Some men of God have been indicted as yet another alternative way people are exploited even as the controversial ponzi scheme, MMM continues to generate controversy.
Divinity has designed creation and creatures to exist and co-exist under a form of authority. Many nations of the world are under the political authority of a President or a Prime Minister. A kingdom is under the authority of a King or Queen. A family is under the authority of a father and mother, a father, or mother. And the church of the living God is under the authority of an ordained servant called by Heaven. Where there is no authority, pandemonium reigns and rules; and men cast off restraints.
The authorities I refer to are not phantom. They are represented by men and women with flesh and blood. Men who thirst and hunger. Men who laugh and cry. Men who have passions just like you and I. Men who get financially broke and buoyant. Men who have desires and ambitions. Men who love and fear God. Men who don’t give a hoot if there is God or not. And men and women who strive to take care of their families by every means necessary.
Manipulation by a political mentor is no news. That’s the game in the terrain. Malevolent acts towards the subjects in a kingdom may be forgiven. The king is trying to protect his royal inheritance. But as and when exploitation drips down from the cassock, robe, and collar of a Father-in-the-Lord, it hurts the mentee and grieves the heart of God.
In Church, a man referred to as “Father-In-The-Lord”, stands in gap for his spiritual children. Very many of them operate with the anointing of God whose voice they obey daily. They do the will of the Father and are revered among men. Unfortunately, many of the Fathers-in-the-Lord are MMM-dependent- Milking, Manipulating, Malevolent. They see themselves as the lord who must father others by crude antics and mean tactics.
A recent lamentation I heard from a young man who was about to leave Christianity completely because of the experiences he’s had with certain men of God in Nigeria is driving me to write this account. There are certain elements who are not about the souls of men but about dough in their pockets. Behind their gymnastic preaching-prowls are strokes for dough and more dough.
It was in a US Midwestern city when I stumbled on this man. I observed how he was reacting to my lines; standing up and sitting down, waving his hands, and screaming intermittently: “Preach it, Sir” in response to some ecclesiastical deliveries. After the event, he volunteered to chauffeur me back to my hotel. He then told me his story.
He was attending a church in Lagos when he won the US lottery. It was a heavy task for his family raising about N300, 000 for airfare alone. His job only paid N10,000 per month. He approached his pastor who lent him N20,000. He made up the difference through begging and borrowing from friends and enemies. He paid back the loan in two months. During a latter telephone conversation, his pastor said: “Please, when you are settled, the Lord said I should tell you to sow $2000 for the publishing of my book.” The young man’s heart dropped in despair. But he struggled to donate $500 to his Father-in-the-lord. “When your Father-in-the-lord says a word, it is God speaking. The voice of the Father-in-the-lord is the voice of God”. That’s how he was trained in his church.
The pastor was angry about the $500 contribution. He said to the young man: “Who do you think you are? Did I not help you get where you are today? Did I not make you?” The donation was too small for pastor. A N20,000 assistance became an albatross on a young man trying to grow himself and family.
Pastor called again after about nine months: “I want a Toyota Camry 2008 American specification; please, find out how much it will cost. God wants you to pay for it. I don’t want to know how you buy it, how you transport it; I just want the car in front of my house when it’s ready”. The car would cost about $8,000. The young man mustered up boldness and asked:“How long, Sir, am I going to be doing this for you”?
“Forever! For the rest of your life. You know I made you”, pastor said. Remember it was just a N20,000 loan; and it was paid back with interest.
I burnt in anger as he told me this story. But his account is mild compared to many others I have seen and heard. Some fathers and mothers-in-the-Lord have destroyed the lives of young men and women buffaloed into wrong relationships. I have met a handful who got married to men because their Father-In-The-Lord said “God said he’s your husband”. Some of them were murdered or maimed by these spouses after a long season of abuse.
As a young man when I first arrived the US almost 30 years ago, I was told by a prominent visiting man of God who showed me the picture of a girl saying: “…that is your wife”. A girl with a scarf around her head and mandible for Fola? But I was born and raised in a house of prayer and by praying parents. I know the voice of God when I hear it.
The intention of these Fathers-in-the-Lord is to use the concocted and arranged relationships to build an empire for themselves. If you are a young man with a high-paying job, you are in trouble. These men will bring you close, manipulating and controlling you and your earnings. If you let a Father-in-the-Lord run your life, he will ruin and run you down and out of town.
God has not called pastors to run people’s lives, but to point the sheep always to the Chief Shepherd. If you don’t know your pastor fairly well enough, you may be making some crucial decisions of life enhanced by the voice of a fallen angel, not the voice of God. If you allow outsiders run your marriage, your business, ministry, and life, you will get run down, and you may never get back up. There once was an occupier of the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Fathers-in-the-Lord destroyed his dreams with false prophecies after milking him clean and dry.
There are men and women of God scattered all over who are engaged in awesome work of help and relief on the mission field. There are many men and women, names you have or haven’t heard; and faces you have seen or may never see on televisions who are committed to helping the helpless. I know great men and women of God in Nigeria, men with impeccable character and integrity who say what they mean and insist on what they say even if the weather is not commodious. Men who do not attempt to help God with miracles from the oracles, or conjure signs and wonders that make many families sigh in pain and ponder.
Even with these ersatz ‘Fathers-in-the-Lord’, there are pastors who are more than shouting Hallelujah; who are not seeking gullible men and women given to fanatically humming a rambunctious ‘AAMMEN’ to lies in the name of prophecies. They are liberators from spiritual illiteracy and freedom-fighters from natural ignorance. They are teachers who teach from the wealth of experiential knowledge of life encounters. Their assemblies are sanatoria for societal reformation, wheels where characters are shaped, a refuge for the helpless and hopeless, and living examples of righteous living and lifestyle. I have a few in my life.
A Father-in-the-Lord running a conglomerate of con-artistries and assemblies of maddening mercantilism grieves the heart of God. They are ones who rehash in God’s ears what He said in Genesis 6:6 that He regretted making man.
-Fola Ojo, firstname.lastname@example.org