CHRIST Embassy leader Chris Oyakhilome on Sunday failed to pull a bumper crowd of 100 000 people his church initially claimed had registered to attend the Nigerian preacher’s service, with notable gaps visible in the 60 000-seater National Sports Stadium.

Although the attendance was fairly big, some bays were not occupied, while the overflow venue set outside the stadium was not occupied during the entire service.

People started trickling in the morning up until the evening but the venue, which United Family International Church founder Emmanuel Makandiwa often fills to the brim on his annual Judgment Night vigils, proved too big for the Nigerian cleric.

There were also unproven allegations that some big churches had uniquely congested their church programmes to discourage their followers from attending.

The tele-evangelist only showed-up around 7pm and went straight into deliverance. A lot of people with different aliments lined up to give testimonies during the service with some in serious conditions seen getting assistance from paramedics before and after the pastor left the stage.

Pastor Chris, who often spoke about the impending good times for the country and spoke glowingly about Zimbabwe’s warm hospitality, promised to visit Harare again where he would be preaching as opposed to his maiden Worship and Communion Miracle Service.

Journalists who covered the event were subjected to harassment by the church’s security details that prevented the media from reaching even the VIP enclosure to take pictures of the charismatic preacher on the podium.

Although the media had been subjected to a very strict accreditation exercise by the church’s media team, the security details would have none of that, descending in their numbers on the journalists who were jostling to take pictures of the pastor as soon as he arrived at the stadium. Some of the security details were actually heard querying how the journalists had been allowed in, claiming the church did not need external people to cover such events as it had its own media team.

“We don’t need them here. We have our own reporters who should cover us,” one of the bouncers shouted as they charged at journalists.

Christ Embassy spokesperson Ruth Musarurwa was not picking calls and did not respond to questions sent on her mobile phone yesterday.