Thursday 8 June 2023

Pat Robertson and the dreamers who rejuvenated Christian living

Bringing back memories

The announced passing of Pat Robertson at the age of 93 today brings to mind an aspect of my history I have barely touched in my many blogs until now.

In late 1982, I resumed admission at the Yaba College of Technology to study Electrical Engineering having made the switch from the Lagos State College of Science and Technology where I was reading Chemical Engineering not so much out of choice but by the influence of an old student who came to give a talk at my secondary school along with the poor career guidance help that was prevalent in those days.

I have many times argued with my mum who at that time was a principal of a secondary school that such showboating visits are not helpful in career guidance, rather they lead impressionable young people off on excursions of fantasy without any understanding of drive, passion, or reality of what they innately can do. However, that is another discussion.

I was missing in action

I was 16 years old, and I was suffocating under my parent’s roof having been in boarding school since the age of 10, my first year at YabaTech as it was called, passed uneventfully, I barely passed the year, I was mostly truant and my head was hardly in order as there were classes I attended that I could not say I was in that class or what we were doing. Maybe a professional assessment would have suggested I was clinically depressed.

My second year began uneventfully and this time I was squatting when I fell into a group of avant-garde art majors who intrigued all by their creativity and ability. A building at the end of a concealed and somewhat secluded road housed the Christian Union building and nothing about them was inviting as guilt and condemnation simply reinforced the idea of the God I had known from the time my mother to me to secret religious meetings from the age of 3 in England.

This is God?

God was a tough punishing deity that required more than sacrifice, tears, and blood to be barely appeased and was never pleased. One night, 3 art students invited me to follow them to this Christian Union building and my discovery? They began speaking in tongues and I was caught in wonderment.

Soon, I found there is a growing band of Christians mostly led by these art students who were giving the bible a new sense of meaning and relevance to our lives and even though my mind was messed up by many things, I was quite an effective student union representative and now, a budding born-again Christian. With that, a new frontline of war was opened on the home front that I did not have the wisdom to manage at that point.

A band of Christian musketeers

Along with this was how Bible study really looked like serious study and not of the Sunday School variety, and the first point of debate was grammar, semantics, and interpretation, whether women need to cover their heads, or their hair was already a covering. The contentions between traditional evangelicals of the brooding and appearing sad-to-be-humble type and the livelier, let’s take the world by the horns stuff, or even maybe more.

I could make a long story of this, Dake’s, Strong’s, Vine’s, Amplified, the lingo was Greek and sometimes Hebrew, the speech was soaring homiletics dispensing stranger-than-fiction hermeneutics and chief of them was the most talented artist of his generation. We had the Americans to give us speech, accent, and direction, we believed we were making God interesting and the slightly curious would find out more.

An American invasion was complete

Enter The 700 Club, which in the 1980s was the staple of Christian television that did not fill you was eschatological dread but a longing for a better experience of a loving and amazing God. The Christian Broadcasting Network founded by Pat Robertson amongst other influences seemed to fill us with daring, adventure, and boldness. Soon, we broke away from the Christian Union to form The Fellowship and there were extraordinary demonstrations of the power of God in our midst from albeit very flawed men, the grace of God remains a mystery even in its powerful expression when we yield to what God has purposed to do in and with us.

Whilst does not entirely read like a tribute to Pat Robertson, it is a tribute to a generation of influential and impactful Christian men and women of ministry who dared to dream seemingly impossible dreams and through their living, their testimonies, their sermons, and their books especially tried to teach others that they can bring these dreams out of the invisible and unseen realm into living present reality.

If we could only dream

These dreams, built broadcasting networks and outreaches, universities, campuses of almost enchanted living, even stupendous wealth, impactful businesses, and churches planted into regions that would have been impossible to reach changing lives so radically and fundamentally, you may not believe much of all this started from a simple dream.

Pat Robertson was one of such men and women who dreamed the impossible and for that, I commend him even if in the latter times of his years he became controversial to the point that whatever he said was dismissed.

God rest his soul.

Other Pat Robertson blogs

Blog - A fatwa in everything but name (2005)

Blog - Fatwa evangelist blurts out again (2006)

Blog - Thought Picnic: How Do They Launder Demons? (2013)

Blog - How God laughs at the thought of being a voter (2020)

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