Most religious leaders do not understand the weight of their position. A man of God is not an ordinary person. When a man of God speaks, it is assumed that he speaks and sees through the mouth and eyes of God. Since religion or what others prefer to call spirituality is the closest relationship man has with his creator, men of God are sacrosanct personalities. This explains why they are highly revered as they are seen as the closest to God. The typical man of God is thus a shepherd who serves as a guide to his congregation. Whatever he relays is taken as it is. There can be no fault because it comes from an informed position. Where? From God!
But when people who hold such revered positions begin to make certain commentaries, especially disturbing ones on issues of national importance, they stir questions about the nature and elements of their mission.
It was discombobulating to see the renowned and widely respected Senior Pastor of the House on the Rock Church, Lagos, advise his church members to plan their escape route out of the country in view of the contemporaneous security backdraught.
Pastor Paul Adefarasin who gave the piece of advice on 9 May 2021 while speaking on the state of the nation started beautifully by calling on all leaders to avoid playing partisan politics, especially along ethno-religious lines.
In the words of the charismatic pastor, ”No country in the world history has survived two civil wars. You could be in fright and running for your dear life any day from now if this thing does not come to an end. My personal encouragement to leaders and government on all sides is that it is not time to be partisan, blend the aisles. It is time to sit down and dialogue.”
The part of his speech that has met with strong criticism was when he urged his church members to have a plan B as his wife is currently out of Nigeria helping to create their own plan B:
”I bring you greetings from Pastor Ifeanyi who is busy taking care of the frontier of our world and preparing our escape root. If you don’t have a plan B. …I know you have faith, but I have faith too but I have a plan B. With technology, I can speak to you from anywhere in the world.
“Get yourself a plan B. Whether that’s an Okada to Cameroon or flying boat or speed boat as we call them to Seme Border or a hole in the ground, get your plan B because these people are crazy. They ate nutters. The whole bunch of them. And watch the signs because it can happen like this. God forbid!”
Pastor Adefarasin might have spoken out of sincere concern for not just his congregation but the bulk of numerous other Nigerians. Some have in fact commended him for what they say is his practical approach to the matter but the question is, if Jesus, around whom Christianity is modelled, were alive, would he go about with talks of a Plan B entailing escape schemes should crises break out in his country? As one public commentator queried, if this was how JESUS Christ and the rest of his disciples like Paul ran away in the face of adversity, which Gospel will pastors like Adefarasin preach?
The author of “Something Is About to Happen” posited that he has faith, but we all know that it is possible to teach faith and not live by it. If those who are saying prayers or faith cannot solve the country’s challenges and defending the idea of absconding the country under the pretext of practicability, it says a lot about their religious standing.
More so, aren’t pastors supposed to be praying for the country to be safe? The undertone of Pastor Adefarasin’s speech to his congregation seems to read: “you are on your own. As for me, I am escaping. I hope you have plans to escape too?”
When war breaks out, how many people can actually escape? If those who have the means of escaping do so, does it appeal to sense and logic to let others perish? What is Pastor Paul Adefarasin’s apologia for these disturbing statements? Because if according to Statista, 40.1% of Nigerians leave in abject poverty, where and how will they get the means to check out, talk less of a good fraction from the other half that leaves in relative austerity?
Besides, most religious people are often quick to reject their status as Nigerians under the illusory of being citizens of Heaven, but they would readily swear to be citizens of the United States or Canada when they get there. The question now is who is deceiving who?
Except we are saying that God made a mistake when he made us Nigerians, talks of escaping the country, is a rejection of our national identities, as well as seeking quick fixes to problems that will boomerang.
Even Jesus said give unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar. This is in recognition of the fact that each and every individual has their role to play in terms of nation-building.
Most of the developed countries that we are always waiting to run to when crises break out in ours fought for what they have today. People lost their lives. Blood and sweat form the backbone of their society. For instance, the level of racism in certain parts of America and Europe was worse than what it was today.
People fought and have equally died to attain the level it has gotten today. The struggle is still ongoing and so many are giving their lives for it. Fighting for one’s country doesn’t always mean one has to die for their country, but standing up for what is right; preaching love, nationhood, and peace.
But it is almost an acceptable norm here where everybody has continued to pay lip service to a better Nigeria, without wanting to do anything. The situation is no different from the man in the traditional story that deserted his house because his two wives were always in the habit of quarrelling. After many years, he returned only to meet them on good terms, but now with another man under his roof.
It must be noted that quick fixes and religion (Christianity in particular) do not go hand-in-hand. If we want a better Nigeria, we must work for it otherwise we would be left in the words of P.O.C Umeh, as ambassadors of poverty whose actions and inactions steal our collective joy.