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Virtually all evil revolves around this vice. Whether among the clergy, laity or the religious, envy is a destroyer. It's a wild wind that blows no one good.

Traditionally, envy is regarded as one of the seven deadly sins. Many are lured onto this path without knowing it while others have it in their blood. Whichever way, it is dangerous; it's an anathema. A feeling of antagonism towards someone because of some good which he is enjoying but which one does not have oneself.

Envy must not be allowed to thrive not even among detractors let alone brothers and brothers in the Lord. If it must, definitely not in the House of God.

Unfortunately, this evil has slowly but steadily crept into the church and has overtly or covertly been given an enviable seat on the front row of the church. Why? You may ask. Greed and avarice and the unwholesome desire to have that which one is neither endowed with nor worked for.

This seems to give relevance to Thomas Fuller's Counsel that, “measure not men by Sundays, without regarding what they do all the week after”.

Envy has been variously and roundly written about in the press and its destructive effects exposed yet it continues to soar like mustard seed. It has been disgracefully condemned from the pulpit but rather than decline, it tries to rapture the Sermonists so much so that it has come to be personified in some men of God or better put, Servants of God, or still much better put, pastors.

Envy which is the offshoot of Greed could be likened to a Siamese twins. The greed of gain according to one writer has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for the beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment's hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, moulding them into money.

This is what envy is doing to our pastors today and by extension, the church.

It has driven us into spiritual poverty and we seem to have lost our hope of immortality that derives from our faith, Christianity as children of same God redeemed by same Christ Jesus.

The poverty which envy drives the church into is not that which teaches the true value of the gifts useful to life. It's the kind of poverty that often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue which makes it almost impossible for him to grow or survive. It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright. What then is the panacea for this virus called envy and how must it be put into check so that it does not destroy the church having affected many servants of God already.

The answer to my mind is better expressed in Martin Luther King's assertion when he said “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”.

But rather than internalize this wise counsel coming from not a pastor, not the religious, the so called men of God appear to revel in fanning the embers of tribalism, ethnicity and statism in sharp contrast of the teachings of the early Christians exemplified in St Paul who in one of his epistles instructed against divisions among the brethren since all believers are children of one faithful immortal God and profess the same faith.

Through the Bible which is our reference point and ultimate instrument of faith, men of God and all adherents were seen and rightly so, as nationals of the same country – HEAVEN. No indigenes, no non-indigenes, no special friends, no enemies among the apostles. The joy of one was the joy of all, so also was the problem of one shared by all others.

There is a sharp difference in the practice today. Men of God of the present era are classified as orthodox, Pentecostal, spiritual, new Pentecostal, super pastors with the clerics themselves further categorised as indigenous Bishops and Ministers of God while others are labeled invaders. Even in the House of God. Too bad.

All these are nothing but products of greed and envy which has evidently metamorphosed into mudslinging and character assassination of fellow men of God.

The question that continues to agitate my mind is where is the unity that is the soul of Christianity as exemplified in the Trinity. Why should the predicament of one minister of God no matter how false, how ill-intended generate so much joy in others that not a few have even gone beyond the cleavages of envy to as much as conniving with bandits, 419ners, fraudsters and high profile criminals to malign, defame and even plot the fall of a fellow man of God as empirical evidence can prove. Something must be done and unless this is nipped in the bud the damage is bound to be colossal and unimaginable. The way it is going, it will soon get to a point where the congregation will begin to worship in only churches overseen by their own kith and kin.

Why not? How can a pastor with over 80% of his members as non-indigenes be so bitter about another pastor considered not from within as an invader and who must be cajoled, blackmailed and destroyed even if it means colluding with notorious criminals to achieve this sinister motive. How dare you, a man of God sit at a round table conference with a fraudster just to plot the fall of your own brother in the Lord.

This is not to say that all men of God are bad. And if I must mention names and I hope this great servant of God, Apostle Eugene Ogu will not be angry with me for appreciating his generosity and great concern for others particularly, the poor, less privileged and widows to mention but a few.

Apostle Ogu, a pioneer Pentecostal Pastor and great pillar of Pentecostalism in Rivers State in my humble view must be appreciated, commended and encouraged for all his efforts at putting smiles on the faces of a multitude irrespective of tribe, denomination or belief etc.

Whether or not he likes publicity it is only right to mention it so that if not for any other thing, other pastors will learn to live as a brother's keeper and practical Christian. No wonder he continues to increase in bounds for there is more blessing in giving than in receiving.

Through this ebony black gentleman who God has lifted from grass to grace a lot of children who never hoped to go to school have been offered scholarships to various schools even at tertiary level, those who never hoped to walk the rest of their lives on account of fatal accidents have been provided with artificial legs.

To ensure his generosity reaches out, he founded the Arm of Hope World Outreach through which people are receiving assistance both in cash and in kind including those in detention and prisons.

He has championed the cause of many who were committed to prison innocently because they had nobody to stand in for them and got them released.

By doing this, he placed his life on the line and severally have been trailed and pursued by hired assassins on account of his kindness and love for others.

Even in the northern part of Nigeria, he had provided relief materials ranging from clothings to food and cash to the displaced persons and victims of religious crises there.

In Jos South, Plateau State he is building a school to enable the hapless indigent children of the community have access to basic education, a gateway to the good things of life. The school is at the roofing level.

In Basa Local Government also in Plateau State, Apostle Eugene Ogu has taken up the task of rebuilding the houses that were destroyed in one of the crisis no thanks to Islamic fundamentalists.

Elsewhere in Imo, his home State, Apostle Ogu has installed nine boreholes in nine different communities in Obowu Local Government Council with nine new generators to power the water and provide light.

The same is applicable to Etche and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of Rivers State and another community in Plateau State where hundreds of Christians were killed during the crisis.

In all these areas, the Man of God, Apostle Eugene Ogu has also provided water and light, and gen-sets to power the machines etc.

Apostle Eugene Ogu does not limit and will never limit his kind gestures to the indigent and those in want. Even his fellow pastors had benefitted maximally from this servant of God whose happiness is making others happy.

There is hardly any man of God of substance today in Rivers State that can boldly say he has not one way or another been blessed by Apostle Ogu.

He has committed his personal resources, human and material to the building of churches for some, training and sponsorship, rendering assistance to their families and placed some on some form of stipend over time all in the name of God and love for one's neighbor. He has taken it upon himself to speak out in defense of other men of God in the face of impending danger and unfounded allegation without fear of prosecution.

Most of these pastor beneficiaries are living witnesses and cannot fault this observation. This is how it should be.

Brotherhood they say is the very price and condition of man's survival.

But what has this man of God got as reward for all this. From some vilification, betrayal, blackmail, envy, politics of calumny and character assassination. I don't think this is right.

According to William Shakespeare, “Of all human frailties, ingratitude I hate”.

You may however find this counsel instructive. “No cause is helpless if it is just. Errors no matter how popular, carry the seeds of their own destruction” – John W. Scoville.

And for the true servants of God who have been made objects of attacks innocently, it does not matter the intent of the enemies for “the humblest citizen of the land, when clad in the armour of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error.

“High finance isn't burglary or obtaining money by false pretenses, but rather a judicious selection from the best features of those fine arts”, Finley Peter Dunne.###

Written By Chris Konkwo

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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