By Casmir Igbokwe
Whenever he shoots at any contentious issue, Dr. David Oyedepo usually goes direct without fear. Last week, this presiding bishop of Living Faith Church Worldwide was in his element. He aimed his arrow at the continued closure of churches over COVID-19. But, in this instant case, he missed his target.
Hear him: “There is something wrong. For people to be allowed to be in markets for six hours and can’t be in church for two hours, it is an upside-down way of looking at things. The Lord spoke to me on it so strong yesterday. I can smell a rat. Behind all this, how do we stop the church from exploding? The people involved don’t know it. The voice of darkness is influencing people at various levels, targeting the church because the growth and expansion of the church is the greatest headache of the Devil. But the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The Devil and all his agents shall surely pay for this.”
To Oyedepo’s amazement, “hospitals, where people die every day, are open, but the church is closed because the oppression of the Devil has no medical cure.”
My Lord Bishop, you got it wrong. I was thinking you were misquoted, but you have not debunked this report. As far as this COVID-19 is concerned, no devil is attacking the Church. And God did not tell you anything. It is even strange that you ascribed the power of healing to churches above hospitals. When someone is sick, the natural place to visit is the hospital. One only visits churches when one wants to pray and worship God. Pastors’ claims to healings belong to the realm of magic and miracles.
Recall that when the government first announced these lockdown measures, Oyedepo was among the pastors who defied it. He held church service with thousands of people attending. Some pastors are in the same boat with him. The president of the LoveWorld Incorporated, aka Christ Embassy, Chris Oyakhilome, reportedly berated some church leaders for agreeing to the lockdown of churches without praying and consulting with other pastors.
It rankles when men of God don’t tell their followers the gospel truth. Except one does not believe in the reality of this pandemic, I don’t see how anybody can fault the government for the lockdown. The Federal Government was even late in imposing it. We have all seen the result today since the outbreak of the disease in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. As at Sunday, May 10, 2020, the United States of America has recorded over one million cases with almost 80,000 deaths. Over four million cases and over 277,000 deaths have been recorded globally. In Nigeria, over 4,000 people are down with the disease, and this is a conservative figure. Over 120 people have been reported dead. The number keeps increasing on a daily basis. It’s either some of these men of God don’t believe in these figures or they are up to something.
Essentially, economic hardship forced government to reopen markets because people must eat. If churches should open, it means schools should open as well. The consequences are better imagined.
Experts fear that there could be a spike in the disease in places where lockdown is relaxed. Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that relaxing lockdowns without boosting care could lead to a second wave of COVID-19 infections. It happened in Hong Kong and elsewhere. It may happen in Nigeria because the way people are flouting the guidelines makes nonsense of the little gains made against the deadly virus.
Banks are crowded. Social distancing is observed in the breach. The worst is that the ban on interstate movement is flouted with impunity. The other day, security operatives intercepted 60 Lagos-bound men in a truck conveying cows at the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The men came from some states in the North. Similar things happened in Edo, Ebonyi and many other states. Sometimes, people bribe the law enforcement agents to have easy passage to their destinations. The worst is that the Almajiri have been moving in droves from one state to another. They have been intercepted and turned back in places like Abia, Kaduna, Abuja and many others. This has posed serious danger to other citizens because, as they move, the risk of spreading the disease is high.
For sure, no human being has ever seen or touched God. So, how do we know if some of these messengers of God are giving us genuine message or mere hocus-pocus? They tell us that blessed is he who does not see but believe. The ways of God, they say, are mysterious and beyond human comprehension.
But the same God also gave us common sense. According to the holy books, He made us in His own image and likeness. That is why no other animal or being can do what man does. When you look at the flying bird called aeroplane, you can’t but marvel at the wonders of creation. When you examine other inventions of man like telephones, computers and many others, you realise that, as far as this earth is concerned, God has put man to be in charge.
When next they tell you that God spoke to them, please, examine it critically. Sometimes, they manipulate the ignorance and gullibility of diehard adherents so as to continue to milk them. Churches and mosques have been under lock and key for more than a month now. And so were many businesses. Tithes in churches and other revenues drastically dwindled. A smart ‘man of God’ can conjure any conspiracy theory or message from God this time to bamboozle us and force the government to reverse certain decisions.
But I thank God for pastors like Poju Oyemade. The senior pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre, Lagos, has informed us that shutting down church buildings does not affect true worship of God. He said, “The sick we see healed in the book of Acts were healed on the streets, in people’s homes, in public places and not within the four walls of a church.”
That is it! Nigerians should listen more to this type of pastor. Otherwise, the fate of the unwary faithful may be like that of the young lady who got employment in a big company on recommendation. On the day of resumption, she went to church to do thanksgiving. She sauntered into the office about 9.30am instead of the official resumption time of 8am. When she was queried, she spewed out the thanksgiving excuse, saying her pastor had told her that something good and big would come her way that month. She lost the job and was asked to go to her pastor to give her another one. May we never be this foolish as we struggle to stay safe from this virulent pandemic!
Re: Lockdown pregnancies, intimate terrorism and economic woes
My dear Casmir, there’s no gainsaying that the shutdown occasioned by the fear of coronavirus has forced even the most promiscuous men to look homeward and spend ample time with their hitherto lonely women. But if this special bond results in an additional member to a family in this era of pandemic, economic shutdown etc, that should be the family’s cup of tea. On a more serious note, the current wave of uncertainty and its attendant panicky measures have embarrassingly exposed our lack of honesty and capacity to contain an emergency as in the instant case. In this period of shutdown, the government worker is assured of his bank’s alert whereas the self-employed who form the bulk of the populace have had their businesses truncated and left at the mercy of hunger. This curfew has worsened matters for them and their families. Let it be done away with as soon as possible, please.
– Edet Essien Esq., +2348037952470
Thanks Casmir. I am more interested in the economic woes you pointed out. For the economy to recover, tax holiday should be granted to SMEs. Companies should pay arrears of deducted salaries as soon as possible. Those couples with new womb should beware of abortion for there’s nothing like unwanted pregnancy.
– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu. +2349095385215
There is one area you mentioned that l love so much, which is security vote. l believe that security vote should be scrapped because l don’t see why the President, governors and other political office-holders should be collecting it and also collecting salaries. It is very unfair.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Casmir, may God deliver us from advocates of na lie, na lie. At the onset, they said it was Chinese virus. When it invaded and bared its ugly fangs on USA and Europe, they said it is Oyinbo man disease and that it cannot infect an African especially Nigerians because of our skin and weather. Now, some have said it is the disease of the rich and it can’t infect the poor – strange and funny. Obviously, the John Thomases of our modern day era desire to see dead bodies of fellow Nigerians to be convinced that it is real. My advice to such people is that they should go to the nearest isolation centres and work as volunteers.
– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572
Dear Casy, thanks for the livid and incisive treatise. Presently, we don’t have good govt in place since 2015. The national budgets ended in the belly of pythons, gorillas and few individuals’ pockets. The five years Aso Clinic budgets were higher than the whole federal teaching hospitals, yet our medical team performed more than their peers across the world over this Wuhan Sino virus. No working tools for them. Some citizens have arrived home safely and now face Nigerian hypocrisy.
– Eze Chima C. Lagos, +2347036225495
Sir, I’m indeed confused, needing answer. The Presidential Task Force says there is no known cure for Covid-19: only obeying the theories. But what of those cured and discharged from numerous healing centres in various states announced daily?
– Anonymous, +2347035390254
- First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, 11 May 2020