“THE LORD loves a cheerful giver,” proclaims a preacher as she warms up the congregants for Bishop David Abioye’s third service of the day in the 15,000-seater Living Faith church near Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. “As you drop your offerings today, your financial captivity will be turned around for good,” she promises. Slipped in among the Bible verses are instructions on how to pay by cheque or online. What the Lord thinks of your correspondent’s reluctant gift is left unsaid.
As ushers wielding lime-green baskets take the offerings, a choir croons, “I’m restored and I’ve been rewarded.” Mr Abioye, resplendent in a pinstripe suit and gold tie, explains how God repays prayer with hard cash. “This week people will be giving to you,” he proclaims. Congregants jump up and cheer. “As I’m speaking they are already looking for your telephone number,” he shouts. All this, he says, is thanks to the “purchasing power” of Jesus’s blood.