By Tony Eluemunor
There are certain people, a precious few, really special, whose reputation heralds them wherever (yes, even if it is planet Mars) they go. And Queen Prophetess Naomi Silekunola Ogunwusi belongs to this rare group. Even in the entire Nigeria, the name Queen Naomi rings a bell.
She is as pretty as a rose flower in full bloom, newly bathed by the morning dew. She is a celebrity in her own right; one of the very few Nigerians that have over 50, 000 followers on social media.
So, she could be called a veritable social media influencer anytime she sets her mind to it; a Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific industry. These content creators have access to a large audience and can share information to persuade others through their authenticity and reach.
She also runs an NGO, “Women in Need of Guidance and Support” which caters to the spiritual, emotional and financial needs of women. “I have been instrumental to a lot of people’s successes. You will see 50-year-old people calling me their mother. They are calling me mummy because of the impact I make in their lives. It is quite a lot,” she said in an interview.
Apart from all that, she is also a Prophetess, a worker in the Lord’s vineyard.
So, when the news shook the city of Abuja that the Queen and Prophetess would be co-ministering at the Christos International Worship Centre, Off Kabusa Express Way, in the Apo area of Abuja, I was there, pen and paper in hand to witness it …for once. For days, a phrase kept rolling in my head; to go and hear a Rose flower preach. And I kept that promise.
Queen Prophetess Naomi was one of the preachers invited for a two-day conference the Christos International Worship Centre hosted on the 19th and 20th of August, 2023, themed “Higher and Better”, to help not just members of the church but the general public to thrive in these hard times. Specifically, four topics were focused on; Breaking Negative Patterns, Freedom from Addiction, Woman, Thou Art Loosed/Prophetic, and Prophetic Helping Hand.
A London-based Apostle Amos Deya handled the first, Pastor Mike Barret from Australia took care of the second one, while Queen Naomi treated the third. The fourth one was handled by Host/Convener, Dr. Bishop David Nwachukwu Ogudu, Presiding Bishop and General Overseer, Christos Global. He explained that the conference “is a journey to an excellent life, excellent living, destiny maximization (which will make people) to achieve much more than they had ever thought possible, and become role models to their generations”.
On the first day, Workshops, in three strands, followed after the preachers had finished their own assignments; Family Life, Choosing a Life Partner, and Women in Ministry, each phase lasting for about 40 minutes. Then questions came from the participants, who were bused in for free from all parts of Abuja.
On Saturday, Queen Prophetess Naomi entered the church at 12.26pm like a queen; in a specially designed flowing gown, adorned with shimmering sequins. From her shoulders floated down a train, which fell freely to the floor. She walked in as her entrance was being announced; necks craned to catch a good view of her as a loud applause greeted her and she strode to her designated chair in unhurried steps. Her face, though radiant, was not actually creased by laughter or even a smile. She didn’t frown either. The only thing that came to my mind was that indescribable phrase, a title of one of Camera Laye’s novels; “Radiance of the King”. Of course, in my note book, it became “radiance of the queen”.
Why didn’t she wave to her adoringly enchanted crowd? Was she shy? I was still wondering why when I noticed that her mouth was moving in a silent prayer and though she might be as beautiful and popular as a beauty queen, she was actually in church as a “woman of God” to preach God’s words to the congregation, to touch lives, make them better for the sake of God. The implication hit me instantly; she was trying to be focused on the matter at hand- God.
At 1.04pm her host, Bishop Ogudu, began to introduce her and invite her to the altar, beginning with… “Give Jesus a big clap”, and Alleluia and Amen, rented the air.
In those unhurried steps, she mounted the Sanctuary (the most sacred part of a religious building such as the part of a Christian church, often elevated and specially decorated, where you have the altar). I scribbled down in my note book: “Queen Naomi’s entrance; her mien was calm, her eyes fixed somewhere beyond the congregation, on something, someone, somewhere, well beyond the immediate vicinity of that church.
Then, she thanked “Bishop Ogudu, the Christos church, every minister present (many ministers and Pastors and even Bishops had come from other churches) and everyone hearing my voice now”, and then her next words hit me for they appeared to have been directed at me: “Today it is about God, not me. When I was coming here, I heard clearly a voice saying to me, “you are going to serve”, (yes, she referred to herself in a non-deferential third person singular, “you”). “So, there is a mindset that I want you to have; it is God that you are going to encounter, not me. Tell yourself that it is not about her, not about I but God”.
Then she went into the topic of “Woman Thou Art Loosed”, how freedom for people who have been bound by anything, be it illness, strife, disease, poverty, demonic influences, bad lifestyle choices, etc could be set free instantly by the “Alpha and Omega”, a phrase that was obviously special to her, which she repeated often. Then, with her eyes set somewhere above the faces gazing at her, she broke into songs, mainly Yoruba ones, which she never failed to interpret, and which heaped praises on God as the Omnipotent.
I was still writing when she said repeatedly, “all eyes closed”. I had noted her 30-ish young looks and wrote: “Queen Naomi is young enough to be my daughter because I was already in journalism before she was born”. I muttered: “I will close my eyes, but dear daughter, you can’t beat a determined journalist”, so I put on a recorder and closed my eyes as I let the songs touch my very soul. After a long singing session, she began to pray, stepped down from the altar, went amidst the congregation and suddenly people began to fall or shriek as she laid hands on them, some rolled on the floor, some would be borne violently by an inexplicable force such that the ushers were tasked in restraining them. I was opening and closing my eyes as she kept intoning; “all eyes closed”.
Then, I felt a gentle hand on mine; hers!
It was about an hour into her ministration. She lingered near me as she prayed personally for me. I didn’t fall! Once she left me, she returned to the altar. The prayer session had ended.
I was thinking of a title for this piece, on my way home, when a thought hit me; “I have been touched by a Rose”. But it was a praying one, God’s own Rose. But I never knew a rose flower could have made so many people fall by merely touching them. Listening to every word that dropped from her lips that day, that Rose flower actually broke some rocks, yes she did. Ah, I knew at that moment that Rose flower will be in my title.
The second day, Sunday, she and Bishop Ogudu mounted the stage again one after the other, in a prophet and prophetess mixed-relay race and apart from mere teaching and preaching, gave some “thus saith the Lord” messages, and singled out individuals for “messages” from on high, while also doing spiritual deliverances. This time, she wore a flowing Yoruba gown and a broad “gele” hair scarf. Bishop Ogudu wore a dazzling white suit and white shoes.
The last event on the agenda was Queen Naomi’s empowering some fifty women, mostly widows. She gave them rice, Indomie and envelopes containing an undisclosed sum. That gesture touched me deeply. Yes, something else; her host, Bishop Ogudu said the church did not have up to 50 widows as only members who disdain prophecies will die untimely in Christos because disasters would have been foreseen before they hit and “God reveals to deliver”. That sounded like practical Christianity to me. So, some other women, non-widows, who were facing economic headwinds were added among those that Queen Naomi empowered.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask Queen Naomi a question that was burning in my heart; about how it –the deep religious experience, especially its prophetess and mystical aspect – all started. Did it come gradually or did she experience a Paul-like flash of light on the road to a certain Damascus? Did that voice intone from Heaven? Or did it speak from deep within her? She was still relating with the women, empowering them, taking group pictures with them when I bowed to the tyranny of the clock and rushed out to another event, saying, I might see her again in this very small world. I picked that unforgettable phrase from Mr. Kelvin Noblet, then the International section Editor for the Associated Press news agency, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, after a journalism programme in 1991 – before Queen Naomi was born. He said with certainty: “Tony, we will see again in this very small world”.
And, since then, Mr. Noblet and I have yet to meet again. So, I know that the world is not that small, but very large with divergent routes. Whatever happens, I’ll remember that unique Rose flower that shattered the rock.
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