Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where is He?


photo courtesy www.felameetsabba.blogspot.com
I haven’t been to church in a while; I haven’t been to church this year. No, it has nothing to do with the fact that churches have now become the fashionistas’ playground, me sef, I dey try once in a while to represent…and the fact that I stopped going is not evidence that I have grown weary of ‘competition’, I didn’t even consider all that pettiness as competition; not at City of David where the only acceptable cars are Hummers, Rovers, Mercedes GLs, EODs and Baby boys, lucky you if you have an Element; not at Daystar where you have to hide your handbag under your armpits if it isn’t Gucci or Guess or Ferragammo or LV and the likes, not at Christ Church or KICC or CICC or CCC or any other C church you can think of where you don’t have to cover your million braids and Take-A-Bow that you fixed at Make Me or Zoom Place.


Yesterday, a colleague at work asked me if I remember to pay tithe at the end of the month, I said to her that I set aside over 10% of what I earn and give it to people that really need it, that I am not one of those who believe in paying my tithe to ‘the church’. She called a meeting of about four people and started preaching to me about the rewards of tithing and first fruits and all. Sadly, I still am not convinced.


She asked me how I think the church pays rent, and fuels its generator, and buys chairs and pays the gateman etc. etc. There was a time when I believed in the church’s needs, when I understood that the church needs my money to survive, but after a while, it became obvious how gullible I had been.


Right in front of my friend’s close is an RCCG, somewhere down the road is another RCCG, and then these two churches, preaching the same sermons, singing the same songs, worshipping the same God, want to pay 1million naira each at the end of the year to their landlords, what manner of giving is that??? By the way, these two churches are not there on their own, somewhere in between the short distance, there are a Foursquare Gospel Church, a Mountain of Fire, a Good News Bible Church, one C&S Bible church and a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In my estate, there is a whole street dedicated to churches, Church Street they call it, I have been there once, and there are about thirty churches there, two or three sharing a building. Every Sunday, you should see the pandemonium! they dance and sing and compete for God’s attention, the same people preach that there is only one God. Which one? Who is right and who is wrong?


If tithing and giving offerings in church was really worth it, I’d go out of my way to give, bountifully even. But why should I pay my tithes to a church that goes on to build universities that over half the members cannot afford to get a degree from? My colleague’s argument was that they need to pay staff and make profit. Make profit! Since when did a church need to make profit??? Another colleague said they need to set standards. My gawd! How can a church of all places (or people?) practice such social stratification? Even the General Overseer openly said (disdainfully if I might add), ‘my school is not for everyone!’ Wasn’t all man born equal? With some luckier than others? Isn’t the church supposed to bridge this gap between the bourgeoisies and the ‘masses’? Isn’t love and oneness the message of the church? What frigging standards?!?


Why should I pay tithes to a church when the pastor openly throws a society wedding for his son that I am way beneath even the littlest person on the guest list? Once I saw a man of God give out his daughter’s hand in marriage and on the high table were traditional rulers displaying their juju, governors who had openly admitted to looting public funds, there were fireworks and the lot. My colleague said, ‘ the pastor is a human being like me and you, he gave up a career to spread the gospel, surely, he should be allowed to give his daughter a befitting wedding if he wants to’, oh well! Not with my money, Hells NO!, what then is the difference between a so-called man of God and a man of the world?


Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think that with the numerous numbers of churches in Lagos, only Lagos o, there shouldn’t be this much suffering around, this staggering crime rate, this begging, and this much starvation on the streets of Lagos. As the churches are increasing, so is the poverty I see around everywhere I turn. In Our pastors are too busy acquiring private jets and taking advantage of real estate opportunities in the United States to notice poor Agnes who has been raped and battered and left to rot on the street, or little Tobi whose mother has breast cancer and sits on Cele bridge begging for alms, or this my guy Tony, one-legged, very bright young chap who sits on Cele bridge selling Etisalat and Visafone sim cards, a vital resource well – untapped. The church should notice all these people, but guess what? They don’t… someone else has anyways, Governor Fashola! First, I’ll happily pay my PAYE tax at a whopping 40%, before I pay it to the church, at least our governor is accountable and I can see taxpayers’ money in action, as opposed to seeing tithers’ money in inaction.


I’ll give anything to understand why there are so many Christians around and yet they all refuse to agree that this one God is the same. That he is omnipresent. He doesn’t stay at the Redeem Camp and never leaves, He is not buried at MFM Prayer City, He is alive, He goes before me, He stands beside me, He is in my head and all around me, I don’t want anyone telling me that He is at Kilometer 46 or or 48 or 49 or 40 million Lagos Ibadan Expressway, the God I serve does not permanently reside in camps, He does not restrict himself to kilometers. He is right here, right now.


I know the bible says ‘do not forsake the gathering of the righteous’ but there is so much hypocrisy, so much corruption that I do not know who the righteous are anymore. When people talk about corruption in Nigeria, no one denies its existence or attempts to cover up the extent to which it is found to be in public life, it is there- all too obviously- admitted and deplored, I am just pained that Christians practice and tolerate it to this extent. I still wonder how Reverend King, supposedly sentenced to death by hanging still holds crusades in his church and draws large crowds like water, how the Chosen people believe that theirs is the only God and struggle violently to prove it, why churches use the tithes from its members to sponsor heavily expensive radio and television ads…to draw a larger crowd and more tithes… I long for the day when Christians will really be Christ-like, where men of God will lead by example, where they will demonstrate by their own lives and churches that they will not tolerate hypocrisy.

My God is everywhere; I am not going to Church Street or Kilometer 55 to look for Him. He is in my head and all around me.

23 comments:

LG said...

ITSALIE!!!!
swerri how did u do it?!?!?
i.e hack into my 'DRAFT?????


9ice one
**i owe u lunch someday :-)

poeticallytinted said...

Oh the search for meaning will lead people anywhere, will make them do anything and will turn them to idiots on opium. Even when all the signs stare them in the face there is always someone like your colleague who has been so brainwashed into being totally close minded to a different point of view. How sad.

I identify with a lot of things you've said. I don't know where god lives and I don't know if god lives. Maybe one day I'll find him in my bed :)

Once again the way your amazingly clear self expression through writing awes me.

Write that book!

Adaeze said...

Girl! You hit the nail on the head. I could not agree with you more. This is why I decided a long time ago, is that what TRULY matters is not what I call myself, how I broadcast it, how I dress, where I go, that matters. It is my actions towards others in my life and my personal belief. God IS everywhere. Unfortunately there is so much corruption, so much hypocrisy and so many people that lie so much to themselves they actually think they aren't doing anything wrong. Church is a big BUSINESS in Nigeria. Yes, a business. It's about profit making and if you have the talent of preaching it's another easy way to make money. It's especially easy to take advantage of suffering people, because they are more desperate. My MIL took all the money we sent her and gave it to her pastor. When we returned, she's living in horrible conditions and the pastor is filthy rich..and still has the nerve to tell us he needs another 20 000 N for a new this or that..
I am not in any way saying that all churches and pastors are like this but unfortunately there is a lot of hypocrisy like this and the world would be a better place if everyone developed some critical thinking and didn't just walk blindly into something. I think giving 10% to the people that really need it is a great idea. You're doing a good deed and you're guaranteed it gets to them when you give to them directly.
Truth talk.

Anonymous said...

Thumbs Up!
I am the rebellious one in my family, among friends and colleagues because I refuse to give my tithe to the church. I'm tired of explaining to them that I would not finance the desire of my pastor to acquire the latest wonder on wheels or a jet, do they know that the money that goes into financing such machines monthly could go a long way in feeding congregation of my church (with all its branches scattered across the country and world) for several years?
Why does my pastor need police escort and I have to practically disappear every time he chooses to ply the same road as mere mortals such as I?
I would give that tithe and much more to those who truly need it, to advance their life and contribute to shaping the future of my country, economically and scientifically!And this does not make less of a christian!!

fope said...

Hi,
This is my first time visiting your blog... I really like this entry... and I do agree with you that there is a lot of hypocrisy in church. In the end it's your relationship with God that matters, not what anyone else says... i applaud you for giving your 10%+ to those who need it... i'm a church-going christian and i have a problem with some of these things you've mentioned as well.

rayo said...

shaky ground i must say but personaly 4 me its nt wat pastor says, its wat i feel in my heart God wants

Buttercup said...

wow..bitter food for thought..

‘my school is not for everyone!’ - ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

36 INCHES OF BROWN LEGS said...

i rem d first time i went to city of david, i didnt hear one part of the sermon, i was overwhelmed by the ppl and madness going on there, seriously hope and religion just dnt go, Nigerians have taken it to d next level!!!

StandTall-The Activist said...

It's good to pay tithe for GOD's work to continue but I womder why in so many churches only the passtors get to wear fab clothes, tush cars and all and nothing has changed in the lives of those given them money as well as those hungry people put there...

How have you being my lady? Pls I need Chimamanda Adizie email Can you help me with it? You can email me at tadonline@gmail.com

Woomie O! said...

@ LG : Stay there, you don't know I have your password???

@ PTinted: lol @ finding God in your bed. He's everywhere, whoever He is. I'm working on that book. You know how time is here...

@ Adaeze: thanks for stopping by. Poor MIL...it takes a lot to convince these people that they have been brainwashed.

@ Anonymous : the escort thing is really irritating. What are they protecting? Didn't Jesus walk around unguarded and unaided according to the bible? Maybe our modern pastors think that the 12 disciples were bodyguards.lol.

@ Fope: thanks for stopping by! it will be nice to access your link...and reciprocate.

@ Rayo; girl where have you been? It's what God wants...at least that's what the Pastors say that the Bible says... I admire your strong faith in spite of what you see around.

@ Buttercup: I'm soo not kidding. How have you been ? Missin ya!

@ 36 : Oh I see you've been a 'victim' at COD.lol. That place is a church and then some. Where have you been??? Missed you tonnes.

@ Standtall: We will continue to wonder o my sister! until they start quoting churches on the Stock exchange.
I've been okay o! Still desperately waiting for my interview. I'll check for Ngozi's e-mail address and get back to you asap.

SHE said...

Lotsa points you made here.
His school is not for everyone, yeah? Most interesting.

How does the idea of an ATM on the church premises sound? Really cool, no?

RocNaija said...

I always say Nigeria is the most religious country I know..

Ironic considering Christianity and Islam only berthed our shores with the slave masters..

You've said it all.. Any addendum na overskill..

Can't believe you're not on my blogroll..

*Walks aways to correct it sharpish!*

Kafo said...

wow
this is a mouthful

you articulated your thoughts so clearing it was like i was in your head

i agree with you on the corruption and it isn't limited to naija alone

i also agree with you on setting your 10% aside and giving it to the needy since you are not a member of a reg church where the money is being used wisely

i'm just wondering if all this corruptions justifies forsaking the assembly as you put if of the brethern
i mean
not all churches are corrupt, Right?
not all christians are about status apparatus gratus
right?
i mean have you searched for this elite remnant of the remnant or just giving up hope of finding them

Naughty Eyes said...

WOW!
WOW!!
The first is for hacking LG's Draft. Pass me the koko abeg and I'll buy you 2 free lunches.
The second is for the piece. You need to distribute this in a mag or something...

StandTall-The Activist said...

Dearie, our interview will happen soon. Thanks for helping me wiv Chimamanda's contact. I asked for friend's request wiv u on FB

Woomie O! said...

@ SHE; thanks for stopping by (again?). It's always nice to see new faces. Do update soon. BDW, ATMs are everywhere, if not on the church's premises, just a pin-throw away

@ RocNaija: thanks for stopping by. Nigerians are 'naturally religious'...i sometimes doubt my roots.

@ Kafo: i haven't given up on finding them...i just won't go out of my way to do it...let them come to me.

@ NaughtyEyes: free lunch? On behalf of LG and myself, you are declared a Cheapskate, mehn! y don't you start with a bottle of Amor or something? Thanks. I'm working on the mag sharpishly.

@ Standtall: did I tell you how cool your dreads are?

N.I.M.M.O said...

True religion is between an individual and GOD. Anything else is 'fefferity'.

Good that you would share your 'tithe' with the less priviledged. Remember Jesus said; 'If you do this to the least of my brethren ...'

Good that you decide to pay your PAYE. At least there is evidence that its working. Indirectly, it takes care of the less privileged too.

Has anyone noticed that there seems to be a competition between Churches and the Government? Churches flourish where good government is lacking.

StandTall-The Activist said...

Aww thanks a lot!

aloted said...

as long as we are in this world there will always be pretenders, false teachers etc...but our walk with God is a personal one...and yes we shld not forsake the assembles of the brethen because the lord commanded it.

giving tithes is something God commanded...so we should give our tithes...there is blessing in giving tithes...for me its between God and I....i am giving to God and not man..

O'Dee said...

"he is omnipresent. He doesn’t stay at the Redeem Camp and never leaves, He is not buried at MFM Prayer City, He is alive, He goes before me, He stands beside me, He is in my head and all around me."

You have spoken what has been on my mind for sometime now.

I haven't been to church in a month, and its not for the lack of churches; there are over 5 churches on my street. I just dont know which stands 4 the truth anymore.

I also give my tithe out to pple who need it.

musco said...

So sorry i haven't bn here in a while.

food 4 thought 4 us all.wish i was an editor at a newspaper,this will certainly make an interesting read 4 a sunday edition!

FFF said...

d crimes dat r commented in the name of God!!!!! it's well sha.








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StandTall-The Activist said...

why havent u update? ur interview is up