LAGOSâ€”GENERAL Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, yesterday, placed the onerous burden of rebranding Nigeria and redeeming the slurred image of the country on the shoulders of the media.
He said: â€œIt is not the government who will re-brand Nigeria, it is the media.â€
The renowned man of God spoke at the Vanguard Media Christian Fellowship end of the year prayer/thanksgiving service held at the Kirikiri, Lagos corporate headquarters of Vanguard Newspapers.
In a soul-stirring sermon entitled â€œThe Storm is Over,â€ Adeboye lamented that negative reports profusely dished out by the media had done incalculable damage to the image of the country.
Recalling that he had to preach a sermon on one occasion before he was allowed into one country, Adeboye said: â€œBy the grace of God, I travel to many parts of the world. The moment they see you as a Nigerian, they come to a conclusion that here comes an evil man.
â€œI remember one occasion when I had to preach a sermon at the border before they could allow me in. I told them I am a Christian and a pastor. They said: â€˜Ah, being a pastor even makes it worse.â€™
They said, â€˜when was the last time you preached.â€™ I told them. They said, â€˜what did you preach upon?â€™ I said, â€˜Five reasons why you should praise God.â€™ They said, â€˜what text did you use?â€™I said â€˜I Peter Chapter 2 verse 9.â€™ They said, â€˜quote it!â€™ I quoted it. They said, â€˜preach the sermon.â€™ And I preached the sermon. When I finished, they said, â€˜forgive us. The impression we have of Nigerian pastors is that you are evil.â€™
â€œHow did they get that impression? They have never left their country. What they read in our newspapers, what they hear on our radios and television stations give them the impression that Nigeria is made up of evil men. However, Nigerians are not evil. The total number of evil people living in Nigeria, I can assure you, is less than 0.1 per cent of the country but we constantly publish the evil things, which have made the people of the world come to the conclusion that Nigeria is full of evil.â€
Quoting copiously from the Bible, he said the media could make amends by writing positive things about the country.
Noting that there were beliefs in some quarters that sad news sell newspapers, Adeboye said the world was tired of sad news, adding that there was always a positive side to any incident.
He said: â€œIt is believed in some quarters that it is sad news that sell the papers. However, the world is fed up with sad news. And the word of God says in Proverbs 25 verse 25 that â€˜as cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.â€™
â€œThere are a lot of people who are already at the verge of nervous breakdown and one more sad news will take them over. There are several people today who are suffering from high blood pressure. Give them one more sad news, and they will have hypertension. Hold them back from the brink of disaster.â€
His entry into Vanguard
Clad in a milk colour French suit with white leather shoes to match, Adeboye drove into Vanguard premises at 12.11 p.m with a retinue of RCCG pastors and assistants, in a golden Lexus LX570 jeep with registration number SSH 7 EA.
He was received by the companyâ€™s management staff led by the General Manager Publications/Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye.
Ushered in with a chorus: â€œYou are the Lord, that is your name, you will never share your glory with anyoneâ€ rendered by a group of Vanguard staff dressed in the companyâ€™s white re-branded T-shirts, the erudite pastor was led to the chairmanâ€™s office.
Welcoming his guest, Vanguard chairman, Mr .Sam Amuka, said it was the second time he was having a close encounter with Pastor Adeboye. He recalled the warm encounter they had then and how the pastor prayed for him and his son and thanked the pastor for honouring Vanguard.
He was taken on a brief tour of the newsroom and press hall between 12.50 and 12.55 p.m, where he also prayed for the well-being of the company and staff. â€œGodâ€™s anointing and blessing would continue to be in this place,â€ he prayed.
Welcoming the pastor, Adefaye said it was a great honour for the pastor to be in Vanguard, which he said was the will of God as the paper had weathered the storm for 26 years.
Adefaye said: â€œIt is indeed a great honour for the GO to be with us. Last year was our 25th anniversary. Vanguard is the will of God. What has sustained Vanguard in the last 25 years is the will of the Almighty God and the resilience of our work force. We pray that after your ministration today, there will be complete turnaround in Vanguard.â€
Thereafter, the stage was set for the mother-of-all-sermons ever given in a media house in Nigeria.
With the RCCG choir from Festac Town rendering Christian songs and choruses from as early as 10 a.m, the spirit-filled and jubilant crowd was ready for the man of God.
At 12.57 p.m, Adeboye mounted the podium. And for 43 minutes, he kept the audience listening with rapt attention with choruses of Amen trailing the series of prophetic words, prayers and proclamations erupting from his lips.
Aside urging the media to kick-start the process of re-branding Nigeria, he asked participants to live a life of hope in God because â€œthe storm is over.â€ He also asked them to live a righteous life so as to be part of Godâ€™s Kingdom.
Adeboye lauds Vanguard
The erudite pastor began his sermon by lauding Vanguardâ€™s reportorial excellence.
He said: â€œSomebody asked me the other day, â€˜how many Nigerian newspapers do you read?â€™ I replied, â€˜I read three Nigerian newspapers and Vanguard is one of them.â€™ This is because if there is any news worth reading at all, you find it in the Vanguard. Thank God for Vanguard Newspapers. Vanguard will continue to grow from strength to strength.â€
Adeboyeâ€™s sermon: The storm is over
If you read Mark chapter 6 verses 45 to 51, you will see where the theme of this gathering was taken.
â€˜And straight away He constrained His disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while He sent away the people. And when He had sent them away, He departed unto a mountain to pray.
And when evening was come the ship was in the midst of the sea, and He alone on the land. And He saw them toiling in rowing: for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night He cometh unto them, walking upon the sea and would have passed by them. But when they saw Him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: for they all saw Him and was troubled.
And immediately He talked with them, and saith unto them, â€˜Be of good cheer: it is I; do not be afraid. And He went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.â€™
I want to say to someone here today that, as far as you are concerned, the storm is over.
The storm is over can be one of three possible statements. It could be an announcement, a word of prophecy or a decree. It is believed in some quarters that it is sad news that sell the papers. However, the world is fed up with sad news.
And the word of God says in Proverbs 25 verse 25 that â€˜as cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.â€™ There are a lot of people who are already at the verge of nervous breakdown and one more sad news will take them over. There are several people today who are suffering from high blood pressure. Give them one more sad news, and they will have hypertension. Hold them back from the brink of disaster.
Proverbs 15 verse 30 says â€˜the light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.â€™ Now, if you ask the doctor, he will tell you that when your bones are fat, it means your blood corpuscles are rich they will produce very rich red blood earning you good health.
Good news can make somebody healthy. That is why the Bible says in Isaiah 52 verse 7: â€˜How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.â€
Those who bring good news, the Bible says, their feet are beautiful. The story in II Samuel 18 verses 19 -33 says on the day when Absalom, the son of David who had rebelled against him was killed, one man came to the commander-in-chief of his forces and said: â€˜let me run and go and tell the King what had happened.â€™
The commander-in-chief looked and him and said, â€˜you are a good man, you donâ€™â€t carry bad news, you wait.â€™ Then another man came and said, â€˜let me run, let me take the news to the King.â€ And he said, â€˜you can go.â€ And the man ran. The King saw the him coming and asked who is that fellow, they said so and so and he said â€˜ah, the battle is lost.â€™
After he left, the first man who spoke said, â€˜let me run.â€™ The King saw him coming and said who is that fellow, they said so so and so, the King said, â€˜he is a good man, he must be bringing good news.â€™
What is that telling us? It is telling us that those who bring good news are considered good and those who bring bad news are considered to be something else.
Importance of good news
Good news is very important. Some journalists asked me not too long ago: â€˜What advice do you have for the government concerning the re-branding of Nigeria?â€™ I told them, â€˜it is not the government who will re-brand Nigeria, it is the media.â€™ They said, â€˜what do you mean by that?â€™
I said, â€˜where I come from, in the olden days when you want to eat, you use a local plate called calabash, which the Yoruba call Igba. When the calabash is broken and can no longer be mended, you donâ€™t use it to eat anymore. But you still use it to carry garbage.
A broken calabash in Yoruba is called Akaragba. The Yoruba elders say that if you call your Igba an akaragba then people will help you to use it to carry garbage. It is the image of Nigeria that we project in our news media that foreigners take up and use it in determining what they think of our country.
By the grace of God, I travel to many parts of the world. The moment they see you as a Nigerian, they come to a conclusion that here comes an evil man.
I remember one occasion when I had to preach a sermon at the border before they could allow me in. I told them I am a Christian and a pastor. They said: â€˜Ah, being a pastor even makes it worse.â€™
They said â€˜when was the last time you preached.â€™ I told them. They said, â€˜what did you preach upon?â€™ I said, â€˜Five reasons why you should praise God.â€™ They said, â€˜what text did you use?â€™I said â€˜I Peter Chapter 2 verse 9.â€™
They said, â€˜quote it!â€™ I quoted it. They said, â€˜preach the sermon.â€™ And I preached the sermon the only thing was that they did not allow me to make an altar call.
When I finished, they said, â€˜forgive us. The impression we have of Nigerian pastors is that you are evil.â€™
How did they get that impression? They have never left their country. What they read in our newspapers, what they hear on our radios and television stations give them the impression that Nigeria is made up of evil men.
However, Nigerians are not evil. The total number of evil people living in Nigeria, I can assure you, is less than 0.1 per cent of the country but we constantly publish the evil things, which have made the people of the world come to the conclusion that Nigeria is full of evil.
To illustrate what I am saying, there was a cartoon in one of the Nigerian newspapers, not the Vanguard. They had a story that the government was wooing foreign investors. Then there was this cartoon: a man was carrying a gun and they wrote â€˜armed robbery.â€™ Another one was carrying a weapon they declared â€˜kidnapper.â€™
There was another man declared â€˜419.â€™ And then, they wrote at the bottom: â€˜A warm welcome awaits you.â€™
Kidnappers and scammers
Here, the government was wooing foreign investors and one of your papers was saying â€˜a welcome awaits you in the hands of armed robbers, kidnappers and scammers.â€™ If I had not come to your country before I wonâ€™t try it. I think that we (the media) can rebrand Nigeria if we can begin to report good news instead of bad ones.
Some us will say; â€˜are you saying we should not tell the truth?â€™ No! There is a way of reporting every incident in a positive manner. Let us say that one of these luxurious buses is involved in a terrible accident but God forbid. And we want to report, we could say that this kind of accident was a rare occurrence. Anybody reading that will know that it was not a usual accident and those who want to travel in luxurious buses will continue to travel.
Let us say there was a plane crash (God forbid, it wonâ€™t happen in Nigeria again). If we want to report that, we could go ahead and say there was a plane crash but travelling by air remains the safest means of transport because when you compare the number of planes that take off and land daily, all year round, it is more than a million.
If you really want, you can always find something good in every situation. There was a story that once a upon a time, the Lord Jesus Christ was travelling with his disciples and there was a dead dog by the highway that was stinking.
The disciples closed their noses and were saying, hun! hun!! Jesus went close to the dog and said, â€˜come and see something.â€™ They moved close to him and he opened its mouth and said, â€˜look at the teeth, so white even in death.â€™ He saw something good even in the dead dog.
I come with a good news for someone today. In the mighty name of Jesus, the storm in your life is over!
The storm is over can be a word of prophecy. It can be a word that has come from God. Amos chapter 3 verses 7-8 says: â€˜Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto His servants the prophets. The loin hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?â€™
God tells His servants
God will not bring up a thing without first of all telling his servant, the prophet. God has spoken, who will not prophesy? So, when a servant of God, hears from God and announces it, it becomes a prophecy. We know that prophecy can come from three angles. Prophecy can come from God, the Devil or the human spirit.
When someone keeps prophesying and nothing happens, you know he just wants to formulate it. But when you hear from someone, who has prophesied again and again and again and they all came to pass, you know that the person is speaking from God.
And when God speaks, you can be sure that it is done because the Bible says in Psalms 119 verse 89: â€˜Forever O Lord, Thy word is settled in Heaven.â€™ Again, in II Kings 7 verses 1 to the end, God spoke to a prophet at a time of tribulation and famine such that parents were eating their children. The man of God opened his mouth and said, in less than 24 hours, there will be abundance of food.
There was somebody there, who felt he was so knowledge, and he said: â€˜even if God were to open windows in Heaven, can he do it?â€™ Because it looked so impossible. And the man of God turned to him and said, â€˜you will see it with your eyes but you will not partake of it.â€™ And it came to pass.
In other words, whenever God speaks through prophecy, even if you donâ€™t believe, just keep quiet.
I prophesy in the name of Jesus: every storm in your homes is over today! Every storm in your place of work is will come to an end today!
In the early days of church, we were at the camp, it was time to pray and everybody was asked to pray. I closed my eyes to pray, the way I was taught when I was growing up. All of a sudden, I heard the Lord clearly, asking me to open my eyes. I almost told him, â€˜Lord, I am praying.â€™ But I heard him clearly.
I opened my eyes and He directed me to somebody who was drenched in tears and said, â€˜go and tell her to stop weeping.â€ I went and tapped her on the shoulder and said, Sister, the Lord asked me to tell you to stop weeping because your days of weeping are over.â€™
It was as if a light fell out of her eyes. All of sudden, brightness came over her.
I did not know her story then. She had been barren for years. Before she came to that programme, the relatives of the husband had told her, â€˜after one year if you donâ€™t produce a child, your days with this family are over.â€™
The Almighty God, who knows all things said, â€œyour days of weeping are over.â€™
Storms are over
About a year later, the lady came to visit me at the camp and asked me, â€˜you donâ€™t remember me?â€™ And I said, â€˜how many people can I remember?â€™ Then, she told me about her problems and why she was crying. And then, it was my time to cry because she was carrying her baby.
That same God is asking me to tell you that your storms are over!
Whatever may be happening, I can be rest assured that the storm is over.
The storm is over can be by a decree. God was not elected and he can decree something into being. Psalm 33 verses 8-9 says, â€˜For he spoke and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast.â€™
According to Job 22 verses 21-28, subject to certain conditions, a man can look you in the face and say, I am not prophesying. I am commanding and your storm is over.
In Mark 5 verses 1-15, when Jesus came out of the ship in the country of the Gadarenes, a man with an unclean spirit met Him. But Jesus could say anything, the evil spirits in the man started talking. And Jesus spoke the word to demons, come out of him.â€™ And they left. He didnâ€™t pray, he issued a decree and the demons obeyed.