Published On: Sun, Sep 10th, 2017

Nigerian pastors: The call of God or mammon?

ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

Obafemi Ayoade, a dealer in building materials has no kind words for Nigerian pastors. He justifies his uncomplimentary view of ‘’these men’’ of God by sharing his experiences with BusinessHallmark.  Ayoade had been married for 10 years without a child, a Muslim he went from one Alfa (Muslim preacher) to another in search of spiritual solution.

What fired his troubled heart was the revelation from his uncle, Bamidele to the effect that his inability to get a child was a spiritual attack from their village in Osun.’ In the process of searching for solution, he nearly emptied my bank account’, yet, there was no end in sight to his woes.

’’ My wife was depressed, and the psychological trauma on her was much’’, he said.

One day a friend introduced her to a Pentecostal pastor, and she informed Ayoade, who gave his blessing , in spite of their Muslim background. As the matter was, what mattered was getting solution, religious consideration was not on the card.

The ‘’man of God’’, put her through a spiritual therapy in his church premises, that involved ‘’seeking the face of God’’ in a seven-day vigil, and bathing naked to be administered by the ‘’man of God himself’’. At the end of the seven-day spiritual journey, Ayoade’s wife came home feeling radiant, robust and full of life, but much to his surprise, her homecoming only lasted  for twenty minutes,  long enough for her to pack her belonging, pronto, she became the fourth wife of the ‘’miracle’’ pastor.

Ayoade’s experience is not a one-off, or an isolated case; it was just one in a long tale of the experiences of many Nigerians seeking solution to different life’s troubles tormenting them. One Mr. Sunday once narrated how he lost N20 million and his wife to Rev. King in their quest for the fruit of the womb.

Martin was sacked from his job as a marketer in one of the blue chip companies in Lagos, but his pastor at one of the Cherubim and Seraphim Churches in Iju, a suburb of Lagos convinced him that Martin’s unfaithfulness to God – inability to pay tithes regularly and to sow substantial seed were responsible for his trouble, and to reverse the trend, he needed to make restitution to God ‘’ with his Honda salon car, and a substantial amount, as the only solution to his woes lay in ‘’begging GOD.’’

Martin obliged, gave his car to ‘’Rasputin of a pastor’’, and withdrew N500, 000 from his account as ‘’bribe’’ to beg God to restore his job and good fortunes. The assistant pastor, who gave him the revelation of God’s anger at his way, also convinced him not to mention the items of his supplication to God to any soul, lest God’s anger would return like Hurricane Andrew to torment him.

To be assured of this secrecy, the pastor took him through a ritual of oath-taking involving blood.  That was one fateful Saturday last year; the following day, Sunday , the assistant pastor vanished into thin air, and Martin was thrown into a maelstrom of anguish, trauma  and deep psychological distress, but he could not tell a soul because of the blood oath, but his wife, Agnes revealed her husband’s saga to the senior Apostle.

Is it a case of the world entering the church of God, or the church of God entering the world? Many observers are perplexed by the sociology of modern pastors who live large, wear designer clothes – Gucci shoes and Rolex wristwatches, complete with state of the art automobiles.  In a seminal lecture about 20 years ago, Daniel Bell, one of the leading  20th century American sociologist said: ‘’ The modern day pastor , like a  movie star has since shed the garb of spirituality for the good life, fast car, good home , portraying the hippest image in America.

For modern day pastors, life is good.’’ Life is indeed good for many pastors. Olufemi Omoyele, an academic at Redeemers University told BusinessHallmark that ‘’ the tone, tenor and theme of many a pastor have since changed; in place of saving souls, and preaching salvation, we now have miracles, prosperity preaching and  how to achieve a good life defined in material terms’’.

Many have pondered the question: how many of these pastors received the call? To many who spoke to this newspaper, ‘stomach infrastructure’, and joblessness after a college degree, may be responsible for the growing number of questionable men of God that liter the landscape, deceiving the unwary.

Of much worry is the growing number of pastors caught in a web of ritual killing for money, armed robbery and kidnapping. Only about two weeks ago, a kidnapper was caught by the vigilante and handed over to the police; after severe beating he received from the mob, shortly before the arrival of the police, he confessed to the crime, saying he was sent by a pastor. The ‘’pastor’’ was eventually arrested, and three human skulls were found hidden in the thick outgrowths behind his church.

There is also the problem of identifying who really is a pastor, as several groups preaching God in one form or the other parade their leaders as pastors. Again, some of the evils being associated with the church and pastors today derive from the inordinate ambitions of those concerned and the quest to please and perform miracles and attract crowd, which inevitably translates to money.

Yet these men of God continue to draw crowds seeking miracles, prosperity, and solution to one life’s trouble or the other, salvation is never in the card. Adedayo Adetayo, a  Senior Pastor at God’s Salvation Church, Agbado, told BusinessHallmark that ‘’ the growing number of fake men of God is a sign of the end of time”, warning that Nigerians should desist from seeking miracles but God , and salvation of their souls.

 

 

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