It was reported some time ago that the founder and General Overseer of the Living Faith Church also known as Winners’ Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo who is among the richest pastors Africa – owns four private jets. This has not gone down well with Nigerians who never forget to bring up issue of extravagance and flamboyancy anytime they hear the name of the pastor or the church.
Writer and journalist Leke Beecroft, has revealed in details how private jets the church currently has. Read below;
DOES WINNERS’ CHAPEL OWN FOUR JETS?
The biggest criticism concerning the Church ownership of jets is that a particular Church, Winners’ Chapel owns four jets. Infact, the respected Forbes Magazine has quoted the same information severally. In an environment negatively disposed to the growth and prosperity of Churches, this is well understood. However, what is not understood is that falsehood can be bandied for so long without critics caring to crosscheck. It seems that as far as any information about the Church might seem to put her in bad light, critics would always be ready to shut their brains and put off their thinking caps to accept it. Knowing the leader of the Church in question however, Bishop Oyedepo, a man of great faith, would never insist that the Church does not have four jets; instead, he has prophesied that there would soon be at least 10 jets with parking for helicopters in addition and owned by worshippers; but what are the facts? How many jets does the Church actually own?
The first aircraft bought in 1996 for N100 million was an 8 seater HS (Hawker Sydney) 25 400B with registration 5N-WMA (World Mission Agency) for the propagation of the Gospel across the globe. On September 18, 1996, the aircraft was dedicated. Note that unlike the situation with Oduyemi of Bethel, a one branch Church, Winners’ Chapel had just launched her AGIP (African Gospel Invasion Program) 2 years earlier in 1994 with a vision to take Africa for Christ. Also, the Church was already holding her very hectic annual apostolic visits (it was on one of such hectic apostolic visits that Pastor (Mrs) Faith Oyedepo fell ill and almost lost her life) and the first trip of the aircraft in Nigeria was to Kaduna when Bishop Oyedepo ministered at the Garden of Faith in September 1996. I was privileged to be in that service as a teenager and by the next day, I was curious enough to join a Deacon in the Church to see the jet for myself at the Kaduna Airport. Like I said earlier, politicians travel on national campaigns once every 4 years using jets in Nigeria. For a Church undertaking annual missionary or apostolic visits, I saw every need for the use of an aircraft. Campaigning for Jesus round the country every year deserved the use of a jet.
In June 2004, a second aircraft was bought as a ‘replacement’ for the first one. The new aircraft was a HS 800A with registration 5N-PTL (Praise The Lord).
By August 2008, The Challenger 604 with registration N664D (Dominion), a newer and bigger aircraft was gotten at a good deal during the global recession. At this point, the Church had two jets, however, one of the oil majors in Nigeria had taken the HS 800A on lease and were thus paying for it at prevailing commercial rates until it was involved in a minor accident.
Plans to buy a GLEX (Global Express) were later discouraged by Pastor Kenneth Copeland according to Bishop Oyedepo and eventually the two aircraft were sold while the Church airline operators (Dominion Aviation Center) bought two aircraft in replacement; first a helicopter with registration-5N-BQY used for short trips to Landmark University Omu Aran in Kwara from Lagos or from Ota to the Lagos Airport and on a few occasions to Abuja etc. The helicopter has now been disposed of. The other aircraft which is the ONLY ONE in use presently is a Challenger 605 with registration N633WM (World Mission).
Basically and by design, as new ones came in, old ones were always sold out. The peak of foreign trips by the aircraft was between 2010 and 2013 due to the planting of thousands of Churches from 2010 in which the Church grew from 700 branches to over 6000.