For the average parent, it can be very disheartening to hear another parent tearfully revealing that a son is undergoing rehabilitation from drug abuse. I felt a kick in my heart when a respectable woman confessed that her only daughter began smoking at a tender age, while her attention was focused more on church programmes. This piece is not an attack on the Church or its General Overseers (GOs) or managers, no, please do not get me wrong. But it has become necessary for preachers of the word to give members, especially women a breathing space to train and raise their children in other activities outside the Church. Even pastors, both male and female, who are parents are not free from this saga in various homes. Not all pastors’ children have compulsorily shown strong characters at all times because some of them did not get the foundational training they needed to explore in life. Let that notion of being a perfect pastor’s child which forms a stereotype of judgment around them be erased from our system; they are also children who need to be raised like their peers. Activities in Church have become so frequent and common that it is used as an excuse or escape route. How can one comprehend the fact that teenagers would claim to attend Church programmes and end up in places of their choice, clubbing and in some cases engaging in cybercrimes and mini-prostitution? Now, it was shockingly revealed how a pastor’s teenage daughter in a popular Pentecostal church made secret love advances to a boy in the same youth fellowship; the content of her ‘love-letter’ threw her mother off balance. Through investigation, it was discovered that when she admires a boy, she does not pretend about it, she would rather go straight to express her feelings. She developed the habit when her mother was busy in the Bible school and Church. Yes, her mother has spoken to her as a growing girl like every other mother not knowing that her teenage daughter’s way was far from all her admonitions. She simply assumed her frequenting the church would take care of her responsibilities in her absence. If she was more careful and committed at home, her daughter’s misconduct would have been curtailed to some extent not with brazen boldness as she does it. Raising children is not only by spiritual food, but practical teachings among other things.
In the golden age, it was for the purpose of raising worthy children that women were compulsorily mandated to be home makers before the gradual development of women taking up 9-5 jobs. Then, two regular white-collar jobs were the order of the day for women. They were ‘teaching and nursing’ which allowed women to be close with their children. Other time-consuming highflying jobs had very few privileged women around them; instead bevies of women were found within farming, trading and sewing. These jobs apparently empowered and allowed women be with their families especially their children. It gave them room to work and walk with their children. When one juxtaposes all these, it becomes clear that earlier thinkers did not make mistakes rather were very wise in their submissions. Then, what the women lost in terms of financial empowerment, pedigree and accomplishment, they gained in the conduct, integrity and responsibility of their offspring. This is not to mean that there were no vices then; no, there was, but the rate was containable.
Yes, women take children to church, but do they train them there?
Tears fell off my eyes when a close pal disclosed in utter regret how her 33-year-old only daughter had smoked and took to alcoholism for more than 15 years under the same roof with her mother who was a strong devoted Christian. Someone would ask how possible is this? Yes, it is very possible. They lived as an admirable family before the father passed on when she was 20 years. The mother’s interest was more in the church where she also takes her to initially, before she gained admission into tertiary institution and took to full time clubbing, smoking and alcohol. No rightful thinking mother would support her daughter to drink, smoke and club, but because she was away to obey pastors instructions of being present at every church programmes, her hair was shaved at her back. It is not as though these things will not happen, but when discovered early, the chances of rescuing will be there unlike when the disease has eaten deep into the fabric of the individual.
Interestingly, whatever a woman represents in the African contest is to build a successful home first and other things follow. An Igbo adage says: “nwanyi bu uno (the woman is the home.” No woman can claim to have achieved success with irresponsible children at her back. No, for the purpose of raising responsible children alone, women have given up mouth-watering jobs, luxury businesses and discomfort. Some became complete housewives just to push out worthy children in families and the society.
Now, it is not a wrong idea to have programmes in churches; the reason is to win souls for Christ, which is the greatest every living soul thrives to achieve and also to bring the kingdom down on earth. It is a wonderful thing to be in the presence of God, but when it is abused for selfish reason, it will lose its salt. The frequency of church programmes is not giving other aspects of lives the required opportunities and development to explore.
Excitingly, let us not forget the repeated tone of most preachings like Christian life is a personal race, which is very correct and with this, five out of seven days of the week are occupied by church programmes of which most congregants are women. Some church leaders do it as a marketing strategy to restrict their members from going to other churches because the crowd is needed, the church must grow. Others see it as a reason to run away from neighbourhood quarrels. Church has no problem as an institution, but the attitude of the managers and the members are the problems. It might surprise someone that not all church members understand the reason for the programme; they do not pay attention because they were forced to attend or pretend for the man of God to be happy. Church is no longer a sacred worship centre for many. For them it has become a place where they can socialize, trade, showcase and look out for the latest fashion in town. So many have met, dated and married from the church, yet got divorced like unbelievers. A pastor once said that some church members are the most difficult people to deal with in offices, businesses, homes and otherwise. A careless woman lost three children in a midnight inferno when she went for vigil and locked up her children in the house. Church was not her problem, but her carelessness. Another woman was crushed to death by a vehicle while returning from vigil. So many wives disobey their husbands, but respect their church leaders, yet claim to be Christian mothers and women. Likewise many church members remain in their Adamic nature even after years of attending church programmes.
It is for the reason of frequent attendance in church that a son took his widower father to an eatery and discussed with the management to feed him whenever he shows up in hunger because his new wife would not be available to prepare his meal as at when due. She would rather go to church.
From the grapevine, it was recorded that at 4:00a.m, a brother got a call from his pastor brother and almost collapsed because it was an ungodly hour. He thought there was a scuffle between the pastor with either robbers or kidnappers not knowing it was a purposeful visit at 4:00a.m to greet mother and new born child because there was no time to do it during the day.
Pastor said: “I could not find time because of too many activities in the church, so we closed vigil early and I tried to kill two birds with one stone.”
Frequent church activities have taken the place of family ties, sight-seeing, visits to the museum, zoo, arts gallery, which have their own teachings and development. I do not know how many families that are committed to compulsory moral instructions, siesta, attend piano lessons, healthy competitions like reading, essay, sports, dancing, inter-school science quiz, holiday charity works, idiomatic expressions, moonlight stories, all these exercises have been taken over by church activities. Apart from U-tube teachings, how many mothers have taught their children how to sew cloth, bake cake, fry Akara, fold and iron out clothes etc? Women should lead by example. I have not forgotten a prominent man from my community who drove his young primary school children round the old Ikoyi then and told them that people who aspire to live here are the best mathematics students. This simple trick drove his children to responsible science heights today. Not as a result of frequenting the church.
Dear pastors, kindly give members, particularly women, a breathing space to look into other areas of life, especially their homes. Try and strike a balance considering the fact that members are entitled to rest to avoid complaints, grudge, and disobedience. They are also human.