Apparently, I didn’t have to wait long to get a story, this would have been up yesterday but a little mischievous boy threw my internet modem away. Church and pastoral experiences in Nigeria consistently leave me bewildered and befuddled.
Here’s a true story: My mum ran into one half of a couple she knows at church, surprised to see only the wife she asked, “Where’s your husband?” The wife was surprised he didn’t make it to church and explained that he had help a young lady retrieve her car from her pastor but was supposed to come to church after. Of course my mum’s curiosity was piqued and once she got home the first thing she did was to call him, my constant prodding probably also contributed to the quick call. This young lady had gone to her pastor because she had an issue that weighed heavily on her heart. His holy response was, “what’s the most expensive thing in your house?” She responded truthfully that her flat screen TV was the most valuable item, he told her, “God wants it”. So this sweetheart went home and got her TV. She drove the TV to the pastor’s home, and this triggered a new request. The pastor apparently had a vision in which she had an accident in her car, for this reason and because God needed her car, he politely requested that she leave the car also. So for the last few months, this pastor has had possession of her TV and car. Why? What could be the pressing issue requiring this sacrifice of material goods, a major illness in the family, cancer, HIV/AIDS, maybe financial difficulties or ruin? Nope, she was single and wanted a husband.
Listening to this story I’m not quite sure of whom to be more upset with. I’m totally not impressed with either of them, but who gets the bigger slice of the blame pie? The supposed religious man of God who is treating God’s mercy and grace like a trade by batter system, or the young educated lady who falls for it? Where in the Bible were we ever led to believe that God grants us blessings because of what material possessions we can give to him? Yes, there are many instances of people saying things like, “if you give me a child I will dedicate him to your service” and all. Yet, I believe there’s a fundamental difference between someone freely offering from their gifts and talents in thanksgiving to God for His goodness, and a pastor demanding a TV and car from someone.
I will always believe that God exists; to me you only have to consider the complex human body, gravity, air, the solar system, the beauty of a butterfly, a tiny ants persistence, everything around me proclaims the existence of God. However, it saddens me to see what people try to get away with under the guise of religion. This abuse of religion is especially prevalent in developing countries like Nigeria. If you’ve ever had a chance to live in both a developing and developed country, you would have noticed that religion thrives in environments of extreme need. This in no way diminishes the importance or validity of religion; it simply means that folks tend to be more invested in the supernatural when their material existence leaves much to be desired. It is in these same situations that you observe the most heinous abuse of individuals trust and dependence on their religious institutions, and this cuts across every denomination and religion.
Incidents like this make me want to just shake everybody involved. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much we can do about dishonest religious leaders, I think they will always exist. The solution seems to lie in the education of the populace, the provision of opportunities, in the assurance that every single person is guaranteed all their rights, and to some extent the restructuring of society. I obviously don’t know the lady involved, she may just be one of those people who deeply desires to be married, and there’s nothing wrong with that but I would be surprised if her desperation isn’t fed and stoked by societal and family pressure.
What do I know; I’m just one more person with easy access to a computer and the internet sprouting off tons of problems but not offering solutions, yet. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and others like me just working our mouths but not doing anything productive. Yet, I have to believe that with the conversation comes the brainstorming, and that the hours, days and months of talk will ultimately materialize as something tangible. Power of positive thinking 🙂
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