The Spiritual Revolution
Love Is The Answer
My spiritual journey began in earnest in 1990. As a young graduate of 23 I had not long graduated from university with a degree in English. At the time I was hanging around in Newcastle upon Tyne and hoping to break into the music industry as a singer/songwriter and guitarist in an indie band called The History Chair. The band had received considerable interest from various record companies and had played several venues around the north of England and Scotland. Around this time I came into contact with the teachings of a little-known spiritual teacher who hailed from Nigeria. I was at the time restless in my spirit, disillusioned with many of the things I saw going on around me and in the world at large. On the surface it appeared that I had it all going for me. I had a good set of friends and was doing what I wanted: writing, performing and singing in a band. But deep inside there was a deep sense of ‘ennui’ and a gaping chasm that could not be filled with any external stimulant. I already had an interest in the Bible and the teachings of Christ as well having dipped into comparative religions. It was my older brother George who first told me about a spiritual organisation called Brotherhood of the Cross and Star which he came across while living in London. The movement was founded by a man whose followers suggested was ‘the Comforter’ spoken of by Jesus in the gospel of John. He had the wonderfully strange and exotic-sounding name of Olumba Olumba Obu. George sent me some of his sermons, roughly printed and translated into English from the indigenous Efik language of Calabar in Nigeria. The tone was direct, simple and to the point using references from the New Testament to back up the message.
One of these sermons which struck me particularly was titled ‘Love is the key to the kingdom’. It explained that the problems of the whole world were attributable to a lack of love and that if people had genuine love for each other – as Jesus Christ had taught – then there would be no more war, hatred, discrimation, inequality and poverty. Simplistic as this sounded, the reasoning made perfect sense to me and it was my Eureka moment. But how, I asked myself, would this universal love be achieved in a world which appeared the very antithesis of this ideal? Was it not naive to believe this was possible? The message of Olumba Olumba Obu went further to explain that a new law had come into effect and that this was ‘the law of love’. This law superceded the law of Moses which emphasised retributive justice: ‘an eye for a eye and tooth for a tooth’. He inferred it was incumbent upon all and sundry to practise the law of love as this law was the foundation of a new system, a new kingdom which Christ had spoken about. Olumba backed this up with references from the gospels citing how Jesus Christ had not come to found a religion or church but had come to lay the foundation of a new system of government; one based on the spiritual law of love or, to put it another way, the ways of ‘God’. Despite the prevalence of Christianity in the world and different churches and factions Olumba explained that no one had been able to put the teachings of Christ into practice. The very proliferation of different churches attested to the fact that there was no real unity in Christendom and that the original spirit of Christ was now manifesting itself in a different form.
In August 1990 George and I arrived in the town of Calabar, Nigeria where the headquarters of Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS) is located. We were taken to meet ‘The Father’, a very human and personable individual dressed in simple white t shirt and traditional wax cotton loin cloth who sat on the ground and told us he had been expecting us. This was Olumba Olumba Obu, the founder and Leader of Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. He explained with authority in perfect English many things about the divine nature: ‘God is the Father, God is Love and God is the truth, those are His names’ and stated ‘the whole world worships angels, they worship idols’. ‘We don’t burn incense, we don’t light candles here’ he added and humbly showed us around his living quarters and small office spaces where local people were engaged in various roles including the compilation in book form of the hundreds of sermons he had preached known as ‘The Everlasting Gospel’. Everyone wore white, took off their shoes when entering the hall for worship and knocked their heads on the ground three times. All prayers were offered ‘in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ’ and New Testament texts underpinned all the sermons which Olumba delivered twice daily in the ‘Great Hall’. The feast which was provided freely to all at the end of each service was purely vegan consisting of fruit and rice dishes. The mood was often jovial and light hearted with little room for pious religiousity. In fact the man in question did a lot of laughing and joking, rolling around on the floor as if party to some cosmic joke. But then there was a sterner tone that what we were involved in was no joke but a matter of life and death: Choose the spiritual regeneration offered by the Everlasting Gospel as echoed by Christ in John 6:63 (‘The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life’) or reject them at your peril.
After two and a half months in Nigeria learning directly from ‘The Supernatural Teacher’ Leader Olumba Olumba Obu, my brother George and I returned to England in the autumn of 1990 and began to relay to relatives and friends the experiences from our African adventure. We travelled up and down the country in a beat up Ford Capri telling people that the long expected Kingdom of God was now on earth and that now was the time to put the teachings of Christ into practice. We preached to our parents and wrote to all the religious leaders in Lewes, East Sussex where we were staying temporarily with our parents. The response was varied: from outright indignation, through tepid acceptance to warm reception. But for most, the idea that a black African man from an obscure rural backwater in Nigeria was the incarnation of God for our time was just a step too far.