…..Church must speak up against societal evils
By Sam Eyoboka
THE Redeemed Christian Bible College, RCBC, the training wing of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, hosted a three-day annual International Conference on African Pentecostalism where experts from different parts of the continent agreed that, following the failure of governments in Africa, the Church is stepping in to positively impact the lives of people affected by societal ills such as poverty, illiteracy and loneliness.
With a theme: “African Pentecostalism: Civic roles and corporate social responsibility (CSR)”, the conference put together by RCBC with partnership of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Ibadan, and the Department of Religious Studies of Redeemers’ University, Ede in Osun State, focused on the relevance of Corporate Social Responsibilities (or Christian Social Responsibilities) with experts maintaining that RCCG and indeed Pentecostal churches have increasingly taken up extra-religious functions such as social welfare programmed within African and the diaspora.
The keynote address by the president of Trinity Theological Seminary in Accra, Ghana, Prof. Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu opined that whatever the Church does today is invariably in support of what the government is already doing. He emphasized the need for citizens to “call the government to account because what the government does is to use the people’s taxes and the wealth of the land to serve the nation and provide basic amenities for the citizens.
“The reason why we are not able to be prophetic is that you cannot eat at the king’s table and be able to tell the king that you are wrong. So as a church leader, you have to make a choice. About 5-6 years ago, there was a change in government in Ghana and the new government put in the papers that there were too many diplomatic passports in the system and therefore all diplomatic passports are being recalled.
“When the list appeared, I was surprised by the number of pastors who had gone for diplomatic passports. I’m not suggesting that having a diplomatic passport is bad, but if you don’t deserve it and you go and request for it, how can you be prophetic when the government is doing something wrong? So we have to make a choice.
“Being an advocate of public policy means being principled. And even in your small corner wherever you are, the small church that you are pastoring, when you are principled, people won’t like you because people who are principled speak their mind without fear or favor. That’s why Jesus died because He had become too much for the system, challenging everything, Sabbath and so on,” the keynote speaker stated.
Continuing, Prof. Asamoah-Gyadu said Jesus went against what the public stood for and that attracted hatred for him, pointing out that prophets who want to prophesy must make a choice. ”I’m not suggesting that we use everyday we stand on the pulpit to criticize government, no! Sometimes you go to people quietly and have a chat with them. But my point is that if you compromise Christian leadership, you can never stand for social justice.
“There is a case in Ghana where a pastor has brought in V8 cars and didn’t pay required duties. If you do that, the government will use you because it knows that you can’t challenge certain things. So let’s make a decision on what we want to do. There are good prophets and there are also false prophets. It didn’t start today, there were false prophets even in the scriptures. But even a good prophet can give false prophecy, it depends on what agenda you have in mind. It comes down to this whole issue of compromise.
“Sometimes you have wealthy people in your congregation who patronize you, if you fall for that kind of temptation, your prophetic ability will change. So there’s a reason why in the writings of Paul, especially in 1 Corinthians 14, he goes on and on about prophecy.
“So even a good prophet, a good General Overseer can give a wrong prophecy, it depends on where they are looking at. I don’t know much about the situation in Nigeria, but in Ghana, the prophets have become a nuisance because they only specialize in prophecying people’s death, who will win the election and so on. During a crossover service on December 31, 2018, a prophet in Ghana prophesied that the chief imam in Ghana was going to die.
“The following day I was invited to a television station to explain. The man who prophesied has collected his offering and gone home and I was the one invited to come and explain. I went, but the first thing I said was if you prophecy the death of a 90 year old imam, what have you done? My second question was, for what purpose will God reveal the death of a 90 year old imam to a Christian prophet? It is so inconsistent with God‘s nature.
“Thirdly, why is it that all the prophets that are coming are about rich people and politicians? Why has God taken delight in only prophecying to rich people and politicians? Because these prophets know what they are going to get from them. So it doesn’t matter who is giving the prophecy, the Bible mandates us to scrutinize prophecies,” the guest speaker noted while emphasizing the need for Pentecostal Churches to support the poor and needy in the society.
According to Pastor Adetola who represented the Special Assistant to the General Overseer on Christian Social Responsibility (CSR), Pastor Idowu Iluyomade, described CSR simply as na faith-based obligation to meet societal needs through the demonstration of love that positively impacts communities and individuals. ”Our six primary focus areas are: Health, Hunger, Prisons, Education, Social Enterprise and Rehabilitation,” he said, adding that CSR is the practical expression of love, being the heartbeat of God. It is about bringing comfort to a hurting world which invariably closes the needs’ gaps in the society.
Iluyomade, who pastors RCCG City of David, Victoria Island, added that the church collaborates with over 43,599 partner centers locations all over Nigeria and has operated presence in 197 nations of the world, with as much 223,100 meals served in daily feeding centers, 16 daily feeding centers in LAGOS State, 43509 Sunday feeding centers in Nigeria, distribution of foodstuffs to 1,000 victims of Super typhoon at Calasiao Panagainan, Philippines and Sunday feeding in all the centers, of the 197 nation’s where RCCG operates.
In the health sector, the pastor claimed that 252,580 persons have benefited from the church free healthcare services across Nigeria with nine successful kidney transplants in partnership with medical institutions abroad, Favour Maternity and Day-care Centre, Delta State.