Saturday, April 30, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Take a look around you and tell me what do you see? They come in diverse names like Evangelical, Charismatic, Apostolic, Episcopal, and Pentecostal. Indeed, one of the most ‘investor-friendly’ enterprises in Ghana and the African continent today is the church.
The church is booming in such astronomical heights that on a Sunday, homes, schools, hotel and cinema halls have to be converted to avenues of worship.
The growth of churches in Africa has had positive impact in the era of wars and hostilities among brethren of nations. Christianity as a way of life, preaches peace and love and this has certainly helped in sensitising people on the need to live in one accord. This is demonstrated mostly on Saturdays and Sundays when people from different tribes and nationalities converge to give thanks and praises to their God; worshipping Him in dignity and in a spirit of brotherhood (and sisterhood).
But is the growth of the Church a true manifestation of the Lord to liberate the African from the ‘continual woes and sufferings’?
Over the years, most Ghanaians and Africans have moved massively out of the main missionary or traditional churches in search of new, promising and very charismatic churches. Instant miracles in healing and prosperity had been the major driving force to this trend. While the ‘old’ churches seem to worship in a boring manner, the new found churches entice their converts through music and dance. The old churches preach the need to wait on the Lord for the hour, but the new found faith professes to get it NOW!
It is really not surprising to witness such a change in the lives of the African, especially the youth. The young African of today knows of nothing but obtaining some peasant pocket allowance from the parents, who most often live from hand to mouth. Graduates roam the streets in search of some form of livelihood which is almost non-existent. Our ladies have no other choice than to desperately go in search of some ‘self-made’ men who would save them from the horror of wrinkling away under their parents’ roof.
As poverty continues to reign supreme on the continent, the church promises a haven, where the young African has the opportunity to go and break away from the shackles of his woes. It is only in the church that one can get hold of the devil – thought to be the propagator of unfavourable conditions – and there and then break his head with the Holy Ghost Fire.
There is much reason for any youth in Africa to put all hopes in the new found faith as the promises are just marvellous; receive financial breakthrough, even when you are unemployed; get good husband, when you don’t know the rudiments of house-keeping; pass an examination, when you’re not aware when last you reviewed your lecture notes; obtain quick promotion, when you’ve not gone beyond your ‘O’ level certificate; break away from the devil, when you’re ‘managing’ five ladies beside your wife; cast out demons, when there is love lost between you and your neighbour.
The trend of emphasis on prosperity and other breakthroughs have overrun the much needed morality level which certainly leads to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The massage given by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 4:4 seems to have been relegated for another generation. The majority needs their bread NOW! To them, that is the only commodity that can strengthen them to worship the Lord in ‘truth and in faith’. No one would want to doubt this fact, but the question is who is expected to provide and distribute this so-called Bread?
The Lord gives to all without any form of discrimination – even the so-called non-Christians receive their own. God in His wisdom has delegated certain people on earth to steer the affairs of the various nation-states and He has also endowed us with some resources and the WILL to make use of these resources.
We have our priests and pastors, who cater for our spiritual well-being. Governments of nations are to handle the economic, political and other social needs. These are said to be our Human Rights – they are universal, inalienable, indivisible and meant for all without regard to race, sex, creed, faith, country of origin, etc. So, what are the relationships between these two providers?
Today in Africa, both spiritual and economic needs are all taken to the religious leader. There is no doubt that we are living in the end-times and therefore no man should rely on his fellow man, but on God. However, the influx of Africans moving from one church to the other in search of instant manifestation of the mercy of God – as the falling of manna in Biblical era – seems to represent another form of image worshipping. Unfortunately, some pastors are so relied upon that some people forget that they are only the servants of God. As a matter of fact, who can even ascertain that the so-called miracles that most of these prophets claim to perform are entirely of the Lord? “For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house I found their wickedness, saith the Lord” _ Jeremiah 23:11.
Hypocrisy has set its ugly face in the House of the Lord and the African has forgotten that not all that glitters is gold. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching the doctrines of the commandments of men”. Most of these pastors are aware of the prophesy pointing in the direction to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, but seeking their own selfish prosperity, are leading many to destruction.
Unfortunately, many are shifting their quest for poverty reduction (if alleviation is a dream!) from the government to their pastors, prophets, men of God; some of whom at the time of starting their churches possessed nothing but their Holy Bibles.
The Lord giveth to him who ask but certainly not instantly, because He is a God of time. Do we blame our merciful Lord when our leaders are corrupt and perverse in their ways? Is it not the government that is suppose to provide food, shelter, education, healthcare, etc. for all? Who is expected to create employment opportunities for the youth? Who is supposed to develop the rural areas? God gave us our will; the will to create wealth with the numerous resources and the will to rule with an iron fist, waste resources and fight foolishly. Who do you blame when you are poor?
We Africans must realise that our salvation or redemption lies not on our priest and pastors but on God; and for us to observe the magnitude and benevolence of the Lord, we should propel our governments, both spiritually and physically, to live up to their responsibility of protecting the people. If God through Christianity made Europe what it is today, why can’t the African be at par with them in terms of infrastructure development and standard of living?
We should not worship the Lord in vain. The African must profess Christianity with work and positive action – for there lies our redemption before the Eternal Life! Let our Christian faith continue to grow from strength to strength, being conscious and cautious of the negative proliferation.
Prosperity, financial breakthrough, miracles, healing, signs and wonders, are all of the Lord. But the old devil is wiser and faster than men – the Word of God is the only hope in these times!
Let the African also mandate the governments of the earth to do their own part because our predicaments are mostly through their atrocities, inability to respect the dignity of the individual and the lackadaisical attitude to addressing the woes and sufferings of the African. The high level of social poverty on the continent has helped perpetuate economic poverty as well. It is the duty of the African government to eradicate the Unholy Trinity of Hunger, Disease and Illiteracy. Is it God’s will for the Christian to be passive in the face of wickedness, injustice and human need?
It is high time we propelled our governments to respect the rights of the people as stipulated in the numerous Human Rights documents, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR).
Then, when all is done, we can open the Book to Lamentation 3 and say aloud: “I called on thy name, O Lord, out of the low dungeon. Thou has heard my voice: hide not thine ear at my breathing, at my cry. Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. Oh Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life… The LORD is good unto them that wait for him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that he yoke of his youth”.
God bless the continent of Africa and my beloved country Ghana!
Credit: Kofi Adu Domfeh/Kumasi/Ghana
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