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Evil pastors do
By HENRY UMAHI(umuahi@sunnewsonline.com)
Saturday, August 23, 2008

 

•Obasi
Photo by: Sun News Publishing
 

By their calling, pastors ought to be the conscience of society. As God’s representatives on earth, their responsibility is to ensure that a healthy moral temperature prevails. Like ancient prophets, they are expected to warn the people about the dangers of disobedience and guide them to the path of righteousness. Indeed, pastors ought to live by example.

Today, however, pastors have become a problem to society. In Nigeria and elsewhere, the odd character shown by many so-called men of God has put a big question mark on the principles and doctrines of the faith they profess. The situation is such that prefixing one’s name with the title of pastor in today’s world often attracts immediate suspicion. This sad development is as a result of the glaring and expanding scope of misdemeanouvers of some of them.

Indeed, the church has become a house of scandals and controversies in these shores. These ills have become firmly entrenched, taking root like an incurable cancer that is feasting on the afflicted body. Hence despite the number of churches springing up in all nooks and crannies, a wave of iniquities is sweeping across the land. What seems to have emerged is a convoluted practice of the religion held under siege from within.

Shola Oshunkeye, editor, The Spectator, captures the scenario thus: “There are many of such preachers out there, masquerading as angels of light. They are fathers of lies, mothers of hypocrisy, who, according to 1 Timothy chapter 4, have had their conscience seared with hot iron. They are learned. They have sugarcoated tongues. They feign sympathy and fake listening ears in order to milk their unfortunate audience. They bamboozle with supernatural powers obtained from sources other than those stipulated by the holy writ, and use dubious, sometimes pre-arranged miracles to railroad unsuspecting citizens to their mega churches.

“To them, church is not the stairway to heaven but a super highway to obscene wealth. And no trick is too dirty to ensnare their luckless victims. While many in their congregation cannot afford three decent meals in a day, the evil pastors, who are mostly located in the new wave Pentecostal movement, ferry collections to their banks in Bullion vans every Sunday. They build churches that compete with the Basilica in Rome, cruise about town in state-of-the-art cars, and spend vacations in the most exotic tourist destinations across the world. Safe for a few, the majority of them would never lift a finger to ameliorate the sufferings of their poor parishioners.”
Indeed, rapists, murderers, thieves and sundry criminals desecrate the pulpit and drag the name of God in the mud. A few examples will suffice.

Raped to death
It is a story that chills the bones and numbs the senses. Even the devil himself may be shocked that one of his agents masquerading as a minister of the gospel could perpetrate an evil of such astounding proportion.

Recently, one Pastor Henry Evbotokhai of Miracle Deliverance Ministry, Ira Odan, Era, Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos reportedly raped Covenant Elijah, an 11-year old girl to death.
The JSS1 student of Caritas Model College, Onireke, Lagos, was taken to the pastor by her mother, Mrs. Arik Bassey, for spiritual deliverance. Unfortunately, the paedophile delivered her unto death, abandoning her corpse in his bedroom with congealed blood around her private part.
Devastated beyond measure by the way and manner her only child died, Arik, a widow, is at the verge of losing her mind. Now, she wears a robe of anguish, intermittently speaking to herself even as she has lost even a vestige of respect for pastors. In fact, she now sees all of them the devil incarnate.
The grieving mother told Saturday Sun, “whatever respect I had for anyone who claims to be a pastor has vanished with my daughter’s death. They are all merchants of death.”

Human barbecue
Mr. Alfred Uzuh from Amairo, Oboro, Ikwuano, LGA, Abia State is another person whose regard for men in cassock has taken a nosedive. His daughter, Ann, an undergraduate of the University of Lagos, was doused in fuel and set ablaze in July 2006 by weird cleric, Emeka Ezeuko alias Rev. Dr. King, for alleged fornication.

Ironically, during King’s celebrated trial at the Ikeja High Court, which lasted from September 26, 2006 to January 11, 2007, witnesses testified that the self-acclaimed “god” and “Jesus of our time” is, indeed, a god of fornication. Kelechi Chikere, one the female witnesses, gave a lurid account of how the bearded grand overseer of the Christian Praying Assembly (CPA), Ajao Estate, Lagos turned her into a sex object. The lady, who told the court that King compelled her to serve his meals naked, said the notorious pastor impregnated her several times and compelled her to procure abortion on each occasion. She added that her womb was in a terrible state as a result.

While delivering judgment on the matter, Justice Kayode Oweyola said: “The variant demonstrated by the accused is a throw back to the dark ages and an assault to the gains attained by humanity in the areas of respect for human dignity, freedom and liberty.”

He, therefore, condemned the accused to death by hanging.
Rev. King, who is cooling his heels at the Kirikiri Maximum Prison while awaiting the hangman, was also notorious for wife snatching and forcing his followers to adopt his name. He equally made unsubstantiated claims of working miracles.

Speaking with Saturday Sun, the 69-year-old grief stricken father lamented: “A day before she was burnt by King, I had a terrible dream about her, and went to the church to see if I can have the chance to inform her that there could be danger. But when I got there, the people I asked said they did not know who she was. One later told me that she was Rev. King’s wife and was in hospital.
“In the hospital, I saw a terrible sight. Anna was like a roasted yam on hospital bed. After a long inquiry it took her time to tell me Rev. King set her on fire. What she said was ‘Daddy, Rev King has done his worst. He did this to me.’ Few days after, she died. I had thought before then that she lived in UNILAG as a student and just attended the church. It was that day I knew she actually lived with Rev. King. That is how I lost all I laboured for.”

Abortion in the mix
The assertion that there is no art to tell the heart of a man from his looks moped into ugly reality for Miss Ebere Eze when she jumped into bed with a smashing young Catholic priest, Rev. Father Patrick Okon of Somolu parish in Lagos.

In a celebrated report, Ebere narrated how the cleric deceived her into believing that he was a lawyer on an attachment with Saint Kizito Catholic Church, Iju, Agege, Lagos. He promised her marriage and even gave her an engagement ring. The tale began to twist when she got pregnant and disclosed same to him.
Hear her: “He said I should take pills but I told him I wanted to have the baby. But he refused and said that babies take too much money to maintain. When he found out I was not yielding to the abortion idea, he tricked me on an outing one day. That was in June (2007). He took me to somewhere in Sagamu. The place looked like a club and they play golf there. He ordered a bottle of Star beer and he wouldn’t want me to take soft drink. He ordered a bottle of (small) Guinness Stout for me. As soon as my drink was opened, that was when he remembered he forgot something in the car and asked me to go and get it for him.”

At that point, the wolf shed the clothing of the lamb. Ebere continued: “I don’t know if he put something in the drink because I slept off and didn’t know how I got back inside his car with him. I woke up and saw myself padded in sanitary towel flooded in my blood. I asked him what happened he said I should not worry. He told me to ‘clam down, let’s go home first.’ He wanted to drop me off at Oshodi. I said no, that I couldn’t go to my brother’s house because I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. So he dropped off and asked me to take a bike and wait for him at Saint Peter and Paul Church, Somolu. I was in his place for two days. He used to prepare food for me while he was hiding me. He did not want anybody to know I was in his apartment.

“After the abortion, I started having severe stomach pains and each time I talked about those problems, he never regarded it as anything. He would always tell me that I would be well. My body started swelling and smelling from inside and outside. Then I told him I will let everyone know of it. Since then, he started calling me regularly that he wants to see me. But, I’m afraid since he had threatened to kill me if I scandalized him. Several times, he had requested to see me, but I’ve been scared.”

To authentic her narration, Ebere, who hails from Nnewi, Anambra State, tendered a video recording of some of her intimate moments with Reverend Father Okon.
“After the abortion, I confronted him. He apologised for not seeking my consent before the abortion. That was when my spirit told me to record every of our dealings (on my camera phone) in case he tries to deny our affairs. I spent two days in his house and I decided to record every happening between us. It was after he removed the pregnancy and we were both sleeping naked. He likes being naked.”

Torture expert
It is a naked truth that Pastor Noah Ajiboye of the Celestial Church stole in from the pit of hell to wreak havoc. Even a stone heart would melt at the sight of the grievous harm he brought upon his 17-year-old stepson, Dare, for allegedly stealing a telephone handset. He damaged the teenager’s two hands recently. Now, only a miracle could make the hands useful again.

Ajiboye said: “Actually, when I was beating him, he was unruffled, which made me to resort to a higher punishment. I only tied his two hands to the back (for a week) and locked him up in a room without food and water, so that he cold learn his lesson.”

After damaging his stepson’s hands, he asked the boy to lie to the doctor that he had fire burns. This, he admitted, was to prevent the doctor from inviting the police if the truth was told. But the truth came out and when the police stormed Ajibola’s church, they found a human skull.

A native doctor and man of God
Similarly, in May this year, the police arrested a couple said to be pastors for alleged involvement in ritual killing. Pastors Benjamin Ojobu and his wife, Patience, who are members of OO Obu in Asaba, Delta State were arrested with a human head believed to be that of a teenage girl.
Benjamin confessed to using human heads to prepare rituals for church members, adding that he functioned as a pastor and native doctor at the same time.

“I got it (human head) through somebody called John, who works in a cemetery. He brought it for me and said I should buy and I bought it for N3,000. Yes, I am a man of God. But I do this outside church hours. I am both a native doctor and a man of God. This is my personal practice. I do it to complement my church job and I have been assisting a lot of people with it. I use human skulls to do charms for prosperity, to make money and for protection. After preparing the charms, I give them to members of our church and other people who are not members,” the 51-year-old man explained.

Shamanism with Christian terminology
A couple of years ago, Pastor Chris Okotie of Household of God, had warned a pastor neighbour to terminate his relationship with another cleric whom he said “is neither a minister of Jesus Christ nor a brother in the Lord but an occultist, practising shamanism with Christian terminology.”
Okotie stressed: “His desire is to enter the church of God and paralyse God’s people with mysticism. He denies the power of God is operative in the gospel. These agnostics preach holiness accompanied with signs and wonders. The power of signs and wonders is embedded in the mystery of iniquity. It is all calculated to deceive, entrap and entice you.”

The apocalypse of brotherhood drew flaks in the Pentecostal Christian family and beyond.

Blowjob man
Mysticism or ritualism was suspected when Pastor John Ugoh of Love and Faith Bible Ministry, Ijegun, Lagos allegedly had licentious acts with male teenagers in his neighbourhood. The 47-year-old indigene of Mbaise, Imo State, was accused of habitually sucking the private part of boys between 14 and 15 years. His victims were also said to be sick after the encounter. He was, however, arrested by the police on April 19, 2008 following complaints lodged by the victims’ families.

Thieves at the Lord’s table
The money mongering inclination of some pastors in these shores was taken to a disgusting level in 2005 when the $4 million provided by renowned American cleric, Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, for a crusade in Nigeria developed wings. According to reports, those saddled with the responsibility of using the fund to organize a serious evangelical campaign simply pocketed it.
In the same vein, a pastor of the Mountain of Fire and Miracle Ministries (MFM) recently attempted to rob the church’s Prayer City along the Ibadan/Lagos expressway. He was caught with a gang of armed robbers while perfecting their evil plan. He confessed that he and another church worker usually tempered with the church’s weekly collections.

Preacher kills wife, rapes daughter
As it is in Nigeria, so it is elsewhere. Pastor Anthony Hopkins of the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Jackson, Alabama, USA is currently facing charges of murder, rape and incest. The 37-year old allegedly killed his wife, Arietha, 36, after she caught him sexually abusing their daughter in a bathroom in November 2004. Thereafter, he hid her body in the freezer in the laundry room of their home. He was nabbed a few weeks ago just after delivering a sermon to a congregation that included his other seven children, following an affidavit deposed to by the daughter. Now 19, the girl alleged that the father had been having sex with her since was she was 11.

Arrangee miracle
A Ghanaian Pastor, Mr. Kojo Nana Obiri-Yeboah was arrested in June by detectives at the Entebbe Airport as he attempted smuggling in an electric-shock device that when activated would send shock waves through anyone he touches, making them assume that they had been touched by the Holy Spirit.
According to reports, “he would lace his body with the gadget’s low-volt electricity and once he touches anybody on crusade ground, the person would fall – ostensibly gripped by the Holy Spirit.”
It was gathered that many Nigerian pastors use the device to hoodwink unsuspecting members of the public, who regard them as powerful men of God.
It’s an endless tale really.

The main problem
The above stories are just a few of the evil pastors perpetrate. There are many unreported ones. These pastors have turned the supposed house of God into “den of thieves” and sexual adventures. The pastors are having a field day because of the low spirituality of church members, who cannot discern between the spirit of God and that of the devil.

To be sure, people are swayed by wonders pastors perform, without caring to know the sources of power used. They do not care that some of these pastors take devilish power from occult chambers, from India and other sundry countries, with which they hypnotise people.

Also, the economic situation in the country and the desperation to have children have made people preys of pastors. Many of the pastors, in preaching prosperity, tell their members that their situation would change for the better if they are prayed for. Women, who are looking for the fruit of the womb easily fell for these pastors, who claim that their prayers would get them pregnant. For the pastors, the more people have problems the better, as they would have more “clients” to deceive.
Bishop Joseph Ojo, National Secretary of the Pentecostal fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and senior pastor, Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC), premised the development on what he described as the invasion of the pulpit by area boys (touts).

According to him, many who were not called but called themselves for the sake of the stomach, are the ones perpetrating all sorts of iniquity. In other words, self-styled pastors are those deceiving the victims.
He said: “The biggest challenge facing Christendom, especially Pentecostal Christianity in Nigeria is the invasion of people who are not called by God. You know, there are people that, if I want to use a very loose term I will call them touts, have hijacked the pulpit. They are not representing Christ. They are representing their stomach. They are representing their worldly mundane desires. That’s the truth.”
Pastor Success Ibeakanma of The Masters Royal Choice Revival Ministries, Ketu, Lagos averred that the development is just a fulfillment of the word of God, as recorded in Matthew 24.
He said: “The Bible says that in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold. We are living in the last days, hence these things are happening now.

“Another factor is impatience. This has caused more harm than good in the life of many ministers of the gospel. This is responsible for many ministers trying to jump the gun and manipulate their ways to be now where they suppose to be in 20 years time. They will lack wisdom and maturity because there is a level of maturity and wisdom required for every level of ministry or ministration.

“So, what such over ambitious pastors meet at this higher levels, without wisdom and maturity, leads them into terrible mistakes because they will like to cover up, thereby exposing themselves”.
“Our Lord Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray so as not to fall into temptation. But today, most ministers only pray without watching. You cannot watch without prayers and praying without watching may lead to these developments. One other thing is that some ministers seek short cut to anointing. That is seeking for power through the wrong means in other to be like others”.

According to Mr. Chimezie E. Obasi, a Lagos businessman, the disturbing trend in Nigerian churches today is that it has become an all comers’ affair. He added that churches are hardly distinguishable from business centres in terms of the quest to increase turnover.

Said he: “Most of these new breed churches only preach prosperity. The issue of salvation is rarely addressed and this impacts negatively on the leadership as well as followership. The messages are shallow; the preachers are not grounded in the gospel they preach”.
Obasi offered another perspective, saying that native doctors have studied the situation and repackaged themselves as pastors. Hence they are prowling, looking for who to devour.
Bishop Matthew Oluremi Owadayo, the Bishop of the Egba Diocese of the Anglican Church, shares the view that false pastors have turned churches to business centres.

He said: “I agree that some pastors have turned the church into a business ventures. Some of them, after their attempts to find means of livelihood had failed, would hire a classroom and start a church.”
The way out, he advocated, is that there should be paradigm shift with regards to setting up churches. He urged the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to do a critical examination of the situation, with the view to checking the modus operandi of religious organization, especially one-man outfits.
On account of the inappropriate behaviours of pastors, fiery Pentecostal Preacher, Tunde Bakare said the church needs examinations.

He words: “Look at the shame we (pastors) faced after the Bellview crash, and they found so much stolen money (about N6 billion) in one of the pastor’s bank accounts. The bubbles burst when a second wife surfaced to contest the man’s estate. Does that glorify God? The person preached every day in church. He belonged to a church. How much has he given as tithe and tax? Honestly, I don’t mind churches being examined. I don’t mind.”

Bakare described as “outright madness” the trend whereby pastors are the sole signatories to a church’s finances. In his opinion, “trustees are not supposed to be beneficiaries of a trust,” regretting: “We have given God enough bad name in this country, all in the name of religion.
“The corruption in the church stinks to the highest heavens. The church stinks absolutely and a sick church cannot bring healing to a dying world. We are guilty. Let us repent before God.”

The good

However, Pastor Dennis Inyang of Sure Word Assembly, Okota, Lagos affirmed the development is not particularly strange or unexpected. He argued: “There has always been real and fake pastors, just like other fields. Sadly, the deeds of a few bad ones make more news. Most pastors are not into evil.”

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