By Chioma Gabriel
Nigeria is under the intimidation of rats. Even in the prestigious Aso Rock, the exalted seat of government, rats dared rush in where angels feared to tread. They seemed to have formed part of Aso Rock cabal, the jackals and the hyenas who occupy exalted positions.
The rats dared to drive the President out of his office to begin operating from his house.
This is the latest gimmick of rodents.
Nigerians are used to having rats operate in their homes and in the churches.
What am I talking about?
The adage, as poor as a church rat is no longer feasible beacause church rats are no longer poor.
The rats in the churches eat fat into the pockets of the congregation, leaving church members impoverished while the rats build mansions and buy jets.
Church rats defraud the church and when the fraud is discovered, the church often decide not to report it to the police to prevent bad publicity.
While there are many types of fraud, those committed by church are becoming monumental and unsurpassed. Greed and lavish lifestyles are the guardian angels of church rats.
Whoever thinks or says Christians are not susceptible to any of these may be naïve.
In fact, even the strongest Christians can fail if the pressure is great enough and they take their eyes off Christ.
Churches try to foster an atmosphere of trust and forgiveness because they do not want any brother or sister in Christ to feel they are not trusted. But this often means too much leeway is given, providing the very opportunity a rat needs in order to commit theft.
Money is said to be the root of all evils and it is the only reason the current trend in the Christian community has been drawing many farther from God.
Early Christian missionaries were renowned for their simple lifestyle. They would leave the comfort of their homes, often in western countries, to live in Africa. They endured the hardship the natives suffered in a bid to impart in them the knowledge of Christ as well as education that would improve their lives. They were always there for their congregation, tending to their needs and this was passed across to their successors who were Africans.
But that legacy has since dissipated to a more self-centred doctrine.
Welcome to the 21st century church.
The lifestyles of some pastors would blow your mind. In their bid to acquire all the luxuries of life, rather than teach the word of God, they have perfected ways of milking their followers dry by collecting money from them through different guises all in the name of God.
In pentecostal churches, tithing is advertised as a condition for enjoying material blessings from God and citing Malachi 3:8-10 comes handy. You are a thief. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. For you have robbed me. Even this whole nation. ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’
In itself, tithing is not bad. But what happens to the tithes? Some use it to sponsor themselves on expensive and exotic holidays and acquire private jets, wonders-on-wheels and mansions.
In many cases, some churches make so much ado about “sowing the seed”, which requires followers to give part of their earnings to the church in offering and tithes. Church programmes are targets for earning millions from hundreds of young company executives and businessmen, and every church programme guarantees enormous revenue.
Members without money feel guilty for not having to give and some are enjoined to turn in their jewellery, wristwatches and other personal items as offering.
And many fall over one another to do that.
Others give cars, generators, musical instruments and chairs.
Nothing is wrong with that.
But where followers go as far as stealing millions in their bid to donate to the church, then there is trouble. Where do the gifts and the money come from?
Will God reward a cheerless giver?
Welcome to church PLC.
And still talking about rats, the house rat is as bad. We all know that the main cause of Lassa fever is the rat that eats your grain or other food and then transfer virus to the food.
In 2015/16 alone, Nigeria recorded the largest outbreak of Lassa fever in its history. In 2017, the Federal Government said that about 68 persons have been killed by Lassa fever while 718 cases have been recorded so far.
Fellow Nigerians, beware of rats in whatever guise. Rats portend danger. Whether in Aso Rock Villa, in the Church or at home, we shall be wary of rats.
Let’s use our tongues to count our teeth.
Or should I say, “surveille ton langage” (mind your language.)