This article is based on an account of structured interview granted to Sun News NG by Nigerian multitalented legendary Gospel Singers, Songwriters, Pastors and Performers - Bro Emma and Lazarus in the year 2022.

The duo who partially based in United States, says that they're grateful to almighty God for everything they've achieved so far in life including good health. They were born 1953 and 1951 respectively. They hailed from Imo State Nigeria.

Brother Lazarus of Voice of the Cross says many now go into gospel music for money making becaus they (Voice of the cross) started singing to bring souls to God.

Throwback Times obtained segments of article of interviews by Sun News and edited by Vera Wisdom-Bassey

In the ‘70s and ‘80s, their sonorous voices ruled the airwaves from Aba to Alaba in Lagos, from Abakaliki to Abeokuta. Brother Lazarus and Brother Emmanuel were the two voices that made up the popular Voice of the Cross, the wave-making gospel music band that ruled the scene in that era.

Apostle Lazarus Chukwuoma, popularly known as Brother Lazarus, and Rev. Emmanuel Ogbonna, known as Bro. Emmanuel produced several chart-busting songs like “Sing Hallelujah”, “Joy of Salvation”, “Thank You For Saving Me”, “Satan Is In Trouble” and “Good Morning, Jesus” (a worship music album).

The duo is still singing and has released some gospel songs in recent times, all the way from the United States of America (Gospel High Life Vols. 1 & 2), where they used to live. But that was before Bro. Lazarus came home and decided to stay back for good in his hometown, Amakohia in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State. Brother Emmanuel, who is said to be convalescing from some undisclosed ailment, is still holed up in the United States. This has made it a bit impracticable for them to come together to sing or record new songs as they used to do. In his place, Brother Lazarus’ son, Lazarus Nkwachukwu Chukwuoma Jnr., is now the one singing the part that Brother Emmanuel sang in those days. Recently, they were at a church programme organised by The Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement to minister to the members and ministers in spiritual songs. While there, Saturday Sun caught up with Brother Lazarus and spoke with him on a number of issues.

How long have you been in the gospel music industry?

I am 48 years old in gospel music.

How did you get into the ministry of singing gospel songs?

It is a gift from God. As it is stated in James 1:17, every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When He calls you, He commissions you into the ministry. And, when He does that, you have no other option than to obey Him, to do what He is asking you to do. So, I am enjoying the call of God upon my life. 

How do you compose your songs as to minister to your audience in the way they do? How does the inspiration come to you?

It is just God. When He breathes it into your heart, you cannot help but write it down or record it. So, that is how I get them. Sometimes, the lyrics come first and later the tune. At other times, the tune comes first and later the lyrics. Before you know it, it has become a song that everybody is joining you to sing.

How come your partner, Bro Emmanuel, no longer sings with you?

He is still my singing partner; it is just that distance that has made that impracticable for now. Actually, some years ago, we left the shores of Nigeria together. But I had to come back when I lost my father. He died at the age of 102. Being the first son, I had to come back to give him a befitting burial. Secondly, my family could not join me in America. That’s another reason I had to come back. Emma and I are still together; it is just that he is in America and I am here in Nigeria because I realised there is much more to do in Nigeria than out there. There is nothing like home.

Is he sick?

No. He is now strong and came to Nigeria about two weeks ago. And, whenever he comes, we still perform together.

Who are you now singing regularly with?

My biological son who, like Emma, has a very good alto voice; I sing treble. 

Some people say that gospel music nowadays no longer ministers to the spirit and soul as they used to in the days when you and Brother Emmanuel dominated the scene. What’s your take?

Well, it is left for God to judge as to whether one is truly called into it or not. But in the Bible, it happened to Paul. He was called into the ministry. But some people came and started ministering other gospel, which he, Paul, did not preach. I think some people are into gospel music for financial gains. But the vision that birthed the Voice of the Cross remains what it is: to reach out to souls with songs that can liberate and lift their spirit when they listen to them.

How were you called into the ministry of gospel music?

I gave my life to Christ in 1971 and became born again. Before then, I was a leader of a choral group in our school. I was a song presenter but the moment I gave my life to Christ things changed. But I can say that what I later grew up to do, and is still doing, started right from an early age long before I became born again.

What’s your advice to others who feel they have a calling to go into gospel music as you and Brother Emmanuel had?

My advice to them is to know their calling and stay on course. Be very Biblical both in character and everything. Some people sip some gin before going on stage and stagger as if it is the Holy Ghost that is “pushing” them. But He is not. Some singers are very prayerful and back up their songs with prayers. And, when they are on stage, you see the difference. So, the part you play shows whether you are truly called or not.

You are a gospel musician as well as a pastor. Tell us more about yourself.

I am the General Overseer of a church known as Bible Church of Christ International (BCCI) with headquarters in Imo State. We are into soul winning of which music is a part. I am a father and a grandfather. All my children are into the ministry; four of them are married.

You are 71 but you don’t look it. What’s the secret?

It is the doing of the Lord. 

Could you tell us the relationship between you and Patty Obassey, another talented Igbo gospel songwriter and singer, but now late?

Patty Obassey was a friend, and when he wedded in 1978, in Aba, we were there. We were there also when he was sent off to overseas for further studies. We were there with him before he died.

What’s your advice to Nigerians on gospel music?

They should open up their hearts to the messages that gospel music is sending forth.

What else would you have been apart from a gospel music singer?

I was an automobile engineer before God asked me to leave it and go into gospel music. He said that the blessings He has for me are in singing spiritual songs. I don’t think I would have been as successful in any other venture as I am today in gospel music if I had disobeyed His instruction.

This is account of Sun News, indeed Bro Emma and Lazarus of Voice Of The Cross made a remarkable achievements and their names written on the sands of time.