‘The church is accountable to God’
Bishop Pius Odioko, Presiding Bishop of Jesus Dominion Mission Inc., with international headquarters in Warri, Delta State, is also the immediate past chairman of the state chapter of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) in Delta State and member of Apostolic Coalition of Nigeria, who has been in the ministry for over 43 years, spoke to AYOYINKA JEGEDE in Warri.
Are you in support of the sack of FRC’s Jim Obazee and suspension of the controversial code?
I hope that it is not just suspended; I want it to be scrapped, completely erased from any of our law books.
There is no group of people that really want to make the church its enemy. Some of the biggest economy I know today go to these places and don’t make this kind of laws to want to dictate what happens to the church.
It is written in the word of God that this honour no man taketh it to himself; it is only God that put man in this position of leadership in the church and only God can take the man out. It is only God that raises a man and puts him in the leadership of a church, as GO, Presiding Bishop, General Superintendent, Senior Pastors, Presiding Pastors, etc. Only God raises men and put them in this place and only God can remove them.
In the Bible, when God raised Saul, even though Saul had failed and David was the one chosen next to be the King and he had the opportunity to eliminate Saul, he didn’t. David said he will not use his hands to touch God’s anointed and had to wait until God himself took away Saul, because it was an exclusive responsibility and right that God alone has the right and willpower.
What was Obazee’s motive and intent? You don’t touch the church of God without paying for it. It is not man that will give you the payment, but God.
When a man, because of whatever power, knowledge, education and connections decides to fight against the church, sometimes God may make you realise that you have taken a wrong path and you may repent, but when you choose not to turn, God must answer you.
I am not surprised that he has begun to reap the kind of seed he wanted to sow.
If the founders of these churches are sincere and open, why are they afraid of exiting at a point in their lives?
This is not a circular job, where you talk about point of exit. The question of fear of exit is not correct, because the call of God is for life and there is nothing like retirement from God’s service.
I believed that if indeed God calls you and you are not hired by man, you are to be there until perhaps you have no strength to be able to labour anymore or death takes you away.
The call by God into God’s work, which places some in leadership position, is for life. It is not a matter of being afraid. What will somebody like Pastor Adeboye be afraid of? It is just the call of God, no matter your age, as long as you have the physical ability, mental alertness and spiritual awareness to do what God has called you to do.
Somebody like Eli, the Bible says he was still very old, but Israel was still waiting upon him, because you can’t take him away until God does. The only thing that took away Eli was when he heard of the death of his children and that the ark of God had been captured in battle and the Bible says he broke his neck and died.
Why the uproar now that the code is being implemented? Why not when it was made?
Most of these laws made against the church are being done underground; we only get to know at the point of implementation.
The question is: was there any public debate on this? First of all, it is totally wrong for such a law to be made. Whoever contrived this must be an agent of Satan and it must be somebody that is anti-God and anti-church, somebody that hates what the church is representing and doing in this country.
A good portion of the sanity that we have in Nigeria today is just because of the role the church is playing. Why are the Pentecostals been targeted?
The church is a spiritual organ; you cannot run it with circular law. The church is God’s own building, establishment and vineyard and only God puts people there and take people out.
I think government is overstepping in interfering with the leadership of the church. Are they telling me that when God calls a man, he calls him to come and serve just for 20 years? Some of us came into this work even before we were 30 years, thereafter what do you want the man to do? To go and become a cement seller, run for contract or go into politics?
Why not this controversy when the code was applied in the removal of some bank chief executives?
Those were circular things, those were people who were employed by people or climbed in the system to get to where they were by virtue of their excellent performance, education or investment.
Those circular things must never be compared with the servants of God called by God to do God’s work in God’s vineyard, not in a bank or one conglomerate.
So, there is no basis for comparism.
It seems the controversy trailing Pastor Adeboye’s action is orchestrated by the other church general overseers who are afraid that the same code would affect them?
These other ministers who perhaps are expressing concern are expressing concern because they don’t want the FRC people to interpret the action of a restructuring that took place in RCCG to mean that it is their turn to leave, because RCCG general overseer didn’t resign, he did not retire, they only restructured their administrative setting, as Pastor Adeboye remains the General Overseer of RCCG Worldwide, which includes Nigeria.
Are you not worried that you might be affected?
God called me into what I am doing. He gave me responsibility and only God has power to take me out. It is a divine assignment; I am not employed by anybody. I am in God’s vineyard.
I don’t want to be misunderstood, there are other laws that are binding on us as citizens and as people that live in Nigeria different from this one that wants to dictate how long a man should be a servant of God, because general overseer is not the choice of the man.
Without Pastor Adeboye, RCCG may not be what it is today. Without Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, Deeper Life may not be what it is today. Without Bishop David Oyedepo, Living Faith may not be what it is today.
God raises a man to take responsibility, to do what God wants to do through him. I am conscious that God gave me a work to do, an assignment and responsibility and until God takes me away or removes that burden from me, I cannot do otherwise.
Why the personalisation of churches as a family business?
I don’t know if there is anything like a family business in church work. Is it in the sense of perhaps the man that God called, his wife ministering or perhaps the children ministering that makes it personalised?
No, because from the old, when God calls people, he calls that person and his household. When God called Moses, he called Aaron his senior brother and Mariam his sister. When God raise Aaron to make him the high priest, his children were asked to be priest with him.
When God gives assignment, he wants everybody in that line to be part of that assignment, even though sometimes it doesn’t go that way, as some children or wife may not be interested. But where, by the grace of God, every one of them catches the vision, they can.
If it is in the will of God that they will together join the person that God called to do what God called him to do, that doesn’t make it a family business.
I know that we are in the society of human there is genuine and counterfeit and I cannot vouch that every church out there is headed by a person God raised.
However, the kind of people we have been mentioning yes, these are men that God raised and if perhaps their children and wives carry the grace that can make them continue in what their father or husband started, it is not out of place.
Was the response of the Presidency an indication that it succumbed to pressure from the Christendom, especially the Pentecostal?
You know the President is an ex-soldier and not somebody that is pressured into action. I believe he knows what is good to do, that you don’t fight God, and when you talk about God, the President knows that when things are being done against God, it is not right.
It is not pressure from the church, even though the church, as you would say the Pentecostal, which were like the target of that law, don’t like that law.
Nigeria has enough problems; let us not add more to it. Don’t put hands into God’s eyes, which is what such is trying to do.
I thank God that our President knows what is right, as an elderly man.
Are leaders handling church funds well?
Is the church accountable to you or to God? The church is accountable to God.
I am not saying that the church should be careless, but again, somebody is stepping into where he/she is not authorised to step into. The Bible says who art thou that judgeth another man’s servant, whether he is standing or falls.
Somebody is stepping into a wrong place, putting his hands into what he or she is not supposed to be putting his/her eyes into, and it is dangerous.
We should never rest until we know that this law is not just suspended, but repealed, because whatever is suspended can be brought back.
Countries, such as Germany, encourage the church by collecting the tithe for the church at source, whether like to pay or you don’t like to pay.
In England, government sees the church as a charity, therefore everything the people give at the end of the year, government give something proportional to that to help the church.
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