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Agnes Okoh

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Okoh, Agnes (expanded version)
1905 to 1995
Christ Holy Church International
Nigeria

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Agnes Okoh


Her Early Life

Agnes Amanye Okoh was born in May 1905 to Onumba Emordi, a farmer, and Ntonefu, a trader. Emordi, her father, was a native of Ndoni, a town in the Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area in Rivers State, Nigeria. The town is divided into three villages and twelve quarters. Onumba Emordi was from Umu-Agbidi quarters in Ogbe-Ukwu village. Ntonefu, her mother, was from Umikem quarters at Onitsha, also in Igboland, in eastern Nigeria. Emordi and Ntonefu were married at a time when the child mortality rate in Nigeria was very high. Ntonefu gave birth to thirteen children, but the couple had to bury twelve of them, and Agnes was the only survivor. Her parents were not Christians, but she worshipped periodically with a nearby Roman Catholic congregation.

Agnes was not educated in any of the numerous mission schools in Igboland. The reason may ostensibly be attributed to her gender and to the prevailing Igbo perception of the roles of women in society. Comparing the privileges and responsibilities of Igbo males to their female peers in 1921, Basden observed:

The women and girls are not so free, though they enjoy themselves well enough in their own way. Almost as soon as they can walk, girls take a share in the household duties. They begin by carrying water, collecting firewood, rubbing floors, assisting in the preparation of food, and then, they are initiated into the technicalities of trade…Unless a girl can read before she is twenty it is safe to assume that she will never learn at all. This will serve to illustrate the uniformly low level of intellectual attainment with which Ibo women are satisfied. [1]

In fact, Ilogu notes that the education of Igbo women was taken seriously from 1939 to 1964, [2] a period when Agnes was approaching her mid-life. 

Upon the death of her parents, she left Ndoni to live with some relatives at Asaba, a town close to her mother’s hometown, Onitsha. Until 1924 she was a petty trader, buying and selling textiles. She married James Okoh, a Ghanaian immigrant sailor in Nigeria, in 1924. James Okoh was a Ga from the Kwakwaranya We (clan) in Accra, Ghana. After the marriage, her legal name was Agnes Okoh. James and Agnes Okoh gave birth to a daughter, Anyele, on May 5, 1925 and to a son, Marius Anyetei, April 5, 1927.

Her Religious Experience and Call

James Okoh died in the early 1930s, and Agnes did not remarry. While Agnes, now a single parent, was recovering from the grief of losing her husband, Anyele, her only daughter, died on April 1, 1938, at the age of thirteen, while at a middle school in Asaba, in Delta State. Agnes struggled hard to overcome her grief and the challenges of single parenthood. She developed migraine headaches and began seeking healing from one mission hospital to another. When it became evident that her migraines defied the potency of Western medicine, she visited some native doctors, known among the Igbo as dibia. However, the native doctors also failed to provide any relief, and she became restless. There were few African Independent Churches and their related prayer houses or healing homes in Igboland at that time. Some of the few operating in eastern Nigeria were the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, the Christ Apostolic Church, and Madam Nwokolo’s Prayer house of Ufuma. [3]

After falling sick and being in a state of despondency for over four years, she met a friend in 1942 who led her to the prayer house of prophetess Ozoemena, popularly known as Ma Ozoemena, at Enugu. Agnes spent fourteen days with prophetess Ozoemena--who incidentally was also from Ndoni--and she was totally healed through prayer, in the name of Jesus. She subsequently committed herself to faith healing and studied under Ma Ozoemena, who became her pastor and spiritual mentor. According to Rev. Enoch Okonkwo, the first general evangelist of Christ Holy Church (now retired):

Odozi-Obodo [4] [i.e., Agnes Okoh] was very close to her [Ozoemena] and they worked together. Odozi-Obodo used to receive counseling, advice and tutelage from Ozoemena on how to be self-conscious of God’s calling. Odozi-Obodo was advised by Ozoemena to be careful, always prepare herself ready because God wants to use her for great work. They worked together.” [5] [sic].

Agnes later recognized that she had the gift of prophecy, since all her prophetic utterances were said to have been fulfilled exactly. Ozoemena was said to be so overwhelmed with the accuracy of Agnes’ prophecies that she in turn prophesied to Agnes that God intended to use her in the future to spread the gospel. However, she cautioned Agnes not to rush into ministry; she asked her to wait until God’s appointed time.

In April 1943, while returning from a market at Enugu, Agnes Okoh claimed to have heard a voice saying, “Matthew 10,” repeatedly. She turned around each time she heard the voice in an attempt to see the speaker, but did not see anyone. She quickly ran to the home of a friend and asked her “What is Matthew 10?” The friend, who was semi-literate, told her that “Matthew 10” is part of the Gospel according to Matthew in the New Testament. They sought the help of a young man who read the entire chapter of Matthew 10 to them in Igbo, from the Union Igbo translation of the Bible. The two women then rushed to the prayer house of prophetess Ozoemena. After hearing the religious experience of Agnes, Ma Ozoemena reminded her of the earlier prophecy of God’s intention to use her. She reiterated the divine warning that Agnes should not rush into the ministry, and that she should wait for God’s timing. Meanwhile, Agnes continued in her textile business at Enugu market. She became so resourceful that she was able to finance her son’s education and care for him until he got a job. 

Her Itinerant Evangelistic Ministry

Agnes Okoh had a stint in proclaiming the Gospel in 1946 before becoming a full-time itinerant evangelist: “One night, while I was at Enugu, our Lord called me and asked me to go to Afikpo (in the present Abia State in Nigeria), and that I should use only ten Shillings (One Niara) for the journey. On the following morning, I obeyed His word and went.” [6] She returned to Enugu and waited for a further divine directive, as advised by Ozoemena.

In 1947, Prophetess Ozoemena told Odozi-Obodo [i.e., Agnes Okoh] that they had to relocate to Onitsha as God had instructed. They left Enugu for Onitsha and lived at Ilo-Oroja. On 15th December of the same 1947, Prophetess Ozoemena called holy prophetess Odozi-Obodo to go and find a place to conduct her own prayers, they will no longer be together according to God’s directive.” [7] [sic].

She commissioned her to begin an itinerant evangelistic ministry right away. In accordance with some of the injunctions in Matthew 10, backed by a said revelation from God, Agnes immediately discontinued her textile business. She sold all her merchandise and distributed the proceeds to the poor and needy. She left Ma Ozoemena’s prayer house and began fasting and praying, imploring God to empower and direct her in the ministry that had been entrusted to her. She claimed to have been assured of God’s presence in a dream in which she was asked to use John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly,” [8] as the thematic message of her ministry. She then bought a hand bell and began preaching from one place to another.

Agnes began her itinerant ministry in late 1947 at Onitsha, a town in eastern Nigeria known for its commercial activities. Faith in God was her major emphasis. Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew was her favorite Bible passage. Her motto however, was John 10:10. She went to many places in Igboland wearing a white garment [9] with a white head scarf. She held a Bible in her left hand and a hand bell in her right hand. Her medium of communication was the Igbo language. However, she spoke Pidgin English [10] when ministering to non-Igbo speakers.

At Onitsha, usually at market places, she announced her presence by ringing the hand bell and singing a Gospel song before she began preaching. She used to challenge her audience, saying: “Why are you having sleepless nights? Why don’t you have meaning in life? What does life mean to you? Jesus is inviting you to come so that you might have life and have it more abundantly. There is new life in Jesus. Jesus wants to exchange your meaningless life with a brand new one. The joy that you are supposed to have in life has been stolen by the devil.  If you come to him, he will give you the meaning of life and make your life new.” [11] She was said to have usually ended her preaching by praying for her audience.

The thrust of her message centered on repentance, righteousness, and holiness. As people were coming to her with their problems, she realized that she had the gifts of healing and of seeing visions, in addition to prophesying. Her healing and prophetic prowess attracted many people, and those who were healed began spreading the news about the new prophetess. Her popularity spread like wildfire, and many people began inviting her to their towns and villages.

She honored people’s invitations to minister in their villages and towns in the south eastern and Niger Delta areas of Nigeria. [12] At other times, however, she was said to have been prompted by the Holy Spirit, through dreams, visions, or intuition, to go to certain places and preach the Gospel. [13] Depending on the accessibility of the area, she traveled either by public transport--buses and trains--or on foot. On arrival at the villages she sought permission from the elders, as traditional protocol demands, before beginning to preach. She would then stay at the village for months, praying and healing people, until she claimed that God had directed her to move to another place.

Her Centralized Evangelistic Ministry

She finally settled at Onitsha and coordinated the affairs of her prayer centers from there while continuing her evangelistic ministries in Igboland. Among her early converts were ten men and two women who helped her to proclaim the Gospel from one place to another. The twelve were: Hezekiah D. Mbaegbu, Pa J. A. Ifeajuna, Benedict Aroghalu Mbamalu, Paul Ifeduba, Pa Onyejekwe, Winifred Nweje Ifeajuna, Cecilia Obi, Michael Obi, Brother Job, Patrick Egabor, Enoch N. Okonkwo, and David O. U. Nwaizuzu.

Agnes Okoh used an uncompleted building at Onitsha as her headquarters. After an itinerant ministry she would retire to that building and pray for people. “Many people who had known her while she was with Ozoemena and those who heard of her fame as God used her marvelously, were going to receive prayers.” [14] [sic].

Although her ministry had some of the features of existing prayer houses at that time, it was different in some respects. Unlike most of the prayer houses that were in a centralized location that people had to travel to so as to receive prayers from the head prophet or prophetess, Agnes’ ministry was planted in many towns and villages in Igboland. She was not the central figure in the ministry whom every one wanted to visit so as to be prayed for. Instead, she trained her own pastors and commissioned them to take care of the spiritual needs of the people. The ministry was therefore not centered on her personality or her gifts only. The ministry, at this point, was considered non-denominational.

Her Refugee Status and Ministry

At the outbreak of the civil war in Nigeria in 1967 she closed down all the prayer centers that were in the towns and villages where soldiers were doing battle. The center at Onitsha was also closed down. Prophetess Okoh and most of the members sought refuge at Arondizougu, also in Igboland, where there was relative peace. Though a refugee, she continued to pray, comfort, counsel, preach, and heal the other refugees and people living in and around Arondizougu. Her services were not limited to the civilian population; her followers claim that some soldiers also went to her for prayers. She became very popular and opened more prayer centers in the environs of Arondizougu, staying at Arondizougu until the war came to an end. 

What impressed people and convinced them of God’s presence with her was her ability to quote the Bible from memory, even though she was illiterate. According to Rev. Enoch Okonkwo, “She was eloquent like the prophets of old, though she was an illiterate, but God wrote the Bible in her brain. There is no portion of the Holy Bible she did not know.” [15] She was said to have held her audience spellbound by showing profuse knowledge of the Bible by either quoting from memory or by asking some people to read several texts from the Bible in support of the subject matter. Before quoting from the Bible or asking someone to read a text, she would ask, “Obu m na ife na ekwu adiro na akwukwo nso?” meaning, “What I am saying, is it not in the Bible?” [16] Many people found it extremely difficult to believe that she could neither read nor write any language.

Her Persecution

Some people viewed Agnes Okoh’s evangelistic ministry with cynicism. Those who were amazed at the effectiveness of her healing gifts but found it hard to believe that God would use a woman to such a degree began attributing the source of her powers to Mami Water, “a name applied by Africans to a class of female and male water divinities or spirits that have accreted elements from several European, New World, and Indian cultural traditions.” [17] The blessing of water as an element of healing by Okoh was seen by many as a legitimate proof of the Mami Water syndrome. Some people, as a result, made fun of the church, calling it “Mami Water Church.” Some also speculated that she had a shrine at Ndoni, her home town. Whenever her attention was drawn to what the cynics were saying about her, she would either say, “Adigh m anu okwu ekwensu” which literally means, “I do not hear the voice of the Devil” or “Chukwu me kwalu fa ebele,” meaning, “May God have mercy on them.” [18]

Rev. Enoch Okonkwo recollected how someone wanted to kill her at Onitsha in 1954. The assailant knocked at her door at night. When she asked about the identity of the one who was knocking on the door the person mentioned his name, but Okoh claimed that a voice warned her not to open the door. The intruder’s persistence compelled her to call some of her assistants (including Rev. Okonkwo) from her window, asking them to check the identity of the one knocking at the door. The man was found to be holding a machete, so he was overpowered and handed over to the police. [19] Members of the church were taunted for attending a church founded by a woman, perhaps due to the aforementioned poor image of women in Igbo society at that time. It was even alleged that some members of Western mission-founded churches and some charismatic churches made fun of Christ Holy Church members for dancing, clapping hands, and shouting “Hallelujahs!” during worship times. They were popularly ridiculed as the “Hallelujah Church.” Some people who donated land for the Church were alleged to have been persuaded by some Catholic leaders to take back their land.

The Emergence of the Title “Odozi Obodo”

The primary concern of Agnes Okoh was to get land to build a worship center for her new believers in Christ, in order to help with stabilizing them in the faith. Some of the beneficiaries of her healing and prophetic gifts gave land free of charge for them to begin their ministry. [20] At some places where the believers were not wealthy enough to donate land, elders of the communities donated ajaw-awfia, (i.e., bad bush) or ajo oshia (i.e., evil forest) [21] to the leadership of the prayer ministry. Some of the towns where “evil forests” were donated, according to Rev. Samuel Ejiofor, a former head of the church, were Abba, Umuoza, Ogbunike, and Achalla. [22]

On Igbo Burial Practices and the “Evil Forest”

In those days, according to Basden, who published his book about the Igbo in 1921, when Agnes was a teenager, free-born men who died of natural causes were buried in the foreground of their homes. Married women who died of natural causes however, were buried at their husband’s village, except when a wealthy son of the deceased arranged that the mother be buried at her hometown. Such arrangements were usually preceded by some negotiations with the relatives of the deceased’s husband and the payment of fees by the son.

The Igbo will endure everything demanded of him in this life; will put up with hardships, the misbehaviour of his children, indeed anything, in order to insure that his burial will be properly performed. His whole future welfare depends upon this, and hence it takes, at all times, a most prominent place in a man’s calculations. [23]

The Igbo believed that an improper burial was a disgrace to the departed person--an act that could result in the punishment of the living. The Igbo therefore had a practice of performing second burial rites to ensure that things were done properly. Basden states some of their eschatological beliefs thus:

When men have run their course in this world they return to their master – the Supreme Being – and live with him in the spirit world. In their spiritual state they are endowed with never-ending life, and, until the ceremony of second burial has been observed, they continue to haunt this world, wandering at will in the houses, compound and farms, invisible, yet ever present, and taking a distinct yet unremitting interest in the affairs of the individual and the community with which they associated in life. After the rites of the second burial have been completed the ‘spirits’ depart to their appointed place and rest in peace until their reincarnation, i.e., as long as they behave themselves. [24]

The importance of the second burial is demonstrated by the steps that some Igbo took to ensure its reality. This is seen in the fact that poor relatives had to “…sell old people, especially a woman decrepit and sick…and the money obtained by the sale was devoted to the expenses of the second burial, this being considered much more important than her latter end on earth, or the disposal of her actual remains.” [25]

In spite of the importance the Igbo attached to burials, not all Igbo were given proper and decent burials. At death, slaves were hurriedly buried, and some people in Igbo society were not even buried: lepers, those who died of communicable diseases (such as small pox), women who died in childbirth, lunatics, those who committed suicide, those who were murdered, and those who died accidentally through drowning or burns—these people were simply thrown into the “bad bush.” Those who were considered social misfits were also cast into such places. This practice was corroborated by Chinua Achebe in his novel Things Fall Apart--a novelabout some tensions between Western missionaries and some beliefs and practices of the Igbo:

Unoka was an ill-fated man. He had a bad chi or personal god, and evil fortune followed him to the grave, or rather to his death, for he had no grave. He died of the swelling which was an abomination to the earth goddess. When a man was afflicted with swelling in the stomach and the limbs he was not allowed to die in the house. He was carried to the Evil Forest and left to die. There was a story of a very stubborn man who staggered back to his house and had to be carried again to the forest and tied to a tree…He died and rotted above the earth, and was not given the first or the second burial. [26]

It was customary at that time to kill some people, believing that they would accompany deceased chiefs and kings in the other world. It was a popular belief that such victims would serve the departed chiefs and kings. “The corpses of all these victims were not buried; they had to be cast away in the ajaw awfia (bush dedicated to receive corpses of outcasts) where the remains of human sacrifices were deposited.” [27] Those who were thrown into the evil forest were believed to have been later killed by the evil forces that inhabit the forest.

The act of throwing corpses into evil forests was antithetical to a very prominent Igbo belief about the supernatural. The fear that the living would be haunted by the ghosts of the dead for not performing the rites of a second burial was very prevalent in some Igbo communities. Some Igbo bore the brunt of the irony of burial discrimination over against the fear of being haunted by the ghosts of those who were not given proper burials, particularly those who were not buried at all. The evil forest, as the name implied, was dreaded because it was deemed to be the resting place of spirits who felt disgraced and humiliated by the living. The spirits of those who were thrown into the forest were believed to have been filled with vengeance. It was believed that they would use the slightest excuse and opportunity to punish the living. It was a general belief that people who dared to enter the evil forests or were thrown into them alive either had scratches all over their bodies, developed swollen bodies, or never returned. [28]

Agnes Okoh and her followers were not the first people to be offered an evil forest. Giving evil forests to religious leaders seems to have been an old practice among some Igbo elders. The elders, in their bid to get rid of religious leaders, pretended to be generous while in fact they were acting treacherously. Chinua Achebe concurs with the claim by members of Christ Holy Church on this issue, by giving an account of a similar “donation” to some Western missionaries who asked for land to build a place of worship:

Every clan and village has its ‘evil forest.’ In it were buried all those who died of the really evil diseases, like leprosy and smallpox. It was also the dumping ground for the potent fetishes of great medicine men when they died. An ‘evil forest’ was, therefore, alive with sinister forces and powers of darkness. It was such a forest that the rulers of Mbanta gave to the missionaries. They did not really want them in their clan, and so they made them that offer which nobody in his right senses would accept…‘They want a piece of land to build their shrine’…‘Let us give them a portion of the Evil Forest. They boast about victory over death. Let us give them a real battlefield in which to show their victory’… They offered them as much of the Evil Forest as they cared to take. And to their greatest amazement the missionaries thanked them and burst into song.[29]

Odozi Obodo: the Reality

The claim by members of Christ Holy Church that some evil forests were “donated” to Agnes Okoh, their leader, can therefore not be doubted. The gift, at face value, seemed generous, yet it was a “gift” that tended to test the genuineness of her claim of serving a powerful God whose power knows no boundaries. The “gift”--similar to the Trojan horse --was also a great trap [intended] to cause the death of Okoh and her followers, and thus curtail her ministry on earth. The gifts could also be perceived as contests between two deities--i.e., the gods of the villagers and the God of Okoh.

Being an Igbo and knowing the beliefs about the ajo oshia among the Igbo, Okoh would accept the offer, pray at the entrance of the forests, remind her followers that the God they were serving is mightier than the evil forces in the forests, and then enter. She and her followers would then build some huts and make the forests their habitation. Many villagers instantly became members of her church on hearing and seeing that she and her followers entered and lived in the evil forests without any mishaps. Within a few months she would invite all those who were not afraid to live in the forests either to build some houses in the forests or to use some portions of the land to farm. These bold and generous acts increased the economic power of many villagers, in view of the fertility of the forests, and thus made the poor rich in no time.

In recognition of her ability to overcome evil forces, to heal people from all kinds of sickness, and to turn the dreaded forests into a more useful venture for her followers and other inhabitants of some villages, many observers of her ministry began calling her Odozi Obodo [30] which literally means “town repairer” or “nation builder.” The title Odozi Obodo has been translated by Peter DomNwachukwu as “one who shapes society and keeps it morally pure.” [31] It is a title which nearly obliterated the name of Agnes Okoh, because those who knew her and the effects of her ministry were said to have had no doubt that the name was a befitting honor for her. She was known by and large as Odozi Obodo. Christ Holy Church International has been popularly known as, and called, “Odozi Obodo” or “Odozi Obodo’s church.” Until 2000 all the billboards of the church had “Odozi Obodo” written in parentheses after the name of the church. Due to the multicultural policy of the church, the name “Odozi Obodo” has been substituted with “Nation Builders” on the church’s billboards.

The ministry did not have an official name prior to 1950. It was loosely called “Odozi Obodo’s prayer ministry.” In 1950, after receiving some administrative help from some leaders of Christ Apostolic Church, the prayer ministry was officially named “Christ Apostolic Church (Odozi Obodo).” That name was later changed to “Christ Holy Church of Nigeria” in 1975. [32]

Personal Qualities

Some personal qualities marked Agnes Okoh as a prophetess called by God. These qualities were: leadership, healing, prophecy, philanthropy, and faith. These qualities endeared her to the hearts of those who came close to her, and they are discussed in five points and subheadings below.

1a. Her leadership qualities and the societal background of her leadership:

The traditional role of women in Igbo society is a subservient one, as in many other African societies. H. Onyema Anyanwu underscores this fact in the everyday perception of Igbo women: “In traditional society women are really portrayed quite consistently as appendages of men. They are looked upon as possessions of men, as goods which may be sold, disposed of, given away, traded, or just ordered about by men, as things which might better be seen and not heard.” [33] This practice is followed strictly when it comes to occupying leadership positions.

Throughout the traditional society it is the norm to find men occupying the positions of authority and command. Men are the rulers, the generals, the judges, the priests and the landlords; and not because of their proven ability to undertake such roles or because of any inability among women, but rather simply because such roles are unquestionably and automatically reserved for them; conversely men are specifically designated to fill those roles. [34]    

Although Anyanwu praises missionaries for their tireless efforts at restoring feminine dignity in Igbo society by integrating them in church organization and educating them, [35] the religious roles of Igbo women, before the missionaries arrived in Igboland, were paradoxically highly respected, as stated by DomNwachukwu:

Igbo women are active participants in the religion. They lead in every aspect of worship except igo oji (blessing and breaking of the kolanut) and igo ofo (using the ofo stick ritually and ceremoniously)…There are many cultural norms which delimit women’s societal life, but in the arena of religion, Igbo women enjoy enormous freedom. They serve as priestesses, diviners, messengers and worshippers. The most important deity in Igboland, Ala (earth goddess) is female. Her chief minister is always a woman…This is the substance of Igbo religious life before the advent of Christianity. [36] 

In spite of these significant religious roles, Anyanwu claims that the societal marginalization of Igbo women still persists: “The presentation of women in the society is consistently condescending, patronizing, derogatory, and in many places downright insulting…this traditional conception of women has not been completely eradicated despite the efforts of the missionaries.” [37] Agnes Okoh began her ministry and continued ministering in Igboland in just such a chauvinistic society and under the circumstances described above.

1b. Her motherly role in leadership

Her inability to read and write in any language was an additional societal setback, yet she did not allow such limitations to impede her leadership role in the prayer ministry that eventually became a church. Instead, she used the very thing that has been disdained by Igbo society--womanhood--to display optimum leadership. Agnes Okoh was popularly known among Christ Holy Church members and admirers as “Mama,” a designation that connotes dignity, honor, and the acknowledgement of some characteristics that don’t have a masculine equivalent. In answer to the question, “Why do you call prophetess Okoh ‘Mama’--is it because of her old age?” Rev. Samuel Ejiofor replied, “I worked with her for 16 years. She regarded everyone as her child. She never discriminated.” [38] To the Very Rev. Daniel Chukwuenyem Dike, “Mama was a disciplinarian who did not tolerate any form of nonsense or anything that was contrary to her call. She believed in truth 24 hours. If you do not have truth you will never be part of Mama.” [39] To Rev. Emmanuel Alamanjo,

Odozi Obodo fed everybody with spiritual and material food. From the time the church was founded till 1976 when she retired, she single-handedly fed all workers of the Church, even during the war when there was a shortage of food. She used the gifts she received from people to feed people who came to her and all the workers.” [40]

1c. Her use of appellations in training others

While training her pastors, Agnes Okoh was said to have taken recognition of the special qualities of her trainees and, consequently, gave them appellations (motivational names), which resonated those distinctive qualities. [41] Rev. Enoch Okonkwo, for instance, was called Agu (Lion), an appellation depicting his fearlessness at healing diseases that had hitherto defied every type of healing. For his ability to crush spiritual problems into pieces, Rev. Daniel O. U. Nwaizuzu was called Enyi (Elephant). Rev. Gabriel O. Chiemeka’s ability to command and subdue stubborn evil spirits to come out of people in the name of Jesus earned him the appellation, Ochiaga (Commander). She used the appellations to call them, build their faith, encourage and challenge them, and to motivate them into action. Her trainees were, consequently, said to have accomplished many feats they thought they could not do, all things being equal. She used to call the entire membership of the church “Umu Chineke!” (Children of God!). She used these appellations to counsel them to live lives befitting the appellations.

1d. Her use of repetition in training others

Okoh was a leader who was able to use the pedagogy of repetition to influence her followers with what she liked and disliked. She used this method to pass on her leadership policies and personal faith in God to her followers any time she was with them. Some of the most famous sayings which many of her followers remember are: “Ka anyi nu onu Dinwenayi” (“Let us listen to the voice of the Lord’s voice”), [42] “Rapu ife nine n’aka Dinwenanyi” (“Leave everything in the hands of the Lord”), “Ne ekpe ekeple” (“Be prayerful”), “Kwusia ike na Jisus Kraist” (“Stay firm in Jesus Christ”), “Eme kwana ife ga emegide okwu akwukwo nso nifi na Jisus Kraist n’aba ozo” (“Do not go contrary to what the Bible says because Jesus is coming soon”), “Temptations only stop when River Niger dries up,” [43] “I do not listen to the voice of the devil,” “If I fear God there is no one else to fear,” “Fear comes into your life whenever you deviate from God,” “Trust in Jesus,” and “Go and stand on the Word of God.” These sayings of hers have been imprinted indelibly on the minds of those who worked with and heard her.

2. Faith and humility as leadership qualities

Her faith in God was said to be unflinching. She not only communicated her faith in God to her followers, she demonstrated it, even to the disbelief of her followers at times. [44] Rev. Okonkwo testifies about Agnes Okoh’s faith in God:

…Odozi Obodo will never consider anything that will change the word of God. She will rather prefer death. As long as it is written in the Bible, she will neither divert to the right or left. This gives rise to the popular sayings within the church ‘I do not hear the voice of satan.’ She always stood firm and nothing shakes her faith in the word of God. This made her very unique. She would forfeit anything she had, to ensure progress of the work of God. She would suffer anything possible to advance the work of God. She would prefer to starve than allow God’s work to fail. I witnessed all these qualities in her, having lived with her for six years at Ndoni. [45] [sic].

The humility and contentment of Agnes Okoh were some of the hallmarks of her leadership. Although it was through her that the prayer ministry came into being and later grew into a church, members of Christ Holy Church International claim that Okoh was aware of the Biblical injunction on female leadership in the church. [46] Therefore, she never considered herself as a pastor and leader of the church. She was content with her prophetic ministry and referred to herself as “prophetess of God.” According to Rev. David Nwaizuzu, one of her early followers, “She did not see herself as one who will be in charge of the affairs of the Church. She never coveted the position of a leader. When men began joining the church she gave them leadership positions. Mama never baptized, she never gave a communion, and she never ordained anyone.” [47]

As a result, very early in her ministry (early 1948), she appointed Pastor Hezekiah D. Mbaegbu leader of the prayer ministry. She claimed that God asked her to make that appointment. Mbaegbu was the leader of the ministry until he was suspended in 1956, after a misdemeanor. So resolute was her avowed policy of allowing men to lead the ministry that she did not take advantage of the vacancy in leadership position during Mbaegbu’s suspension, even though she perceived it as a setback. In his stead, she appointed Reverends Enoch Okonkwo and David O. U. Nwaizuzu in 1956 as co-leaders. She claimed, again, that these appointments were made upon divine instructions. [48]

Agnes Okoh’s decision not to lead the church or assume the role of pastor, apart from her interpretation of the headship of man, may have been motivated by either the male chauvinistic nature of the Igbo society or the influence of her Catholic background, [49] though she could have taken advantage of the favorable Igbo perception of the religious roles of women to lead the church. She was under no obligation not to lead the church. With the exception of her sole prerogative of appointing leaders of the church (a function she usually claimed was revealed to her by God through prophecies or visions), she did not use her position as the founder to usurp the functions of the male leaders, running the church from backstage. Instead, she instituted a democratic administrative body called “the elders committee,” thus dismantling any image of indispensability. At Onitsha, the church headquarters, she used to sit at the side of the altar during church services while the leaders sat behind the altar, a place of leadership influence and honor. She served as a mother to the leaders and other pastors, using her spiritual and motherly dispositions to observe, encourage, counsel, and train them. She was, nevertheless, a disciplinarian who held people accountable to their commitments.

3. Accountability and total dependence on God as leadership qualities

According to Rev. Christian Chukwuemeka Obiefuna, “If she knew that you are responsible for this table and something on the table was needed she would insist that the one responsible would bring it. She held people responsible for their tasks. She was careful that things were done in order.” [50] Rev. Daniel C. Dike recalls that Okoh used her maturity in life to control their youthful exuberance: “Whenever anything went wrong Mama would ask us to wait on God’s time. She calmed us any time we wanted to take some hurried actions. She used to advise us never to fight for God since God is himself a warrior who does battle in his own time.” [51]

Agnes Okoh’s sensibilities to the promptings of the Holy Spirit were overwhelming. “She did not do things except [as] God directed her. Even when you suggest[ed] something to her she would say ‘let’s hear from God.’ Only when God gave her an answer would she move and when she moved she would not look back.” [52] Such faith and obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit were seen as unrealistic by some members, particularly the educated ones, and this caused some tensions. Three examples will be given in this regard. When in 1956 Agnes Okoh appointed Reverends Enoch Okonkwo and David O. Nwaizuzu joint leaders of the church, catechist Ekueme, who was more educated than the appointees, challenged the appointment on the basis of his education; he claimed to be more qualified than Okonkwo. While not denying that fact, Okoh insisted that the appointment was divinely revealed.

The second disagreement between Okoh and Ekueme was with regard to preparing a preaching timetable. While Okoh was used to waiting on the Lord’s directives before going to a place to preach, Ekueme wanted her to draw up a timetable and adhere to it. Again, she did not compromise.

Finance was another point of tension between Ekueme and Okoh. At the early stages of her ministry, she claimed that God asked her neither to collect money from anyone nor to allow her leaders to collect money in exchange for their services for a certain unspecified period. She was even said to have rejected monies given to her by Marius, her only son, who was gainfully employed during this period with the Public Works department of the colonial administration.

Rev. Enoch Okonkwo made a reference to this policy when asked to reflect on the nature of the ministry at that time: “Money played [a] less important role at our time…” [53] [sic]. This policy plunged the leaders into great financial stress and abject poverty. Okoh resisted a proposal by Ekueme, who asked her to review that policy in view of the financial difficulties in which they found themselves. She told Ekueme that God’s directives are non-negotiable. However, she assured him that God had promised her that if she and her workers are able to obey that prophecy, a time would come when leaders and workers of the church would lack for nothing. These disagreements provoked Ekueme and a few members to leave the church in 1956. [54] This is reported to be the only time some people left in protest of church policies, starting from the beginning of the ministry in 1947. Leaders of the Ihitenansa Superintendency, however, claim that Ekueme did not establish any church, so most of the members who followed him became disappointed and returned to Okoh’s prayer ministry. They therefore do not consider it to have been a secession.

4. Her ability to inspire communal lifestyle

Through her selfless and humble leadership, the life of the early members of the church was said to be communal, caring, and affectionate, akin to that of the early church in Jerusalem. Mud houses were built for widows whose husbands died intestate. According to Chidi Mbadiwe,

Fasting in proxy for barren women was the norm in the early 50’s. The barren women had no knowledge that some members were fasting and asking God to make them fertile. When God answers their prayers members brought all kinds of gifts – food, clothing, money – to the new mother and child before the dedication of the child in the third month after birth.” [55] [sic]

Free manual labor was provided by some members for other members who were either too poor to hire laborers or too weak and sick to work on their farms. Those who benefited most from the free manual labor were women. Wealthy members who owned houses were said to have reserved one room in their houses, as a tithe, for some of the workers of the church. The members provided the basic needs of other church workers who were housed on Church premises. “The members,” according to Rev. John Ekweoba, “gave their clothing to poor and hungry church workers. Even church workers who had more than one pair of trousers gave the other to those who had none…We used to walk for 10 or 15 miles to preach the Gospel.” [56]

Members of the church were neither compelled nor persuaded to meet the needs of others. The pedagogy of giving was based on the example of Okoh. “She was a prophetess who taught with examples, always setting an example with her own self. When Odozi Obodo tells you to give and promises you that what you have given will be given back to you, she will first give so you can see it.” [57] The generosity of the members, therefore, emanated from Okoh’s exemplary lifestyle.

Very Rev. Clement Obiokoye claims that another regular feature of the early life of the church was the revelation of some people’s secret deeds and thoughts during their meetings. What some members did in secret was revealed through prophetic utterances when they met at worship services--the presence or absence of the object of the revelations was not important. [58] It was a general practice of members to follow up on absentee members to find out what had prevented them from being present. [59] Miraculous healings became commonplace in the church, as discussed below, such that church members were awed by the activities of the Holy Spirit and acted with circumspection.

Reflecting on the lifestyles of the church members in the mid-1950s, Rev. Enoch Okonkwo says: “Our church in our time was built on Almighty God through his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit as the totality of our abiding faith and deeds.” [60] Agnes Okoh combined her natural motherly instincts with humility, the fear of God, and the desire to obey God no matter the circumstances, to lead the church. “Mama was generous and approachable. I can liken her meekness to the Biblical Moses because we never saw her quarreling with anyone.” [61] She had the desire to raise up men and women who would do the work of God without necessarily looking up to her. Consequently, her leadership influence over them was immense. Also, since her leadership was couched in the cultural milieu of the Igbo, she was able to adapt aspects of the culture that do not contradict the teachings of Christianity, while rejecting the ones that are contrary to plain biblical teaching. 

5. Her healing ministry and the initial practice of faith healing

Agnes Okoh’s ministry was filled with numerous healing miracles. Her own experience of being healed of a migraine in 1942 gave her first-hand knowledge of God as a healer. Though commissioned to preach a life-in-Christ message (John 10:10), she considered healing as an integral part of the life-in-Christ package and, therefore, did not hesitate to pray for all those who were sick in body and soul.

The Church initially practiced a strict form of faith healing, one that did not permit members to make other choices when sick. “Nobody was allowed to take any form of medicine in the early stages of Christ Holy Church, from the ’50s to the early ’70s. Those who sneaked to take any form of medicine were exposed by the Holy Spirit. It was an abomination for a member of this church to take medicine when sick.” [62] The church set aside healing homes for those who were seriously ill and handicapped. Rev. Alamanjo, who was himself healed in the church, gives a description of the importance of healing in the early years of the church:

In those days every station had three buildings – the worship center, teacher’s quarters, and the healing home. Mad people were in chains; there were blind people, lepers, those [who were] enduring serious satanic attacks, who came to live in the church. Those with serious cases lived in the healing homes. They came with their mats, pots, stoves, and kettles. The mad people stayed for about three days to three weeks – depending on the severity of their lunacy. No sickness was incurable; sickness was never a terror to anybody because members knew that once the name of the Lord was invoked, the sickness would run away. Every member was as strong in prayer as a Gospel minister. [63]

Okoh was said to have healed many people of all kinds of diseases. “She raised dead people and healed those who were mad, lame, and blind. I am an eyewitness to all these miracles. That is why her people believed her claims, and I personally decided to follow her.” [64]

Using Water from Streams to Heal

The apex of her healing ministry was in 1963, when she claimed that God had revealed a stream to her (in a dream) to use for healing. [65] She described the site of the stream to some of her pastors and asked them to go and locate the stream. After many failed attempts, the stream (Nkissi stream) was spotted in the northwestern part of Onitsha. [66] The Nkissi stream looked dirty, but as she and her workers began to weed around the stream, clear spring water gushed out--something they considered to be a confirmation of the revelation. She sent her workers to announce to the populace of Onitsha that they should assemble at the stream with all their infirmities. The workers initially traveled to all the nearby towns and villages using megaphones to announce the dates and times the prophetess of God would go to the stream and bless it for healing.

For six months in 1963 Okoh went to the stream on every other Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. At the stream, dressed as simply as any elderly Igbo woman would dress, [67] she led her workers to sing songs of praise and gave a brief sermon which was usually about the purpose of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and the need to put one’s faith in him. She would then bless the stream, drink from it herself, and ask her pastors to take a drink before ushering those who had assembled to take a drink in order to receive healing. Those who came with containers would then be allowed to fill them with the water after everyone had drunk from the stream. The water in the containers was given to sick friends and relatives who could not make a trip there, because it was reported that some sick people were forcibly taken from their hospital beds and transported there.

There were numerous claims of healing after use of the consecrated water. News about the stream of healing spread to many parts of Nigeria, and crowds swelled to such an extent that after a while, the owners of the land bordering the banks of the river (thinking that the prophetess was enriching herself by using the water to heal), began putting impediments in her way and in the way of those who went there for healing. Consequently, Okoh stopped using the stream to heal.

A similar revelation was made to Okoh in 1973. This time, the Olo Ogwashi stream [68] at Ogwashi-Ukwu, in Aniocha South Local Government Area in Delta State was used. The procedure and the results were similar to those of the Nkissi stream but an eyewitness account by Rev. Christian Obiefuna, who was one of the ministers who spotted the stream after the prophetess had sent some pastors to look for it, is worth noting:

She used to go to the stream at 10:00 a.m. every Monday to pray and ask some of her pastors to read a portion of the Bible. She then asked the reader to explain the scripture that had been read. Then the leader of the pastoral team announced, “Now it is time for the holy prophetess to bless the water.” Mama would bless the water and drink it first. She then asked her leaders to drink. After that she would tell the people, “Go and take your own and drink.” As people drank the water they began to shout for joy and give testimonies of instant healing. Then they filled their containers with water. It usually ended by 2:00 p.m. [69]

The only difference between the ministries at the Nkissi and the Olo Ogwashi streams was the length of period in which the two streams were used. While the former was used for half a year, the latter was used only five times. 

Apart from using water from the two streams, Okoh also blessed oil for healing. She also asked members who were sick to bring water from their homes to be blessed for healing. It should be noted, however, that Okoh did not make water and/or oil medicines to be taken when one was ill.

Some Testimonies of Agnes Okoh’s Healing Prowess

She used diverse means of healing. “What surprised me about Mama,” says Rev. John Obiakor, “was that she healed diseases that had defied medicine just by simple prayer. For example, in 1964 when she visited the congregation at Awkuzu, at Oyi Local Government Authority, three female mental patients were at the healing home. She did not even say a prayer; she only took a long look at them and commanded that they be released from their chains because they had been healed.” [70] In February 1976, a lame man was brought to her during a worship service at Onitsha to be healed. “Mama did not pray; she only looked at the man and commanded him, saying: ‘Get up in the name of Jesus and glorify the Lord with the other worshippers.’ The man immediately got up and joined the singing.” [71] When she prayed for the sick her prayer was usually described as “simple.” She was not used to praying for long hours. According to Rev. Enoch Okonkwo, who was himself healed by her in 1952, “…a simple prayer from Mama settles the sickness that had defied every type of medication…What was surprising about her healing ministry was that she did not charge money. She did not ask people to bring anything from the house; she only prayed for people just as they came.” [72] Another dimension of her healing gift was midwifery:

On Friday, February 2, 1951, during a prayer meeting, the Lord revealed that all pregnant women among the congregation should go to the prophetess whenever they are in labour for delivery. Consequently, women in labour went … and were delivered safely. A lot of women were delivered through this way and most of the babies born are full grown men and women. [73]

Okoh trained many women in midwifery, and these are also known in West Africa as “traditional birth attendants.” One of the roles of the wives of pastors in the church is to perform the duties of a midwife. Suffice it to say that Okoh added a wider dimension to her ministerial functions--a dimension which was very relevant to female leaders and members.

Her Prophetic Ministry

1. Her concept of prophecy

Agnes Okoh is widely remembered for the exact fulfillment of her predictive prophecies and other prophecies that warned people of impending omens if they did not stop their sinful practices. She was also known to have exposed the secret deeds and thoughts of some people--thoughts that were inimical to the church fellowship. “When she told you that something would happen tomorrow, you dare not challenge her because her prophecies were fulfilled exactly.” [74] Her prophetic utterances were not preceded with any bodily gestures or ecstatic noises. She prophesied while having a conversation with people. [75] She considered prophecy not as guess work but as a word from God. She was, therefore, always prepared to prophesy, no matter what perception some people would accord to the prophecy.

2. The efficacy of her prophecies

Of the many prophecies made by Agnes Okoh, three have endeared her to the hearts of many people. These people do not doubt her claim of being a prophetess of God. The first of the prophecies was about the outbreak of the civil war in Nigeria.

In 1965 she prophesied that…Nigeria will be in turmoil, that Nigeria will lose so many souls and spill so much blood. It sounded like a joke then. She said that there will be hunger. That corn which is being sold at 15 for 3 kobo will be sold at one for 60 kobo. Everyone was saying “how could that happen?” when there was relative peace in Nigeria. [76] [sic].

The fulfillment of this prophecy was the Nigerian civil war that raged from 1966 to 1970. The second prophecy, which baffled many people, was also with regard to when the civil war would end.

Two and half years after the war started, in October, 1969, during the annual harvest at Ojoto, I was present, the late Rt. Rev. M. A. Okoh was the officiating minister at that harvest, and he announced, that the Holy Prophetess Odozi Obodo through revelation has said that the war will end after December 1969. People were asking who will win the war. He replied that the Almighty God did not reveal who will win but that the war must surely end after December 1969. I went to Rt. Rev. Okoh and asked him, what are we to do? He said that, we should announce it without fear…So I was one of those who went about telling people that the war will soon end. [77] [sic].

This prophecy was pronounced during the heat of the civil war. “During that time Enugu, Okigwe, Aba, and many other towns were war zones, so people were confused and doubted the prophecy.” [78] Okoh uttered this prophecy when she and most members of the church were refugees on the Biafran side. The announcement of the prophecy, the command to her members to broadcast the prophecy, and the uncertainty about the winner or loser of the war caused a great stir in Igboland, particularly among the Biafran soldiers. The Biafran soldiers considered the prophecy to be a false rumor. They tried to suppress the spread of the prophecy by intimidating and persecuting some leaders and members of the church. Evangelist Cyril Ofoedu narrates his ordeal at the hands of some policemen for spreading the prophecy about the end of the war:

On 25th December 1969 as I was preparing to have a Christmas dish of rice and corned beef stew I heard a knock at my door. I was arrested by two policemen immediately as I opened the door. They took me to a police station at Ezinifite-Nnewi where there were sixteen other pastors of Christ Holy Church. I was told that I had been arrested for reiterating Odozi Obodo’s prophecy that the Biafran war will come to an end immediately after December 1969. I was taken to a dungeon and interrogated. When I admitted that I heard the prophecy of the holy prophetess, I was tortured and slapped several times. I was detained in a cell till 12th January 1970. While there, I heard that the wife of the District Police Officer pleaded with her husband to tell his men not to torture me any more because she saw me in a dream rejoicing with some people that the war had come to an end. Other members of Christ Holy Church were also arrested and brought to the cell. On 12th January 1970 General Effiong broadcast an unconditional surrender of Biafra and the cessation of the civil war. I was carried shoulder-high at the prison. [79] 

The announcement of Biafran surrender by Lt. Col. Effiong on January 12, 1970 marked the fulfillment of this prophecy. As a result, many flocked to register their names in the church. The prophetic ministry of Agnes Okoh was extended to other prominent people of Igboland. Deaconess Victoria Njoku, who was her house helper, revealed:

During the Nigerian civil war, the Biafran war leaders, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Okoko Ndem, and others came to Arondizuogu to ask Mama about the state of the war, whether Biafra will win or not. Mama told them that ‘the uncircumcised will rule them. She told Ojukwu to find a way of escape for there was a plan to catch him. So after four days, Ojukwu left for exile and not too long after that, the war ended. [80]

The third prophecy was about mission in foreign lands. In the late 1950s, following the successful mission work by some Nigerian AICs in other West African countries, some leaders of the church began pressuring Agnes Okoh to send some of the evangelists of the church to establish some congregations in Cameroon and other neighboring countries. She did not bow to pressure from her leaders, but rather counseled her followers to wait for God’s own time, which was typical of her. In 1963 she prophesied about an evangelistic timetable that she said would be brought about in God’s own time. A musician in the church immediately composed the prophecy into a song:

Ayi ga’bu kwasi ndi ama – ndi ama Chukwu
Nime Nigeria, Nime Ghana, rue ebe nine nke 
Ayi ga’bu kwasi ndi ama – ndi ama Chukwu Africa
Rue Jerusalem, rue Samaria, rue ebe nine uwa soturu

The translation of the song in English is:

We shall be witnesses – witnesses of God
In Nigeria, in Ghana, up to all parts of Africa
To Jerusalem, to Samaria, unto the end of the earth

Members of the church began singing that song anytime they met to worship or anytime the issue of international evangelism was raised until 1999, when the church, for the first time in their evangelism campaigns, bought land in Ghana and registered the name of the church. The first congregation in Ghana was established in July 2000. The partial fulfillment of this prophecy had evoked some confidence in Okoh’s prophetic prowess.

On the authenticity of the prophecy, Rev. Pastor Emmanuel Aniago argues that Nigeria is bordered to the west by Benin, in the north by Niger, in the northeast by Chad, and to the east by Cameroon. Unlike Nigeria, whose lingua franca is English, all these countries speak French. The only exception is Cameroon, which has both English and French as national languages. Even though the national medium of communication in Ghana is the English language, Cameroon is ironically closer to the Igbo than Ghana. Benin and Togo separate Nigeria from Ghana so one would have expected that the leadership of the church would find evangelism in Cameroon more expedient than in Ghana, but, true to the prophecy, the first congregation of Christ Holy Church beyond the boundaries of Nigeria was established in Ghana--not by design but through some coincidental circumstances that are hard to explain, all things being equal. [81]

It is in view of the healing miracles and the exact fulfillment of Agnes Okoh’s prophecies that Rev. Enoch Okonkwo asserts that God used her just as, and even more than, the prophets of old. [82]

Her Philanthropic Activities

The most common testimony about Agnes Okoh by those who knew her is “Odozi Obodo loved everybody.” Apart from meeting the spiritual needs of people she tried as much as possible to meet their physical needs--food, clothing, cash, etc. Her love and kindness, according to her followers, was not limited to members of her church only. She used to tell her members that they should not dislike those who were not members of her church. She entertained all, irrespective of religious and denominational affiliation.

The people of Ndoni, her hometown, fondly remember her for her philanthropic work. She allowed the leaders of the town to use a house which was built for her by the church, as the town’s guest house. She offered rooms and hospitality to government officials and magistrates who were on duty at Ndoni. According to the Most Rev. Daniel Okoh,

Mama was the first person that provided pure water for the people of Ndoni, and a public tap was available free of charge. She gave both financial and moral support to both the primary and secondary schools…When the secondary school was established in 1977 the prophetess offered her bungalow in order to accommodate the principal and some National Corp Members. [83] [sic].

The Most Rev. Daniel Okoh further asserts:

There was a time when the remoteness and terrain of the town did not encourage teachers to take up teaching positions. The payment of salaries of those who took up teaching positions at Ndoni was delayed unduly by the Nigerian Government. It was a big problem. At one point Mama helped to pay the salaries of the teachers.” [84]

She built a nursery and Primary school (which was later named in her honor – Odozi Obodo Memorial Nursery and Primary School) in her hometown in 1994, one year before her death. Tuition was free. She also paid the salaries of the teachers. The no-fee policy of the school enabled the poor to give their children education, at least to the primary level. In recognition of her support for educational advancement at Ndoni, Okoh was accordingly honored by Rivers State with a Certificate of Recognition during the launching of the Women’s Education Campaign on July 8, 1987. The Ndoni Pioneers Social Club accorded her another honor on September 19, 1987 for the same reason.

In 1984 Okoh single-handedly built an eight-room maternity home for Ndoni and the surrounding villages. Services at the maternity home are free for both members and non-members of the church. The midwife and four other workers were all paid by her. “People come here to give birth free of charge. The only items we require them to buy are detergents to wash their things and kerosene to light their lanterns. At the end if they have anything to give, they give.” [85]

According to His Royal Highness, Chief Gabriel Okeyia, the Awo (chief) and Okpala-Ukwu (the most elderly person) of Ndoni, “She helped many poor people. When there were no roads at Ndoni, she gathered people to construct roads and streets. It has been said that ‘a prophet has no honour in his hometown,’ but she was an exception. Everybody liked her.” [86]

Agnes Okoh also spent money freely in the church. “It is most exciting to understand that the church [building] at Ndoni was entirely built, furnished, and electrified [wired] by the General Prophetess--Odozi Obodo alone, and [she] finally donated same to the [Christ] Holy Church of Nigeria.” [87] During the Church’s three-day convention at Ndoni, February 13-16, 1976, she “provided seven fat cows, numerous goats and chickens, numerous bags of rice, beans, and garri, grosses of yams, drums of oil, bags of salt, baskets of fish, cartons and crates of several assorted drinks, and indeed a lot of other items of foodstuffs with which she had entertained nearly one million guests for three days during and after the convention.” [88]

Her Retirement and Death

For many years Okoh never visited Ndoni, her hometown. When asked to give reasons for not going to her hometown regularly she replied that God had told her that her hometown would be the last place of her ministry, so when the time came, God would ask her to go back and settle.

Prior to her retirement there was a belief that Ndoni could never be developed. This belief was deepened by the claim that those who attempted to build any standard house with corrugated roofing sheets died mysteriously. The evil forces in the town were believed to have considered such people wealthy but not worthy to enjoy their wealth, so they died under mysterious circumstances. Those who used dried grass to roof their buildings, a sign of poverty, lived to see the completion of their houses and enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Many indigenes of Ndoni who were wealthy consequently refused to go to their town, let alone to build and settle there.

The return of Agnes Okoh to Ndoni in February 1976, after many years of absence, was, therefore, phenomenal. When she began building her bungalow, many people warned her not to roof it with iron sheets, lest she die, but she derided that belief even though there were said to be numerous proofs to substantiate it. She told the inhabitants that the God she serves is mightier than any other god. She encouraged her fellow inhabitants of Ndoni, who were stuck in other cities for fear of being killed by evil forces, to come home and build. Her continued existence, coupled with her perfect physical health after building the edifice at Ndoni, authenticated her claim of serving an omnipotent God. She consequently used members of her church who knew Ndoni indigenes in diaspora to intensify her “come-home-and-build” campaign. Many citizens, as a result, returned and gave the town a new identity, and that was not all: her presence attracted many people to the town:

While the Holy Prophetess lived on earth, members of Christ Holy Church and people from all walks of life, including governors, presidents, government and business chieftains and more importantly the downtrodden usually throng Ndoni to pay homage and seek God’s blessings and grace in their lives, through the prayer of the Holy Prophetess. [89] [sic].

It is in recognition of these contributions that the chief of Ndoni was prompted to say: “Her presence at Ndoni brought many changes to the town. We will always remember Odozi Obodo.” [90] Ijeoma Nwachukwu, who had lived in the town for more than half a century, was more ebullient on this issue:

Before God called Odozi Obodo, [the] people of Ndoni knew God, but they did not know that God is a living God. It was through Odozi Obodo that [the] people of Ndoni came to realize that there is a living God. Whatever this town is today and however it is known in Nigeria or internationally is what Odozi Obodo made it to be. Ndoni was an unknown town in Rivers State or across the Niger River. It was Odozi Obodo who made the name of Ndoni popular among Nigerians. That is why she is called Odozi Obodo – a town repairer. [91]

Agnes Okoh finally retired from active ministry and settled at Ndoni in 1985, at the age of eighty. Leaders of the church financed a statue of her in front of her house with the inscription Ugwo Olu zulu oke, meaning “complete reward.” [92] The significance of the inscription is based on one of her popular sayings. She used to say that God does not owe anybody and that when it is time for God to reward someone he rewards them in full. On her retirement, a poultry farm was built for her so that she would be free from boredom. Also, a member bought some local cattle and put them in a pen close to her home so that feeding the cattle also kept her busy. She did all this in addition to having time for the guests who visited her for various reasons, chiefly among them were those who went to her to be counseled. She was called home at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, March 10, 1995 at the age of ninety. Leaders of the church are building a cathedral that can seat 3,000 worshippers in her honor at Ndoni.

Conclusion

Agnes Okoh lived through tumultuous times in the history of the world and of Nigeria. She lived through both World Wars and witnessed many landmark moments in Nigerian history. Such landmarks were colonial rule, the unification of Nigeria, political independence, the civil war, the numerous military regimes, and the second civilian administration. At times, these events evoked fear, apprehension, uncertainties, short-lived hope, and famine. With the exception of the First World War, which occurred when she was in her early teens, she was a counselor, a trainer of trainers, a prophetess, an intercessor, a healer, an encourager, a teacher, a leader, and a mother to many people in these pivotal periods in Nigerian history.

She was seen as an embodiment of hope, comfort, discipline, assurance, integrity, and Christ-likeness to many people. Through the use of her diverse gifts and talents many people claim that their lives were turned around--from nonentities to spiritual celebrities, from insanity to human dignity. She was able to portray the paradoxical attributes of God--holiness and love. As a result, God was perceived as immanent, as one who is keenly interested in the physical and spiritual well being of humanity instead of as a whipping deity who is to be feared and approached with extreme caution. Through her ministries and her selfless philanthropic activities, many people were said to experience the love and mercy of God in practical terms. The practicability of the teachings of Jesus Christ is no longer perceived as being impossible by many of her followers. She was said to have touched the lives of many with the love and power of God in Jesus Christ. The Very Rev. Clement [Obi]Okoye asserted that: “The history of Christianity in Africa without mentioning Mama’s contribution is a grand misnomer and a great injustice to the recognition of the role of women in African Christianity. Mama’s exemplary lifestyle, her faith in God, and her leadership qualities are her most enduring legacies to African Christianity.” [93] [sic]

Thomas Oduro

Notes

1. Basden, G. T. Among the Ibos of Nigeria. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966. 66, 94.

2. Ilogu, Edmund. Christianity and Ibo Culture. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974. 60. Kalu, O. U. “Doing Mission Through the Post Office: The Naked Faith People of Igboland 1920 – 1960.” Neue Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft. Separat-Abdruck, 56-2000/4.

3. Ibid., 61. According to Kalu, the Naked Faith people were operating in Igboland by this time. Kalu, Doing Mission through the Post Office, 263-280. Agnes Okoh’s search for healing in the prayer houses indicates that there were some prayer houses in Igboland in the early 1940s. (See Kalu, O. U. “Doing Mission Through the Post Office: The Naked Faith People of Igboland 1920-1960.” Neue Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft. Separat-Abdruck, 56-2000/4.)

4. A title that was given to Agnes Okoh. Much will be said about the title below.

5. Enoch N. Okonkwo. “Interview with Rev. Enoch N. Okonkwo (Rtd),” interview by Samuel O. A. Ozomah, n.d. Glad News 1. no. 2, (n.d.) 12. Glad News is a publication of Christ Holy Church. Rev. Okonkwo was healed by Agnes Okoh. He later became a member of the church and subsequently a pastor. He worked with Agnes from 1956 to 1982.

6. Quoted in Daniel Okoh, “Message from the General Superintendent: Mission Statement of Christ Holy Church.” in Glad News, 1, no. 1 (2000) 4. Note: Odozi Obodo refers to Agnes Okoh. There will be more details about the title, Odozi Obodo, below.

7. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1 no. 2. (n.d.) 12.

8. New American Standard Version of the Holy Bible. (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 1977).

9. In her later ministries she wore ordinary clothing, no different from what the ordinary woman wore on the street.

10. Pidgin English is a street English spoken widely in Nigeria and some Anglophone West African countries. One does not need to have classroom instruction to speak Pidgin English.

11. Aso, Catherine (octogenarian elder of Christ Holy Church, Okigwe, Imo State, recollection of Agnes Okoh’s sermon). Interview by author, August 11, 2003, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

12. The invitation of Gospel messengers to villages and towns and the giving of land as gifts seem to be an old practice among Igbos. Giving a similar example during the days of Western missionaries, Ozigboh recounts: “Several factors determined which missionary society that would be invited... On arrival, the missionary received a tumultuous welcome and gifts to mollify him and make him favourably disposed towards the villagers. The village offered him a piece of land, and readily agreed to the usual conditions for the opening of a catholic station viz: the erection of a school and a catechist’s house on the land…” Quoted by Ugwu, Healing in the Nigerian Church, 100. Agnes Okoh and her followers were not always fortunate to receive a tumultuous welcome and a piece of land from officialdom, as we shall see later, apparently because they were not perceived to have had any social package for their objects of ministry. (See Ugwu, Chinọnyelu Moses. Healing in the Nigerian Church: A Pastoral-psychological Exploration. Bern: Peter Lang, 1998.)

13. A typical example of Agnes’ belief in the promptings of the Holy Spirit was narrated by Rev. Okonkwo: “One day she called Mbamalu and Mbaegbu to escort her to Fegge. She did not tell them her mission. At Fegge, she met a man and stopped him. She told the man that she was looking for Mr. Hart. The man said he hoped there was no trouble. She said there was no trouble, that she wanted to meet Mr. Hart. The man said, ‘I am Mr. Hart!’ She told the man that she was a prophetess and that God directed her to go to Mr. Hart, who will provide a place for her to worship God, and a place for her to live. That Mr. Hart had a lot of houses in Fegge…Mr. Hart was happy because at that time he was in trouble. He had used the wife’s name to register a school and the wife had gone to court trying to claim the school…He then took her to the school compound and asked her to choose any building as a place of worship and another for her living place.” Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 12.

14. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2, (n.d.) 12.

15. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. ( n.d.) 8.

16. Dike, Daniel C. (superintendent minister in charge of Lagos superintendency). Interview by author, August 30, 2003, Lagos, Lagos State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

17. O’Brien Wicker, Kathleen.“Mami Water in African Religion and Spirituality.” In African Spirituality, ed. Jacob K. Olupona., 199. New York, Crossroad Publishing Co., 2000.

18. Obiokoye, Clement (assistant general evangelist and senior superintendent in charge of Aba Superintendency). Interview by author, August 25, 2003, Aba, Abia State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

19. Okonkwo, Enoch (former leader of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, July 30, 2003, Onitsha, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

20. The church has thrived on donated lands in many cities and villages. There are many instances of people donating land for the church to build and begin her ministry. An example is the land at Ogidi, donated in 1954 by Mr. Emmanuel Aniagor after being healed by Okoh. He later became a pastor.

21. “Evil forest” in Western terminology could be rendered as “haunted forest.”

22. Ejiofor, Samuel (former leader of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 9, 2003, Enugu, Enugu State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

23. Basden, Among the Ibos, 117.

24. Ibid., 119.

25. Ibid., 118.

26. Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart (New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1959), 18. Achebe also mentions the throwing away of dead bodies to the evil forest of those who die during the Week of Peace at Umuafia. Ibid., 32.

27. Ibid., 123. Information on the nature and importance of death and burial rites among the Igbos, is from Basden, Among the Ibos, 112-126.

28. The creation of evil forests and all the beliefs associated with such forests are still prevalent among the Igbos. Narrating a horrid experience of the widowhood rites and rituals she was subjected to during the death, burial, and aftermath of her deceased husband, Umejei Okafor, widow of Andrew Okafor of Ogbochie, Okpanam in Oshimiri Local Government Council of Delta State was threatened with, “Should one decline one of those (rituals) one would be disregarded in the community. Should one die in that state, one would not be buried; the corpse would be thrown into ajo oshia (evil forest) together with all one’s properties.” The Sun, 30 August 2003. (vol. 1, no. 33) 30.

29. Achebe, Things Fall Apart, 148, 149. The villagers expected the missionaries and their followers to die within four days after entering the evil forest but none of them died.

30. Daniel Okoh (general superintendent of Christ Holy Church International) narrates another version of the beginning of the use of the title Odozi Obodo. He claims that calling Agnes “Odozi Obodo” was in fulfillment of a divine revelation mediated in a dream through one of her followers. The member, in a dream, heard many people calling prophetess Agnes Okoh “Odozi Obodo” repeatedly. After the member had narrated the dream during a worship service, people began calling the prophetess, Odozi Obodo. Okoh, Daniel. Interview by author, August 26, 2003, Asaba, Delta State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

31. Peter Nlemadim DomNwachukwu, Authentic African Christianity: an Inculturation Model for the Igbo (New York: Peter Lang, 2000), 88.

32. Much will be said about events that led to this name and how the church was re-named Christ Holy Church.

33. H. Onyema Anyanwu, “Missionaries and Women Emancipation in Igboland” Journal of Dharma, 26, (2001) 229.

34. Ibid., 229.

35. Ibid., 232, 233.

36. DomNwachukwu, Peter Nlemadim. Authentic African Christianity: An Inculturation Model for the Igbo. New York: Peter Lang, 2000. 42, 43.

37. Anyanwu, 233, 234.

38. Ejiofor, Rev. Samuel. Interview by author, August 9, 2003.

39. Dike, Daniel C. Interview by author, August 30, 2003.

40. Emmanuel Alamanjo claims that until he had been trained by Okoh and commissioned to pastor a congregation, he did not know how the status of the economy of Nigeria. Rev. Alamanjo, (district minister of Christ Holy Church International, Festac- Lagos District). Interview by author, August 30, 2003, Lagos, Lagos State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording. Rev. Pastor Charles Obalum claims that Okoh fed him and forty-nine other pastors under training from 1971-1972. “She gave us any kind of food one would request.” Obalum, Charles (pastor of Christ Holy Church International, Nteje Superintendency). Interview by author, August 7, 2003, Awka-Nteje, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

41. Many other leaders of Christ Holy Church have some appellations that spur them into action.

42. According to Daniel C. Dike, when difficult issues were brought before Okoh and her council of leaders she would say “Let us hear the voice of the Lord.” The whole council would then keep quiet for some time until someone or Mama herself would speak. She would then solve the issue authoritatively believing that the Lord had solved the problem in proxy. Dike, Daniel C. Interview by author, August 30, 2003.

43. None of her followers have a living memory of the last time the Niger dried up.

44. There is a popular belief that in 1957 Okoh claimed that God had asked her to stage a challenge to all spiritualists and medicine men in the Onitsha area to test her powers to ascertain if it were not from God. She therefore raised a platform and sat on a chair for seven days (morning until evening) asking anyone who doubted the source of her powers to come forward to challenge it. It is claimed that many native doctors and spiritualists accepted the challenge and tested her with blindness, thunder, lightning, paralysis, and other spells, but none succeeded.

45. Enoch Okonkwo, “Interview with Glad News” interview by Samuel O. A. Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 9.

46. Cf: 1Tim. 2:11-14; 1 Cor. 14:34. The author is aware of the different interpretations of these texts and their resultant controversies surrounding the ordination of women and female leadership in the Church. The purpose of this dissertation is not to attempt an exegetical analysis of such interpretations and theological positions, it is to highlight the belief of a prophetess who felt called by God and how God used her to make a mark on African Christianity.

47. Nwaizuzu, David O. U. (former leader of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 2, 2003, Onitsha, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

48. There is much discussion about the development of leadership in the Church in the chapter subsequent to the Okoh biography in the book by the author, Thomas Oduro, Christ Holy Church International: The Story of an African Independent Church (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2007).

49. Lucy Harriet Harrison, founder of Church of Christ the Good Shepherd, and Theresa Effiong, founder of the Holy Chapel of Miracles (all in Nigeria), both had Catholic backgrounds. Both of them did not assume leadership of their respective churches. They entrusted leadership positions to men. (See Hackett, Rosalind I. J. “Women as Leaders and Participants in the Spiritual Churches.” in New Religious Movements in Nigeria. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987. 191-196.

50. Obiefuna, Christian (superintendent minister of Christ Holy Church International, Asaba Superintendency). Interview by author, August 26, 2003, Asaba, Delta State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

51. Dike, Daniel C. Interview by author, August 28, 2003, Lagos, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

52. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 13.

53. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1. no. 2, (n.d.) 10.

54. Obiakor, John (pastor of Christ Holy Church, Ihitenansa Superintendency). Interview by author, August 15, 2003, Ihitenansa, Imo State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

55. Mbadiwe, Chidi (elder of Christ Holy Church International, Festac-Lagos; elder Mbadiwe’s mother was the first secretary to Agnes Okoh). Interview by author, August 28, 2003, Lagos, Lagos State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

56. Ekweoba, John (assistant superintendent minister of Christ Holy Church International, Okigwe Superintendency). Interview by author, August 11, 2003, Okigwe, Imo State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

57. Alamanjo, Emmanuel. Interview by author, Lagos, August 29, 2003, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

58. Characteristics of most of these early lifestyles of the church are still prevalent.

59. Chiemeka, Gabriel (assistant general superintendent and general evangelist of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 27, 2003, Nnewi, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

60. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 10.

61. Iloabuchi, Eusebius N. (acting superintendent minister of Nteje Superintendency, Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 7, 2003, Awka-Nteje, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

62. Alamanjo, Emmanuel. Interview by author, August 31, 2003, Lagos, Lagos State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

63. Ibid.

64. Nwachukwu, Ijeoma. Interview by author, August 18, 2003.

65. Claims of receiving divine directives to use streams to heal are very common in Nigerian Church history. During the influenza epidemic in 1918, Miss Sophia Odunlami, a member of the Precious Stones, claimed to have been instructed in a vision that using rain water and prayer could heal influenza patients. Many patients were reported to have been healed as a result. See Ayegboyin and Ishola, African Indigenous Church, 67. Joseph Babalola, one of the Christ Apostolic Church’s spiritual stalwarts, also blessed water to heal from a stream that was close to his revival ground. Ibid., 74. Moses Orimolade Tunolase, who was born a cripple but later became the Baba Aladura (the Praying Father) of Cherubim and Seraphim Society, was also said to have been directed in a vision to use water from a stream for his healing. Although he was not totally healed, he was able to limp for the rest of his life. Ibid., 81.

66. The Nkissi stream can be located behind the walls of the Church of the Holy Spirit (a Catholic Church) at Omagba, Onitsha.

67. *See Photograph A, Agnes Okoh in her favorite African costume.

68. *See Photograph B, Healing scenes at the Ogwashi stream. The author was led to the locations of the two streams.

69. Obiefuna, Christian. Interview by author, August 5, 2003, Ogwashi-Ukwu, Delta State, Good News Theological College and Seminary Accra. Tape recording.

70. Obiakor, John. Interview by author, August 15, 2003.

71. Okoh, Daniel. Interview by author, August 26, 2003.

72. Okonkwo, Enoch. Interview by author, July 30, 2003. There are many other pastors who claim that they were healed by Agnes Okoh.

73. Daniel Okoh “A Life Lived For Christ”, April 8, 1995, eulogy in honor of Agnes Okoh, at Ndoni, Rivers State, p. 3. (photocopy). Official documents at the head office of Christ Holy Church International, Onitsha, Anambra State.

74. Nwachukwu, Ijeoma. Interview by author, August 18, 2003.

75. According to John Ekweoba, after seventeen years of marriage without children, Okoh prophesied to him in the middle of a conversation at Ndoni that God had answered his prayers and that his wife would give birth to a child that year. Today Rev. Ekweoba and his wife have four children. Ekweoba, John. Interview by author, August 11, 2003.

76. Gabriel Chiemeka, Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 7.

77. Gabriel Chiemeka, Glad News 1, no. 2 (n.d.) 7. “Harvest” is terminology used by West African Christians for a one day fund-raising activity on the premises of a church.

78. Okonkwo, Enoch and Nwaizuzu, Daniel. Interviewed jointly by author, August 30, 2003, Onitsha, Anambra State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

79. Ofoedu, Cyril (evangelist of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 26, 2003, Asaba, Delta State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

80. Njoku, Victoria (deaconess, one of the early followers and for a long time a house-help of Agnes Okoh). Interview by Emmanuel Aniago, April 11, 2003, Onitsha, Anambra State, Headquarters of Christ Holy Church International, Onitsha. Tape recording. See “Ojukwu’s Message as He flees Biafra” in A. H. M. Kirk-Green, Crisis and Conflicts in Nigeria, 449, 450. Lt. Col. Effiong announced the surrender of Biafra a day after Ojukwu had led Biafra to exile. In his first speech after the surrender of Biafra, Ojukwu stated that he and certain members of his cabinet left Biafra “as a result of a decision taken by that cabinet in the interest of our people’s survival.” A. H. M. Kirk-Green, Crisis and Conflicts in Nigeria, 453. (See Kirk-Green, A. H. M. Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook July 1967 – January 1970. Vol. II. London: Oxford University Press, 1971.)

81. Aniagor, Emmanuel (pastor of Christ Holy Church International). Interview by author, August 11, 2003, Okigwe, Imo State, Good News Theological College, Accra. Tape recording.

82. Enoch Okonkwo, interview by Samuel Ozomah, n.d. Glad News, 1, no. 2. (n.d.) 8.

83. Daniel C. Okoh, Eulogy in honor of Agnes Okoh, August 8, 1995.

84. Okoh, Daniel. Interview by author, August 1, 2003.

85. Anyanwu, Christianah (midwife of Christ Holy Church International’s Maternity Home, Ndoni). Interview by author, August 1, 2003, Ndoni, Rivers State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

86. Okeyia,Gabriel (His Royal Highness, the Awo and Okpala-Ukwu of Ndoni). Interview by author, August 18, 2003, Ndoni, Rivers State, Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra. Tape recording.

87. G. I. Obikwelu, “Report on Ndoni Convention,” Good Tidings, Third Issue, (n.d.) 12.

88. Ibid., 13.

89. Glad News, 1. no. 1, (2000) 11. An estimated crowd of one million was said to have patronized a three-day National Convention of Christ Holy Church at Ndoni from February 13-16, 1976. See Good Tidings, third Issue, (n.d.) 10, 13.

90. Okeyia, Gabriel. Interview by author, August 18, 2003.

91. Nwachukwu, Ijeoma. Interview by author, August 18, 2003.

92. *See Photograph C for the statue of Agnes Okoh.

93. Obiokoye, Clement. Interview by author, August 25, 2003.

Bibliography

Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1959.

Ayegboyin, Deji & Ishola, S. Ademola. African Indigenous Churches. Lagos: Greater Heights Publications, 1997.

Anyanwu, H. Onyema. “Missionaries and Women Emancipation in Igboland.” Journal of Dharma, 26 (2001).

Basden, G. T. Among the Ibos of Nigeria. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966.

DomNwachukwu, Peter Nlemadim. Authentic African Christianity: An Inculturation Model for the Igbo. New York: Peter Lang, 2000.

Hackett, Rosalind I. J. . “Women as Leaders and Participants in the Spiritual Churches.” In New Religious Movements in Nigeria. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1987.

Ilogu, Edmund. Christianity and Ibo Culture. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1974.

Kalu, O. U. “Doing Mission Through the Post Office: The Naked Faith People of Igboland 1920 – 1960.” Neue Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft. Separat-Abdruck, 56-2000/4.

Kirk-Green, A. H. M. Crisis and Conflict in Nigeria: A Documentary Sourcebook July 1967 – January 1970. Vol. II. London: Oxford University Press, 1971.

O’Brien, Kathleen Wicker, “Mami Water in African Religion and Spirituality” in African Spirituality, Jacob K. Olupona., ed. (New York, Crossroad Publishing Co., 2000).

Obikwelu, G. I. “Report on Ndoni Convention.” Good Tidings, third issue, Onitsha, (n.d.).

Okoh, Daniel. In Samuel Ozomah (ed), “Message from the General Superintendent: Mission Statement of Christ Holy Church.” in Glad News, 1, no. 1 (2000)

Ozomah, Samuel. “Enoch Okonkwo” in Samuel Ozomah (ed), Glad News 1. no. 2, (n.d.).

_____________ “Gabriel Chiemeka” In Samuel Ozomah, (ed) Glad News 1, no. 2 (n.d.)

Ugwu, Chinọnyelu Moses. Healing in the Nigerian Church: A Pastoral-psychological Exploration. Bern: Peter Lang, 1998.

Interviews

Alamanjo, Emmanuel; district pastor, Christ Holy Church International.

Aniago, Emmanuel; pastor, Christ Holy Church International.

Anyanwu, Christianah; midwife, Christ Holy Church International.

Asor, Catherine; elder, Christ Holy Church International.

Chiemeka, Gabriel Onuorah; general evangelist and assistant general superintendent.

Dike, Daniel C.; superintendent minister, Christ Holy Church International.

Ejiofor, Samuel; former leader, Christ Holy Church International.

Ekweoba, John; assistant superintendent minister, Christ Holy Church International.

Iloabuchi, Eusebius; assistant superintendent minister, Christ Holy Church International.

Mbadiwe, Chidi; elder, Christ Holy Church International.

Njoku, Victoria; deaconess and for a long time, house-help for Agnes Okoh.

Nwachukwu, Ijeoma; cousin of Agnes Okoh.

Nwaizuzu, David Ozioma U.; retired leader, Christ Holy Church International.

Obiakor, John; pastor, Christ Holy Church International.

Obiefuna, Christian C.; assistant superintendent, Christ Holy Church International.

Obiokoye, Clement; assistant general evangelist, Christ Holy Church International.

Ofoedu, Cyril; pastor, Christ Holy Church International.

Okeyia, Gabriel; His Royal Highness, the Awo and Okpkala-Ukwu of Ndoni.

Okoh, Daniel; general superintendent of Christ Holy Church International.

Okonkwo, Enoch; retired leader, Christ Holy Church International.


This story was taken from Thomas Oduro, Christ Holy Church International: The Story of an African Independent Church (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2007). Rev. Thomas Oduro, Ph.D., is the principal of Good News Theological College and Seminary, Accra, Ghana and DACB liaison coordinator.