Dear Pastor, Nigerians have been unkind to you. You have become unwitting whipping posts and poster boys for financial profligacy, snake oil magic tricks, hedonistic pride and the dark art of killing enemies. That is unfortunate. Many of you truly love God. You did not go into ministry for money, power or fame. Therefore, I am truly sorrowful.
A significant number of you are professionals in your own right. You could have been successful outside church walls but, you laid down your life for Christ. You visit the sick and minister to the sheep, when others are too busy or too selfish. Your homes and arms are always open, and you spend a great deal of time in prayer, for those who will never know it. For that, I am grateful.
When the verbal and written attacks come, know you are in good company. They attacked your Christ too. But, do not despise your attackers or be defensive. To do so would be un-Christlike. Engage, dialogue and be a shining example. Be the light in the midst of gross darkness. Show forth your good works and fruits. And be understanding. You fail to recognise the generation you are in. Let me explain.
I know where you are coming from. But, it’s because I am old enough to know. This generation is not. Before Pastor Oritsejafor became the bling-bling CAN President, he toiled in the creeks of the Niger-Delta. I recognise his evangelical gifts and so, I know that his latter manifestation is not his full story. I heard Bishop Oyedepo preach for many years in Iyana Ipaja, before he built the largest church auditorium. I’ve hear of how many people he has put through school and how many orphans he has fed. I know of Pastor Tony Rapu’s Freedom Foundation’s charity projects and Reverend Chris Okotie’s fight to establish the doctrine of grace in Nigeria. I am privileged. I know history.
Unfortunately, what this generation largely knows is that Christianity in Nigeria, is now synonymous with “new generation” preachers. Men and women who have not paid their dues, yet are overnight “successes”. This generation hustles to make ends meet, and then they see churches become large repositories of wealth. They cannot concatenate the two. Perhaps if you had taught them the first principles of faith, charity and love, they would have received the latter principles of prosperity better. Sadly, as good men of God rarely speak up, the opportunistic ones will keep representing your cadre.
Finally, Pastor, do not stand in the way of change. It will consume you. God designed seasons to change. Technology is a season. In my generation, we were first introduced to ATMs by Société Générale Bank. GTBank ushered us into online banking, while Yahoo Messenger introduced social media. However, this generation was born into technology. They didn’t learn it. It is normal, and it is their culture. It is also their way of escaping successive oppressive government control and the cabal’s sole access to the international economy.
For my generation, online church is an option, when we’re out of town. For this generation, it is a living breathing church branch, like any of your physical branches. Please get with the programme and become relevant to those you lead. And if you cannot, please raise a Joshua who can.
I wish you all the best as you continue to toil in God’s vineyard.