There was a time when men of God were renowned for their simple lifestyles. They endured the hardships the natives suffered in a bid to impart in them the knowledge of Jesus Christ and the word of God. The legacy of these humble men has since been overtaken by more self-centered doctrines which most pastors of this generation preach.
Biblical teachings say giving at least 10% of your fortune to the divine cause brings more blessings, and it is the duty of every Christian. However some churches now use this recommendation to exploit practitioners. On a continent where scammers of all kinds flock the internet, it is difficult to convince a stranger to pay money for a cause, but easy to convince a poor man to give his last penny for eternal deliverance from poverty. Preachers go to great lengths, including providing new interpretations of the Bible, in order to receive donations. Today, so many marriages and families have been broken and stripped of their every belonging by the so-called spiritual pastors. It is therefore not uncommon today, to see some “nouveau-riche” pastors fly in private jets, drive luxury cars and own breathtaking residences.
While accusing fingers are pointed to Nigeria as being the Genesis of this Pentecostal influence across Africa, others believe that unemployment, ignorance and poverty are at the root of the problem. People will just give anything to step out of the realm of poverty. It is said that God is good, especially if you are a pastor with some business savvy in Africa. Pastor’s passing as “men of God”, especially of the Pentecostal stripes pray on their followers who – looking for solutions to their problems; real, imagined or willed – turned to the “men of God” for spiritual help. Of course the pastors are more than willing to oblige – for donations and contributions which the church members cannot often afford. Churches are seen as non-profit organisations and therefore not taxed. But by promoting the message of hope from poverty, they now run like corporations with their pastors as CEOs. If men of God are allowed to be entrepreneurs, innovative, and take the Word of God to the same level as every other information is, it still holds that most Christian organisations should be social enterprises or organisations that do not only run as for-profit organisation, but also use the profits to benefit and save other lives.
On the other hand, it seems people have been brainwashed with how to worship God as every church now comes up with different names. It is not surprising to see people attend church rituals involving frantic falls before temple altars, as if grasped by epileptic seizures, to feign attack by the spirit. It has reached the extent of parents praying for their sick children at home instead of seeking medical attention; of chaining children to enable the pastor cast out demons; of women caught having sex with pastors in hotels, and found spending more time catering for pastors, while their children starve. The list goes on.
The solution to these manipulations lies in the hands of every Christian. The Bible. In my opinion, if people read and studied the Bible as often as they claimed they did, then they must have come across several verses like Matthew 21: 22 which says “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” . This, like many other similar verses in the New Testament, clearly explains that a man must have no latent doubt in his heart but must have absolute trust in the power and good will of God. Meaning therefore that it is not the Pastor´s prayer that sets one free from spiritual bondages, but first and foremost one´s faith in Jesus Christ. Nowhere is it stated in the Bible that, prayers and miracles must be done in exchange for money, because salvation is for free and for everyone.
It is unfortunate that while some churches minister to the spiritual, educational and economic needs of people, others use the gospel intelligently to acquire wealth out of the destitution of the poor. Even more appalling are those who have the answers under their very noses, but who driven by these manipulations still abide blindly to such fake doctrines.
At the end of the day, how a man chooses to worship his God is up to him. Worshippers are not forced to be followers in these churches; they follow these “men of God” on their own accord, thereby making the pastor´s wealth acquisition fairly legal. However, Christians should always have this in the back of their minds: “…False Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect-if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” Matthew 24: 24-26.