The Pentecostal faith in Nigeria is a veritable goldmine, judging by the opulence of most of its pastors. The church that hang his existence on miracle, speaking in tongues, profit oriented and prosperity messages is rapidly eating deep in the heart of Africa and Nigeria
It is made even more attractive because incomes of churches are tax-exempt. Nearly all the churches are the private property of their pastors or founders and their immediate families.
In an economic environment in which the majority of Nigeria’s estimated 130 million population has been impoverished by unemployment, lack of basic social infrastructure and rising inflation, the church has become the last refuge for many people.
The favoured churches are the new-generation Pentecostal assemblies, that are owned and managed solely by fast-talking American-style pastors.
Rich and powerful Nigerians run after the pastors for “spiritual protection” from imaginary ‘enemies’ who, they are convinced, are lurking around the corner to pull them down.
These are the big spenders in the churches.
The attraction, perhaps, lies in the often-quoted biblical injunction that “givers never lack” and the fact that most pastors don’t ask the donors how they make the money they give.
The poor also frequent such pentecostal churches every day as instructed by the so called pastors in order to receive favor from God. They are also required to give alms even at the expense of their families. Below are such examples of devoted services of the members.
In March 2003, a cashier at a five-star hotel was arrested for allegedly stealing nearly 40 million naira (then about US$400,000) from his employer.
His colleagues were shocked because there was nothing to suggest that he was living above his means – he had no car and he lived in a rented flat in a non-fashionable part of Lagos.
The man confessed that he gave all the money to his Pentecostal church in cash and equipment.
In another case a bank clerk stole 40 million naira from his employer and gave 10 million to his church as ‘seed money’ in the belief that the seed would germinate and yield several fold as promised by his pastor.
Many Nigerians believe that a large number of pastors are honest and devoted to the service of God and mankind.
But they readily take umbrage under the Yoruba saying that “only God knows who serves Him truly.”
Time has come when we should begin to remind our people what the scriptures says ” That not all that call God Lord Lord, knows him or will enter his kingdom.