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27Jul

God, Relationship, Religion, Zealots and Psychos

“Religion is man’s pursuit of God. It is man’s definition of God and man defining what God is and because everybody has what their definition is, we have chaos and disorder. When you find religion, you find rules, you find laws and you have weights upon people’s shoulders and people cannot keep those weights because they were not built for all these laws and rules to try to live by…when you go and find the real deal, they ain’t gotta sell you what you can and cannot do…when you get the real deal, something inside of you is going to let you know, just like when you find your wife…” – Kirk Franklin

Let me start by saying there is no such thing as an ‘African church.‘ Church is church  and it is a place without walls. I don’t remember there being a Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican or African church by name in the bible. Unless of course, I bought the wrong one. However, I know for sure that I have the right bible and at no point does it say, African Church. I do not and will not claim to know the bible word for word. In fact, I am still learning. We have become experts at giving things names because it makes it so much easier to group people or label them, which in turn gives us the privilege to go about bastardising them as we deem fit when we are ready. It is easier to group them up, that way, we can create an image that sticks in people’s minds and fit within an ideology that we prefer to perpetuate no matter the consequences. On the other hand, the church needs to get off its backside and come to the place where it truly demonstrates that “There is neither Greek nor Jew,” and stop bashing each other for the way this pastor or that vicar preaches or prays. That is not to say, you must turn a blind eye when a joker is using God’s word for their personal and selfish gain, but I am personally tired of them trying to outdo each other. It is not a competition. Talk the talk and walk the walk before I lose my salvation for no just cause or reason.

So, when I watched Dispatches on Channel 4 last night, it was with disgust, disappointment and disbelief. I am not sure what was more upsetting, that these money grabbing jokers called themselves pastors; when what I saw was a cultural and traditional clan of witch hunters busy bringing the name of God into disrepute and the fact that they had caused so much pain in the lives of people and their families.

What I saw on Dispatches is not the same God I know or serve. While I am fully aware of the existence of good and evil, this was a whole different ball game. I have never read in my bible that anyone was asked for money before they got delivered or was offered deliverance.  If I remember correctly, the seven sons of  Sceva got the beating of their lives when they engaged in the act of casting out demons using methodology. What I saw last night reminds me of them. The method of getting money off people by offering deliverance is a NO in my book. So, is the method of stigmatising children and leaving them scarred for the rest of their lives.

Without much digression, I know there are practices and incidents which would baffle the western mind if you have not seen it for yourself and of course, you would label it ‘mumbo jumbo’ but I write as someone who grew up in an environment where things baffle you to the point…where you dare not narrate the story to anyone for fear of being called a liar or psycho, or alienate people because they are afraid of the next psychotic story you are going to tell. But I was born and raised in Benin City and there is a joke that when a Benin man tells you, ‘you go see,’ be assured that you will see things. Whatever they have seen, I will leave that to them to decide but I know of people affected by things and have experiences which my human mind cannot comprehend or take in and so, I question what the heart of men carry, which no one has access to. If there is one thing I remember as a child, was the morning, a neighbour knocked on our door, saying, ‘Wa doghe o,’ which simply translates as come and see oh! Now, she did not say it with passivity, it had drama in it. Of course, no way  my father would allow my tiny legs go out and if I stepped out, I best stay out and find new accommodation. All I know is that by the time the news had circulated, her roadside business of selling fried beanballs, popularly know as ‘Akara,’ was over and we had the soundest of warnings. No more buying of ‘Akara,’ from her or anyone else. Daddy, I am sorry to say I broke this rule a number of times but believe me, no funny business.

Bringing that back to the topic of the documentary, casting out witchcraft in children, let me say, there is such a thing as spiritual warfare but that is a topic for another day and there was deliverance in the bible. Jesus did this during his ministry time and it was not violent nor was money involved. In fact, it was calm and quick. If I am correct, Luke 8:26-39, the story of the man in Gadarenes, and his healing/deliverance…read it to find out more. What I am saying is, he only spoke and commanded, he did not have to choke the man, ask him for money or ask him to go and sleep with some women in church to get better.

dispatchesHence, the programme made me sick to my stomach when the young lady narrated her story about being asked to sleep with the pastor. I may not have been there or know the whole truth because what we saw was an edited programme made based on someone’s objectivity which no matter how you sugarcoat it, is already tainted and biased because it will lean towards one ideology or one truth which may not be the whole picture. However, it cannot all be lies. There is no smoke without fire and that is what angers me. When we lose sight of what the scriptures are really about and start using them for our personal profit and purpose, and in turn create and perpetuate wrong ideologies about God when he is not an ideology. Yes, the media has fun where the church is concerned, the reportage about Christianity and the church, to a certain extent, they would not dare do that with Islam and Muslims or Jews  because it would be considered insensitive and discriminatory but where a church, which has Africans as the majority of its congregants is concerned,  the treatment and attitude… is well, they are a bunch of Africans, happy clappers. You know, them ‘lunnies’ and fanatics. Oh well, at least they are a freaks for Jesus and not high on drugs among others. I know what I am talking about in terms of the reportage. If you doubt me, start collecting your newspaper clippings and then tell me I am wrong. Do not misunderstand me, when there is evil like child abuse, it must be exposed, disciplined and corrected. The life of a child matters more than the image of any church. Besides, if you read the same bible and the teachings of Christ about children, then you will  realise, they are precious and must not be tampered with in any form shape or way.

What in the world is ‘Divine Money Transaction?’ In this documentary, it was one of the ways, people were being asked to give money. When you hear that, you have to ask questions. What is it about and what does it mean? Who am I transacting with? Personally, when it comes to tithe and offering, it is biblical and where I am concerned, you do not have to give if you do not want to or do not have the money. God does not need your money or mine.  It is up to you the kind of seed you want to sow. If you are not happy or convinced about giving, keep your money in your pocket is what I say. Your money stays right here on earth and the head/pastor of any church must account for what is done with the money especially big ministries. When there is misuse, then, there is cause for concern and correction. For those, who say church is a business, please start yours, so you too can make a profit. Let us be honest, there will always be wolves in sheep’s clothing among us. Not everyone that goes to church and talks the talk, really walks the walk. Even Christ warned us about such jokers – Matthew 7:15-16 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”

But for those, who are doing right, all of this leads to one thing, everyone becomes a suspect. Let us call a spade a spade, there are those of us, for whom faith is very important because we know what we get from it. If you are an agnostic, go right ahead, have fun. Its your life. Live it like I will live mine as long as we respect each other and our individual space.  Church is a building and its really what’s in your heart that counts. That is not say you are perfect because you are a Christian or a Muslim but you do your part and strive to live and lead a meaningful life while respecting and treating those around you with respect. We cannot forget the role of the church in the communities they are in either. There are churches in the UK, which do community work, run classes/have programmes for teenagers, young adults, teach life changing sermons and help families in need, provding support in ways that you cannot begin to imagine but these stories never gets reported. We only hear the bad ones, which instantly puts everyone on the defensive but I say, if you have nothing to fear, hide or worry about, then do your work and do it with your head, held up high.

This is why you as an individual need to first of all, know yourself, have a firm understanding of your faith because when you know God for yourself, no one individual or group of people can sell you crab practices or doctrines. No one is going to come and tell me that the reason I have a medical condition is because of a sin I committed even before I was born or that I am possessed by some crab. Hell to the no! I will beat them and the crab out of them. Reminds me of the early days, 15/16 years ago when all of my medical drama started. I was told I needed deliverance and me being the obedient joker, I went along. When the man started telling me to drink the blood of Jesus, that was it. I was out of there and told the person who took me, see you at home. It was not funny because I had been rude you see and so, had to live with an angry relative for a few weeks because they were trying to help me and I was ungrateful. Oh well, if drinking the blood of Jesus involves you  choking me and almost leaving me with eternal gaps in my gum, then I am out of there. Sorry mate!

Hence, I can see aspects of this film which are true and the fact that people magnify the issue of deliverance to the point where that’s all there is to church. No. You can pray in your house and call on the name of God. You do not need a bunch of men physically assaulting you by pinning you down to be set free. For whom the son of God sets free is free indeed. Why do I need to pay anyone for my salvation or freedom when I have read that it is free and available to all. Parents need to take good care of their children and stop subjecting them to things they are yet to understand or comprehend. Yes, you should raise your child with values and instill good morals in them but remember they will grow up and make up their mind in time. So, set a good example and do not subject them to abuse and to make things worse sometimes, when they come to you that ABC or XYZ did this to me, you do not believe them.

Bottom-line, there is God and there is religion. When you buy into religion, you miss God but when you have a relationship, then its about the two of you and no one else. My experience of God, his grace and faith is different to yours and will be different to that of many people out there but I have come too far for anyone to tell me there is no God. I have passed the stage where I feel the need to prove to anyone that there is God. I know him, he knows me and that settles it. I have come too far for anyone to tell me I am possessed. I have come too far for anyone to sell me a lie. I make mistakes everyday but this much I know, nothing makes me special for we are equal in his eyes. It is grace and nothing else. And so, I say to the zealots out there, who makes it almost shameful to say I am a christian though I am not, stop inflecting pain on innocent children and families.  Stop acting like psychos and asking people for money to get delivered, there is no such thing. Stop asking young girls for sexual favours and brandishing them as liars. Stop calling children witches and subjecting them to things their innocent hearts and minds do not understand.  Stop doing things that make the media lump all churches attended by Africans as ‘African churches,’ which in turn makes every action one that arouses suspicion. You were sent into the world to help not to cause pain.

My two cents because enough is really enough. The church is not a cult or an experience of occultism for me and so, when I see programmes that show what I saw on Dispatches because a few jokers got it all twisted, well…that is not funny.

Image: Dispatches

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One Response to “God, Relationship, Religion, Zealots and Psychos”

  1. Hans Schippers says:

    Good points in there!

    It is all about finding a way to God… You might do this on your own, seek guidance in the Bible, in religious rituals or in people whose hands you put your faith into.
    The latter way may work out for many, but of course there is going to be a risk of their trust being abused. No reason to condemn the church or religion as such, and you are right when you say they would not dare doing this with Islam, although it is being done with Catholicism at this moment, with the child abuse cases. Like you say, they should be revealed, investigated, and those responsible held accountable, but deeming the whole concept of church a criminal one is a step too far…

    Not sure about your statement that buying into religion will make you miss God though… Many catholics get closer to God through the multitude of rituals a catholic mass constitutes for example… They should not be mistaken for God himself, but they might act as facilitators…

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