Growing up in the early seventies as a young child in the southeastern part of Nigeria, after the three year civil war between the Biafrans and the Federal government of Nigeria, the environment was gloomy and saddled with abject poverty. The occupying presence of the Federal troops was a constant reminder of our compromised freedom.
The resilience of our parents, most of whom were members of the defunct Biafran Army, but were ostracized from civil service led them to engage in other trades other than peasant farming.
The only hope we had was salvation from God and service to that faith My parents for one, were very religious and wholly imbibed in the Christian faith in all aspects. Belief in God was indeed the only option- we were a race conquered and under siege by the victors, wary of possible extinction.
It took the resilience of my late uncle Chief Patrick Agbataekwe (Ozodiche Nibo) to establish a technical school in Awka as a soccur and beacon of hope for our community in an era when child soldiers, who later became grown adults, were hopeless about their future. Thus began the revamping of Government Technical College, Awka.Great man, may his soul rest in peace.
Our unwavering belief in salvation from God was the only propeller as we endowed ourselves in the two major existing Christian based religions of Catholic and Anglican churches- both of which were offsprings of Judaism.
Attending Sunday services was mandatory and carried heavy disciplinary measures when compromised and so was sunday school. We also attended midweek biblical orientation-called catechism. In all, these were passages of life to nature us to be God fearing good citizens.
This tradition of upbringing became continuous in most of our lives. as most of us left home to attend boarding schools secondary in various communities-which most were again owned by Christian churches. I attended Saint Mary’s Secondary School, Ifite Ukpo/Abagana in Anambra State.
In Secondary school, the effort to shape our lives with all christian values continued. Every morning, wether by destiny or design, both the junior and senior students gathered in the assembly hall, first for a morning mass prayer and subsequently, a roll call to ascertain who was present or not. Again severe disciplinary measures awaits the students who were in non compliance or so to say “truants.” It was also compulsory for us to study Bible Knowledge in junior Secondary school and decide otherwise in the final High school examination.
This fear of God stuck with me and I believe most of my peers through the years. But the dichotomy that I am seeing in our christian based churches today prompted my drive to render this piece.
Again, my piece is not intended to desecrate any church or religious organization, but it is rather a sincere evaluation of some of the modern day practices in our christian faith. I am not privy to the Islamic religion and will not digress into that.
I will therefore narrow my discussion to three issues bordering in my christain faith, especially as it pertains to our new apostolic churches.
The issue of tithe
The life of luxury of our pastor
The issue of tithe paying in our christian churches has been of great concern to me and one of the areas where I feel our religious leaders have clearly departed from the basic norms imbibed in our religious principles.
In as much as tithe paying is structured in the christian religious constitution, it is absolutely beyond my comprehension why some of church leaders will compel their parishioners to give ten percent of their income, even when some of these individuals do not have a paying job to equate the percentage parenthesis.
I have actually seen folks, who sold their reassured valuables to meet the quota of paying their weekly tithes in their house of worship- oftentimes,under pressure by their pastors or revered ^Men of God.”
What manner of pastoral presence are we extending to our congregation, when we subjugate them to financial pressure?
There have been cases, where some Pastors hold their parishioners hostage on issues relative to life and death and apparent succor for divine intervention to monetary hostage- all in the name of the Lord.
The recurring cases of sexual abuse in our divine houses of worship is nothing new, especially in Africa, where sexual offenses are kept in the back burner or swept under the carpet. And so the fornication goes on uncontrolled.
Where do I begin to give our Pastors accolades or condemnations for ranking on the list of those that have the most expensive private jets in the world- at the expense of their poor parishioners.
Quoting biblical verses as a justification for their ostensible lifestyle is always a quick elixir for the parishioners who are always loyal to their “Men of God.”
Don’t crucify me, I have no daggers drawn against our men or women of God, those of them who are sincerely serving and promulgating the word of the Lord, I am only exercising my opinion about some of the malpractices that I see in our modern day religious practices.
In conclusion, I say that, ^When modern day religious practices infringes on our elemental values as christians, it could spell a gateway to hell as opposed to our desired destination of heaven.”
May we all pray for our souls, the Lord will hear us.
Editor @ Large
Life and Times News
Los Angeles, California