Ezekiel Odero, a former fisherman turned preacher, has been making waves in recent years, with his net worth estimated by Google at over Sh1 billion. Despite being born into poverty, the televangelist has amassed great wealth, building a mega-church in Kilifi and several other businesses.
Fifteen years ago, Ezekiel began serving at the Miracle Maximum Centre in Mombasa under renowned televangelist Pius Muiru, where he played the keyboard and worked as an understudy. He later started his own ministry at the New Life Prayer Centre in Mavueni, Kilifi, where he built an “empire” for his followers on a 65-acre piece of land.
From the gate, the center could be mistaken for State House due to the many flags representing different countries around the world. A large parking lot capable of holding up to 2,000 cars welcomes visitors, and there is a helipad that is still under construction. The church, which can seat 40,000 people, occupies at least six acres of land and has a restaurant for congregants. Ten buses belonging to the church are parked in the lot.
Opposite the church is a white, multi-story lavatory, and nearby is a business center that houses several shops and a bank. There is also a primary and secondary school, each with six streams, and a massive servant quarter for church staff, as well as an operational clinic. Some of these facilities are still under construction.
Despite his massive wealth and influence, some question the source of Ezekiel’s riches. However, others view him as a man from a humble background who worked as a mason in Mombasa for years before building his empire during his come-up. Although he has never attended theological school, Ezekiel is known for his opulence and ability to amass large crowds at his church, both in Mombasa and other parts of the country.
Ezekiel’s YouTube channel has close to 450,000 subscribers, and during one sermon, he showcased hundreds of goats that he claimed were brought as a thanksgiving token by some of his followers. While Ezekiel is currently facing criminal charges over his alleged involvement in the Kilifi cult, those who have seen him rise to prominence are not quick to judge him.