Yesterday afternoon, I had gone to see a sick friend at the hospital and the discussion rotated around a number of topics-Politics, entertainment, religion etc. Of course I had my opinion on all topics raised as I do about almost everything. Call me opinionated but the fact remains that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I am not an exception.
None got me as mad as churches who do not think about the poorer part of their congregation. Only a man wearing the shoes knows where it pinches him, they say. Maybe because I see myself as part of the less wealthy folks anyway. For your information, I attend Winners Chapel but its time to call a spade, a spade.
The founding bishop of Winners Chapel Bishop David Oyedepo is Nigeria’s wealthiest pastor. With homes around the world and private jets, one can safely say he’s indeed a wealthy man. But my problem is that I don’t understand what the church stands for anymore. Is it a business or a call to evangelize? A guy on twitter said …the pastor is a religious capitalist and the church and the people are just a possession’. I’m inclined to agree with him.
Lets talk about private universities owned by churches. Oyedepo owns Covenant University. One of the most stupendously expensive universities in Nigeria with the aim of providing quality education. And I ask to whom? Only the rich? Because the poor can definitely not afford it. In a country where over 70% of the population is poor, why should Christian education be so bloody expensive? So the average man should die illiterate ehn? Benson Idahosa University is another institution owned by a church and whose fees half the church can’t afford. The list goes on and on.
Aside from the education for the rich which Winners Chapel currently undertakes, Oyedepo owns 4 private jets (including a recently purchased $35 million Gulfstream V jet), Faith Academy, Dominion Publishing house and is listed in the Forbes list as Nigeria’s wealthiest pastor with a net worth of $150 million. Are you kidding me?
Oh and did I mention that he just launched an airline, Dominion Airline? What has an airline got to do with preaching the gospel? Why is he amassing so much wealth and is so interested on business? Is the church a business? Or part of a large business venture for him? The proceeds from all these businesses are going where? Back to the church or to trust funds for his kids who will eventually take over the church? How many church members can afford to take flights?
Is Christianity a call to amass wealth or touch lives? He stated that his mandate is to “…liberate mankind from all oppressions of the devil…”. Is this the liberation? Are we his church members, paying our tithes and offerings and sowing seeds to fund a man’s business ambition? Does he want to preside over a church or a business empire? Am I attending a church or funding his business ambitions? Why is he so concerned about material things? Is this what Christianity is about?
If gold rusts, what will iron do? My secondary school teacher, Mr Iyere used to ask me this and it has become a life principle for me. If the spiritual leaders who millions look up to, place such value on physical wealth, do we really blame the poor man who goes to extra-ordinary lengths to attain such wealth? He’s merely trying to keep up with his pastor! His mentor! He’s simply trying to live up to the pace set by his pastor. Material wealth has now become the yardstick for measuring God’s blessings. If I’m not wealthy, then something must be wrong with my spiritual life. What utter rubbish!
And please don’t talk to me about Prosperity. How many houses did Jesus, our Lord have? How many horses (as car no dey that time) did Paul own? Isn’t it all vanity? Or is the book of Ecclesiastes lying now? What is this mad desire to acquire everything? Why is there so much emphasis on the gospel of prosperity in our churches? Is the church now a corporate institution with the primary aim of making money? Since it is, what about fulfilling its Corporate Social Responsibility then? Do churches pay tax? No!
By the way, what exactly is my church doing for me when I don’t even have access to my pastor? And we complain of our politicians! I don’t have access to my Local government chairman or the politician representing my constituency that I voted for but then neither do I have access to my pastor because he’s too busy for me. So what exactly is the difference? When politicians and highly connected individuals are the only ones that have access to our pastors these days, I can’t help but ask who is fooling who? Na who dey ride okada wan see who dey for inside private jet or inside jeep with tinted windows with bodyguards and armed escort?
Our pastors own businesses funded by their churches. Some the congregation do not even know about. While doing the research on this article, I came across reports about our pastors, their vast assets and luxurious and flamboyant lifestyles and I was stunned. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome is worth about $50 millon and was embroiled in a $35 million money laundering case some years ago where he was accused of siphoning funds from his church to foreign banks. Prophet T.B. Joshua is worth about $10 – $15million, Matthew Ashimolowo is worth $6 – $10 million, Chris Okotie ($3 – $10million). I called these names as they have been listed as the 5 richest pastors in Nigeria.
If you want to be a businessman, be a businessman! If you want to be a pastor, be a pastor! Lets remove the blindfold from our eyes people. Lets stop being so religious that we forget about being Christians. If what my spiritual leader is doing, is smartly using me as a business tool, then its time