of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, who supposedly asked: “We understand that Moses Orimolade was sent by God and it is true that he works wonders in God’s name. Now, you Oschoffa, also claim to have been sent by God. Which of you do we have to follow?” Oschoffa replied that John the Baptist came before Christ and people thought that he was the Messiah. Similarly, Cherubim and Seraphim are both attendant angels of the Lord and so the church by that name is a forerunner of the Church of Christ, come to prepare the way.

Another man, a member of the Catholic Church, asked whether Oschoffa who claimed that his power was from Christ would go to Rome (the Vatican), in the same way St. Peter and St. Paul took the Catholic Church to Rome. Oschoffa was quoted to have replied philosophically saying:
Young man, we gave you one kobo to hold and you held on to it; now we are telling you to reject the one kobo and accept two kobo because the glory of two kobo is more than that of one kobo. But if you refuse to relinquish one kobo, at a future time when you come to see the glory of the two kobo, you will want to retrace your steps and embrace them, but it will be too late as others will have taken your place.
His intelligent answers moved most people who had thought that Oschoffa would not live up to their expectations. It is even said that many sick people were healed at the convention. Most people left there fully convinced of the manifestation of God’s power in Oschoffa’s ministry. The convention seemed to have achieved tremendous success and the misconception about Oschoffa’s religious movement appeared to have been corrected.

Oschoffa and Reverend Parrinder

As earlier stated, Oschoffa in his youth, played a leading role in the Methodist Church at Porto Novo as a chorister. Oschoffa, in an interview, claimed he was among the regular members at Rev. Parrinder’s church services in 1945. Rev. Parrinder [25] does not recollect this alleged fact. Admittedly, it is not easy under normal conditions for a pastor to know all the people in his congregation. According to Oschoffa, he later had an audience with Rev. Parrinder who was then lecturing at the University of Ibadan in 1947. Oschoffa claimed that Rev. Parrinder visited Porto Novo specifically to interview him about his new religious movement. In his own words, Oschoffa claimed that his religious movement was only three months old in December 1947 when Rev. Parrinder paid him a visit.

Rev. Parrinder was said to have asked him why he (Oschoffa), a Methodist, decided to form a religious movement instead of staying to use his talents within the parent church. Oschoffa replied that if the Methodist pastor Rev. Gbeyangbe had made the effort to inquire sincerely about his new powers, rather than reject him (Oschoffa) outright, he would not have founded a new movement.

Rev. Parrinder admits he commented on the new religious movement established by Oschoffa, but does not remember ever meeting or interviewing Oschoffa concerning the Celestial Church of Christ. Prophet Oschoffa claims he had had a vision about Rev. Parrinder’s visit and had been instructed by the Holy Spirit to receive Rev. Parrinder with the highest respect. Oschoffa claims he asked Rev. Partinder to position himself at the exit door of the Methodist Church and to pick out members who wore rings which were neither engagement nor wedding rings. Oschoffa further said that he explained to Rev. Parrinder that those professed to be Christians, but practiced idolatry and wore amulets and talismans which were all reminders of idolatry and fetishism.

At this juncture Oshoffa claimed he explained to Rev. Parrinder his call and commissioning by God to preach to the world about the Kingdom of God. However, Prophet Oschoffa himself admitted that he did not understand the whole episode initially and was overwhelmed by the spontaneous following that he had.

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This article was researched and written by Rt. Rev. Dr. Albert Aduloju Agbaje, bishop of Sabongidda-Ora Diocese.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Good morning in Jesus everyone!
    I can just thank the efforts of that Reverend to find out about Papa OSCHOFFA: God bless him!
    There’s a document more aged than myself and from the C&S on which the name of the then Samuel Bileou Joseph OSCHOFFA was revealed as the 17th personage of C&S of Adjatchê Porto-Novo under the chieftaincy of a certain Captain and Mrs AKINSONWON the then leaders of C&S of Porto-Novo.

    To guide you to find out the very document on SBJ OSCHOFFA (then member of C&S of Porto-Novo), just go to Cotonou, and try to contact a certain C&S Superintendant Michel ALOKPO (if he still alive) at their C&S branch of carré 101 at Cotonou. You’ll have opportunity to see by your own eyes and to read the name of the then SBJ OSCHOFFA a then member of their branch.
    Celestians, please do wake up from your spiritual coma and try to search and you’ll see. Keep off showing others’s arguments on internet as the history of your beloved CCC. Stop beeing story tellers. Archives exist in our church and moreover and yet some ancients are still alive. Be humble and Jesus will help to reach this target for His glory!
    Elder LEVI M. YANSUNNU (LESELUSOSCHOFFAYANSUNNU@hotmail.com)

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