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The Nigerian Church Is Losing It’s Purpose – Ayobami Oyalowo

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There has been a lot of tittle-tattle lately as well as so many discordant tunes on the propriety or otherwise of jets and gifts to pastors and men of God.

The debates have been loud and raucous with so many people speaking from a position of little or no information. A lot of emotive vibes and outrage, for or against the perceived or real manipulations by men who supposedly have been given charge over the souls of millions, has become public fodder. Everyone appears to be venting their spleen wherever you turn.

Hosea 4:7-9
New King James Version (NKJV)
7
“The more they increased,
The more they sinned against Me;
I will change their glory into shame.
8
They eat up the sin of My people;
They set their heart on their iniquity.
9
And it shall be: like people, like priest.
So I will punish them for their ways,
And reward them for their deeds.

But what exactly should we do or say? Supporters of ostentatious and obviously manipulative men of the cloak are quick to put the critics in check by quoting “touch not mine anointed” lines ostensibly to show that men of “God” are above reproach and as such “lesser” men have no right whatsoever to criticize or condemn perceived wrong doings of these high men of “God.”

But is this the case? Are these men truly above reproach? Is it biblical for the “under shepherd” to feed fat on the flock while the flock groans and hopes for a better day? All these we shall examine in this piece. Let me appeal that this treatise may exceed the usual length allowed for articles on this blog as it comes laden with supporting Bible passages, but I assure you, it will be worth your while. Take a sip of water and follow me patiently.

And plead with your boss at work to learn from it as well if he frowns at you. Who knows, your boss may have unwittingly contributed to purchasing a Limo, Hummer or Private Jet for his Pastor lately. Christianity was first brought to the shores of Nigeria by the European missionaries in the early 1800s. When they came, they built hospitals and schools.

In fact, many Nigerians aged late thirties and above, were products of missionary schools, which were either free or came with negligible or paltry school fees. The early missionaries and churches in Nigeria were predicated on love and social services to their immediate communities. Many people in the age range I quoted above got quality education and even health care, courtesy of missionaries and churches.

But fast forward to the present day. Church members are coerced to part with money they barely have, with either a promise of God blessing them in return or with stern warnings of perpetual poverty or even threatened with the danger of hell if they refuse to give “cheerfully”. God’s blessing in church today is now for sale and even your offering must be spoken to, so that it can bring forth plenty harvest.

(remember our local priests “babalawo” have a culture of asking clients to rub their bodies with monies and ask for whatever they wish for).

As a matter of fact, a particular church I know, a few years ago had a special offering called ‘dominion jet offering’, where adherents were made to donate towards the “ministry’s” jet only for the jet to be converted for the use of the self styled Bishop later. *My lips are sealed*

In the course of my research, I discovered that a teacher’s son in a secondary school of one of these various prosperity promising centers, who lives in the church enclave, could not afford to send his son to the school, as a teacher and also amember of the church. His son was rather sent to school in a nearby town.

The modern Nigerian church tasks it’s members to donate towards various projects such as universities and elitist secondary schools, but curiously, the poorer members of such prosperity centers can neither send their wards or kids to such schools, neither do the churches have a program to cater for the poor amongst their flock.

Unlike the early missionaries who accommodated both the rich and poor in their schools, it is no longer business as usual for the poor. You either sow and get rich so that your children can also benefit from the schools built by the church you attend or find a lesser alternative, while hoping for a better day! The Church has become a class conscious body.

The passage in Act 4:34-35 which Reads: “(34) Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, (35) and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” has been totally ignored.

In Nigeria’s contrivances of prosperity churches, it is survival of the fittest, elimination of the “poor” or unfit. How wonderful, won’t you say? No longer are we our brother’s keeper. Like 50 Cent, we have resolved in churches to get rich or die trying.

We have been told that prosperity is a sign of God’s favor to his own people, but after reading and studying the lives of great men of God– men who brought great revivals in their time– I had to ask if Jonathan Edwards, a man who preached and thousands wept to the altar in one day, yet he wasn’t rich, or Smith Wiggleswort, a plumber whom God used to heal many sick and raised a lot of dead men, yet wasn’t stupendously rich, were missing a trick.

Tozer, John Wesley etc were great men of God, who neither built castles nor owned the choicest properties in their time, but they made such differences in the body of Christ so much so that till this day, their works still speak for them. Unlike our spirito-christian magicians, these men lived simple lives, but turned many around towards righteous and holy living. Their time was termed the period of the great revival in history.

Severally we have been reprimanded to “touch not mine anointed” but is this the correct application of this scripture? In which context was this phrase used? It is found in Psalm 105:15 and was repeated in 1Chronicles 16:22. That passage was written to praise the works of God when he took out Israel out of Egypt and saved them from harm, even though they were few. It was never about a pastor or a leader, it was written to praise God in taking care of a called out people. Anointed vessels are men who allow God to do his bidding through them.

Note that those people who must do his bidding must be “called out” and what is the “church”? It simply means “the called out ones”. Therefore that Passage can also mean “touch not the church”. Do NOT be deceived, it was never written to protect or immune “penterascality” or ‘pastopreneurs’ from criticism. It was written as a mark or seal of God’s protection upon his chosen ones.

The concept of giving and speaking to your money to work for you is another strange doctrine that has been introduced to make unsuspecting and unlearned Christians to part with their money without question.

Several times they have called this subtle extortion mechanism: ‘seed’, claiming the passage of seed time and harvest in Genesis 8:22. But God was not using seed figuratively. It was a definite and correct use. In fact he said; the summer, winter etc shall not cease. You don’t pay for God’s blessings. Obed edom was blessed in 2 Samuel 6:10-12 not because he paid God aspecial seed but because the presence of God dwelt within him and his household.

Unlike the short-cut pay and receive theology of our modern day pastors, God’s blessings dwell securely in his presence. It is better to live holy and have God on your side, than give plenty, while continuing in sin.

There is nothing wrong in showering your pastors with gifts, but let’s look at some biblical examples of men that God used mightily. Were they louts, who busied themselves with soliciting gifts or were they men who had reasonable sources of income? Amos was a great prophet but hear him in Amos 7:14-15:

14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and agatherer of sycomore fruit:

15 And the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said unto me, ‘Go, prophesy unto my people Israel’.

And let’s look at Paul, one of the greatest apostles who ever lived. Acts 18:1-3:

18 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth;

2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.

3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
He was a tent maker. He HAD A JOB. He was no lout neither was he a beggar or a manipulator. His hands provided for his needs.

I wish to bring a few scriptures to light in Philippians 3:18-19 18

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
and 2 Timothy 3:1-2 3:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.

It is very clear that we are approaching the last days and like Jesus said, “shall I find faith on earth”? It a question we all should ponder on. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of your Christian faith? Is it to serve God or marmon? Is amassing worldly cash and acquiring worldly goods the reason Christ died on the cross? Do not get me wrong, being prosperous in not a sin, but it is written in 2Timothy 2:4:

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
And in Colosians 2:9, we read:

For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily. If God is genuinely sought, he will be found. Having the presence of God dwelling in you is a guarantee of his fulness. The rate at which wrong doctrines are taught and imbibed is alarming and this is a pointer to alarming biblical illiteracy levels among Christians. As God said, ‘like people like priests’.
1Peter 4:17 17:

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begins with us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”. What is the gospel of God? I doubt if it means amassing wealth or accumulating worldly goods. Pastors must be careful in fleecing the flock as it is written that The souls of those in their care will be required of them.

Our peculiar situation shows clearly that there are fundamental flaws in the teachings of the church as written in our opening scripture. Hosea, as quoted above, suggests that as the priests (pastors, bishops, archbishops, General overseers etc) are increasing, so is iniquity and sin on the rise. Looking at Nigeria today, we have a church in almost every corner, yet the crime and immorality rates are rising exponentially.

It is time for the men of GOD to face their true calling which is preaching the gospel. But if they persist in milking the flock, God said he will use even stones, to achieve his aims, if men refuse to do his bidding. Study the scriptures and be diligent. Do not let a man created in ‘like-passions’ pull a wool over your eyes in the name of God. A lie can travel very fast in time, but in one swift moment, the truth will pursue, overtake and annihilate it. There is too much hot air emanating from our pulpits, but where is the fire of revival?

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Riliwan

    November 15, 2012 at 7:36 am

    christianity was never the answer and it will never be Jesus didnt come to establish a Religion he came to give a sense about how the way of life should be

  2. Janny O

    November 15, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Thaks for speaking out the truth! So many pple hve been led astray by fake so called men of God. Jesus while on earth, always felt pity for the crowd, Moved by love he fed them, heal them and also thought his apostles to do same. Jesus said tht whoever wants to be his disciple shld sell his belongings and continue following him. The pastors of today do the opposite by pursuing material gains and abandoning Christ, Worst of it all, using his (Christ) name to exploit pple. And when the true servants of God sees this oppression and begin to condemn their acts, some beneficiaries of these churches and some ignorant ones among them begins to think you’re Judging the man of God. Even Jesus publicly condemned the hypocrites of his time. May God give to the sinners, and those sitting on the seat of sinners their full reward!!!

  3. steve

    November 15, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Jesus is the only way to God the father, and to heaven, if u are not a christian it’s a pity as u are of all men most miserable. There is therefore no alternative to christianity as the true link to d true God. People who serve God genuinely have no cause for worries except if they go to church wit alterior motives.

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Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.

In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.

In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.

“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.

In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.

As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’

Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.

The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.

On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.

“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.

In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.

With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.

The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.

Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.

Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.

PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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Opinion

Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!

So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.

Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A

Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.

The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?

The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.

He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….

The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.

Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences  of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”

It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.

My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.

Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.

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Opinion

Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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Emir Sanusi

By Fredrick Nwabufo

Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.

I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.

But wait!

The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.

In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.

In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.

Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.

As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.

‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.

To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.

So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.

But Sanusi was still talking.

Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.

I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.

Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.

Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.

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