y1WlEjNAYV3-K1WpS3N1_iK3Azo TaJuLa's Blog: A Must Read God Is Not A Nigerian By Okanlomo Seye Adetunmbi

Thursday, 31 January 2013

A Must Read God Is Not A Nigerian By Okanlomo Seye Adetunmbi

Nigeria is an incredible country. I mean, it is one country where millions are suffering and thousands spend every weekend celebrating one thing or the other, spending millions of naira that are not available to the suffering millions. Nigeria is comparable to the United States in one aspect: we always talk “ests.” I mean, we have the largest, smallest, richest, best, meanest of so many things. If we are not the happiest nation in the world, we are the nation with the most number of PhD degree holders.
In Nigeria, we have some of the poorest people who have some of the biggest smile anywhere but we also have perhaps the largest untapped oil and gas reserves that have helped fuelled the reign of the meanest set of rulers. You see what I mean?

A couple of years back, Nigeria maintained she had broken world records by convening the largest gathering of Christians anywhere and also to have built the largest Church building in the world. We literally gush at such reports. As someone who was born in Nigeria, and a Pastor of a local church in the United States, the positive spins make impressive news. However, personally, I believe that the most appropriate label for Nigeria is that she is a nation with a large Christian population, largest Church edifice, a Christian President, a huge number of big name churches and Pastors all over BUT with the least positive influence on society.
I once heard what Dr. Okey Onuzo said in his address to a local congregation in Nigeria: if what we have presently in Nigeria is what we call a revival, then we are in trouble. That’s right Doctor!
Of course, I am not saying the Church in Nigeria is solely responsible for the sad state of things of Nigeria . By no means, no. I am saying that the Church, a divine instrument of order and excellence, has not risen up to the occasion to correct what could be corrected in the Nigerian environment.
We have hidden ourselves inside our comfortable buildings for too long, praying “bless me” and confessing positive, while the nation continues business as usual.
You can apply my thoughts here to the Muslims as well as adherents of other faiths in Nigeria. I chose to address the Church not only because I am a firm believer in Christ Jesus and in the institution of the Church but also because of my strong conviction that the local church is the hope of the world.
Please understand that this is no mean and unjust criticism of the Church in Nigeria. I just believe that it is time we Christians examine ourselves and see if we have actually done enough to change the face of our nation, Nigeria.
In the past several months, it was exciting to read in the popular American magazine, Charisma, glowing reports of what God is doing in Nigeria. Well, the good feeling you get from that is messed up when you arrive in Nigeria and observe the situation of the Church yourself.
Getting to the ground itself to see what the people are doing with what God is doing is a totally different picture. You will not see that in Charisma. You have to go home and spend some time to really see it. It is not a pretty picture.
Nigerian Churches are full of people on Sundays but the influence on the society between Monday morning and Saturday night is another story – it is almost zero. Otherwise how could one explain the pile of trash that’s been sitting next to a Church building in Mushin for so long and church members come and go but never feel it is their responsibility to the community to do anything about it. But then Jesus saves! And he does. But he won’t clear the thrash, repair the streets, clean the street gutters and get rid of unwanted structures.
All through Scriptures we find that the way the Church influenced the society was both naturally and supernaturally. The natural is what God can do but won’t do because man can make it happen. Such as feeding the homeless and meeting the needs of widows. The supernatural is what man would like to do but can’t do because only God can make it happen. Such as healing the sick, raising the dead and opening the eyes of the blind. Both the supernatural acts of God and the natural acts of man are needed to have a total impact on the community.
In Nigeria there is so much emphasis on the supernatural by every religious freak. Most Nigerians, regardless of their religious affiliation, talk God and some even act god, but very, very few actually do Godly things that can result in societal change and way of thinking. Very few Churches are influencing the Nigerian society the natural way.
I especially note the City of David , a Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God pastored by Dr. Eskur [SIC]. The Church of about 3,000 members feeds about 30,000 people every Sunday mornings in Lagos . And another Pastor whose ministry has taken my attention is Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Center who long before wearing seatbelts became a law in Nigeria has requested members of his influential Church to start wearing their seatbelts. These are natural things and they can make changes in the community. If anyone knows of any other example in other parts of Nigeria, please let me know.
Our concerns are very different. Example, some Pastors recently cried “foul” when the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), the body which regulates broadcasting, declared a ban on the broadcasting of false miracles shown on Nigerian television. Although I do not agree with NBC that miracles should be broadcast only when they are verifiable, I do agree with the Commission that it is time to put a stop to falsehood in the Church and put the miracles where they ought to be – changing the society, bringing the church (the people) out of the building and performing supernatural acts that influences the nation. In fact, when you consider how much it costs to broadcast an hour of these miracle programs, in light of the poverty in Nigeria, it sounds very silly and absurd.
Last time I checked, it costs $10,000 an hour for a church to broadcast a miracle service. And some churches run 20 hours weekly! Let that sink in and begin to figure it out. Begin to figure out why a church can bring out $200,000 a week in broadcasting hours of miracle shows but can’t afford to pave the road leading to its buildings.
Perhaps I am missing something. I am open to correction.
My question is: why are not ALL churches in Nigeria getting involved in naturally influencing their communities? It is really not that expensive. There’s too much emphasis on how God can supernaturally prosper people financially, how he can promote people from level one to ten without much effort, and how he can get rid of the troublesome mother-in-law. What this has done is to create an atmosphere of dependence on God even for things that man can make happen by himself.
God will not supernaturally clear the pile of trash along the expressway where the Churches are strategically positioned. God won’t repair the bad roads leading to the mega-sized Churches and the homes of their Pastors. God won’t get rid of the ugly, dirty out-dated wall posters and banners announcing another Church program this week. These are things that Churches can start mobilizing their large membership to do.
Travelling through Ibadan , you’ll think you are in Trash City . I mean, Ibadan seems to have more thrash than people! And these same people who call on God all the time will not call on themselves to do something about the thrash that surrounds their churches and their residences. As I drove through Lagos, what first struck me was the contribution to visual decay that the Church and various para-Church organizations have created everywhere. What with the banners hanging about 15 feet above major arterials, posters pasted on every available wall, buildings and light poles. The hundreds of posters I saw announcing various programs made me feel that the Church in Nigeria has enslaved the people by keeping them locked up in programs and events rather than empowering them for purpose. Every ministry that was a ministry had a poster pasted somewhere strategic. They also had banners everywhere. And to my amazement, some of the dates on the posters and banners were already way past, like two years ago, but they were still hanging there – and half of the people who patronize that particular street can’t even read!
Our people were eager to get people into Church to receive healing and prosperity through creative publicity but were not willing to go back and take down the posters and banners after their activities were done. Perhaps God was expected to supernaturally remove them! Just may be!
Where the successive Political Administrations have impoverished the people, the Churches seem to have added an extra weight by enslaving  the people to religious duties. Nigerians, especially in southern Nigeria , go to Church almost every day and they have no time to demonstrate the lessons they are learning in their Churches! Think with me for a minute: if you spend your whole life in the Church doing this and that, when do you begin to apply the godly principles for societal change?
What am I saying? I agree when Pastor Anselm Madubuko of New Anointing said that the Church in Nigeria is “large but weak.” No one could have said it better. The army that troops to Church in Nigeria every weekend and to every other Church event is certainly enviable. I wish we had such an amount in our Churches in the western world. Well, I sure wish I had that many in my local congregation! But the positive impact of that army on the community is not visible. That army needs to be let loose to change their environments.
Last time I visited home (which was just a few months ago), I left very disgusted with the boast we make of the size of the Church when we cannot use that size to its full strength. Why do you have such a large-sized volunteer army if they cannot make a visible impact on the society?
It is time to change the way we think and act. It may take the supernatural acts of God to attract people to Church but it might take the natural acts of man in addition to what God is doing to keep the people there.
I therefore suggest that we stop bragging about the millions of people who come to Nigeria every December to pray and start talking about tapping the strength of that million-member army to clear up thrash and remove posters and banners from the streets and walls. Perhaps just as we have that prayer-gathering of millions, we can also have a thrash-clearing gathering of millions.
Friends, if Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God mobilizes the members of that  powerful and influential organization to come together for a day of thrash clearing in Lagos, they will respond. I guarantee it!
Pastor Adeboye is such a man of great character and integrity that he commands respect not only in Nigeria but worldwide. I don’t belong to the RCCG organization but even I will respond to such a call. And I will encourage other Christians to do the same. In fact, I will travel all the way to Nigeria to participate in it. And by the way, I know people of other faiths who would respond to Pastor Adeboye’s call to a clean Nigeria.
It is time to stop bragging about Winners Chapel’s record-breaking Church building in Otta, Lagos and start talking about how that 50,000  plus church attendees can collect their offerings in Church on a particular Sunday a month and dedicate it to repairing one road at a time. On a monthly basis. Before you know it, knowing the competitive juice in the blood of our people, other Churches would follow the leadership of Winners Chapel.
Bishop David Oyedepo is a great and admirable man, gifted with motivation and excellence. If he asks the people to do it, they will. Even if they don’t agree with his style.It should not always be the government efforts to initiate a street cleaning weekends.
War Against Indiscipline (WAI) of the Buhari/Idiagbon regime should have been an initiative of the Church. The Church must be the one to direct order and discipline in the community.
Alas, we are the breakers. If the law says get your visa before you travel, our people will try to circumvent that by anointing their passports with oil so a visa can suddenly appear. What kind of thing is that? A magical occurrence is not truly an answered-prayer!
If the boss says do not visit your Church website while at work, our people will bind him and ask God to demote him or remove him. Shame on Christians who do these things!
God will not do what he has given man the natural ability to make happen. Rather, he makes opportunities available for man to make it happen. We are wasting time if we expect God to break his own law. God  is not a Nigerian. He will not break his own principle.
I hope that some of the spiritual leaders of Nigerian Churches will read this simple piece and get ideas. At the least, I hope that some of the members who read this will pass it on to the leadership of the Church in Nigeria.
Perhaps I am missing something. I would like to be educated. But from where I stand, I see no evidence of a major, positive societal influence of the large-sized Church in Nigeria . I hear the rhetoric, I read of the intra and inter-fighting among and between Churches and leaders. But so far, all I hear is talk. I don’t see any major,wide-reaching action.
It is not enough to be known as a land of largest Churches and greatest Preachers. We need to be known as a nation where the large Church is using her powerful influence to meet community needs.
Okanlomo Seye Adetunmbi writes from the USA

No comments:

Post a Comment