Akin-John said: “ A lot of pastors are too close to government, such that they can’t speak the truth anymore. When you are too close… the government will corrupt you”
Outspoken pastor and founder of Church Growth International Ministries, Dr. Bola Akin-John, has urged new age Nigerian Christian leaders to rediscover the real purpose of their pastoral calling, warning that the growing romance with government is corrupting the church.
He also expressed pain that the present focus on motivational and prosperity messages as well as the burgeoning influence of what he described as cultural gospel are not preparing converts for eternity.
Akin-John, whose ministry gift has been focused on helping pastors and other subsidiary leaders in church build spiritually healthy denominations, said the picture emerging among Christendom would further sully the church.
His words: “Pastors going into politics will never help us. The church must be separate from the state because the state will always corrupt the church. We saw it in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and more especially in 2015, when pastors began to endorse particular political party candidates, and you had some men of God who made declaratory statements about how God rejected one candidate and approved another. Some even made statements prophesying the victory of particular candidates. Some of the declarations did not come to pass. You had the case of the church leader who publicly denounced one presidential candidate and endorsed another. After the election, the same church leader turned around to condemn the same person he had endorsed, who got elected.
“We should go back and focus on what Jesus Christ said we should do, which is to preach the undiluted gospel of salvation. The church should never be the friend or enemy of the government. The church is enjoined by the bible to pray for those in political authority, and be the conscience of the society.
“We should return to the bible and do what Jesus Christ said we should do. He said he will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Unfortunately, there are local churches that the gates of hell are prevailing against, because we are not following the pattern of Jesus Christ. I will tell every general overseer and bishop in Nigeria to go back to the way Jesus Christ built the church in the Acts of Apostles. We should return to his pattern and teach our people the right doctrine and emphasise discipleship. I repeat, pastors going into politics will not help the church. The state will always corrupt the church. Let the church keep the government on its toes and insist that government should be responsive to the yearnings of the people. Government must rule with the fear of God, government must not be tribalistic; it must be fair and just, and provide the enabling environment for the citizenry to prosper and grow the economy with the right policies.”
Unlike in the biblical times, when prophets could boldly tell the king that he had derailed from the right path, Akin-John said it was regrettable that some church leaders have lost the boldness to hold political leaders accountable on account of their dalliance with government, resulting in continuing depletion of the pool of prophets like Samuel and Nathan in the present day Nigeria.
On this reality, Akin-John said: “There are few of us. A lot of pastors have been corrupted by their intimacy with government. A lot of pastors are too close to government, such that they can’t speak the truth anymore. When you are too close to government, government will corrupt you. When you bring government officials to your pulpit – a holy place – and have the government official coming to the pulpit to lie and deceive the people, you bring government officials on the altar and publicly pray for them, that is wrong. You are simply saying that you are now part of the government and the people will look at you as an enemy of the society, who is taking side with the government to oppress the people.
“Some pastors only speak against the government when they are touched personally by adverse policy or action of the government. This should not be; the church should only be partners-in-progress with the government for the sake of the people. Only the welfare of the people is what matters.”
In the wake of the gale of defections, re-defections and quickening of political activities towards the 2019 election coupled with the menace of killer herdsmen, Akin-John reminisced that the situation of the country as it is did not come to him as a surprise, saying that he had foreseen this three years ago.
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His words: “When the 2015 election was approaching, I told people not to vote for Muhammadu Buhari because I knew his antecedents. When he was the military head of state between 1984 and 1985, I knew the decision he took concerning the Lagos Metroline project initiated by the Lateef Jakande administration. I also knew about the way he presided over the Petroleum Trust Fund (Special) as the chairman during the regime of late General Sani Abacha, when he spent the bulk of the funds on major projects in the north. Again, when Chief Lam Adesina was the governor of Oyo State, I know how he went there to defend herdsmen. So, he is not doing anything contrary to what he loves to do. “Today we are suffering from the outcome of voting for Buhari. He has not taken any firm step to end the killings and the reason is obvious. Killer herdsmen are Boko Haram terrorists in disguise.
“In the past, Fulani cattle rearers moved about with sticks, which they used to control their herds. But these days, herdsmen move about with AK-47 machine guns with huge supply of bullets and just killing people, sacking villages and taking over the farming communities. Yet the government said that it is helpless. President Buhari said we should just pray. Then it said that the people should vacate the land for the herdsmen if they don’t want to get killed. Where have you ever seen that happen? Yes we will continue to pray asking God to intervene; we will hold onto our land and to our faith.
“My own real prayer for Nigeria is that the country should be restructured. I say so for too many reasons. There is too much imbalance in the structure of the country and there is so much injustice. When the president was choosing all the heads of the security services and paramilitary services from the north
and mainly Muslims, and many people spoke out against it, his media aides said he chose only the people he can work with. Now we are seeing the true agenda being unveiled. That is why Christians must use their votes to support restructuring in the 2019 election.”