On February 4, 2020. By Yinka Odumaki
THE significance of Nigerian father of faith, Pastor E. A. Adeboye on spiritual Aluta last Sunday should not be lost on us and “somebody” should “shout Halleluyah” that it had taken Boko Haram to wake up the snoring church in Nigeria.
It was Pastor Sam Adeyemi who said years ago that when you enter a city under thick darkness, it means NEPA has been slumbering. So it has been with Nigeria as its light has been dimmed by the pursuit of materialism instead of spiritual light over the darkness in the country Nigeria.
All of a sudden the church became the field for the type of merchants Jesus Christ whipped with koboko on a rare occasion he acted in flesh like his disciple who used the sword to severe the ear of one of SARS men who came to arrest him at the close of his earthly ministry.
I do not know where our pastors thought we were going when instead of looking for virgin lands to build churches they started buying up warehouses and factories for spiritual merchandise.
Instead of taking up responsibility for the failure of governance and put skills in our young people for productivity, the church started to keep them busy Sunday to Sunday inside yesterday’s factories that would have engaged them.
As we became the poverty headquarters of the world, the church became our island of prosperity. And when the crimes of the broken society they couldn’t care about reared its head, the leaders have been fortified in obsessive wealth that they only recommend the God of protection for their vulnerable members, while MOPOL and chesty bouncers became the angels of the big men in faith even inside the church.
It was a period to imagine what the late Apostle Ayo Babalola would have done in the midst of what Nigeria found itself. The affliction of his era was mostly the power of darkness epitomized by witchcraft and allies. Babalola would be ministering in Ibadan and witches would be manifesting in Osogbo. His prayer room was not expensive hotels but the rocks in the forest. He would be praying in the bush and snakes crossing on his legs would dry up!
The modern church began to snore as its own signs and wonders were mostly in the area of money. It became my jet is bigger than yours and competition in the latest wonders on wheels. I was told of a Pastor who has an anointing service for 419ners. It had no time to confront the plagues of the society until Boko Haram came and started chopping off the heads of Christians. Church members started to look up to Brother Trump instead of the Elijahs and Elishas coming out of the church.
In just two weeks a CAN chairman was beheaded, a Christian student was executed, 23 Christians slaughtered in Plateau, one of the four seminarians butchered in Kaduna and a Christian lady murdered with her husband and children still in custody of kidnappers. It was at this point that the Church that should have been running for the lives of its members now realised it must walk.
We are only worried that the Nigerian Church has been snoring. It is not that the Church has never had its moment of sleep. Even the early Church had its napping session. It did not catch what was going on when Stephen was stoned to death. The spiritual antennae only came on when Boko Haram of the time came for Peter. The Church started a “not-this-one” prayer session until the prison gates were flung open and Peter came out alive.
The waking Church must never go back to sleep again as evil now strolls the length and breadth of Nigeria. Were it not for the moment of vigil perhaps precious souls would have been lost at Oyedepo Winners Chapel branch where a bomb was discovered the day the Church walked. The Church must do more than walking this time. The night Barack Obama won the American presidency, a Black radio presenter had this to say on air: “Rosa Park sat so Martin Luther could walk. Martin Luther Kimg walked so Obama could RUN”.
Walking is not just enough in the situation we are; the Church must run and stop the pernicious doctrine of Christians waiting for the home above without caring about here while they are still in it. When they brought a man with a serious ailment to Jesus he said his type of affliction does not go with just laying of hands but with fasting and prayer. What ails Nigeria today requires more than casual treatment.
The Church in Nigeria should take some lesson from the ecumenical movement in South Africa documented by Jerry Pillay and its role in the defeat of apartheid. Living under segregation, the (ecumenical) Church had no choice but to fight for the majority of people who were poor and oppressed. In living out the gospel it worked to transform society and enhance the quality of life of the poor and oppressed. In this sense the Church has a history of being a transformation and change agent in South Africa. This can be seen by some of the things it did.
In 1949, the Christian Council of South Africa, CCSA, started to protest against the apartheid laws imposed by the Nationalist Government in South Africa. In October 1954, a circular was sent to heads of churches and superintendents of missions to investigate their attitude towards the Bantu Education Act. The Committee believed that the Act would violate certain principles of education.
This greatly stirred the Sharpeville incident in 1960, and the subsequent banning of Black organisations. The result was the Cottesloe Consultation, led mainly by dissatisfied Reformed Christians reacting to racism, in December 1960 which attempted to address ‘Christian race relations and social problems in South Africa’.
The CCSA was working towards the transformation of the human person and community, free from discrimination, racism, exploitation and oppression. Assisted by the World Council of Churches, a Department of Inter-Church Aid was started in 1962 to collect and distribute funds for disaster relief and community development projects.
Beyond that, the evil of apartheid was clearly exposed in two documents that attempted to express a Christian and theological understanding of South African society: The Message to the People of South Africa (1968) and The Kairos Document (1985). The message was a serious attempt to interpret what the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ means and implies within the complex and difficult situation.
The Kairos Document (1985) is a theological commentary on the political crisis in the country that took seriously the experiences of Black people. The document spoke of the crisis in the Church, which was borne out of the divisions in the church.
Consequently three trends developed from these divisions; that is: state, church and prophetic. It stated that changing the structures of a society is fundamentally a matter of politics. It requires a political strategy based upon a clear social or political analysis. The Church has to address itself to these strategies and to the analyses upon which they are based. It is into this political situation that the Church has to bring the gospel. Hence, there is no way of bypassing politics and political strategies.
Spirituality has tended to be an other-world affair that has very little, if anything at all, to do with the affairs of this world. Social and political matters were seen as worldly affairs that have nothing to do with the spiritual concerns of the Church. The Kairos Document rejected this notion. It asserted that the Bible does not separate the human person from the world in which he or she lives; it does not separate the individual from the social or one’s private life from one’s public life.
God redeems the whole person as part of God’s whole creation. Hence, a truly biblical spirituality would penetrate into every aspect of human existence and would exclude nothing from God’s redemptive will. A new theological orientation in South Africa emerged that directed itself to a radical social involvement.
There is work for the Church.