COVID -19 Has Exposed the Nakedness of the Church and Hypocrisy of the Leaders -Rev. Femi Adepoju
Rev’ Femi Adepoju, the General Overseer of The Arena Of Thanks, Miracle International Church Of God Ministries, Lagos is a journalist of repute and practiced in many established media organisation for over 25 years, 10 of which was spent with The News group where he left as the Society Editor of PM News. He later joined Daily Independent and spent another 4 years as the News Editor, Breaking News. He co-founded First Weekly magazine and was the Deputy Editor-In-Chief/Managing Editor for 3 years. It was during his time at First Weekly he got the call for Kingdom assignment after series of encounter with God.
After leaving First Weekly, he was appointed, Special Assistant on Media to former Governor of Ondo state, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko where he served for another 6 years and later floated Full Steam Entertainment & Communications, being parent body to Rhema News and ThePageNews Online. Still in active journalism, he went into ministry with the mandate to preach Jesus, holiness, righteousness and to also support the widow.
In this encounter, Rev. Femi Adepoju shared with PROVIDENCE his experience, views and position on the pandemic, lockdown, the church and the society.
“The lockdown no doubt affects the church. The effect is more on our young church and other young churches being an evolving one. We are able to reach out more when we have programs but with the lockdown, that has not been possible. Though, that does not stop the work of God from advancing. Thank God for the social media. On a larger scale the lockdown will benefit the church more because it will do a reset.”
The global pandemic is nothing much of a serious link to end-time prophesy seriously. Except that the pandemic has made humanity to come to the realness of God. Before now, we carry on like the world is inelastic, but now we have realised that life is not a permanent gift. What we are experiencing now are part of what the Bible says would happen before the end comes eventually. The end may not be on sight. But it’s nearer. If you are waiting for the signs to manifest before giving your life to Christ, you may end up in disappointment and waste away the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. It is dangerous not to redeem the time. That is the reality, COVID -19 has registered into our consciousness .
I want to believe the theories of previous reported cases of pandemic being canvassed are different. This is more of a political virus, deliberately made to reduce the population of the world. If we take into cognisance the drama around the pandemic, it is safe to conclude that this virus story has a K-Leg, he stated.
Stating lessons the church should learn from the pandemic and the attendant lockdown, Adepoju said, the church has a lot of lessons to learn because, it has exposed the nakedness of the church. The church has lost her power, value and respect. Sincerely, for sometime the church has been ill and no one seems bothered because majority are benefiting from the illness. That is the reason the government can afford to lock it up without blinking an eyelid. I doubt if the church could be this treated when the Ayo Babalola, Benson Idahosa, Obadares of this world held forth. Today, the pew is filled with fraudulent men and women. Marketers who will stop at nothing to milk the gullible dry. Activities of these fraudulent ones have overshadowed the geniuine ones. Unfortunately, these fraudulent ones are the most vocal and visible. How do you expect regard for a body whose some members pay people to fake miracles. Yet fathers and leaders in faith are keeping quiet as if it’s normal. One thing is, by the time the church is re-opened by government, it would have been depopulated. Those who are deceitfully being held down by some G.O’s and Prophets would have realised that they had been fooled and will regain their freedom. Another thing that would happen after this is that, only those who are genuinely seeking Christ will be back in church as against many who are in the church for other reasons, they would have found alternatives for. After this pandemic, the church would make efforts to restore it’s lost glory, he said.
Giving his assertion on church attendance and evangelism after the lockdown, as I earlier stated, only those who genuinely seek after Christ will return immediately. It will take time before things return to normal. I see many not returning to their original fellowship centres due to exposure they have gotten listening to different preachers online during the lockdown. Imagine a pastor teaching that rape is not a sin because it is the body and not the soul that is involved.
Sometime ago, another one said, the call to preach the gospel is only for the Jew. Someone genuinely seeking Christ after listening to a better submission while on lockdown will he or she return to that assembly?
There are people who are opportune listening to me during the lockdown and discovered we don’t pay tithe in Arena of Thanks. Some sought explanation and they are convinced, they started fellowshipping with us online. The lockdown has exposed many authentic message. Discipline, holiness and purity are part of the Christianity package. It can only move on the narrow way.
The Advent of internet church is complimentary to the building assembly. The building assembly can not be replaced, so much are done together physically that cannot be replicated online. Many of the musicians around today developed their talents due to opportunity they had as members of their respective church choir.
Forget about the mediocre, there are men of God who are manifesting in the power of Jesus and people get healed with genuine miracles in their ministries. Even, if such can happen online too, the physical crusades and programs make room for more manifestations.
Describing the gain and losses of the church during the lockdown, he said,
“The lockdown has done more harm to the church and demystified the church in a way. With respect and value intact, government would naturally recommend the church as healing centres for Covid patients. They would have acknowledged the church as the place of healing and power. But contrary is the case now. Jesus didn’t run away from any virus, rather, patients sought him for healing. People with leprosy were not suppose to be seen around town in Jesus time on earth, but they were allowed to come near Jesus and they never remained the same. Someone may be tempted to say that was because Jesus is God, so he could afford to come near a leprous without a consequence. But the bible did not say Elisha was a different man from many on the pulpit today, yet, Namman got his leprosy healed through him.
Perhaps difference between Elisha and today’s prophets is that we lack discipline. Men of God in the old time didnt manipulate members for money. They didn’t twist the bible for selfish gain or pay people for fake miracles.
They may not be entirely holy, but they were not fraudulent and was rare to lay claim to be a Pastor or prophet without proof. That trend started in Samaria at post ascension era when the likes of Simeon the sorcerer masqueraded to be apostles, doing miracles, with people even giving the credit to God. But when Phillips emerged and brought the real thing, Simeon offered the Apostles money for the original but he was told to perish with his money. How many on the pulpit today could afford not to collect that money from Simon when they knew they have nothing to sell. The people who will sell Covid healing oil and handkerchief would collect money from the ignorant for the holy spirit they themselves lack? The lockdown has exposed the church this way. One good thing the church would derive from this Covid -19 is that ,some Phillips will emerge to counter and repair the havoc the Simeon sorcerers of today have caused the church and genuine men of God would be challenged by the mess on the church to want to say enough is enough, he declared.
Emphasising on the role for the church to stabilize the society. Adepoju said, I don’t see the church playing meaningful role after the lockdown because this is when the church would have been more relevant, not after. This is when the church would have influenced her members to exercise faith and demonstrate the awesomeness of God during the pandemic. The right time to demonstrate that Psalm 23:4 is no fluke.
On whether the lockdown is meant to silent the church, he has this to say,
I wont say yes, but won’t rule that out as well, because the forces against the church now are more compared to how it was. And if the intention was to silence the church, they wouldn’t have succeeded if the church had not played into the hands of the masterminds. Considering activities of Boko Haram and of late, Bandits and areas of their operation being Christian communities, one will be tempted to conclude there is a script being played. Also, looking at the way men of God are being killed and churches are burnt with out any reprimand , even when the perpetrators are known, one could be tempted to come into conclusion that the persecution against the church is real,especially in our country, Nigeria. The good thing is that the more the persecution, the more unbelievers are turning to Christ. Jesus said I would build my church and the gates of Hades shall not overcome it.
He added that, the pandemic lockdown will naturally lead to strained relationships especially in small congregations where every member have relationship with the set man. It’s natural that one will get in touch with some other more because of one reason or the other, and that will no doubt create issues. Not all members will return to their pre-lockdown places of worship, some will be complacent and others may be praying for the lockdown to linger…laughter.
Casting doubts on miracles due to inability to access healing and deliverance at this time, he declared, whoever that is casting doubts on miracle is doing that at his own peril. Jesus the miracle worker is alive. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. People can doubt pastor’s, prophets and the like , but Jesus is still doing His miracle and people give testimonies everyday.
Blaming the errors in the church today on the insensitivity and ‘I don’t care’ attitudes of church leaders and fathers in the faith, this Adepoju said, has led to serious drop in reputation of the church. They can’t pretend not to know they are no more respected and revered like before. The issue of tithe needs to be addressed and our leaders and fathers in faith should be united in making a pronouncement on it. We are all prone to error, but if your intentions are pure, once you realise your error, you should repent of it. The church should be united in taking a stand against this deceit called tithe. If there is an official pronouncement against tithe, most of these money seekers on the pulpit will close shop. Its about integrity. If Benny Hinn could repent of prosperity preaching, there’s no sacrifice that should be too much for the sake of the church, he said.
Commenting on the society, he said: I will be surprised if many unbelievers will not become believers as the pandemic would have exposed all to the reality of the vanity called life. I know people will be more conscious of life after here than before the pandemic. At least, it is proven now that you only own yesterday. As long as today has not ended, you can’t predict what can become of you. We will be forced as a people, to be more conscious of eternity and that will naturally lead to moderation on the way we do things. The social scene is the greatest loser, people would have seen most of the things they spend time and money on, in the name of social status as inconsequential. They will not be as important and necessary after the pandemic.
Rev. Femi Adepoju advise Nigerian leaders, people in government and Nigerians to be God fearing and remember they will account for every of their deeds. The Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. I can’t feel the impact of God’s wisdom in today’s government, especially in the area of transparency. If they claim to have disbursed billions of naira as Covid 19 relief to families in 36 States and there is no beneficiary as testimony to the claim, how do you expect the people to be challenged to pay tax. People in power should develop a genuine motive to be in power. As long as their motives are wrong, there would always be problems. God is concerned about our motives and that is what he judges. If you have genuine intention and encounter problems, God will intervene and make a way for you.
Most people in power are selfish and greedy, but, God will minister a change of heart to them.