By Casmir Igbokwe
My intervention on this page last week titled, ‘Oyedepo has missed his target’, drew variegated reactions from readers. Some supported my argument. Some others lambasted me for being myopic in spiritual matters.
I laughed at some of the reactions. It simply confirms that when it comes to religion, some people lose their sense of reasoning. You hear things like, “Touch not my anointed and do my prophet no harm.” I also became an anointed man of God right from the day of my baptism over 50 years ago. The anointing doubled when I received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. I don’t have to wear a pastor’s cloak before I answer man of God. So, please touch me not.
Nevertheless, I still hold Bishop David Oyedepo in high esteem. He is well read, very influential and a great motivator. But I completely disagree with him on his reasons for asking for reopening of churches. Government did what it needed to do to stem the spread of coronavirus disease in Nigeria. If he had asked the government to gradually reopen churches with some guidelines, there wouldn’t have been any issue. But anchoring his argument on the reopening of markets and non-closure of hospitals is fallacious. He even held church services against government’s directives. To me, that is going against Biblical injunctions to obey civil authorities.
That is why I like the Catholic Church. Immediately government issued the directive to close churches, it did not waste time to adhere to it. Recently, the Church also donated all its hospitals in Nigeria as isolation centres. That is how it should be.
As for a close family member who feared that Oyedepo and his supporters might do what she calls chain prayers for me, I can only say, they are not God. We all pray to the same God. It is left for God to decide whose prayers He will answer and the ones He will put in the trash can. And that is if there is any dustbin in heaven.
Please enjoy some of the reactions below:
Those For Oyedepo:
My brother, I thought your emphasis should be on finding local answer to the disease and not whether worship is inside or outside. Locking churches and business concerns ought to be a temporary thing, very short interval but like our many missteps, it is standing in for final solution. Your argument gives away a Christian without deep root if ever you belong. Otherwise, the swipe against church fathers would not be. There is more to congregation than you and Poju (Oyemade) seem to subscribe. That Poju took that position does not make it right, after all, miracles he alluded to were baked in prayers and singing in gathering before they stepped into streets. Those who attend church services are not the fools you make of them, higher percentage are well read and exposed too. If we believe God heals and can’t gather to prove, of what use is the subscription to faith. Faith is not about when situation is convenient, otherwise man would have no need for a superior force. It is time those who don’t subscribe to Christian faith maintain their distance. What most critics do is akin to attitude of divorcees, you don’t like your partner yet you are interested in his daily affairs. It is possible that Poju you relied on to hold your view could be an inside out kind of clergy especially in these perilous times when satanic agents are finding refuge in Christian channels. It is still a wonder why those who don’t contribute to church funding feel much concerned about its management. Hmmmmmm.
– Ralph Egbu, former Commissioner for Information in Abia State
In response to what I read in your Daily Sun about one of the most respected men of God of our time, let me tell you categorically that none of his followers can agree on your mindset about his ministration. Bishop Oyedepo is God’s Gift in which through his ministration, millions of people have been set free from the bondage of Satan. Furthermore, let me correct your impression about Winners members. The congregation of our church is embodiment of people, enlightened mind, well educated, sound mind, social and understanding. I am looking forward to seeing you be our member in future. We are not gullible. God bless.
– Anonymous, +2347062686726
Mr Igbokwe, I went through your write-up in The Sun newspaper and discovered you are spiritually myopic .You should realise that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only healer and maker. You failed to realise the efficacy of prayer through faith in His Eternal Word which cannot pass away as it is written “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, my word shall not pass away.” Also written in Isaiah: 53:5: “By His stripes we are healed.” Mark 16:18: “These signs shall follow them that believe…they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover.” John 14:12: “What I do shall you do also.” Hebrew 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. God loves you. Repent and be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of your sin and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost: Act 2:38. Please pay heed, Jesus is coming soon. There are instances of families that were prayed for by men of God and got healed of coronavirus. My God is still healing His people divinely. Thanks.
– Anonymous, 08067420573
Mr. Casmir, your point that Oyedepo has missed his target is not true. The solution is Jesus, 2chro 7:13-15. Churches are places where victims of covid-19 should be healed and set free. The government should try the church and see the impossible being made possible: Luke 10:17-19. Thanks sir.
– Mike, from Lafia, Nasarawa State, +2348036906738
Those Against Oyedepo:
You now sound like an unbeliever. No abuse intended. I am an agnostic myself. Anyway, I agree with you.
– Barr Amaechi Onwualu, Awka, +2348036748262
Dear Casmir, don’t be disturbed if some see you as a skeptic. The Bible advises us to obey civil authority except in cases where they infringe on human rights. What happened recently confirms that churches are only run as business.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215
Church remains the most lucrative business in Nigeria today. Our so-called pastors live in stupendous wealth while many of their followers live in penury. Europeans brought Christianity which is an alien culture, but today our so-called Christians want to be more Catholic than the Pope. You see, it’s this twin alien religion of Islam and Christianity that is the bane of Africa’s underdevelopment. Every now and then, Nigerian Christians and Muslims pray and fast, yet the country is going backward. It beats my imagination how Nigerian govt wastes our money in sponsoring pilgrims to Europe and Asia with absolutely nothing to show for it. We’ve neglected and almost destroyed our cultures, values and customs while imbibing alien culture. How many miracles did Jesus perform inside church? All you see in our churches are the pastors’ and their wives’ posters as if they’re God while their gullible and ignorant members call on their pastor’s gods to answer prayers. When a pastor, his wife and kids get sick, they go to the best hospitals. But members are encouraged to come to church for prayers and healings. They brand our rich cultural heritage evil. Casy, you are blessed.
– Nomeh Ekene W. Ugwu, +2348035166661
I hold Bishop Oyedepo of Winners in high esteem but his call for reopening of churches when Covid-19 pandemic is on increase is very disappointing. This means that he values material wealth of offerings and tithes he has been missing for a while than people’s lives. Church is building, he can stay in his house and worship God and answer will come.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Casmir, faith and science just don’t mix. While science is based on logic, faith is far from logic. Exceptions in this regard are men of God whose education is thorough. They are science inclined or informed, hence are objective in their judgement of prevailing circumstances. Such men are rational beings. Pastor Oyedepo was obviously emotional in his outburst because of the lost volumes of tithes, offerings, etc that would have accrued but for the lockdown of churches by the Federal Government. His financial outlay/networth is on the decline. We now know the men of God who truly love us. How to sustain and retain his (Oyedepo) title as Forbes magazine’s richest pastor in the world is his primary concern and focus. He should do an introspection to know if he is like Jesus who truly did “his father’s business” and not “his personal business”. May God bless you Casmir!
– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
Bro Cas, some of these men of God sometimes take advantage of our gullibility/ignorance. Thank God for corona because it is a leveller that does not discriminate. Private jets, fleet of cars, expensive schools from (tithes) to the detriment of the poor worshippers. May God save us from their clutches!
– Smart Abakaliki, 08134774884
Dear Casy, Oyedepo has really missed his target. Don’t be surprised since the upsurge in the opening of new churches in the 1990s in this part of the world, there was a shift from preaching salvation to the current doomsday prophecy, money making in the form of thanksgiving, tithing, fake miracles and other forms of magic. Most of the present-day pastors don’t care where the money they receive from their followers come from. The early missionaries built schools, hospitals and allowed the poorest among the people to access those institutions for their educational and health development. Today, how many poor members among them can afford their school fees and hospital bills. Don’t mind them, coro has reduced their huge cash receipts and they are not happy.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
- Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, May 18, 2020