As a child, my father was my superman. And my mum was my wonder woman. During my teenage years, I started to observe that my parents like other parents are just humans. They have strengths and weaknesses. The younger me was often very judgmental of their shortcomings. But as maturity started creeping in and my flaws became personally noticeable, my appreciation for them started to grow back in my post-teen years. Today, I increasingly appreciate the sacrifices they made to see me through nursery, primary, secondary and post-secondary education.
I often see the values and attributes I got from my father whenever I am friendly even with fiends. I also acknowledge my father’s input in my personality whenever people compliment my sense of humour. My father was the consummate host and bridge builder for family and sometimes friends. I see my mother’s attributes in my ability to spot drama kings and queens before they step on stage. I also see her traits in my ability to remove bullshits from bulls who might become bullies.
Recently, someone complimented my punctuality. And I remembered Pastor Chinedu Ezekwesili. The pioneering pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, The Everlasting Arms Parish, Abuja. I am grateful to God to have been pastored by Pastor Chinedu. He is the one who taught me the importance of time. Most people say time is money. Time is more important than money. Time is life.
Pastor Chinedu is so punctual that he sometimes arrives at the venue of an event or meeting before the organizers. I have personally witnessed one of such events where he reprimanded the organizers for coming late when he was given the microphone to do the opening prayers.
Pastor Chinedu like my parents, is not perfect. However, in my journey as a Christian, he is the one I can willingly give my time and fund to any project that gets his seal of approval. He is also the one I would allow my children to spend a summer break in his house even if they are female, teenagers and very beautiful.
There are many attributes that make Pastor Chinedu exceptional. In addition to his punctuality, he is also a man of integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles and uprightness. This is an attribute that is becoming increasing rare among religious, political and business leaders. This attribute is automatically expected of any pastor, however, today many individuals have had personal encounters with dubious “pastors”.
One key dubious practice associated with pastors is in revenue generation. As a younger Christian before I met Pastor Chinedu, I had concluded that many pastors organized programs primarily to generate funds for their never-ending projects. And not to bless the lives of their members. These pastors would often, in collaboration with the guest ministers, or by themselves raise funds at the peak of the program, arranging it in such a way that the members are coaxed into making pledges.
Pastor Chinedu never uses the Bible to sow fear into the hearts of members about tithes and offering. A practice that is very common today. Pastors have perfected the art of using Malachi 3:8 – “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me” and other scriptures to engender a fear economy whereby most members give out of fear of retribution than out of love for the work of God. Ultimately denying them the blessings of God because it is a cheerful giver that gets from God. I think this is the reason many general overseers are the richest individual in their congregation.
The general headquarters of bigger denomination often don’t help matters by undertaking church planting drives without adequately providing fund for the new parishes. They often leave the burden on the new parishioners. This practice has given birth to many unwholesome practices among young pastors. It is no wonder that if a thorough research into the proliferation of churches is conducted, the major reason will be money and not the call of God.
The list of the present ills in the church are many. Notwithstanding, the church has produced and continues to produce men of great uprightness. Thanks to pastors like Pastor Chinedu. We are in strange times where whenever someone introduces themselves as a pastor, I personally become more careful because of what many who called themselves pastors have done and continue to do, damaging the perception and reputation of pastors in Nigeria.
I call on Nigerians to report any religious leader who abuses their office, immediately they are found wanting with evidence. This is perhaps the only way to sanitize the church and prevent good pastors from being grouped with “pastors” who are living examples of evil and unreasonable men.
Ata Ukuta – editor, www.towncryyers.com