If you don’t know Dr. Abel Damina, you may have to do some homework because this piece won’t help you that much. Originally from Saminaka Local Government Area of Kaduna State in northwestern Nigeria, the reverend gentleman came to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, three decades ago. He told me on live radio recently that first trip to the state was just to speak at a crusade and head back. He’s been here ever since.
Up until six months ago, I wasn’t particularly his fan. In all those years though, I could not but respect and appreciate and celebrate him for his vociferous passion for God, his dogged consistency in Christ, and the exceptional quality of the men and women and boys and girls who followed and still follow him. Because of space, or the lack of it, just five names should suffice. Let’s start with people who at different levels and times remain my bosses: Pastor Praise Okon (a retired permanent secretary who at some point was director-general of Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation; Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem (former chairman of a local government, former law teacher in a university, former treasurer of a political party in a state, former three-time honourable commissioner in his home state and, currently, National Legal Adviser of that same political party); and Dr. Martin Akpan, an iconic medical doctor, a known quantity in literature being an author of repute who did fantastic work as head of Akwa Ibom state Action Committee on AIDS and later as director of Medical Services at the state ministry of health and is now working to reposition the state primary healthcare development agency as board chair).
Beyond their public personae, I know the three men personally and privately. There’s just no way they would follow an empty man. For a long while, that was the main reason Dr. Abel Damina remained God’s minister of interest to me even while I wasn’t his fan. Plus, I also have friends (let’s mention only Ubong Colonel and Ndifreke for now) who are naturally not your regular, agreeable Christians.
For Pastor Colonel and Ndifreke and millions of other young people locally, nationally and internationally to stick with Dr. Damina, man and boy, I told myself there must be something special about the man of God. Still, I stayed in my little corner, far away enough not to dabble into criticising my ignorance of the Senior Pastor of Power City International but near enough to take note of his goings-on. Then, some things happened. First, on an impromptu interview on my radio show, he said some of those hard things very few pastors would, which got me slamming him with questions I thought would make him dizzy.
He wasn’t: he neither frowned nor stammered all through. In fact, that instead made me his man, a point he relayed as I saw him off that day. In the course of time, we had more stunning interviews and always I saw that he was deep, real, different, free and sure. Then, one day, right on the heels of one of such interviews, he said to me, “Mr. BUSH, are you able to visit our office one of these days so we could talk business?”
My schedule and such other intervening forces of nature delayed that visit. When I finally did, apart from being impressed with the office set up, I liked the fact that he was so businesslike and surefooted: the meeting took under 10 minutes. “Mr. BUSH, our church is planning a global event tagged ‘30 Days of Glory,’ a daily two-hour live radio, television, Facebook, YouTube, online programme. How much is your professional fee, to anchor the second hour, which would be for questions and answers?”
I told him I don’t do professional fees with God. He took me up and down and around, so to speak, to convince me that “this is business. And, it will run for all of one month, if not more; so you need to charge and get paid to make up for the time and energy and knowledge you would expend.”
Thereafter, we held several meetings and had many phone conversations all aimed at convincing me to charge the church. He lost. Then, on the fifth day of this month, the programme started: the live feedback has been phenomenal – and from the nooks and crannies of the earth. I never knew the world had this much hunger and thirst for the word!
Dr. Damina’s teaching is revolutionary, audacious and fresh. With grace and salvation as his central theme, coupled with his knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, the man who holds two theological doctorate degrees offers unprecedented -if you like, daredevil- insight into the Bible. Imagine saying “the book of Genesis is not the beginning of the Old Testament (that Exodus is), nor is the book of Matthew the beginning of the New (Acts is).” Furthermore, in addition to saying, for instance, that “in the beginning …” which the Bible opens with, ought to have been, “before the beginning of the world … ,” he maintains that the prosperity message (which he himself used to preach) is manipulative and false; that Christians should not pay but give tithe, and should not give to God in expectation but give in appreciation.
Expectedly, his messaging has provoked raw emotions. That is understandable. Dr. Abel Damina cannot push his monstrous sermons as forcefully as he does, leaving some Christians feeling small or inadequate, and not expect some howlback. Alas, some of the responses border more on hate than on sense.
Which brings me to why this piece. I was jolted by a very disrespectful Facebook post yesterday on this matter by someone I consider a friend, a brother and, despite being younger than me, a confidant. A fantastic and tactful reverend minister himself, it irks that he would not only choose a marketplace rather than the open feedback channels provided by 30 Days of Glory but also deploy uncharacteristic language to address a senior. Having never seen junior cultists or occult members dare their seniors that openly and brazenly, I sometimes wonder about Christianity.
That said, I believe there are better ways to disagree. Mankind must at all times display maturity while reacting, the degree of provocation or anger or bitterness or hate or envy notwithstanding. Also, we do not need to respond to everything, no matter how tempting. God bless Christendom!