PFN 12th BIENNIAL CONFAB: When Pentecostals renewed mandate
By SAM EYOBOKA who was in Uyo
THE much talked about 12th biennial conference of the umbrella body of Pentecostal churches in Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN ended in the Akwa Ibom State capital, Uyo with a renewed commitment by PFN leaders to use the divine mandate to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to greater heights through the elimination of every weight militating against the spread of the gospel in the country including bad eggs within.
The four-day spiritual fiesta with a theme, “A people with a mandate,” is unarguably the best organised biennial conference in the 25-year history of the Fellowship, just as speaker after speaker came down heavily on charlatans within the fold, who parade themselves as pastors.
The programme featured ground breaking prayers for the peace of Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria and its leaders, the cessation of religion-induced terrorist acts in parts of the country, unity of the nation based on religious harmony and unity of the Body of Christ in the nation.
Eminent Pentecostal ministers including Pastor Enoch Adeboye, Bishop Mike Okonkwo, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, Pastors Wale and Paul Adefarasin as well as the immediate past national president, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and his successor, Rev. Felix Omobude among others, took turns to expound on the theme of the event.
Benefits of obedience
Right from the opening act on Tuesday, February 5 at the Uyo Township Stadium, it was obvious that the leaders came to Uyo to renew their God-given mandate to intensify evangelism and eliminate every un-Godly practices from the nation. Drawing inspiration from Joshua 14:6-15, the ebullient former national president, Bishop Mike Okonkwo urged Christians especially Pentecostals to wake up to their Godly responsibilities to fulfill their God-given mandate in the country, while highlighting the benefits of obedience to the injunctions of God.
Pastor Adeboye took the gauntlet from there, explaining every article of the theme, noting that the word mandate is a command from God to His children to go into the uttermost parts of the nations to win souls and nurture them for Christ. He therefore urged Christians to reignite the fire of evangelism to take over and possess the length and breadth of the nation for Christ, stressing that every individual Christian has a role to play in the task of evangelizing the nation.
According to the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, every Christian is a representative of Christ and is therefore expected to play a role in fulfilling the mandate, not forgetting to subtlely warn that if the faithful fail to fulfill the divine mandate, God would not have failed, because His purpose stands for ever.
Thereafter every speaker including soft-spoken Pastor Wale Adefarasin, Dr. William Okoye, Evangelist Matthew Owojaye, charismatic Pastor Paul Enenche, Pastor Paul Adefarasin among others beamed the searchlight inward, declaring the counsel of the Lord and condemning the activities of certain wolves in sheep skin who parade themselves as men of God while extorting money from gullible Nigerians. They vehemently spoke against the activities of certain clergymen who have brought the Church to disrepute.
From Foursquare Gospel Church came Rev. Felix Meduoye who emphasised the need for ministers to curtail their flesh, saying “if we do not deal with our flesh, whatever is left of the flesh will turn around to deal with us,” just as Owojaye likened ministry to a tuber of yam which can be eaten in several different ways. He warned ministers against choosing assistants based on titles, instead choose from among those who share your vision, stressing “we must love God more than we love money, materialism and fame.”
The outgoing national secretary, Pastor Adefarasin who spoke on “Mandate for social change”, emphasized the need for ministers to embrace social responsibility by identifying with the plight of environment around them. “Before independence, the Church played a pivotal role for the success of the nation in education, healthcare, sanitation and what have you, but soon after independence, the Church suddenly became reactionary,” he averred, noting that the gospel will move faster if “we come alive to the responsibility to the social change in the society”.
To Dr. Paul Emeka of Assemblies of God, one cardinal ingredient lacking in the Church today is obedience and discipline, just as Bishop Paul Nwachukwu believes that the Church has a mandate to explore areas where the gospel has not reached, maintaining that the Middle East is waiting for the gospel.
He explained that American and European missionaries would not go there. “They will rather send CIA and other security agencies. Its Africans who have the mandate to evangelize the Middle East,” he stressed, noting that the next move of God shall be spearheaded by Africans.
The incoming national secretary, Prophet Emmanuel Kure also recognized that the key to the nation’s prosperity rests squarely with the shoulders of Christians. “The problem of the nation is the one who calls himself prophet, apostle, bishop or archbishop. Not the government as most people erroneously believe.
The problem of the nation is the noise making Church,” he stated and therefore called forgeneral repentance especially among those, he described as prayer contractors (portmanteau prophets) in Nigeria who are hell bent on giving the Church a bad name.
Rev. Enenche spoke on; “The mandate of ministry”, saying that the worst thing that can happen to any generation is for a people to be under a prophet who is satisfied; prophets who are insensitive to the needs of the people in their generation. He aligned himself with the position of other speakers, saying “the decadence in any society is connected to the pulpit.
The ultimate state of the nation is always traceable to the condition of the pulpit. The success of a ministry is not measured by the materialism in the ministry but by the positive impact you make on the society.” According to him, every minister must at all times ask himself one question: What will Nigeria miss if you are not there? Why are you existing, and the devil is not aware?
Rev. Austin Ukachi, who had the onerous responsibility of chronicling the history of revivals from 1914 in different parts of the country, said a Pentecostal is known for his power, a glory carrier; but today the power is declining. He is of the opinion, that revival reminds us of the suffering or commitment of our past leaders.
No crown without a cross
Pioneer treasurer of PFN, Rev. Elijah Abina would rather see mandate from the perspective of service and sacrifice, saying “we will fail if we don’t have this at the back of our minds. If you are going to ministry for pecuniary reasons you have come to a wrong place. There’s no crown without a cross.”
One of the founding fathers of PFN and the chief host of the 12th biennial conference, Rev. Uma Ukpai who expressed shock that he was pencilled down to speak at the fiesta, said Pentecostals do not appreciate the potentials God had deposited in them, and are therefore pushed about by every wind of doctrine, pointing out that “when you have a relationship with God, all your enemies would just be wasting their time. Narrating his personal story, he said for several years his first son was a cripple and several persons mocked him, but “the ability to see what others cannot see makes you a hero”.
And when newly elected Fellowship president, Rev. Omobude mounted the pulpit to deliver his sermon, he spent greater part of the time to extoll the virtues of the outgoing president, saying “I must appreciate the gift God had given to this nation.
I want to thank the CAN president and the immediate past president of PFN. One of the things that have kept us close over 40 years is that this man (Oritsejafor) kept his word. In his time, PFN was taken to great heights. A few days ago he handed over to me a detailed analysis of PFN accounts during his tenure,” he stated and summoned several of the leaders to the platform to pray for the CAN president.