When critics, usually with not-so-hidden agenda, attack the RCCG, they often do so hammering on one minor point or the other, but blown up as an admixture with many other perceived evils pertaining to Pentecostal Churches in general. As seen in one of the most virulent attacks of this sort in recent times by columnist Duro Onabule of the 29th June, 2007, most of these ‘evils’ include tithes payment, noisy prayers and worship, promotion of miracles, general seeking for reliefs from pain and poverty, causing traffic jams etc.
However, there have been two recent points of attacks, which the RCCG (and others can sure learn from them) will do well to immediately take heed to and address. First, was the much hyped but apparently not- without-a-substance- issue of some priviledged members of the Church having abused the tax-free concession granted the Church by the FG, in importing materials for its massive, unprecedented building projects. There was the allegation that a number of “luxury cars” which were later traded at the Nigerian market, were incorporated into the legitimate tax-free imports. Understandably, the writers at the regional newspaper who forcefully hammered on this incident were not as keen to divulge that the proceedings of those illegal transactions in “luxury cars” went into the pockets of the greedy Judas(es) involved, unknown to the Church leadership! (story in PH Telegraph, Nov 12, 2007)
The second issue, which will soon be shown to be related, is actually the central point of attack by Mr Onabule in his article already cited. This had to do with Pastor Adeboye’s mentioning to his US-based ministers at their annual conference in that country, that former president OBJ avoided him stridently on the 3rd term issue. In Mr Onabule’s fanciful opinion, such a statement, rather than indicating the actual level of intimacy between the two personalities, must be seen as a betrayal by Pastor Adeboye of someone who MUST certainly be a bosom friend!
So why are we highlighting these probably inconsequential but connected cases? Well, the latter case demonstrates, first of all, that there will be apparently rational people, who would nevertheless pretend not to know that there is little a charity organization [Christian for that matter] can do to rebuff reasonable friendship offers from the Number One citizen of the land in which it is operating – even if for some reason it wanted to do so! [Saharareporters years ago, actually conceded that efforts by late General Sanni Abacha to court Pastor Adeboye were futile, http://saharareporters.com/www/news/detail/?prevpage=0&startpage=10018&x=2&id=80]
This further leads to the more important issue of the possibility of such similar unavoidable advances being made to the RCCG by people in authorities in other nations of the world, where the Church currently operates or seeks to operate from. And how, as the first case demonstrates, certain individuals may abuse such an advance irrespective of the Church’s official operating principles! This situation, we consider as the burden of success, which can only be borne with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The possibilities we address are certainly not far-fetched. For instance, on Nov. 14, the Prince of Wales, the heir to the most powerful throne in the world chose a Parish of the RCCG in the UK (Jesus House) as the place to mark his 59th birthday. Any Church, except perhaps the Buckingham Palace chapel itself, must consider that choice a mark of recognition, honour and goodwill by royalty and should wish to reciprocate. However, while Prince Charles stands to gain considerable political points by associating with “black majority churches”, represented in this case by the RCCG, the gains to the Church are very questionable!
For one, the possibility of getting the Prince to have a re-think of his now well-articulated interfaith agenda (which could have made the whole association very well worth the while) is so remote; with the opposite, the contamination of the Church with the prince’s peculiar form of humanism, being much more likely. In fact, the Prince, at the occasion of the visit, specifically directed a personal assistant to begin the integration of his Princes’ Trust with the RCCG’s social work departments. (see his speech at http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speechesandarticles/a_speech_by_hrh_the_prince_of_wales_during_a_visit_to_jesus__409885750.html). Thus, if the RCCG leadership does not remain careful and sober, it might soon find itself on the same slippery unscriptural grounds that Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, in the US has found himself, as we have been articulating in this newsletter over the past few years. Gradually, Mr Warren has become engulfed in his five-point humanitarian P.E.A.C.E. programme (which has de-facto become an extension of the UN millennium programme,) sincerely seeking to reform mankind via humanistic means, in association with other religious faiths, rather than through an unwavering faith in the undiluted Gospel as the power of God unto salvation! (please see CA! vol 9 No 6 or online www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/warren.htm)
In fact, a few days to his visit to the RCCG, the schedule of the British heir had taken him to places including the largest Hindu Temple in Europe, where he had enthusiastically worshipped with them (www.princeofwales.gov.uk/.../trh_visit_the_shri_swaminarayan_mandir_in_neasden_north_west_1487329830.html). Also, his intense romance with Islam is well known, and he indeed is a patron to the UK’s Centre for Islamic Studies (see for example, CA! Vol 10 No 2 or http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina51103.htm).
Fortunately, the RCCG leadership seems to be well aware of all these inter-faith and humanistic interests at play. In the 5 minutes sermon he was allowed at the occasion, host Pastor Agu Irukwu of the RCCG Jesus House, according to the Punch, “encouraged the congregation to invest in the nourishing of not only their bodies but of their spirit and their souls.” (www.punchontheweb.com/Articl.aspx?theartic=Art200711250322993)