By Gabriel Omonhinmin.
The book of Isaiah 43:2, says, “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walketh through the fire, thou shalt not be burned: neither shall the flame kindled upon thee.”
John wrote that he heard the thunderous voice of the Lord and in the process of seeking the voice, he encountered seven golden candlesticks. The candlesticks are later revealed as the Church. We, therefore, need men and women who hear the voice of God before they do the work of God. What good will it do us to polish the candelabra and light the candles if there is no voice of God to cause men to turn aside and see?
From the foregoing and with the present-day proliferation of churches in Nigeria and all over the world, Trumpet Religious desk asked Rev. Dr Prince Obed Ezeonye, Senior Pastor, Excellent Glory Christian Centre, Lagos, whether so many Pastors, who are today shepherding churches still hear from God?
Rev. Obed: Yes! Some Pastors, not all the people who claimed to be Pastors today hear from God. We must not deny the fact that some people are into the Ministry, just to make quick money. Despite this deplorable situation, Pastors sent by God are still able to do exploits.
It is therefore easy to differentiate these Pastors from the other characters. For example, when the voice of God led to the presence of Christ, John collapsed in the presence of the Lord. A deluge flooded the cave as Christ opened His mouth; His voice sounded like the noise of many waters. John said that many waters were in His voice, but the fire was on His feet, Effective communication is always transmitted from the base of burnt feet. John said Jesus’ feet looked as if they had been in the fire. What a comfort to the indicted character of this Pentecost preacher to find that the feet of his Consoler had been through the fire. Dearly beloved, hear me today: Your Deliverer has feet that have been burnt. He knows what it feels like to be in the fire.
Trumpet: What will you say is the reason, why people are becoming very sceptical about Christianity and Islam?
Rev. Obed: Well, let me remain in my lane, I can only speak about the possible reasons why people are becoming sceptical of Christianity, not Islam. The truth is that, when we talk about religion, we should understand that religion is spiritual. We should also not fail to understand that there is an enemy called Satan, who is coming from different angles to fight the church. It is this Satan that is out to fight religion to give different colourations to what religion is supposed to be. This is where the problem lies. Many people who do not understand this spiritual aspect of religion, easily get misunderstood and carried away.
It is just like you have an enemy, and this enemy is after you, all you need to do is guide yourself against the attack of the enemy in question. You, therefore, need to fortify your stronghold. Because any little advantage the enemy will penetrate and use against you, this is exactly the problem the churches are facing today.
The point we should therefore not ignore is that, for every counterfeit, there must be an original elsewhere. So no matter the kind of misconception about the Christian religion, and the misunderstanding the enemy is bringing about religion that does not mean that religion is not there. Now, coming to the people, who are trying to merchandise the people already in the faith, these same people who are trying to merchandise religion for personal gain, this is a reality we must not rule out or discountenance because it is here with us in reality.
A deeper look inwards has shown that the popularity of modern-day Christianity is what is responsible for its being counterfeited. Yes! There are people doing all within their powers to adulterate the Christian religion and faith. I must say that this doesn’t preclude the fact that there are still lots of good Christian leaders, who are genuinely called by God. These men of God are there for the real reasons of their callings. It is therefore wrong for us to assume or generalize that true Christian religion or practice is no longer there.
Trumpet: What did religion really stand for, from your point of view?
Rev. Obed: Let me attempt to draw a thin line between religion and what Christianity is all about, from a general point of view. Religion is an act of man desperately trying to know God. It is an act of one seeking God. The thin line between what we call religion and Christianity is therefore as follows. While religion is the act of man seeking God, Christianity is the act of God seeking man. The bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, shall not perish. But have everlasting life.” From the foregoing, you can see clearly that it is God that is seeking man at this particular point. That is Christianity for you.
But the general idea about religious practices is an act of man seeking God, in the process, mankind degenerated into several acts of worship, both the good acts and the bad ones.
Trumpet: What would you say is responsible for the present-day commercialization of Churches and Christian religious practices by some Pastors?
Rev. Obed: The scepticism about Christianity and its faith, is borne out of what I earlier said, the reason why we have counterfeit in anything we do, is because we do have an original elsewhere. It is not everybody that has commercialized the act of faith or religion. It is not everyone that has gone into Christian religious practice to enrich himself. No! Be far from this belief. Let me tell you, when one is honestly serving God in spirit and truth, God will bless the person. Those who are trying to go the extra mile to do it on their own, are bound to incur the wrath of God in the process. But when we go the way of God, follow God’s principles just like what I am presently trying to do in ‘Double Diamond’ trying to change the mindset of people for good, change their thinking, and let them know that it is still possible to become prosperous without corruption. Make believers know that it is possible to make money, without crime or killing anyone.
It is a known fact today, that many people to get rich, have gone into all manner of rituals, and some others have gone into drugs, especially some of them who are putting on cassocks. Some of these people claimed to be in the faith. These types of people are also found in other religions. They use their faith as a cover to commit all manners of crimes. These acts are against God’s will.
As you must know, most of these people are already reaping what they sow aside from all this nonsense, some people are genuinely serving God. They are daily preaching faith, and in the process of doing the things that please God, and you see God blessing them.
For example, there are frontline churches around the world and in Nigeria, that are preaching holiness without even concentrating on preaching prosperity and money and what have you, some of these churches are still being blessed. The fact that must not be lost is that when God calls a man, he gives such a man messages because for every messenger, there is a message.
Now if God has called me to the area of healing, and asked me to preach healing, I have to stay in that stream, to make progress. I have to remain in that stream and continue to do what God has asked me to do, so long as I am doing what God has directed me to do, the same God will bless me. And if God has called his messenger and asked him to preach prosperity, if such a person is doing what he or she is asked to do genuinely there is no way he or she will not be blessed.
Now, what happened with this prosperity thing, which most people are fraudulently abusing today in the name of Christianity, when you look at the history of Christianity some years ago, you will discover that there is this phrase that was used then, ‘as poor as the Church rat.’ In other words, in those days, it was difficult to see somebody rich in the church. It was difficult to see someone riding a good car in the church. Even Pastors in those days, go about their duties with bicycles. At that time, Satan was very happy. It was about the 19th century, just before we stepped into the 20th century, that God began to give a balanced message, that people can be serving God and become rich. In the churches of old, people were running away from serving God, because they did not want to wear the toga of poverty. But today, glory to God, that is no longer the case, hence, the proliferation of churches. Despite what people have to say, we still need a lot of churches, because it takes different types of churches to reach different types of people.
Haven’t said all these, it doesn’t mean that one should take the opportunity God has given him or her to exploit other people and enrich themselves. As a person, I am of the strong belief that if I am doing the will of God, God will one day bless me. God will enrich me. Because taking from the covenant fathers, none of them was poor. Abraham was not poor. Isaac was rich and successful. Isaac was a farmer, in Genesis 26:11, he said, Isaac sowed and reap in the same year, a hundredfold. Jacob was an institution himself. When we, therefore, follow the antecedent and understanding, and historical parts of where we are coming from, we will see that when we are serving God in truth and spirit, God will bless us. And when we talk about prosperity, it encompasses peace, wealth and what happens to you as a person.
Trumpet: Now that most Pastors are getting off the way of preaching the biblical doctrines, the way it is, what should be done to correct them?
Re. Obed: In the Christian faith, there are already established bodies like the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). We also have a body like the PFM, these bodies should serve as strong regulatory bodies. Once a Pastor or group of Pastors and the church members are going out of the established tenets, or the doctrines of the church, they can quickly correct these people and bring them to order. I am of the strong belief that these bodies are already doing this.
Apart from this, I will also want to say that all these types of religions, if you like to call it ministerial rascality, if you look at the people involved in these acts, they have no people they are submitting their ministries or themselves to. I am talking about mentoring. They have no mentor. If you have a mentor, to whom you submit yourself, you’ll be careful, because whatever you do, you know, someone, somewhere, is watching over whatever you do or say. And if you are getting out of line, and your mentor calls you to order, and you refuse to listen to him, you will be disowned or excommunicated in the process. The truth is that most of the pastors causing all these problems, do not have people they submit to. They do not have mentors. They do not have Ministries they are looking up to. It is advisable that anyone that is called into the Christian Ministry should look for a mentor that has the same pattern of Ministry, to submit. Once this is done, it will help the Pastor, and his ministry to mentor the person, in the way and manner he does his things.
As a Pastor, I am very careful about whatever I do, because whatever I do, negative or positive, will be regarded as the practice of where I am coming from.
From the above, I might be regarded as not representing my roots very well. Even without me saying who is my mentor, once I am preaching, people with discerning minds will immediately know where I am coming from. If I try to go contrary to the doctrines known with where I am coming from as a Pastor, the leadership of my root will pick on me, and say, you are not representing us well.
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