Sometime in 2013, I went to a Pentecostal church with my uncle in Nigeria’s densely populated city of Lagos. Those familiar with the style of worship in these new generation churches know that Testimony time is as important as Offering time. The man with the microphone announced that it was Testimony time. After a moment, nobody came out, nobody stood up, and nobody said anything. No one had testimony to give. The pastor of the church became infuriated, she stood up, collected the microphone from the announcer and ordered everybody to stand on their feet, church members obeyed. Apes obey!
She bemoaned church members’ ingratitude to God. She said she was highly embarrassed that nobody gave testimony. Does that mean miracles don’t happen in this church? She queried. Her sentiment was that nobody should sit down when it was time for testimony because being alive is a reason to thank God. In her own words: you are in the sanctuary and not in the mortuary. Being in church was a reason to thank God. Before we could understand osmosis as the movement of water molecules…, pastor said we must apologize to God for being ungrateful to him and doing so, pastor directed that we must dip our hands deep inside our pockets and unleash the highest denomination of any currency in our pockets, match straight to the altar and drop it in the offertory box. Whoever gives anything short of the highest denomination in their possession would be incurring the wrath of God. Pastor threatened. My brothers and sisters, you need to see the traffic. Nobody dared incurred the wrath of the almighty, everybody rushed to the altar dropped whatever money they had just to pacify God. I want to believe some people gave their widows might in order to remove God from angry mode. Smart move from a smart pastor. She didn’t come to Lagos to count bridges, money must be made.
During my university days, it was time for testimony in our school fellowship, a female student came out and said “this morning I woke up with serious menstrual cramps, after I prayed, it stopped; brethren please join me in thanking God for his healing in my life”. Well this is what happens when pastors insist that worshipers must give testimony.
In another experience, yours sincerely was at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Ugbowo, Benin City for Sunday mass. The chief celebrant whose name I would not mention inspired parishioners to come to the altar and drop all the money they had after he must have given his final blessings. This exercise would mark the end of mass. Father enjoined parishioners to actively participate in this exercise because it was loaded with blessings. Father also stated that the first person to get to the altar would receive the lion share of God’s blessings, by so doing, he warned parishioners not to allow anyone overtake them on their way to the altar. Whoever overtakes you, receives your blessings. There would be no offertory box, all monies must be dropped on the floor of the altar. And make sure your money doesn’t mix with or touch another person’s money. Immediately you drop yours, go home. Father concluded. You need to see the stampede, the jumping of chairs, the blocking of the aisle, nobody wants to be overtaken. The church was a battle ground. It was a total mess. A look at the altar shows nothing but a floor covered with different colours of naira. How foolish can we get?
Being in a position of authority such as a man of God doesn’t give you the right to direct any kind of movie in your imagination and ascribe such to a revelation from God. If you belong to the school of taught which says we must not question the activities of ‘men of God’ then you need a change of school.
Your reactions are welcomed.