By Femi Aribisala
As a young believer, I was appalled at the cutthroat politics of a church I joined, all revolving around the pastor. After some time, I found it necessary to confront him. I went to see him, as Nathan did with David. (2 Samuel 12).
I told him my boss at work was a big problem. He knocked heads together and stoked up conflicts. He was the epicenter of every crisis. Would he suggest I resign and look for another job?
The pastor advised me to resign. He said there was no point in my staying there. He was confident I would have no difficulty in getting another job.
Then I said to him: “You are the man.” (2 Samuel 12:7). I told him I was not talking about my office but about our church. The church was acrimonious and dysfunctional, and he was principally responsible for this.
The pastor was taken aback. He listened to me respectfully and promised to make amends. But soon, we were back to square one.
Some weeks later, I embarked for personal reasons on a 100-day fast. I had a burden for the church and God revealed certain things to me. I shared this with the entire church.
As God would have it, they asked me to minister during one of the monthly vigils, so I told the church everything. The Lord confirmed His word with signs. He asked me to minister to everybody individually, and He gave me a word of knowledge for everyone present.
The very first person was an elderly man, and I knew instinctively he was covered in Juju. The Lord asked me to give him the microphone so he can tell the entire church what he had done.
The man confessed that he had been to a Babalawo who covered him with “spiritual protection.” God told me to remove this false covering with my bare hands and warn him never to return to the juju man: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8).
But by the following Sunday, there was an uproar in the church. Someone had fully briefed the pastor on the miracle service and the revelation God gave me that he was the principal troublemaker in the church.
But rather than repent, he opted to save face. He informed the church that I must have been suffering from demonic possession. Some people were told to conduct deliverance on me in an upper room. But when they did, I confounded them by becoming drunk in the spirit.
They then summoned me before church elders who wanted to know why God would choose to talk to a spiritual novice like me.
One of my inquisitors was the same elderly man who the Holy Spirit had revealed was covered in witchcraft during the service. He now insisted that I must have been demonically inspired. “Why,” he asked, “would God talk to a nobody like Femi Aribisala?”
I offered a simple solution: “Let us fast and pray for three days and God will confirm the same things by revelation to others.” The chairman of the group agreed. They resolved we should all fast for three days and see what the Lord would reveal. But someone quickly rushed to inform the pastor about the decision.
Therefore, he crashed the meeting and declared that no one in the church could fast and pray without his permission. The meeting ended in disarray. Some wanted to fast, others insisted we must obey the pastor.
Afterward, I was confronted in the hallway by a prominent businesswoman in the church; one of the celebrated “moneybags.” She was also an implacable ally of the pastor.
Out of the blue, she started cursing me. I stood there watching as she cursed and cursed. Seeing I did not respond, she suddenly stopped cursing and started weeping uncontrollably. At that point, I became even more confused. I walked away and headed for my car in the parking lot.
Thereafter, I was treated like a leper in the church. The pastor and his allies serially attacked me every so often from the pulpit. My first reaction was to leave the church, but the Holy Spirit prevented me from doing so. Instead, He directed I must attend every church activity without fail.
This was most uncomfortable because the attacks did not let up. Someone taking Bible study would stop mid-stream and ask the church to pray for Femi Aribisala “so that demons would stop disturbing him.” The Holy Spirit would tell me to get up, go to the aisle, and kneel. Church members would then stretch out their hands towards me and cast imaginary demons out of me.
This went on until the next monthly vigil. This time, the pastor took no chances; he ministered himself. But some thirty minutes into the prayer meeting, the Spirit of the Lord took control of the daughter of the woman who rained curses on me. She fell into a trance and prophesied.
Seeing who it was, the pastor stopped the proceedings. He handed over the microphone to her and received the shock of his life. The Lord started speaking through the lady and He was rebuking the pastor for all his shenanigans in the church.
Once I noticed what was happening, I jumped up from my seat. I started running up and down the aisle, shouting: “I told them, Lord. I told them, but they did not believe me. They said I was demon-possessed.”
When the woman finished, another lady asked for the microphone. She reminded the pastor that she had been in his office that morning to tell him the same things. The Lord had told her that, if care was not taken, very few people in the church would inherit eternal life.
The pastor retrieved the microphone practically in tears. He pleaded for forgiveness and promised to make amends. He said again and again: “You won’t go to heaven without me. You won’t go to heaven without me.”
I thought that was strange. It sounded like he would not allow us to go without him. How, I wondered, was he going to prevent us?
However, by the next Sunday service a day later, the pastor had changed his mind once again. He came to church this time in full regalia, which was unusual. He had on the cloak, the cap, the whole nine yards of the pastorate. “Nobody,” he declared, “is going to take this church away from me.”
A guest minister from Ibadan who came to minister at the church came to see me in my office. I do not know how he got my details. He told me I could now leave the church. I took it that the Lord sent him to me. At a convenient time, I took my leave and left.
Within two years of my departure, the church scattered. Everybody ditched the pastor. Today, Pentecostal Assembly, Yaba, Lagos, a church of over 1,000 souls, no longer exists.
Jesus says: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23:33).
(Excerpt from Kingdom Dynamics: Why Pastors Don’t Go To Heaven by Femi Aribisala.)