Is It Wise To Follow Men Of God That Engage In Unorthodox Practices?
There is no denying the fact that people have for ages been viewing the traditional and contemporary roles of their spiritual leader as a servant, caregiver who teaches and preaches. However, as the economy and social environments continue to defy people’s expectations, the need for men of God to intensify efforts in care giving, such as visitation, counseling, comforting, and taking care of the needs of the people became expedient. Also, ostensibly not to leave their followers in their challenges, men of God are wont to perform other roles that cut across baptisms, weddings, and funerals. Also, people expect pastors to be concerned with their needs, and they, in their own part, also view their role in this way. Actually, pastors did this for many centuries.
But around the 1970s and 1980s, a new understanding started to emerge. Many book authors and pastors of megachurches started to see the role of the pastor as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO/leader), who casts a vision and rallies and motivates people to carry on the new vision in a changed and healthy environment.
Be that as it may, it is not an exaggeration to say that the Christendom in the recent time has being infiltrated by men of God that are doing well in performing healings and miracles in an emerging ecclesiastical outlet called “GospelWood”. You may have asked, “What is GospelWood?” It simply means a situation where a man of God continuously minister to his audience by leveraging punchlines that would make them to be inspired and entertained. This ecclesiastical tactics is usually resorted to during healing and deliverance session at any given church service. Unfortunately, Jesus never engaged in such trivialities in his days as an evangelist, pastor, apostle and prophet; all put together.
For instance, sometime in 2014, a Kenyan Pastor, who goes by the name, Rev. Njohi ordered female members of his church, Lord's Propeller Redemption Church in Nairobi, to remove their panties to enable God’s spirit enter their bodies.
As gathered, Njohi went further to ban women from wearing underclothes to church saying that innerwear prevents Christ from entering women's lives. He explained that bras and panties are ungodly and prevent Christ from entering the lives of women.
He claimed that when going to church, people need to be free in 'body and spirit' to receive Christ and that undergarments hinder that, and also warned members that there would be dire consequences if they secretly put on their inner wear and came to church. Surprisingly enough, the Sunday's service, after the announcement saw most of the women turned up without their bras or panties, just as the pastor had ordered. He was also reported to have asked mothers to do the same, and tasked them to check their daughters when coming to church so as to receive Christ. Ironically, he said nothing about men wearing underwear to church.
In a similar vein, a Ugandan-based man of God, Pastor Busoga, in 2017 took the gospel to a ridiculous unbiblical height after he told his congregation that God instructed him to walk on their backs. He reportedly claimed that God told him he was too holy to walk on ordinary ground like mere mortals, and as such, should walk on their backs while he preach the Gospel. It was learnt that he made the shocking announcement during a church service, saying that God told him that he should no longer walk on the ground so that he would not be contaminated. He then called on the congregants to lie all over the floor while he walked on them throughout the duration of the service with the people urging him on.
Still in the same nexus, a South African pastor, Lethebo Rabalago, widely known as the Doom Pastor, in 2017 resorted to spraying insecticide on his church members, and boasted that the insecticide has the potency of healing cancer and HIV. Without doubt, his revelation shocked many that not few South Africans called for his arrest.
In this part of the world, Nigeria to be precise, walls and billboards across cities and towns are nauseatingly and indiscriminately defaced with posters advertising churches, usually with apocalyptic names, promising instant cures and salvation from every intractable situation or sickness.
For instance, Prophet Chukwuemeka Ohanemere, popularly known as Odumeje, is indisputably the current sensation in the Southeastern part of the country as long as “Gospelwood” is concerned. He is usually hailed by his followers and admirers with the shout of “Indaboski”, “Bahose”, “The liquid metal” and “The Lion” to which he proudly acknowledge by intermittently nodding his head and opening his mouth just as a lion would do upon sighting a prey. There is no denying the fact that Odumeje, as the President and founder of Mountain of Holy Ghost Intervention Ministry Worldwide (a.k..a Land of Freedom), has practically turned religion to a social enterprise with bout of entertainment.
It would be recalled in this context that the controversial Onitsha-based cleric in 2020 literarily set the social media on fire on account of his somewhat eccentric and unbiblical approach to healing and deliverance contrary to the norm in the Christendom. To him, healing and deliverance is about kicking, boxing and even wrestling with miracle-seeking followers. Sometimes, he mime popular highlife music to the admiration of the congregants. He is wont to make video clips of his deliverance sessions available on social media platforms, and the clips have never failed in keeping the people entertained, and left them wondering about what man of God is he. He is popular among celebrities in the Nollywood sub-sector of the entertainment industry thereby leaving tongues wagging on whether he is targeting their monies or answering the call of God.
Also operating in a bizarre manner in the Christendom is Pastor, Prophet Onye-Eze Jesus, as he chose to call himself. Onye-ze was recently in the news for the wrong reason as he was seen spraying Naira notes on his followers while they were openly bathing in a river. The video clip that drew the attention of the Anambra State government to the somewhat unbiblical ritual trended online and went viral. Expectedly, concerned Nigerians in the Christendom questioned his action, some called him out for alleged ritual while some called for his arrest because he was seen in the video abusing the Naira note.
It would also be recalled that some men of God, few years back in Akwa Ibom State stepped up their games as they packaged what they termed “authentic Blood of Jesus” and sold to miracle-seeking followers at the rate of N2000. Besides, at the moment there are some churches where offerings, tithes, seeds sowing, selling of anointing oil, divine handkerchiefs and other levies, are collected from worshippers with deafening commercial undertone.
Ostensibly trying to shut up critics, this bizarre method of ministration is been watered down, and waved aside by some fanatical Christians who are wont to literarily hide under the scriptural cover of "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you”, as can be found in Matthew chapter 7. But if I may ask, “When has it become biblical for people to be deceiving others, and even jeopardizing their lives, in the name of God?”
Without resort to vilification, not few pastors or men of God have in the last few years being involved in controversial ecclesiastical inanities so much so that calls for regulation of churches across the country have been reverberating.
To this end, some of the somewhat ungodly practices had compelled governments in other parts of Africa to get involved. For instance, Pastor Lethebo Rabalao, whose activities was earlier cited in this context, and who claimed he could heal sick members of his congregation by spraying them with insecticide was found guilty of four count charges of assault as well as “contravening the Agricultural Act” by a court in Limpopo province.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask in line with the word of God as written by Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1 that says, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ”, whether it is wise for anyone to be following a man of God that is not clearly following the examples set by Jesus Christ as documented in the synoptic gospels that consist of the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke?