By Chinelo Obogo and Lawrence Enyoghasu
General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has lampooned the Federal Governments for putting restrictions on crossover services.
He also lashed the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for supporting the decision.
The cleric, in a sermon titled ‘Divine Lifting’ at the Church headquarters in Lagos, yesterday, expressed displeasure over the restrictions on worship places on December 31 by the federal and some state governments which made it impossible for various Christian denominations to hold the traditional vigil, called cross-over nights, to usher in the new year.
Adeboye who spoke at the celebration of the 2021 First Sunday Service at First Born Parish, Ebutte Meta, Lagos State, said rather than close prayers and usher in the New Year on December 31, 2020 at about 10-11pm being the time suggested by governments, he instructed members of his church to observe the cross over in their homes.
“The authorities in the government and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the cross over services should be held at different times. Some said we should close by 10pm while others said we should close by 11pm. I said we should agree and close in our homes because it is funny to me to cross over by 10pm on December 31. That means we are crossing over to 2020, God forbid. So, rather than cross over by 10pm or 11pm, I said we would stay in our houses and cross over at 12 midnight which will be a proper cross over.
“I found it funny because nobody has told us yet that Coronavirus attacks people at night. Nobody told us that Coronavirus is a witch because it is only witches who fly at night, and if the virus is a witch, then it means it can hear. If I am a witch and I hear that the people I want to kill would have run away to their houses by 12 midnight, then I would kill them by 11 or 10.
“But I’m telling you this so you won’t be afraid. There is fear in the air and fear is a killer. The way things are going, some people would die of hypertension just because they are afraid. When I say relax, I don’t mean you should be careless.”
He said he would comply with every rule laid by government to curb the spread of coronavirus but would not refuse to perform his duty as a pastor and husband.
“Obey the government by wearing your masks, washing your hands and observing social distancing as much as possible. In church, the ushers put a big stool between me and my wife, but I removed the stool because no one can put a distance between me and my wife. Social distancing wouldn’t stop me from laying hands on the sick so that they can recover, that’s my duty and I would continue to do it.
“There is nothing wrong in complying with the rules, as you can see I am also wearing the mask and washing my hands regularly because the government is trying to save us all and we have to comply at all cost.
“As a church, we have put all in place to make sure we comply with the government but as for me, I will not allow social distance to keep me from my wife and healing the sick by laying hands on them, it is my duty as a man of God.
“God called me and said that Redeemed Christian Church of God is his church and he has vowed to protect his church. We are under the protection of God and there is no need to be afraid.
“We will survive this period. Ebola came, we survived, Coronavirus has come and we will survive as long as we keep on praising God.”
CAN president, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, had urged churches nationwide to adhere strictly to existing COVID-19 protocols and additional guidelines relating to crossover on December 31 services.
He advised that in states where embargo were placed on night worship, Christians should gather much earlier to praise God for sparing their lives, and that meetings must not go beyond 11:00p.m. to enable worshippers return home on time.