It’s that season again, dear readers, when our thoughts turn to the blessings of faith. The rewards of a pious life are deep and many. We all share. We all are rewarded. Some more than others. This I know, because I had the good fortune to run across an accounting of the ten most pious, said piety being revealed by the degree to which they have been rewarded. Rejoice to all who wade forward into this rambling missive. For here are the top ten:
1. David Oyedepo $150 Million
David O. Oyedepo (born September 27, 1954) is a Nigerian Christian author, preacher, the founder and presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide, also known as Winners’ Chapel, and its affiliated international churches known as Winners Chapel International, with headquarters in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria. Oyedepo is the senior pastor of Faith Tabernacle, a 50,000 seat church auditorium, reported to be the largest church auditorium in the world by the Guinness Book of Records.
The Winners’ Chapel network of churches is located in over 300 cities, in all states of Nigeria, as well as, in several cities in 45 African nations, Dubai, the United Kingdom and the United States. Oyedepo has been seen as one of the pioneers of the Christian charismatic movement in Africa and has been referred to as one of the most powerful preachers in Nigeria. He is the Chancellor of Covenant University and Landmark University. He was named in 2011 by Forbes magazine as being the richest pastor in Nigeria.
According to the WorldsRichPeople.com site, pastor Oyedepo “owns a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a fleet of private jets.” The Lord rewards those who reward themselves.
2. Benny Hinn $42 Million
Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn (born 3 December 1952) is a televangelist, best known for his regular “Miracle Crusades”—revival meeting or faith healing summits that are usually held in stadiums in major cities, which are later broadcast worldwide on his television program, This Is Your Day.
His net worth is quite tidy, even by today’s standards. It’s more than some people make in a whole week. His powers of healing are notorious:
In April 2001, HBO aired a documentary entitled A Question of Miracles that focused on Hinn and a well-documented fellow Word-of-Faith German minister based in Africa, Reinhard Bonnke. Both Hinn and Bonnke offered full access to their events to the documentary crew, and the documentary team followed seven cases of “miracle healings” from Hinn’s crusade over the next year. The film’s director, Antony Thomas, told CNN‘s Kyra Phillips that they did not find any cases where people were actually healed by Hinn. Thomas said in a New York Times interview that “If I had seen miracles [from Hinn’s ministry], I would have been happy to trumpet it…but in retrospect, I think they do more damage to Christianity than the most committed atheist.”
Hinn moved his ministry in 1999 to Grapevine, Texas, possibly in order to be closer to the money, and the gullibility.
3. Joel Osteen $40 Million
Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas. His televised sermons are seen by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries. Osteen has written five New York Times Bestselling books. He has been widely nicknamed “The Smiling Preacher”.
4. Chris Oyakhilome ‘pastor Chris’ $30-50 Million
Chris Oyakhilome (known popularly as “Pastor Chris”) is a Nigerian minister who is the founding president of Believers’ LoveWorld Incorporated, also known as “Christ Embassy”, a Bible-based Christian ministry headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.
His ministry runs several arms including the Healing School, Rhapsody of Realities (likely the most translated book in the whole world, 660 translations), and an NGO called the Innercity Missions for Children as well as three Christian television channels: LoveWorld TV, LoveWorld SAT and LoveWorld Plus. Oyakhilome’s television programs feature his faith healings, miracles and large meetings which his ministry organises around the world, with gatherings of over 2.5 million people in a single night’s event.
5. Creflo Dollar $27 Million
Creflo Augustus Dollar, Jr. is an American televangelist, pastor, and the founder of the non-denominational World Changers Church International based in Fulton County, Georgia, Creflo Dollar Ministerial Association (formerly called International Covenant Ministries), Creflo Dollar Ministries, and Arrow Records.
He was born on January 28, 1962 to Creflo Augustus Dollar, Sr. (1936-1993) and his wife. The younger Creflo attended local schools and was raised in the Baptist Church.
Dollar began developing World Changers Ministries Christian Center in 1986. He held the church’s first worship service in the cafeteria of an elementary school in College Park, Georgia, with eight people in attendance. He later renamed the ministry as World Changers Church International (WCCI), and the congregation moved from the cafeteria to a dedicated chapel. Four services were held each Sunday, and Creflo added a weekly radio broadcast. On December 24, 1995, WCCI moved into its present location, the 8,500-seat facility known as the World Dome. The church has said that the nearly $18 million World Dome was built without any bank financing. As of 2007, the congregation reported having around 30,000 members, and $69 million in revenue (gross cash collections) for 2006.
In June 2012 Dollar was arrested in an alleged attack on his daughter, in accordance with the Fayette County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office.  The charges were dropped in January 2013 after he attended anger management classes. Fayette County Police Department released details of a 911 call.
Dollar and his wife, Taffi, have five children and live in Atlanta, GA.
6. Billy Graham $25 Million
William Franklin “Billy” Graham, Jr., KBE (born November 7, 1918) is an American evangelical Christianevangelist, ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, who rose to celebrity status in 1949 reaching a core constituency of middle-class, moderately conservative Protestants. He held large indoor and outdoor rallies; sermons were broadcast on radio and television, some still being re-broadcast today. In his six decades of television, Graham is principally known for hosting the annual Billy Graham Crusades, which he began in 1947, until he concluded in 2005. He also hosted the popular, Hour of Decision, from 1950 to 1954, which would later be known as The Hour of Power, which was the longest-running religious show on television.
Graham was a spiritual adviser to several American presidents; he was particularly close to Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson (who was considered to be one of Graham’s closest friends) and Richard Nixon. He insisted on integration for his revivals and crusades in 1953 and invited Martin Luther King, Jr. to preach jointly at a revival in New York City in 1957. Graham bailed King out of jail in the 1960s when King was arrested in demonstrations. He was also lifelong friends with another televangelist, Robert H. Schuller, whom Graham talked into doing his own television ministry in Garden Grove, California in 1970, from the Neutra Sanctuary, after Schuller visited him in 1969, at an Anaheim Convention Center for one of his crusades.
7. Rick Warren $25 Million
Richard Duane “Rick” Warren (born January 28, 1954) is an American evangelical Christian pastor and author. He is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, an evangelical megachurch in Lake Forest, California, that is the eighth-largest church in the United States. (including multi-site churches). He is also a bestselling author of many Christian books, including his guide to church ministry and evangelism, The Purpose Driven Church, which has spawned a series of conferences on Christian ministry and evangelism. He is perhaps best known for the subsequent book The Purpose Driven Life which has sold more than 30 million copies, making Warren a New York Times bestselling author.
Warren holds conservative theological views and traditional evangelical views on social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, abstinence-only education over the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS, and embryonic stem-cell research.
During the 2008 United States presidential election, Warren hosted the Civil Forum on The Presidency at his church with both presidential candidates, John McCain andBarack Obama. Obama later sparked controversy when he asked Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration in January 2009.
8. T.D Jakes $18 Million
Thomas Dexter “T. D.” Jakes, Sr. (born June 9, 1957) is an American pastor, author and filmmaker. He is the bishop of The Potter’s House, a non-denominationalAmerican megachurch, with 30,000 members. T. D. Jakes’ church services and evangelistic sermons are broadcast on The Potter’s Touch, which airs on Lightsource.com, the Trinity Broadcasting Network, Black Entertainment Television, the Daystar Television Network, The Word Network and The Miracle Channel in Canada. Other aspects of Jakes’ ministry include an annual revival called “MegaFest” that draws more than 100,000 people, an annual women’s conference called “Woman Thou Art Loosed”, and gospel music recordings.
The last time I looked (2004), Jakes’ Daystar was located just west of the DFW Airport on Highway 121 in Bedford. Joe Barnhart and and I participated in the taping of an episode of the Joni Lamb Show. Ostensibly it was to debate creationist Ralph Muncaster, but the real purpose, the real purpose of all Daystar productions, is to raise money. A constant crawl across the screen for these productions is a toll-free number to call in donations. The facility dripped money. They have the latest and the best of equipment. The parking lot rivals Monaco.
9. Temitope Joshua $15 Million
Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963), commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Nigerian preacher. He is the leader and founder of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), a religious organisation that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos, Nigeria.
He has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Nigerian government in 2008 and being voted the Yoruba man of the decade by Pan-Yoruba media outlet Irohin-Odua. He was recognised as one of Africa’s 50 most influential people by Pan-African magazines The Africa Report and New African Magazine and listed among the world’s most famous people by the website thefamouspeople.com.
Joshua is known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence, with over 1,500,000 fans on Facebook and hundreds of YouTube videos which have proved controversial and amassed millions of views. As of 2011, according to Forbes, Joshua was Nigeria’s third-richest pastor.
10. Matthew Ashimolowo $6-10 Million
Matthew Ashimolowo (born 17 March 1952) is a Nigerian clergyman, the Senior Pastor of Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) in London.
His Winning Ways programme is aired daily on Premier Radio (London) and Spirit FM (Amsterdam) and on television in Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, TV Africa, the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and Europe on The God Channel and Inspirational Network.
The dominance of Nigerian ministries in this list gives lie to the myth that America is the flam-flam capital of the world. To be sure, Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world and the most populous in Africa. However, half of that population is Muslim, a group not inclined to flock to Nigeria’s Christian exchange houses.
Getting past all that, the season is still upon us, giving us pause to reflect on our blessings and to lend thought to others less fortunate. Give in to that tug on your wallet and shed a few shekels into the plate at your local money temple. These worthies desperately need your help if they are to pray for the poor.
And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.