Nigeria: 'Church' Promises Free Alcohol, Cigarettes, Funky MNigeria: 'Church' Promises Free Alcohol, Cigarettes, Funky Music
IT will be a rare spectacle this Friday, November 4, when a Christian ministry devoted to the conversion of people considered as gross sinners holds its "Guys Night" in Lagos.
Smoking, drinking of alcohol and dancing to immoral music - all of which are considered sin by much of Christendom - will not only be tolerated at the event but would indeed by actively supported by the organisers.
'At the show, booze will be free and cigarette free too; even food will be served freely while music of all kinds will also be played. There will also be other side attractions such as drinking competition, dancing competition, eating competition, fashion parade and testimony night,' said Lizzy Mbanaso, the founder and head of a Christian ministry known as Nice Time Club.
'People that are expected are the drunkards, prostitutes, drug addicts and all those that are considered to be wayward because God told me He cares for these set of people,' she added.
Providing further details of the programme, Evangelist Mbanaso said: 'When they come, we will spice it up with drama, concert and talk shows. They will feel at home and enjoy themselves before we now chip in the word of God. At the end we will do alter call after which we hand them over to church pastors who will further counsel them on how to follow the Christian life.'
The event is scheduled to hold at hospitality facility on Ekoro road in the Abule Egba area of Lagos.
It is Evangelist Mbanaso's wish that some of the expected converts would be drafted to the Living Faith Church (Winners Church), where she worships while in Lagos.
'But my problem is that you can't force them to attend certain churches,' she said.
She also spoke of 'several attempts' she had made to speak with the Winners General Overseer, Bishop David Oyedepo, on the project but disclosed that she 'has not been given audience yet.'
Originally from Cameroun and a secretary by profession, Evangelist Mbanaso is married to an Abia man from Umuahia.
She started her unusual Christian ministry in 2008 but is holding it in Lagos for the first time.
The woman who professes to becoming a born-again Christain in 1994 as a Secretarial Administration student of the Oko Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State, says she got a divine revelation to start the ministry during a journey from Lagos to her base in Umuahia, while returning from a Christian programme.
Her words: 'I decided to preach in the bus I entered. As I was ministering, I decided to have a short prayer and in that spiritual session, a tiny voice said to me that I should open a nightclub.
'I was surprised because I didn't know anything about club and I have never gone to club before.
'As I was wondering on what to do, that same voice said again that I should do it for the drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes and those considered to be wayward.
'It further said, "Just gather them together, give them what they want and allow them to feel free, play music after which food and beer would be served." '
Mrs Mbanaso believes that, that tiny sonorous voice belongs to God Almighty and to further fulfil this mandate, the secretary turned evangelist started out in 2008 to host prostitutes, drunkards, smokers and drug addicts in Abia State.
Many men of God and some close associates have tried to dissuade Mrs. Mbanaso from this project but she has forged ahead with it out of the conviction that her commission is directly from God.
Asked whether she has plans to open a formal nightclub in the future, the evangelist said: 'It will not necessarily be a nightclub but it will be something like a drinking joint where people will be allowed to drink and also listen to the word of God through the television and audio tapes.
At times I will give these drinks out for free say ones in a week.
'This is because, I know quite well that beer is not the worst sin; there are many other sins.
'In the process the ones that give their life to Christ will be taken to church. When they settle down in the church, I will help them by making sure I impact some of the skills which I have already acquired such as hairdressing, fashion, catering amongst others.'
Born and wedded in the Methodist Church, Mrs. Mbanaso has soft spot for people who are in one bad habit or the other.
Most of her friends are some of the notorious sinners whom she converted.
'The people I am close to are wayward people. I have soft spot for wayward people. My closest friend today is a drug addict who I converted to become a Christian,' she said.
Narrating how she makes contacts with drug addicts, smokers and prostitutes, the only daughter in a family of five from her mother in a polygamous family said that most times she goes out of her way to seek them out.
'At times, I dress and paint well like a prostitute and just walk into the hotel and stay with them. At times I use the media too to reach out to them.
'Before I go make sure that inform my husband so that he would be aware. Thank God I have a wonderful husband who understands and supports me,' she told The Moment On Sunday.
The evangelist said that from her interactions with prostitutes, she has noticed that most of them are not there because they want to but because of circumstances.
'Because we are born-again does not mean that we are better. So nobody should just sit down here and be condemning them. It is just God's grace.
'Most of the men of God today were just like that and somebody has not spoken to them, they will not be saved. These prostitutes always have challenges that took them there,' she stated.
Mrs. Mbanaso said that when prostitutes become born-again, they make great preachers because they have seen it all.
She also declared that nobody that is bad really desires to be bad, adding that Nigerians should form the habit of bringing them closer to themselves so as to make them have hope.
'When we do this, this crime that we are talking about in this country will be reduced to the barest minimum.
'Let us help ourselves and let Nigeria encourage these set of people and make sure that they come back to life,' she stated.