Dear Naija Christian, this could be you.

But you think like sheep.

An exceedingly heartwarming report that just popped up on my browser is telling me how a group protested in a church against what they termed the undue exploitation of the congregation by the pastor. The protest was serious, insistent, and degenerated to almost scuffling, before the members of the group would allow themselves to be evicted from the church building.

Somewhere in Detroit, Michigan, a group styling itself as “New Era” showed up at a church, and when the pastor started talking about offerings, starting the offerings at a thousand dollars, and that those who did not have the thousand dollar offering could pay $300. The group protested till a brawl broke out, and they had to be removed. They gathered a lot of media attention, and they stated their case.

Black pastors of various churches and denominations were living very large, driving the latest and flashiest of machines, flying private jets, having access to multiple radio and television networks, and yet people in communities around them and their churches, and even in some cases their church members, were going to bed hungry. Does this sound familiar?

Jet flying men of God

This happened in America.
Over here in Nigeria, we venerate and worship our pastors. Each sect, each denomination, is its own access to God.

They invent fancy titles for their leaders and attribute all sorts of supernatural powers to them. The ones who start small encourage their members to bring in the offerings and tithes so as to swell the coffers (and pockets) of the men of God. The ones who have made it big, and have church addresses that begin with “kilometer”, a term that is now indicative of having “moved to the permanent
site” are buying exotic cars and looking for how to rise to the next level by getting the new Gold Standard: private jets.

Africa is nicknamed “the dark continent”, and not just because of the skin colour of most of its millions of inhabitants. The sobriquet was primarily given because of the long time (comparatively) it took western influences (including Christianity) to reach Africa and gain a foothold. But it seems Africa is desperate to make up for lost time, and in this, our very own nation seems to be one of those leading
the pack. Nigeria has over 500 different churches, ministries and missions, with names that range from the mundane to the outlandish, and to the downright bizarre.

The pastors have perfected their various selling points, with healing, miracles and prosperity ranking in the top three. But one thing they all seem to have in common, in addition to hordes of teeming worshippers who hang on their every word, and camps that they operate like their own personal fiefdoms, is a strong competitive streak. Doubt me?

Way back, in the early to middle eighties, it became a fad among them to buy up huge tracts of land in largely undeveloped areas with the intention of establishing communities, or camps, where they would be the head honchos and their word would be law. At this point, it should come as no surprise to you, dear reader, when I say that the vast majority of these churches are glorified personality cults. A lot of them are led by pastors who have since become more popular than Jesus, at least within the mouths of their members. They have large followings, authored several books on a wide range of subjects, and try to outdo one another in holding large meetings that attract crowds from all over the world to their camps and communities. Soon enough, when it seemed like every one of them had their own large tract of land, and their own correspondingly huge gathering, that attracted people from within and outside
the country, the competition changed.

Richest Pastors in Nigeria

They then began going into televangelism, floating media empires that projected a steady coverage of their products and programmes into the hearts and homes of the faithful followers via television and radio. The frontiers changed again, with the rise of the jet age, as they decided that the business of the Lord could not wait, and had to be carried out at jet speed. So,
private jets became the new status symbol. With more and more of them joining the ranks of individuals
with their own aircraft, the frontiers changed again. Private universities were the new thing, and for each new fad that came, billions poured in from the accounts and pockets of the faithful, many of whom would be unable to send their children and wards to these frightfully expensive private schools owned and operated by the churches, but built by their tithes and offerings.

I want a change in the weather. Having been able to corner the market for entertainment via their tv and radio stations, and been able to secure the future of the church members by opening schools for them to put their children and wards (never mind those who can not afford them, fingers are
not equal) where the children can be fed a healthy dose of dogma and doctrine alongside their secular education, they should turn to an even more basic need to consolidate their stronghold on the minds and pockets of the people; food.

People always need food. People will always need to eat, from princes to paupers, politicians to truck pushers. If they can use their influence to acquire large tracts of land which they can convert to productive farmland, and then cultivate it to provide basic food supplies for the teeming populace of the
country, and those who keep having miracle births to ensure that our population grows, then the nation
will perhaps be on a road to prosperity. I look forward to the day I can go out and buy some Redeemed Rice, maybe with some MFM meat, and Winners Tomatoes so I can make stew, and be nourished in my body… As well as my spirit.
But until then, I am content to dream.
What do you think?

Drop a comment, please.

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