A former member of the Deeper Life Bible Church has taken to her Facebook page to draw attention to the unwholesome teachings of Pastor W.F Kumuyi. Mercy Benjamin, a Deeper Lifer for 20 years, has urged a protest against Kumuyi’s poverty teachings. She claims that the doctrines have destroyed the lives of many people. It is not often that one gets to read from former members of the Deeper Life church. While growing up in the 80s, the Deeper Life Bible Church was seen as a strange Christian denomination in the catholic Eastern Nigeria due to their scorched earth spirituality. The church seemed to be against any form of worldly display. Their women did not wear earrings and fanciful dresses. They were known for a particular way of tying their head ties. Their head ties were tied covering their ears. Deeper Life church members looked dry and sometimes haggard. It was said that the founder, William Kumuyi, told his members not to watch television or wear make up because these worldly accessories would prevent them from making heaven. These twisted ideas resonated in the comments of Mercy Benjamin. In one of the posts, Ms. Benjamin sent a direct message to Kumuyi:
“Pastor W.F Kumuyi, if you die today without going back to rectify all the years of poverty teachings and financial restrictions and embargoes that you have placed on your members, you will surely go to hell! You won’t even escape it. People might not take me seriously for this, but this is a message only you must understand. Free your members from poverty before your time is up, Sir”.
Anger, pain, and frustration undergirded Ms Benjamin’s posts and commentaries as she tried to come to terms with the brainwashing in the Deeper Life church. According to Ms. Benjamin, Kumuyi has used his teaching to hold the church members hostage. He has made them unable to mentally and socially free themselves.
In another comment posted on December 13, she went further to say: “Only a diehard former Deeper Life Bible Church member like myself might understand what I am saying. Deeper life church will leave you traumatized for life! I’m not just saying this. Ask other ex-members you are close to, who will be honest and open. I have been greatly traumatized as a child by the doctrines of Pastor W.F Kumuyi, and it’s still affecting me to date. I find it difficult to relate with people for a long time. I’m always extremely suspicious, and it’s all because, at Deeper Life, they taught me never to be equally yoked with unbelievers, and people who have been already destined for hell. Deeper Life church presents itself, and its members as if only Deeper Life members are holy enough and meant for heaven. I am aware now, but I’m still very much affected by Deeper Life’s restrictive teachings. I have been psychologically affected by the impoverishing restrictions to date. I find myself doing almost the same thing as I have been taught at the church. I am scared of taking a leap or doing something different that could probably change my life. This is all because of the long term restricting teachings of Kumuyi. The fear which Kumuyi’s doctrines have instilled in me over the years are still very active. Reality and what I have been taught over the years do not correspond. I am having great trouble adapting, or accepting my reality because of what I have been told. The confusion has eaten deep into me. I know I am supposed to get over it and move on, especially now that I’m aware. But how do I move on from something that has eaten deep into me? I have been restless”.
After reading the posts I reached out to Ms. Benjamin in order to have a better understanding of her story. And she agreed to share her experiences with me. Mercy Benjamin is a website developer, and blogger. She is also fashion designer. Ms. Benjamin is a graduate of Lagos State Polytechnic. She studied banking and finance. She said that her recent posts were meant to highlight how “the doctrines of Pastor Kumuyi have negatively affected my family and personal lives”. She recounted to me how Kumuyi’s teaching affected her family:
“You see, my Dad used to be a senior Naval officer. But he resigned when I was very young, yet to get into a secondary school. My siblings were still very much young. His main reason was that the new office was going to prevent him from attending church services. It would make him sin against God. That the new role would make him offend a lot of people as he would refuse to compromise”. The father resigned from the job and was unable to earn enough income to train the children.
On the impact on her personal life. She said: “I have left Kumuyi’s church for years. But his doctrines are still affecting me to date. I practically don’t have a social life. There are certain things I am still unable to do. For instance it has been a challenge maintaining a relationship. It has been quite hard because of the same fear of the unknown”. On Kumuyi’s teaching on relationships, Ms. Benjamin stated: “The teachings are about holiness and that anything beside it was unholy and shouldn’t be indulged in. Any Deeper Life member who gets married to a member of another church denomination was seen as a backslider and a sinner”. She urged the government to look into these teachings: “With how I have been mentally abused. The government should look into these doctrines. Teachings that restrict one to the four corners of a church should be abolished. I know so many people who are in a similar situation. Such teachings hinder the growth of the individual and the nation. On her message to the members of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Ms. Benjamin said: “They should stop listening to those teachings of Pastor Kumuyi that condemn them to a life of poverty and undermine their personal and family well being”. But will members of the Deeper Life Bible Church heed the warning? Will they join Ms Benjamin in urging #FreedomFromPovertyTeachings? Time shall tell.