There’s No Way to Preach the Gospel Without Money – Archbishop John Osa-Oni …Tinubu will perform creditably, he assured.
Archbishop John Adebayo Alagbala Osa-Oni is the Prelate and Archbishop of the Vineyard Christian Churches Inc., with other networks of Churches around the world. He is the Vice President, South West Zone, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN). He recently hosted the church annual word conference, themed, “Thriving in Critical Times” and was conferred with Honourary Fellowship Award of Edo State Polytechnic, Usen during the institution 5th convocation ceremony, he also, received the Honourary award of Doctor of Divinity from Prayer and Intercession School (PIS), Lagos, an affiliate of Bethel Christian University, USA. He spared some time to share his thoughts on some issues with Gracious Akintayo. Excerpt:
How do you combine your busy schedule as a family man, leader and pastor?
Truth is, life is all about prioritizing and you need to prioritize yourself. You prioritize your time and know what to do per time. There is time for everything, including office, family, work and relaxation. God gave us the grace to be able to apportion the time. For me, it is much better now, because there are no more children at home, everyone is on their own, with their own family and it seems like we are just starting to live as spouses the way we started as a couple. Life becomes easier when you set your priority right.
What is your advice to the younger generation on this?
The younger generation should try and prioritize their lives. No matter the situation and where they found themselves, they have to set their priority and when they prioritize, they have to be intentional about what they are doing. They need to pay attention and spend quality time with their family to bring out the best of good home training, godly lifestyle and character value in the life of their children.
What is your opinion on the present state of the church in Nigeria?
We have a lot to do. The fathers and the church leaders have a whole lot to do. During the time of the forefathers, there was not too much knowledge and information, but from the 70s, the present generation came with solid information. They came up with so much information and unfortunately knowledge increases. That’s the basic place we found ourselves, but to face the reality, there are remnants who still believe in the old fashioned style. I was telling someone and said I think that your dress is too open, and she said I don’t want to be choked. This is not a Deeper life church and I said, that’s a mega plus for Deeper Life and Pastor Kumuyi, that someone could change a dressing vogue to become a reference point. And it wasn’t Deeper Life that started it, but the Scripture Union (S.U) of those days. There was a different way late Archbishop Idahosa put it, he said, dress the way you want to be addressed. Your dressing should be able to define you. There’s a whole lot of things that are lacking in what we call the new generation. They said, when you are born again you go to heaven, but there are still some measures of character and discipline that must be put in place to further impact the society as the church.
What is your opinion on controversies surrounding the church these days?
I do not think the church is becoming controversial. From the time of Jesus Christ, the church has always been at the center of every discussion and opposition. Maybe the church should not talk about money, but there is no way the church can do or you can do a church without talking about money. The church building needs maintenance, there are people working and collecting salaries in the church, and money is the vehicle we are using to propagate the gospel. A Yoruba adage says ‘’owo ni keke irin ihin rere’’, that is, ‘’money is the vehicle of the good news, the good news ride on money and money is the good news.’’ There’s no way we can preach the gospel without money. Jesus says, “give and it shall be given back to you, good measure, press down and shake together”, Jesus preaches it so we can go ahead to preach it. The truth is no money, no good news.
Why is your take on the government plan to implement a law monitoring and supervising religious organisation?
The wisdom of the elders would prevail. There is nothing like that in the church and our society cannot accommodate such practice. You can’t run the church with a circular mind. The work of the church is a spiritual work, not political or contractual work. Therefore no man should legitimate, legislate or ban any leader to a certain tenure. They’re not the one that called or appointed them and it’s not a civil service where the government dictates. It is God that called them, God is their boss who speaks to them and He is the one who knows when they should retire from His work, and if the people that they are leading still want them to continue leading them, I do not think there is anything that the government has to do with that. There’s so much to do, with the government not doing what they should do, but are getting themselves involved in what does not concern them. Sorry to say, that is why some of them are dying like chickens, because they tamper with what they should not have tampered with. When people who touched the things of God that are not meant for them to touch, what happened to them? We are still serving a living God. There’s no two ways about it, maybe some people are jealous of certain individuals that are doing so well in the ministry. If so, it’s basically caused by jealousy, envy and that is not from God. Especially when God is prospering His people daily and if God prosper me with money, why wouldn’t I use it for His glory. The people that are found promoting this kind of proposal are nominal Christians. They called themselves Christians, but they are not and it’s not about Islam or other religion, it is the church they are after. Everything projection they are making in the name of religion, the church is their target and this is barbaric. But I believe in God for supernatural things to happen.
How do you see present development of the church being dragged into partisan politics?
The church has not been dragged into politics. The church is supposed to be part and parcel of politics. What brought us to the mess and all of that we are seeing in the present dispensation is because the church is not involved in politics and governance. Every citizen has the civic role to play in the development of a country and every citizen has the right to belong to a political party. I campaigned last year from the ward. Though it is not the state that chooses the president, it is from the ward level and from the ward level, they gather the people to the state, even if the state has a ward. It is the movement of the people from the ward that is called congress, so what is the reason for Christians not to be involved in politics? Are they not citizens and part of the society? Should they not contribute to socioeconomic development and perform their civic responsibility or should they sit in the gallery and watch others trampling on their citizenship rights? Why should Christians not be involved in politics? Everyday, our lives are about politics. It’s embarrassing when a christian says politics is dirty and I don’t want to be involved. Politics is not dirty as branded and we need to erase that mindset that politics is dirty. The fact that some dirty people play it dirty by bringing dirt into it, does still not make it dirty. This is why, the likes of late Dr. Gamaliel Onosode, Pastor Kris Okotie, Pastor Tunde Bakare and other Christians who are at different times have been into it should be appreciated and commended for their bravery and participation in party politics. It is very important and crucial for Christians to be involved in politics of the day, even from the ward level. If I had the spirit, I would have been involved in politics and that was why I have no regret campaigning for the candidates of my choice during the last general election. I campaign for President Tinubu, Governors Sanwo-Olu in Lagos State, Abiodun of Ogun state and Seyi Makinde in Oyo State respectively. Christians need to be involved or else somebody will make a legislature against us and that is not going to be palatable. If Christians are not involved in politics, they won’t have a say in the country’s polity as citizens and any law can be implemented against them. Because, the church and Christians have adopted sit down and look at postures. You can imagine some people trying to smuggle in an unacceptable law of tenure for general overseer’s and monitoring of the church activities. What business did the government have with the church, because we have set at loose, even most of the christian elected into the legislature and other political offices are not fighting for the church because they raised money on their own to sponsor themselves, so they are not representing the church, because the church did not send or sponsor them there and that’s why they seek the church to bring money whenever they need it.
What is the missing link to decaying moral antecedents in our present day society?
The decadence in the society is traceable to lack of home training. I can remember when we were growing up. They called it, omoluwabi, as omoluwabi you are warned, knows the house you are coming from and behaves well. Basically most parents today do not have time for their children. One thing I learnt from Papa Hagin when we travel to Tulsa for conference, he told us, in the early days of their family, while he goes out ministering, because someone need to be home to look after the children, his wife will stay back and take care of their two children, because we need someone to be home to watch over the children and to raise godly children. The two people cannot be running at the same time, someone has to look for something else to support the children. No matter how difficult, parents should create meaningful and quality time for their children for the purpose of bonding with them, hearing them speak, directing and correcting them, and nurture them to become responsible adults.
What have been the major challenges affecting church unity?
It’s not today, we have Judas Iscariot and Thomas. They are exhibited everywhere. Psalm 133: 1-8, how pleasant for brethren to stay together and work in unity. But, that is what the devil fight. The devil doesn’t want us to be one, then he brings in doctrinal things and traditions. I do not know what you preach but one thing that binds us together is the blood of Jesus and it is stronger than our doctrine and tradition. We should learn to leverage on the finishing work of the cross, not going for the trivial.
How would you assess the present administration of President Tinubu?
All the same, I won’t blame the present and the past administration alone for whatever situation we now found ourselves as a nation, we all contributed to it and all of us have to share in the blame. But we all have the responsibility to contribute our quota by supporting our government, the leadership and the legislator with prayers. I believe, this present administration of President Tinubu will perform creditably, but we need to support him. I urge Nigerians to support our President and we need to understand that he is not the only one, he has a team working with him.
What advice do you have for the government?
There is an allocation that goes to all the grass roots. What the federal government should do is to have a monitoring team to monitor the money that is sent to the state governors and the local government, to know how they use it, because development must reach the grass roots. We must see what they are doing with the budget overhead. There is quite a lot of unpaid staff salary and retirement that ought to have been paid, but the workers are crying and the retirees are groaning in pain. Though, it’s not easy to be in government and governance is not for the timid. Until you get there and be in a position of authority, you won’t understand what is it all about and what it takes to govern a country like Nigeria with multicultural, religion and ethnicity. In my little corner here, I know what I am going through, how much more of a diverse nation Nigeria is.
…and to Nigerians?
We should be patient with the government of the day. I am sure Mr. President and his team will do well. In one of his promises, he said, “I am going to repair Nigeria”. We owed them our prayers, it’s not easy sitting on those special chairs to lead and govern a society like Nigeria. We should give him and his team a chance with our prayer support instead of castigating them. I pray for the President, the 36 states governor, the legislators, and the Judiciary everyday. Also, as a matter of importance, we should respect the rule of law.
I believe things will be well, God will help us turn Nigeria around and it shall be great again.
The presidency should step into the issue of the CAC monitoring and supervising the church, it shouldn’t be allowed. Those propagating it have their sinister motive and couldn’t succeed doing that during Jonathan and Buhari’s administration, then it shouldn’t be now they will force it on the church, it will not succeed.