Philip Nwosu & Olakunle Olafioye
Men of God who frolic with their followers have come under the hammer of some prominent clergymen who said that such pastors who take the female members of their church in are not worthy to be called “men of God.”
Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), spoke recently on the crisis rocking the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and on the alleged molestation allegations of adherents by the founder, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo.
Adeboye a highly revered man of God was not happy with the stain such allegations is bringing into the church of God.
Speaking at RCCG’s monthly all-night service, which held at the Camp ground along Lagos-Ibadan expressway on July 5, Adeboye said that he was compelled to say something on the trending issue.
He said that his main advice was to the young and upcoming ministers of God, adding that all he would say was going to be from the Bible so that if they wanted to criticise him they would have to criticise the Bible.
Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Adewale Martins has called on persons entrusted to lead the flock to be mindful of the responsibility they had been given and avoid any act that would bring to disrepute the body of Christ.
He said: “It is really unfortunate that we have got to this stage in the life of the body of Christ and in the life of the nation, it is unfortunate that we have this scandals coming up here and there.
“When issues arise there is need to investigate them thoroughly so that we do not make condemnations on the air and when the truth is unraveled whoever is found guilty should face the wrath of the law.
“We advise that those who have the responsibility of leading flocks to recognize the fact that human as we are, we are nevertheless instrument and vessels of God and, therefore, we need to make a little more effort and try to live above board so that this kind of problems will be wrapped on the body of Christ.”
Indeed, for nearly a month, the church had come under severe attacks following recently revelation of how the Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) allegedly raped Busola Dakolo, the wife of a Nigerian musician, Timi Dakolo, when she was 17.
Outraged had greeted this revelation with many calling on the government to step in and sanitize the house of God , especially as several Christian ministers have been alleged to be involved in sex scandals.
Expectedly, there is growing public concern as to what is happening, especially as the phenomenon of men of God getting enmeshed in immoral acts with women seems to be increasing in frequency.
According to critics, the most recent involving the founder and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries, Apostle Johnson Suleiman and a Canadian-based singer Stephanie Otobo is a sad reminder of what is fast becoming a national pastime.
After Ms. Otobo claimed that Apostle Suleiman allegedly impregnated and later dumped her, the clergyman denied the allegations, claiming he’s never met Ms. Otobo.
Before Apostle Suleiman, Pastor Chukwuma Nkwocha, General Overseer of Tongue of Fire Restoration Ministry, was allegedly arrested in 2016 for keeping and defiling about 30 under-aged girls. Acting on a tip-off from a whistleblower, police allegedly raided Pastor Nkwocha’s church on Jacob Taiwo Street Oshodi; Lagos where he was hosting his hellfire party.
In 2013, a blogger identified as Ese Walter boldly came out to accuse Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) of having an intimate affair dating years back while she was in England. Ese, who was also a member of the church, said she had to spill the beans.
There were also allegation that several other ladies have accused Pastor Fatoyinbo of having an intimate relationship. Shockingly, Pastor Fatoyinbo did not contradict the claims which went viral on social media. Rather, he allegedly shrugged them off and ignored the entire buzz it generated, but his silence was deafening.
In 2016, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, founder and senior pastor of the Embassy of God, an evangelical-charismatic mega-church in Ukraine was enmeshed in scandal following allegations of extramarital affairs with at least 20 women in his church. Adelaja denied the allegations claiming it was an attempt by detractors to kick him out and take over the church he founded.
In 2014, reports surfaced that Ofuche Ukoha aka Dr. Sign Fireman, General Overseer of Perfect Christianity Mission, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos, was involved in an alleged sexual assault and killing of a 12-year-old girl. The incident put him on the spotlight and tarnished his image and that of his ministry.
Also it was a bombshell when reports emerged in 2014 that the founder of Believers Love World Ministry aka Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and his wife, Anita Oyakhilome, were getting divorced. Anita who filed for divorce cited irreconcilable differences bordering on adultery and unreasonable behaviour.
However, Pastor Chris denied any wrongdoing and blamed his wife’s decision on “bad influence from bad friends” who were hell-bent on criminalizing his private life, scandalizing his name and destroying his marriage.
Not long after the divorce saga, Chris’ brother, Pastor Ken was alleged to have impregnated a married woman who was a member of the Church in Randburg, headquarters of Christ Embassy in South Africa. His affair with the lady was an “open secret” among members of the church and when the news of the woman’s pregnancy started making the rounds, Christ Embassy officials reportedly aborted the pregnancy, and Pastor Ken was allegedly unceremoniously transferred to Houston, Texas, USA to prevent a major scandal.
Indeed, recurring allegations of indecent conducts among men of God remain a major thorn in the flesh of adherents of the Christian faith.
But a theologian, Prof Bode Akinlehin, described the disturbing trend as a sign of end time. He pointed out that the trend was not an indication that clerics who fell victims were not genuinely called by God. Rather, according to him, it is a pointer to the fact that they have lost focus on their calling.
Prof Akinlehin said: “It’s the manifestation of the time we are in. The Bible has already warned that there would be problems of all sorts with mankind in the end time. The Bible calls it the perilous times. Some of these men of God actually got the call, but because they cannot remain with the Lord without looking back into the world. They want to continue to enjoy those things they were used to when they were still in the world. They want to express themselves freely even with issues that are not necessary. They fail to focus on their call. This is very common everywhere. It does not mean that they were not called by God.
“Working with God requires a lot of sacrifices, it requires a lot of determination. The way to heaven is a narrow way: it means if you want to be like Jesus you can’t afford to be men pleaser.
“It’s also important to know that the calling of God is not for you to make merchandise of it, it is not to be rich or influential, but it is just to connect mankind to God so that people can walk directly with God. But when this focus is lost every other thing comes in.
“Secondly, there are those who are not called by God. They are probably those that grew up in the church and saw the prospect in that ministry. They forget that the ministry is a lifelong with God. So, a good number of them would come in under the pretense of wanting to walk with God, but after they have been known and seen they will come out with their very satanic character,” he stated.
He noted that the inability of those not genuinely called to rise above carnality should serve as opener to their followers who have previously lived under false belief in that these impostors were genuinely called by God.
“The Bible already tells us that many are called, but few are chosen. And also that by their fruits you shall no them. If people don’t know the truth every Dick and Harry is treated as a man of God. But when people know the truth, they realise that the calling of God is for His servant to be able to stand in the gap between man and God, connecting man to God while they themselves stand right with God, doing His work sacrificially and not for personal or for selfish interest,” he said.
Akinlehin also noted that there are situations when true men of God fall victims of ungodly followers. This, he said, is one of the ways of getting at leaders who fail to meet up with the expectations of some of their members.
“We don’t have to over-flog the matter. We have to realize that there are people who are in the church and who are expecting certain favour from the man of God, but the moment they realize they can’t get it you see them coming out to say the man of God has done this and that. So, the issue is generally a problem of the end time. Men of God are no longer standing right with God, congregation members are not genuine Christians. They are out there looking for fun and other worldly gratifications.
“In addition, the issue with men of God getting into such mess only reveals the level of poor theology education in our society. When a person claims to have been born again, of course, it should not end there, this person must move up from that level to the second level of denying to self or else the person will progress as a canal Christian and so will not be able to really walk perfectly with God, but will be living in sin,” he submitted.
Also reacting, Founder and Pastor -in-Charge Divine Covenant Ministry, Pastor Theophilus Oludele, said allegations of sexual offences must be condemned in all ramifications since it is regarded as a violation of God’s temple. “The Bible says the body is the temple of God. So anytime we sin, it doesn’t matter whether you a pastor or a church member, once you are involved in it you sin against your creator.
“I must confess that it is saddening to hear stories about men of God falling into this trap because as an ordained minister, you are expected to be above board. You are expected to be a role model to your followers. This is why the pitch of sensationalism over sexual offences is always high when it involves a religious leader. But then who is that saint to cast the first stone? “
“Then, we should not forget that we are in a desperate society where people are ready to do anything, including character assassination to achieve anything. So, it won’t be surprising if we are later confronted with revelations that will put a lie to all that currently trend.
“We must know that everyone deserves to be given fair airing before being taken to Golgotha as we have seen so far. This is also a wake up call for everybody, especially ministers of the gospel to be watchful. The church, you and I, have the responsibility to pray for spiritual leaders so that they don’t continue to fall and falter in this kingdom race” he admonished.