By Dayo Johnson, Akure
77 worshippers, including 23 children of The Whole Believers Bible Church, Ondo, Ondo State, allegedly hypnotised by their pastors, have been rescued by police detectives.
They were reportedly locked in an underground apartment in the church, popularly called ‘Ondo Church’ and located at Valentino area of Ondo town in readiness for the pastors prophesy that Jesus will come in September, this year.
Their resident pastor, David Anifowose, and his assistant, Peter Josiah, have been arrested by the police.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the pastors informed the worshippers to consecrate themselves by abandoning whatever they were doing and camp in the church for a seven-day programme ahead of the coming of Jesus Christ in two months time.
Consequently, school children,workers and their spouses abandoned school and offices to consecrate themselves for the coming of Jesus Christ. It was gathered that some members who did not believe the prophesy of the pastors and were irked by the development reported the development to the state police command.
Detectives invaded the church and met the worshippers kept in an underground apartment and rescued them.
One of the parents, Mrs Jessica Akintemi, whose two girls and their father,Oluwarotimi, had moved to the church ‘to meet Jesus Christ’ said that her two girls had abandoned school since January because the pastors hynotised them.
“l have been married to my husband for 22 years, he is a mathmatics teacher in a secondary school in Ondo”, she stated.
“ He abandoned work and took along my two girls, Ayomide, 15, in SS3 and Olamide, 13, who is in SS2.
“We are former members of the church. I left when the assistant pastor preached that he wanted to rewrite King James Version of the Bible and that he knew the new name of Jesus Christ.
“ He told the congregation that Jesus Christ is coming in September and that members should stay in church, abandon sinful life by staying in God’s presence.
“He told us that rapture is coming in September and that we should camp in church to receive glorification body to meet Christ when he appears.
“The pastors also asked students to stop schooling, workers should stop working, wives to leave their husbands and husbands to do same and come to meet their Lord”.
One of the victims, a third year student of Millennium College of Health, Priscilla Olorunyomi,aged 22, said she abandoned school notwithstanding that her parents told her not to attend the church again.
“ I was born in that church. My parents left but I remained in the church because I am blessed by the teaching”, Olorunyomi said.
“ I am obeying the scripture which says I should only obey my parents in the Lord, that is why I remained in the church.
“ My parents stopped paying my school fees when I left home in January and still attend the church. The pastors in the church have been feeding and paying my school fees until when I deferred my admission”.
The father, Micheal Olorunyomi, said his mistake was leaving “ my daughter when I left the church with my wife because of the unscriptural and ungody doctrine.
“ The pastors kept teaching children to only obey them, wives to divorce their husbands and be married to Christ while husbands should also leave their wives and come and stay in the church to await the coming of Jesus Christ in September”.
In an interview, the pastors, Anifowose and Josiah, denied the allegation of hynotising their members’ saying they only preached undiluted words of God to them.
“ We did not tell them to abandon their homes, they came on their own volition and they were accepted”, Anifowose said.
“It’s a lie that we said that Jesus is coming in September because nobody knows the time of His coming”.
Parading the victims and pastors, the police spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami, said detectives received several complaints on the activities of the pastors and swung into action.
Odunlami said 23 children and 54 adults, including wives, husbands and graduates, were rescued.
She added that they were lured and harboured under the pretence of religion.