It was now necessary to bring together the large concourse of followers into a fold, a congregation or a church. All Oschoffa noticed was that things were unfolding by divine intervention. No meeting was held to discuss the name of the new church.
The name of the church was believed to have come down from heaven by divine revelation through a certain Alexander Yanga who was one of the early followers of Prophet Oschoffa healed by him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yanga was believed to have been in a trance for seven consecutive days. At the end of the seventh day, he reportedly saw the name of the church boldly written on the rainbow. He accordingly asked for a piece of chalk and, looking at the rainbow, wrote the name of the church as shown to him, Eglise du Christianisme Céleste, which means “Celestial Church of Christ.” After this divine revelation proclamed the name of Oschoffa’s religious movement, his followers soon began to identify themselves as Celestians. He explained that the Celestial Church worship is a carbon copy of the worship of God by the angels in heaven, an argument the hymn Tani mo bi attempts to justify.
What was unique in the origin of the Celestial Church of Christ that wasn’t in other Aladura Churches before it? Members of the sect always point to the mode of worship and the name allegedly sent from heaven as unique. Undoubtedly, S. B. J. Oschoffa like most founders of new churches, intended to give the church credibility by associating it with heavenly origins. Orimolade, Captain Abiodun, Emmanuel and Ositelu all did the same. It is hard to find any church founders who did not trace the founding of their sect or church to celestial authority or divine revelation.
Oschoffa’s name became synonymous with miraculous healings and people in Porto Novo and beyond anxiously awaited the day he would visit them.
The Celestial Church of Christ grew by leaps and bounds after the formal proclamation of the Holy Spirit’s orders through Alexander Yanga. Oschoffa was soon proclaimed a prophet by the ever increasing followers. Apart from being called a prophet of God, Oschoffa was also allowed to use the title of “pastor” even though he had not attended any seminary nor been ordained as such. Through divine orders, the use of the name Epastoral, which was believed to have been uttered by an angel was conferred on him. The term was allegedly translated to him as pastor. Thus, the founder of the Ce1estial Church of Christ became known as Pastor, Founder, Prophet S. B. J. Oschoffa.
This article was researched and written by Rt. Rev. Dr. Albert Aduloju Agbaje, bishop of Sabongidda-Ora Diocese.
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