The General Overseer Gospel Herald Churches International, Dr Caleb Ayanwusi, has faulted calls by some Christian leaders that their members should send their tithes and offerings to the respective churches on-line.
This is regardless of the fact that these members are caught in the current COVID-19 lock-down by declared by the Nigerian government.
In this interview, he said now is the moment for churches and their leaders to feed and care for their members and not to add to their burdens.
Read excerpts below:
Question: What is your take on Covid19
Ans: COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the Church who has been slumbering and exhibiting disturbing and unpardonable laxity in their spiritual and social responsibilities. Everybody is after fame and popularity, only a very very few churches and Christian leader are truly teaching the real words of God to their members and the world which by the day falls deeper into immorality and indescribable wicked ways of looking for money.
And hardly can we cast the whole blame on those involved in this wicked ways of seeking money or wealth, in an environment where prosperity preaching has been elevated far above the gospel of righteousness, perseverance and waiting on the Lord. In an environment where ministers of God live in affluence while members live in abject poverty.
Apart from this, Covid19 has exposed the unpreparedness of most church organisations to respond to emergencies, in fact, it clearly revealed how most of these churches even as big as they are, have no strategic welfare programmes for their members.
And finally, from the spiritual dimension, Covid19 has revealed how un-prepared many of us Christians are for the second coming of Jesus Christ, if the panic and fear being witnessed since the pandemic broke out, is anything to go by.
Question: How can Church organisations and Christians complement government’s efforts to end this plague?
Ans: The Church as a body should pray that God should heal our land in accordance with His covenant in the Book of Chronicle that:
“If my people called by my name would repent of their iniquities and call on Me, I will heal their land.”
These are the words of the Almighty God who created heaven and earth. He doesn’t say what He will not do, He is not a man that He will lie, therefore the onus is on us to do the needful and see if He will not prove Himself.
From the human angle as a church, we have a duty ordained by God to obey our leaders knowing fully that they were ordained by God, nobody gets to the position of power without the authority of God and it is generally believed that they rule on His behalf when they no longer do His will, He knows how to remove them. Disobeying our leaders especially those elected by the people is a sin against God.
Also as a church, we are well placed to enlighten and sensitise the people most of who are our member, on the government’s programmes and directives. We are well placed to help government disseminate information faster than any other medium, especially now that most church organisations have radio and television stations those that are yet to have, have paid programmes on these stations.
Above all we Christian leaders must lead by example, especially in obeying legitimate directives and policies of government aimed at improving our lives, promoting security and ensuring peace and stability, as it is the case with all the directives on Covid19.
But where a Christian leader will be the first to breach such directives and knowing fully that many of our members look unto us for a directive, doing otherwise is a recipe for anarchy.
You see this kind of things happen in an environment where some pastors are not Christians but church leaders. The Bible says by their fruit we shall know them. You cannot be a Christian and not be law-abiding. Some of them are not led by the Holy Spirit whom they claim to have.
Question: Why does it look as if the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is helpless in calling some of these pastors and church leaders to order
Ans: First, CAN is more or less an association of convenience, who many church leaders believe they are bigger than, more powerful than and have no control over their members and activities of their churches. CAN cannot speak because of what it gets from some of those set of church leaders. Also besides CAN has become an arm of government and has failed to protect the integrity of the Church.
In that case, the government should wake up to its responsibility to prosecute anyone found wanting without fear or favour. Also don’t forget that a man of God who cannot truly subject himself to the highest authority which is the Holy Spirit, will definitely submit to the rule if illegality at all cost.
Question: You were reported to have given cash donations to every family member of your church, while some other pastors are asking theirs to pay tithes and offering into their Church account, what led you to give back and not collect?
Ans: The Holy Spirit touched my heart when I was sourcing for funds for my wife to get foodstuff for our household then I thought of my church members who live on daily income, how will they survive.
I now called my wife and also spoke with some other stakeholders in the church on what to do. I now decided to use my personal savings from my practice as a medical doctor and gave a token of N5,000.00 each during the first 14days lockdown and another N2,000.00 each during the current second lockdown, to every family member at the headquarter church and the branches, since I don’t have the sole capacity to do it for each and every member, especially the vulnerable and the daily income earners.
On this note, I must appreciate some Christian groups, particularly those from the Orthodox classification, for their wonderful supports to complement government’s efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic and to give food relief to families. It is this last point that I want stress most, I mean food relief and other stimulus, particularly stipends to buy other essential needs, should be given a higher consideration by these church organisations just as I beseech our brothers in the Pentecostals that this is the time to extend a true hand of fellowship to our brethren.
Question: Looking at how vulnerable church members are as a result of this pandemic, isn’t that a wake-up call for prudent use of tithes and offerings, especially for a raining day like this?
Ans: My take on tithe and offering, to start with it is common with some leaders to abuse the use, spending Church tithes in un-Biblical way. This is an area where a CAN that is truly interested in building a heaven-looking Church and promote Jesus Christ’s injunction to Apostle Peter, ‘feed my Church’, should rein in.
I’m not comfortable like I said earlier, in a situation whereby pastors will use church money to buy cars , private jets, and using it to fund private and personal projects such as schools, while members are starving in this manner. Some pastors will not go to hell not because of fornication but because of the way and manner they mismanaged church funds, especially tithe and offering, there is a stipulated law on how to spend it in the Bible and I believe that anyone that is led by the Bible will not be living fat on tithe.
Question: Why some of you are giving out some others are asking their members locked in at home to send tithe and offering on-line…
Ans: Well, I don’t know why some Christian leaders are doing this, one thing we can deduce is that they are insensitive and uncaring. Meanwhile, the tithe is 10% of your income, where are they supposed to get it when they are not working in the lockdown. Are they suppose to go and steal, I’m against it totally and I am very sure God is equally against it totally.
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