Saturday 17 August 2013

Opinion: Redeem your integrity not the auditorium

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV)
Religious chicanery
You get to a point where certain events in religious circles begin to create the impression that a particular portion of their holy scriptures has been misread or that the reading to our hearing and the actions that follow are completely opposite to that intended piece.
As the convention of a renowned and popular church with a following seeded around the earth in the millions drew to a close, the leader of the congregation launched into an appeal to extend the current auditorium where the people were gathered to a 3 kilometre square tent of proportions that will make the eyes water that those who have the misfortune of sitting at the back might well need at least high-powered binoculars or dare I say a telescope to see the pulpit.
Crowds are masks for trouble
Surely, there is a need to gather for fellowship but there comes a time when size becomes an unwieldy exercise in gargantuanism that other issues of health and safety are a foreboding for a dangerous experiment in crowd control and egress if an emergency occurs - this could spell disaster.
Even in religious settings, we are not given the licence to discard logic and reasoning for the sentimental belief that all is well when the intellect is given to perform a ready and needed function.
Evidence of the fact that things can go seriously wrong was revealed when a 5-year old was apparently abducted from the vicinity of that convention, called Redemption Camp.
It might well be a rarity, but for the parents and relations of that little girl, it is the closest thing to hell on earth at a place when heaven was supposed to meet with the congregants. If the girl does end up being found, and I hope she is promptly reunited with her family, the happiness that ensues should not overshadow the reality of the fact that crowds make it almost impossible to guarantee the safety and protection of little ones, as it also offers cover to those with ulterior motives to operate.
A public relations deficit
Now, this is not the first time that a child has disappeared from a gathering of believers. In another mega-church, the child was missing for two long years until it was returned to its family just recently.
These megachurches whilst majoring on selling the elixir of hope within grasp but out of reach also seem to be poorly equipped for dealing with these matters, as the news story suggests, “It was not the wish of the church that the news of the abduction be leaked to members of the public.
It begs the question how you intent to find an abducted child without informing the public and engaging the public because, short of a miracle of sorts, it might well require sighting and eye-witnesses as far afield as possible to get that child back.
Poor social responsibility
This theatre which by its size will be larger than any sports stadium in the world might well be the size of some of the largest calderas of mainly dormant volcanos and dormant volcanos are not by any means extinct.
Besides this, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway that services this camp and many others that line up that road does not have the capacity today to handle the traffic and movement of people and goods for these meetings with tailbacks that upset the already poor traffic conditions in the Lagos megalopolis.
To literally triple the crowds that throng that camp borders on the highest level of community social irresponsibility that has been witnessed in that country where religionists had attained an exculpatory status from being questioned about what they do – it is as appalling as it is atrocious that this idea was conceived, it would be like tripling the size of a body without consideration for the arteries necessary to keep that body alive and well.
He gave some opportunity for show
More galling is the way the appeal was made for funds to build this monstrosity whose idea will give the Tower of Babel a run for its money, in fact, I am now of the persuasion that they all be inflicted with a confusion of tongues so that this hare-brained and ill-thought out scheme is abandoned with the urgency with which it was announced.
From what was reported, no idea was given of the total cost of this project, but the words of the leader were transcribed as follows:
“We need N1 billion from ten people. If you are one of them, please see my personal Secretary after we finish today, we also need N100 million from those who can afford it, if you are in that category. Please see my personal Secretary as well.”
“Nonetheless, we need everyone’s involvement. If you can afford N50 million, N20 million, N5 million, N1 million to as low as N100, kindly make sure you participate.”
Money, just money
If by that token, 10 people each stepped forward to donate these sums, the total will come to NGN 11,760,001,000.00 or at today’s exchange rate $73,280,622.39 and that is if 70 people stepped forward for that challenge out of the thousands gathered there.

The real money and pledges could easily take that to multiples of a hundred, just because they all want to see one man talk, you wonder whether the concept of delegation is anathema, for someone opined recently on Twitter that the organisation has produced more pastors than Nigeria has produced doctors since independent, I presume that is just anecdotal, it could be researched to ascertain its veracity.
Subscribing to the basest of our human instincts, I would suspect the billionaires club will have all the accoutrements of privileged access, helipad to land their choppers, fast-track to their thrones ensconced in the altar – they all have their reward already.
What we heard
But back to the quote that sits atop this blog, what we heard from that reading was more like – And he required some to give 1 billion, some 100 million, some 50 million, and some 20 million and 5 million, for the competition of the saints for the work of his ministry, the building of a larger temple for Christ, till we all come to the unity of derision of the excess and wanton abuse of responsibility in the name of Christianity.
This is not what we should hear, but as they act and do, this is what is happening as one preacher said, it is the junk religion in the celebration of Mammon.
My view
Now, is nothing wrong in building a large auditorium but that should be with reference to more than just putting up the building. One would have thought the reason why private jets are acquired by the glitterati of the preachers world was to visit parishes and outposts rather than attempt to create a new Jerusalem place of pilgrimage in Nigeria which has no particular significance apart from what is beginning to look like catering for the cult of personality.
And before anyone attempts to post a comment on this opinion, engage the reasonable side of your disposition before you script the objectionable side of your views, allow the latent Christian attributes to gain ascendancy over sentiment and emotion expressed with fanatical abandon.

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