I do not consider myself worthy to step into the shoes of these great men of God; nor do I consider myself worthy even to eat the crumbs from the tables of these giants, however, I feel compelled to follow their path and write about some issues that have been a burden to me for the past couple of years.
Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour JESUS Christ. I hope this letter meets you all in good health; I pray that all may go well with you and your souls are getting along well.
One thousand, nine hundred and fifty-two years ago, Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Christians at Corinth to address his concerns regarding the activities occurring at the Corinth church. In 1517 AD, nearly one thousand, four hundred and sixty years later, a thirty-four year old Reverend called Martin Luther wrote his famous 'Ninety-Five Theses' letter, expressing his dissatisfaction with the abuses of the Roman Catholic clergy.
Coincidentally, in 1963, a thirty-four year old Baptist Minister from Atlanta called Martin Luther King Jnr wrote a letter from a Birmingham jail to eight clergymen in response to the latter’s request for the African American community to suspend their civil disobedience demonstrations. He also highlighted the white church’s apathy towards the plight of the African Americans’ struggle.
I do not consider myself worthy to step into the shoes of these great men of God; nor do I consider myself worthy even to eat the crumbs from the tables of these giants, however, I feel compelled to follow their path and write about some issues that have been a burden to me for the past couple of years.
What is this burden? What has made me follow the pathway of Apostle Paul, Martin Luther and Martin Luther King? I am disturbed about the state of the Nigerian church and I am burdened by the consequence this is having on the effective ministration of the Word of God in Nigeria.
Before I go any further, I would like to introduce myself by answering the following question, which you may want to ask. Who is this person with a Muslim name? Is he still a Muslim? Has he converted to Christianity? Has he accepted JESUS into his life? If he is addressing the church, why have we not heard of him within the church circuit? Is he a minister of God? If he is not a Minister, why is he addressing Anointed Men and Women of God (see Appendix A for a list of some of the clergies copied)?
By way of introduction, my name is Ahmed Olayinka Sule. I am a sinner (in fact the chief of all sinners) who has been saved by Grace in JESUS. I was born into a Muslim family and had my Damascus Road conversion experience during my high school years. However, shortly after my conversion, I rejected Christ and did not turn back to God until 2000. Though I am not a clergyman, I regard myself as part of the Royal Priesthood, who has been called out of the darkness of sin into the glorious light of my Lord JESUS Christ.
I agree that I may not be the right person to write this open letter, especially as I am not a perfect person. I also know that I am not worthy to even tie the shoelace of the one hundred and fifty clergy copied into this letter. I also agree that I do not have the moral justification to pen this article. This is especially true as there is nothing good in my sinful nature. When I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong, and when I don’t want to do what is wrong, I do it anyway.
However, in the words of King Solomon, there is a time to be silent and there is a time to speak. The time to speak up is now. I have been silent for the past eleven years, and the burden in my heart is bringing to light Martin Luther King’s comment that '”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”.
This letter is written out of my love for the church and is no way meant to cause division within it. I also have the utmost respect for the church leadership and I appreciate the efforts of millions of Christians working towards taking the message of the cross throughout the nation.
You may ask what I mean by the Nigerian Church? After all, the church belongs to Christ and it is not defined by geographical parameters. Agreed. The audience of this letter, which I have described as the Nigerian Church, falls into four categories. The first comprises of the Christian community based in Nigeria, which includes all the church denominations. The second category comprises of the churches outside of Nigeria, which are affiliated to the church based in Nigeria. This includes branches and parishes of churches headquartered in Nigeria. The third category relates to churches based outside of Nigeria, which are either shepherded by Nigerian pastors or which have a predominately Nigerian congregation. The fourth category comprise of my non-Christian brothers and sisters, some of whom are eager to accept Christ but have been reluctant to make that commitment due to the attitude of the Nigerian Church. There is also a separate section in this letter specifically addressed to my non-Christian brothers and sisters. It is my prayer that by reading this letter they will appreciate that JESUS is the standard by which Christianity should be measured, rather than the fallible nature of man.
In the last twenty years, the Nigerian church movement has experienced significant growth. It has impacted the country positively, as millions of people have been transformed by the life-changing message of our Lord JESUS. There was a time when Christians could not openly share and declare their faith due to the ridicule and persecution they faced. However, thanks to the leadership of the church, this stigma towards Christianity has been greatly reduced. Furthermore, Christianity has a growing influence in Nigeria, which has resulted in the proliferation of filled-up churches. Nigeria has become one of the fastest growing church movements in the world. The influence of Christ is not only felt inside the church, but also outside of it. Politicians seek the audience of a number of church leaders for prayers, and Christians are at the helm of numerous corporate entities. The church has also played a role in education, with the establishment of church-run schools providing high quality education.
Despite this progress, all is not well with the Nigerian Church. How do I know that all is not well with the Nigerian Church? What is my benchmark ? The benchmark I have used is based on the life of our Lord JESUS and the Word of God. I have also had the opportunity to attend and observe churches run by both Nigerian and non-Nigerian ministers; churches with predominately Nigerian congregation and churches with a small number of Nigerians; churches within Nigeria and churches elsewhere. This variation has provided me the opportunity to evaluate the activities of these churches.
There are four reasons for writing this letter. First, as explained earlier, I am compelled to write out of my love for the Church. I hope that the issues raised in this letter will result in a reassessment of some of our activities in church and will eventually lead to a change in attitude.
Second, I know a number of Christians have been disillusioned with the Nigerian Church. I also know some Christians who do not feel the need to go to church and prefer to worship alone, due to what they observe in the church. Paul urges us not to put any stumbling block in a fellow believer’s way. He also states that “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died“. I am compelled to highlight what ‘food’ we as Christians are 'eating' that is causing our brothers to stumble.
Third, I have a sense of responsibility to educate my non-Christian brothers and sisters not to use the activities and attitudes of a few people in the body of Christ as a justification to deny the power of Christ. They also need to know that Christ is our benchmark, even if we often fall short of that standard due to our fallible nature.
Finally, I am writing on behalf of the thousands of believers who have not been able to speak up on these issues due to time constraints, apathy, fear, or a general belief that things will remain the same.
Having introduced myself and explained the basis my writing to you, I would like to discuss five issues that have compelled me to write this letter - namely:
- The Sheep and the Shepherd
- Accountability & Responsibility
- Unity In the Church
- Social Justice
1. The Sheep and the Shepherd
The activities of some of the spiritual leaders in the Nigerian church have come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years. On the whole, church leaders are doing a good job in line with the word of God, however, there are a few outliers that buck the trend. As the scripture says, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough, and this is a fitting metaphor for the ridicule brought to the church as a result of the activities of some of the clergy.
One area of concern is the excessive grip that a number of clergy have over the congregation. In some instances, the clergy (who are just human and messengers of Christ) are feared and respected more than our Lord JESUS Christ. I strongly believe that the messenger cannot be greater than the message, but this does apply to most sections of the Nigerian church.
Scripture tells us that when JESUS died on the cross at Calvary, the veil was split in two. As a result of his death, we were granted access into the Holy of Holies through the redemptive power in the blood of JESUS. The bible makes it very clear that we should boldly enter the throne of God [Hebrew 4:16]. Due to JESUS’ sacrificial death, we can now confidently approach God through our Lord JESUS without having to go through any other intermediary. JESUS also says that He is the Way and the light and that no one can approach the Father except through Him.
However, a large number of us are not confident enough to approach God directly through JESUS. Instead, we prefer to go through the clergy in order to access God. Some of us even believe that our prayers will not be answered until it is agreed with or backed by a man or woman of God. It is well documented that people spend hundreds of thousands of Naira, and sometimes thousands of pounds, to travel the length and breadth of the world to chase one man of God or other in order to receive spiritual blessing. It is not unusual for a seventy five year old man to call a pastor of thirty years of age ‘daddy’, ‘mummy’, ‘papa’ or ‘mama’.
I agree that it is sometimes necessary to approach the clergy to agree with us in prayers on a certain issue or to seek their counsel. However, this should be the exception rather than the rule. By chasing the clergy all the time, we are putting unnecessary pressure on them. We, the congregation, need to realise that the work of the clergy is not an easy job. They spend a lot of time fasting, praying and seeking the face of God. They also have to prepare for their sermons and once they have finished the service they end up spending hours attending to a lengthy queue of people gathered outside their office seeking counsel or prayers. We also need to be considerate and realise that they also have families to cater for. Furthermore, the Psalmist tells us that it is better to put your confidence in God rather than in man.
There are two contributory factors that have led to this issue. The cultural influence and the lack of a proper understanding of the reconciliatory power in the Blood of JESUS. I will address the first factor.
A positive aspect of the African society is the respect granted to elders; whether it is our parents, uncles, neighbours, teachers etc. This is also reflected in our history - for instance, the monarchy system in most parts of the country, where the King had absolute authority, and his counsel was sought on all issues. Furthermore, long before the advent of Christianity in Nigeria, the ’Babalawo’ (witch doctor) played an important role in the lives of the people. People would seek his counsel on a range of issues including marriage, children, family problems etc. He was seen as the direct representative of god on earth. In order to hear from their idols, people would approach the ‘Babalawo’ in order to know the mind of their gods. Unfortunately, this tradition has now crept into the church, whereby the clergy have now assumed the role of the ‘Babalawo’.
The Word of God tells us to respect people in authority. I also understand that the clergy has been placed by God to shepherd his people. However, we need to be aware that there is a thin line between respect and hero-worship. What constitutes respect? What constitutes hero-worship? Respect is when one approaches a Minister to agree with him in prayer on a specific issue, while hero-worship is when one thinks that without the minister’s agreement, God will not answer his prayers. Respect is when a family seeks spiritual guidance from a minister, while hero-worship is when the wife or husband thinks that the minister is the spiritual head of the home. Respect is when you seek a minister’s advice on a particular decision, while hero worship is when you cannot make a decision until the minister has sanctioned it.
In a number of Christian homes, the pastors have become the head of the homes and have usurped the roles of parents and husbands. In most instances, this intrusion is not the fault of the clergy - after all, this would not have happened if the couple had a proper understanding of their authority in Christ. Thankfully, the clergy are men and women of integrity so this unnecessary intrusion is the exception. However, in a few instances, some manipulative characters take advantage of the situation and cause havoc within the family structure. It is well documented that a number of homes have been ruined as a result of these intrusions. For instance, frictions and divisions have been created between parents and children, husband and wives, daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law as a result of the intrusive nature of some of these men of God. The activities of some of these ministers are contrary to the example set by our Lord JESUS who went about restoring rather than breaking relationships.
In some extreme cases, some men of God are known to take advantage of gullible female members of the congregation. Unfortunately, because these people do not know their authority in Christ, they find it difficult to rebuff the sexual advances of these wolves in sheep clothing. Sometimes, these so called men of God tell these vulnerable ladies that it is not against the will of God for them to sleep with a man of God. Although this occurrence is rare, however the church leadership should expose and disgrace any pastor found conducting such activities.
My heart also bleeds whenever I meet people who cannot make informed decisions without the sanction or approval of their pastors. Important, life-changing decisions about marriage, education, career, business etc. have been outsourced to pastors. It is time for the body of Christ to pass through the torn veil left at the foot of the cross of Calvary and boldly approach JESUS on his heavenly throne and make their petition known directly to him.
Another area of concern is that a number of pastors have been giving financial advice to the congregation, even when it is outside the pastor’s area of expertise. For instance, during the Nigerian stock market bubble of the past couple of years, a number of pastors advised their congregation to join the bandwagon and invest in the Nigerian capital market. In giving out this advice, the pastors failed to educate the congregation on the risk factors associated with investing in the capital market. Furthermore, they did not explain the fundamental drivers of these asset prices. Unfortunately, since the clergy’s statements are never questioned (for reasons which I have explained earlier), some members of the congregation took positions in these overinflated asset classes. The result of acting on this advice was sorrow ,tears and financial ruin due to the market correction.
This situation was not only restricted to the Nigerian capital market. In the UK, in spite of an overheated housing market bubble, a number of ministers based in the UK encouraged their congregation to take out mortgages in order to take advantage of the bubble in the real estate sector. Like their Nigerian counterparts, the ministers failed to consider the risk factors and the personal financial circumstances of the congregation. There were instances in which the congregations were advised to remortgage their properties in the UK and use the proceeds to invest in Nigeria. In financial terms, this is what is called a ‘carry trade’ whereby an investor borrows money at a low interest rate in a foreign currency (say Pounds Sterling) and invests the proceeds in assets of a high yielding currency (the Naira). Since this strategy involves excessive use of leverage (debt), an investor can suffer significant loss if the carry trade unwinds. Unfortunately, this risk was not explained to the congregation. As a result of yielding to this advice, a number of people took on mortgages they could not afford and are now facing the twin tragedy of bankruptcy and homelessness.
I suggest that pastors should not give financial advice to the congregation, especially when it is outside the pastor’s area of expertise. If, however, they insist on giving it, they should issue the necessary disclaimers and explain the risks involved. Furthermore, we as the congregation should seek financial advice from professionally qualified financial advisors.
An action that is pervasive in some areas of the Christian community is the issue of ministers placing curses on congregation members who challenge or criticize their decisions. Quite often, the threat of a curse or the fear of a threat is enough to make that member of congregation follow the line of the pastor. This is quite sad and is not in line with Roman 12:14, which tells us to bless and not to curse.
Does what I say regarding the activities of some of the clergy amount to heresy? Am I disobeying the biblical instruction, which says “touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm”? Am I guilty of behaving like the four children who mocked Elisha by calling him “a bald head”?
I do not think so, for several reasons. First, I am not causing harm to the prophets, as what I am doing is out of genuine love and I want the church to be more effective in drawing people to the Kingdom of God. Second, it is not unscriptural for anointed men of God to be rebuked when they stray away from the word of God. From scripture we know that God anointed King Saul. We also know that David obeyed this word when he did not kill Saul, even though he had an opportunity to do so. However, in spite of the anointing upon Saul's life, that did not stop David from speaking against the wrongful deeds of King Saul. Furthermore, in spite of the anointing of King Saul, Samuel still reprimanded Saul for not obeying his instruction. Moreover, even Apostle Paul challenged Peter when he felt that Peter was not acting in accordance with the scriptures. Third, the basis of my observation is the word of God, which is the truth. John Locke put it right when he said “The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of men. It has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter. It is all pure “
Fourth, the anointed of the Lord is not only restricted to the clergy but to all who have accepted JESUS Christ as their Lord and personal saviour. I John 2: 20 makes it very clear: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth”. For anyone who may think that I have disobeyed God’s command regarding Psalm 105:15, I would like to ask the three questions: Are we to say touch not my anointed if a man of God curses his congregation? Are we to say touch not my anointed if a woman of God causes a separation between a couple?; Are we to say touch not my anointed if a man of God gives a false prophesy that causes a son to abandon his aged parents?
2. Accountability & Responsibility
A second disturbing factor is the lack of accountability in a number of Nigerian churches. It is not uncommon for churches to be run as the private property of the founders or leaders. If the church does not demonstrate accountability and transparency, how can the church be effective in advocating transparency within the wider Nigerian community?
There needs to be improved transparency and accountability in church especially as a significant source of the cash flow for the church comes from the contribution of the congregation of the church. Because of their contribution, the congregation needs to know, periodically, how their contribution has been put to use. Unlike shareholders that expect a return on their investment in the form of dividend or capital appreciation, congregation members need to be sure of the following: that the church funding has been used to run the church effectively; that resources are going towards growing the kingdom of God; that the church is reaching out to the community.
This issue of accountability is very important, as there have been instances in the past where a lack of accountability has brought shame to the body of Christ. A high profile case was the issue relating to the alleged misappropriation of funds for Pastor Hinn's crusade, which gained worldwide attention and put the Nigerian Christian community in a negative light.
There is also an emerging trend of the church levying the congregation to fund the luxuries of the church leadership. I agree that it necessary for the church to fund the needs of the church leadership, especially pastors working on a full time basis. Furthermore, the bible makes it clear that a worker is worthy of his wages. While funding the church leaders necessities is justified, asking the congregation to fund the luxuries of the leader is not only morally repugnant, but also socially unjust. This levy on the congregation does not make any moral sense, especially as it is levied in a country where, on average, 34% of the population lives on less than $1 per day.
Rather than taxing the congregation to fund the luxuries of the leaders, Christian leaders should follow the example of our Lord JESUS who, despite being the King of kings, chose to ride into Jerusalem on a gentle donkey rather than on an elegant Roman horse. It is time for the clergy to see their calling as a form of servant hood towards the body of Christ and not as a means to fund a flamboyant lifestyle.
Another area that needs improvement is the monitoring of the flow of funds into the church. Since the church is a tax-exempt organisation, it owes the government a responsibility to ensure that anybody who places ill-gotten money through the church system is exposed and reported to the authorities. There have been instances in the past whereby people have stolen funds running into tens of millions of Naira and placed these criminal proceeds in the church to fund church capital expenditures. The church should arise and reject these illegal funds. Furthermore, the church should institute anti-money laundering procedures to mitigate and prevent a recurrence of the placement of criminal proceeds in the church.
The church also has a responsibility to ensure that its activity does not inconvenience the general public. One area that needs further consideration is the traffic bottleneck that occurs at the Lagos–Sagamu Axis of the Lagos Ibadan Express Way resulting from some church events. Admittedly, a number of churches have put some effort towards reducing the traffic bottleneck, however, this is not enough. The churches have the right to organise events and crusades on their property whether along the expressway or on the mainland. However, along with that freedom also comes a responsibility to ensure that its activities do not cause traffic that disrupts other passengers’ journey on the express. A journey between Lagos and Sagamu that should ideally take 45 minutes occasionally sometimes takes eight to twelve hours during these church programmes. The result of the church activities brings untold hardship on the passengers traveling along the expressway. Furthermore, many passengers are not happy with the churches for causing traffic on the expressway and this could hinder the effective ministration of the gospel in the country.
On a personal note, my father, who is over 70 years and is still mourning the loss of my mother, was recently trapped in the traffic for over six hours because a church was having a crusade along the expressway. He was greatly distressed, and as a Christian I found it impossible to justify the attitude of the church towards his plight. I also know of another person who missed her father’s burial due to the traffic caused as a result of a church programme near the expressway. Apart from my personal stories, there are thousands of other people who have miserable stories to tell, such as brides missing their weddings, corpses being trapped in traffic and people developing high blood pressure while in traffic.
As Christians, we need to spare a thought for those people trapped in traffic as a result of our crusades and vigils, and do everything possible to mitigate the hardship faced by travelers. If JESUS was holding a crusade on the expressway and was informed by Peter that there were thousands of people trapped in traffic due to his crusade, JESUS would have compassion for those passengers and would make provision to make sure that no one suffered. Since we are all followers of Christ, let us do what JESUS would do.
3. Unity In the Church
Just like the church in Corinth, a number of Nigerian Churches are divided along the lines of the church leaders and denominations. While some say they are Pentecostal, others say they are Apostolic, some say they are Anglicans , while others say they are Methodist and the list goes on and on. This division is not only between different churches, but also between parishes of the same church, whereby members boast of the spiritual superiority of their church relative to other parishes. I recollect hearing somebody describe another branch of her own church as the ‘funny version’ of her own parish. The division in the church is partly caused by lack of knowledge and also by a number of leaders who want to build personal empires.
Spiritual arrogance is also pervasive in our community, with a number Christians arrogating that their pastors have a monopoly on the knowledge and mystery of the scriptures. It is not unusual to hear them say, “My pastor is ‘worded’” or “come to my church where you will really learn the scriptures”.
‘Evangelism of the converted’ is another evidence of this lack of unity. What do I mean by ‘evangelism of the converted’? It is when born-again Christian ‘A’ goes about preaching to another Christian ‘B’ to leave her or his church and join the church of Christian ‘A’. Evangelism of the converted is not an effective approach to expand the Kingdom of God. The time and effort spent preaching to the converted should be channeled towards those that need to accept JESUS. After all our Lord JESUS made it very clear that he came to seek and save those that were lost.
Paul put it right when he said that we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. If Paul is correct, then all the different church denominations are all part of the body of JESUS Christ, who is the true head of the Church. Since we are all one in Christ, then why the division in the church?
It is time for us to put aside this ‘Paul’, ‘Apollos’ and ‘Cephas’ division and work towards unity in Christ. What would Nigeria be like if the churches unite to organise a week of evangelism on the streets of Lagos? What would the country be like if the churches unite to organise a prayer walk round the capital of all the states of Nigeria? What would the country be like if the churches unite to make politicians accountable for their electoral promises? Surely Nigeria will be a better place.
So let us focus less on the things that divide us and concentrate on what unites us.
Another area that I would address is the doctrine and activities of our churches.
Speaking generally, most of the doctrines of our churches are in accordance with the word of God. However, some aspects of the churches’ doctrines, teachings and activities need to be more properly aligned with the Word of God. In other instances, the preacher may need to emphasis certain aspects of the gospel more often.
Before discussing these doctrines and activities, I would like to address an attitude that needs to change in our community. I am concerned that we Christians sometimes do not imbibe the attitude of the Berean Christians who not only listened to Paul’s message, but also searched the scriptures to ensure that what he said was in line with the word of God. It is very common for us to say “x, y and z is correct because Pastor said so in church”. I have had conversations with a number of people on certain areas of the scripture and when I ask for the scriptural basis, I am told that the pastor said so in church. This attitude increases the risk of the congregation being misinformed if a pastor’s teaching is wrong. There is also a risk that heretic teachings could go undetected.
Christians should strive to independently search the scriptures to ensure that the pastor’s teachings are in line with scriptures. Furthermore, the congregation should feel free to discuss any concerns regarding a misaligned doctrine or message with the clergy without the fear of being cursed or tagged confrontational. Likewise, the preacher should also be open to constructive criticism regarding any message or doctrine that is not in line with the word of God.
I will now go into specific aspects of the misaligned doctrines, teachings and activities:
a) Gifts and Fruits of The Spirit: While a lot of teaching has been done on the various gifts of the spirit, less teaching has been done on the fruits of the spirit. The gifts of the spirit are very important for the effective functioning of the body of Christ. We are also instructed by Paul to eagerly desire these gifts.
However, one cannot emphasis the gifts without also emphasizing the fruits of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 which include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. If we can exhibit the fruits of the Spirit in addition to the gifts of the Spirit, the church would be more effective in changing attitudes in Nigeria. This is because when a non-Christian sees that we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, he/she will be convinced and would be willing to listen to us. Our Lord JESUS makes it very clear that it is to God’s glory that we bear many fruits and show ourselves to be his disciples.
b) The Hand of God and the Face of God: One area of teaching that has been overemphasized is the prosperity message. Before going further, I would like to state my stance regarding the prosperity message. First, I believe that it is God’s plan for us to prosper and this is stated throughout scripture from Genesis up to Revelations. Second, I believe that the church has a duty to preach this message of prosperity to world. Third, I believe that God instructs us to tithe and that there are blessings associated with tithing. Fourth, I believe that God is ready to take care not only of our spiritual needs, but he is also ready to take care of our physical needs.
However, the teaching regarding prosperity has been asymmetric. There now appears to be a view that there is a strong correlation between godliness and wealth. I have attended church services where the preachers teach that poverty is a sin. Moreover, in some services, people who make higher contributions towards the church are publicly acknowledged and singled out for blessing by the minister. This act obviously is in contradiction with how JESUS viewed the contribution of the rich people and the poor widow. Our Lord JESUS looked beyond the value contributed by the wealthy, who gave out of their abundance, but rather looked at the heart of the poor widow who gave with a pure heart.
On the area of sowing and reaping, the congregation is taught to sow into the kingdom in order to reap materially. By overemphasizing the sowing and reaping principle, the congregation could be encouraged to give to God in the expectation of material blessings, rather than to give with a pure heart. If, however, God chooses to delay the blessing for a season, there is a risk that the giver becomes disillusioned. In addition, it will encourage people to go to any extent to acquire ill-gotten wealth in order to give to the church, with the expectation that God will reward them for the seeds sown into God’s kingdom.
Furthermore, there is an overemphasis on financial prosperity, while other aspects of prosperity such as health, unity peace etc. are not addressed. It is important to teach the congregation that prosperity does not only exist in financial terms.
We all agree that JESUS spoke about riches, money, talents and coins, however, we need to look at the context in which he used these words. Contrary to the teachings by some pastors that a sizeable part of JESUS’ teaching related to financial matters, an analysis of JESUS’ teaching reveals otherwise. When JESUS mentioned riches, he spoke about people who refused to mature spiritually due to their concern for riches and pleasure. When JESUS mentioned money he said, "you can't worship two gods at once - God and money”. When JESUS mentioned talents he taught us the rewards and consequences for using or not using what he has entrusted to us. When JESUS mentioned coins he gave us an analogy between a lost coin that has been found and a sinner that has been saved.
c) Treatment of the Rich and Poor: As a result of the above, the Church tends to celebrate the success of the wealthy and the influential. The rich and powerful are given undue attention. They have access to the clergy and are allowed to seat on the prominent seats in church. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case for those less well-off in society. The poor are sometimes made to feel that their poverty is the result of their failure to fulfill God’s plan for their lives. When it comes to ordaining ministers, deacons and elders, sometimes wealth, influence and career become determining factors.
Should the rich and powerful get all the attention? Should eloquence, fame, and wealth be a basis for church leadership? In order to answer these questions, let us go to the word of God. When JESUS selected his disciples, he did not use financial weight or influence as a basis for selection. Neither did the eloquence of educational status play an important role. Paul in his letter to Timothy specified several attributes that should be taken into consideration when selecting church leaders. His list did not mention influence, wealth or career, rather he said leaders should be self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, gentle and free from the love of money.
Due to the celebration of the rich in most of our churches, the congregations are often motivated to get rich quickly, at any cost. This has lead to Christians falling into the trap of the love and lust for money. It is not unusual to see Christians preoccupied with the quest of ‘making it big’. One can hardly have a decent conversation with most Christians without them talking about money, contracts, deals or connection most of the time. Some pastors are also known to strike deals and sometimes take the short cuts in order to acquire wealth. Paul puts it right when he say that people who want to get rich could fall into the temptation and traps, which could lead to destruction and ruin. Furthermore, President Obama’s comment that "Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential” is something that we should ponder on.
When preaching about prosperity, teachers need to emphasise the risk of the love of money in order to discourage people from carrying out ungodly activities in order to get rich.
d) Workers in the vineyard: For the church to run effectively, it is important for people to volunteer for the Kingdom of God. As part of that process, the workers need to be adequately equipped to carry out their responsibilities. One important way of equipping volunteers is through training. This training process is carried out regularly in our churches. Sometimes the requirement to become a worker is so stringent that it defeats the whole purpose. For instance, people are required to report to church very early in the morning and if they are late for whatever reason, they are sometimes publicly ridiculed or dismissed from the workforce. This requirement is difficult for married couples who have to get up early, wake up the kids, bathe them, clothe them and prepare their food. All while trying to rush to church to beat the deadline.
The difficulty of the training regime to become a worker has two effects. First, it discourages people that have a desire to serve the Church. This denies the body of Christ a vast resource of willing, talented volunteers. Second, the strict regime often leads to a situation where people no longer view their service as part of the advancement of God’s Kingdom, but rather as a way of complying with man-made laws.
The Church should encourage willing volunteers to use their skills and talents for God’s kingdom by relaxing the drastic volunteer requirement.
e) Ring/No Ring: There is a lot of discrimination in the churches against people who are not married. Just as widows were discriminated against during the time of Paul, the unmarried are now discriminated against in a number of churches. The unmarried are labeled as ‘singles’ in a condescending manner. The unmarried are also made to feel that they are not fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives. The church leadership plays a part in fuelling this form of segregation. It is not unusual to listen to messages, which state implicitly or explicitly that ‘singles’ have problems or ‘singles’ are possessed by an evil spirit or that ‘singles’ are not praying enough.
The unmarried members of the congregation are often isolated within the church and pressured to join the ‘singles’ fellowship; as a result there is often no integration in the church between the unmarried and the married.
This marital apartheid has two effects. The first is to make some of the married people suspicious of the unmarried members of the church. For instance a number of married women in church become very suspicious of unmarried girls, thinking that they want to snatch their husbands. The second effect is that it puts unnecessary pressure on the unmarried to get married at any cost. This often leads to the unmarried entering into unproductive relationships in order to join the ‘elite married’ group in the church. Could this be a contributory factor to the rising divorce rate in the country?
As King Solomon put it, there is a time for everything under the sun. Just as there is a time to get married, there is a time to be single. Rather than degrade the unmarried in the congregation, the Church should work towards making effective use of the unmarried. After all it was the Apostle Paul who said that “An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband”.
Just as there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, there is no difference between the married and the unmarried, as the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, whether married or not.
Moreover, there is a disturbing trend in which some of the church leaders determine the timing for people to get married. This usually occurs when the pastor instructs unmarried ladies who are committed in the church to wait for years before granting them permission to get married. Sometimes the pastor determines whom these ladies can marry. In other instances, church members are pressured to marry within their congregation and if any member is engaged to someone outside the church, strategies are put in place to frustrate the relationship.
The activities of these pastors’ amounts to an unnecessary intrusion into people’s privacy and the sooner this practice stops, the better.
5. Social Justice
In the area of social justice, the Nigerian Church still has more work to do. Before going further, I would like to provide the scriptural basis on why the Church needs to get more involved in social justice. From the Old to the New Testament, reference is made to the need to maintain justice. For instance, the Psalmist pronounced a blessing on those that maintain justice. Furthermore, scriptures tell us that the righteous should care about justice for the poor. We also learn that our Lord JESUS was a strong advocate for justice. He admonished the teachers of the law for neglecting justice. The book of Isaiah tells us that the Lord loves justice. Since we are children of the Lord, we have no choice but to also fight for and maintain justice. Fighting against injustice is a key ingredient in demonstrating love of Christ and an effective form of witnessing the gospel.
Throughout history, the church has been at the forefront of speaking against injustice. In the 17th century the Quakers played an important role in the campaign against the transatlantic slave trade. In the 1960’s the church played a leadership role in the civil rights movement, which eventually lead to the dismantling of the segregation structures in the United States. Most of the well-known charities such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Christian Aid, are heavily influenced by Christian principles. Furthermore, Florence Nightingale was influenced by the teachings of our Lord JESUS to leave behind her wealthy upbringing to take care of the poor and the wounded.
In Nigeria, the churches have done some laudable things such as building of schools, homeless homes, in addition to prison visitation etc. However, more still needs to be done.
There are two areas I would discuss in relation to the Church’s apparent apathy towards social justice, namely: the church’s response to political misgovernance, and its response to the abuse of children accused of witchcraft .
The church has a role to play in engaging with the political classes on issues relating to the welfare of the country. When the activities of the political classes conflict with those of the citizenry and the Word of God, the church should be the vanguard of fighting for the oppressed. The church should also put pressure on the government to improve its governance. A particular area of misgovernance that the church needs to be more actively engaged is in the fight against corruption. This is because the high level of corruption in Nigeria is not good for the country’s image and it also leads to the redistribution of wealth of the nation from the ‘have’s not to the ‘haves’.
The church can play a crucial role in influencing policies for the betterment of the people, especially since some church leaders have access to the political leadership of Nigeria. A number of politicians attend church programmes and are often allowed to address the congregation. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for politicians to visit some church leaders for ‘spiritual protection’ and prayers. Unfortunately, in spite of this access, the church has been relatively silent on the misuse of power by the political classes.
In the days of the Old Testament, God sent the prophets to relay his messages to kings, especially those who misruled and contravened God’s laws. For instance, Samuel told King Saul that because he had rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord had rejected Saul as King of Israel. Since God is a just God, he is not happy when the rulers of the land oppress his people and carry out activities contrary to his will. The Church leadership, especially those that have access to politicians, should be more confident in relaying God’s message and judgment. The clergy should emulate John the Baptist, who reproved King Herod for having an affair with his brother’s wife, even though the warning was at the risk of John’s life.
Rather than being consoled by the silence of the Church, the political classes should be disturbed by the Church’s insistence for justice. Now that the Church leadership has unprecedented access to the politicians, now is time for the Church leadership to be bold enough to deliver God’s messages to the rulers of the land.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as Samuel who was not afraid to tell King Saul “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king”.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as Nathan who was not afraid to tell King David “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?”.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as Elijah who was not afraid to tell King Ahab “You've dumped God's ways and commands and run off after the local gods, the Baals”.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as Daniel who was not afraid to tell King Nebuchadnezzar “You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle and be drenched with the dew of heaven”.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as Jeremiah who was not afraid to tell King Zedekiah “Thus saith the LORD behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon”.
Now is time for the Church leaders to be as bold as JESUS who was not afraid to tell King Herod "You fox, I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal”.
The second issue I would discuss is the abuse of children accused of witchcraft in certain parts of the country. On this issue, most of the churches fall into one of two categories: either as an active participant in the abuse of these children or a passive accessory to the abuse.
Active Participation: A number of churches have been labeling children witches and blaming people’s misfortune on the activities of these innocent children. As a result, these children are beaten up, publicly disgraced, ostracized from their family, and sometimes killed. In other cases, they are bathed with acid, hit with machetes and publicly stoned. Some churches even defile God’s sanctuary by chaining and torturing these kids inside the house of the Lord. According to campaigners against the practice, about 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and 1,000 have been murdered.
Between 1888 and 1915, a Christian Missionary by the name of Mary Slessor worked tirelessly to end the barbaric practice of killing twins in Nigeria, however, almost one hundred years later, Christians (who worship the same God as Mary Slessor) are now involved in the killing and torturing of so called child witches. How depressing.
These abuses have brought shame to the Church. For instance, the website of Stepping Stones (an organization responsible for rehabilitating children accused of witchcraft) states: “Stepping Stones Nigeria does not wish to denounce any faith organisation. However the role of the church, especially some of the new Pentecostals, in spreading the belief in child witches cannot be underestimated. There are numerous so-called pastors in the region who are wrongly branding children as 'witches' mainly for economic self gain and personal recognition.” Some of us may flinch at this statement and accuse Stepping Stones of insulting the Church. However, if we must be honest, what they have stated is the truth.
Here are some other headlines and comments relating to the issue, which I have gathered from the global press:
Churches Denounce African Children as ''witches''
“Nigeria Pastors Deem Children Witches Leading to Death and Carnage”
"Christians" Kill Child "Witches" Don't They?
“'Bishop' who claimed he'd killed 110 child 'witches' is arrested ...”
"It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,"
"Christianity in the Niger Delta is seriously questionable, putting a traditional religion together with Christian religion - and it makes nonsense out of it"
“Evangelical pastors are helping to create a terrible new campaign of violence against young Nigerians”
Passive Participation: The second way in which the Church has participated in this detestable act is through our passive association. The majority of the churches fall into this category. What do I mean by passive participation? We participate passively when we remain silent when this gross injustice is carried out against children. We participate passively when fail to call the perpetrators of this act to order. We participate passively when we fail to show compassion to the abused children.
The church needs to answer these questions:
Where was the church when Nwanaokwo Edet’s Pastor accused him of witchcraft thereby resulting in his father killing him with acid?
Where was the church when Samuel, Esther and Sarah’s parents abandoned them after a prophetess claimed that they were witches?
Where was the church when two sisters named Victoria and Helen accused of witchcraft were left alone in an old shack to survive by eating leaves and grass?
Where was the church when nails were driven into the head of nine-year-old Etido, who was accused of witchcraft?
Where was the church when some villagers nearly severed the arms of twelve-year-old Udo, also accused of witchcraft?
WHERE ON EARTH WAS THE CHURCH WHEN ALL OF THESE ATROCITIES WERE COMMITTED?
Now let’s go back to the scripture and see what our Lord JESUS has to say about children. First of all we are all instructed to have a childlike character. In fact JESUS makes it very clear that unless we change and become like little children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Secondly, when the disciples tried to prevent children from accessing JESUS, he rebuked the disciples and told them not to hinder the kids. Unfortunately, the activities of the Nigerian Church in this regard has alienated these children from approaching JESUS, and we will be held accountable for this if we do not speak out. Finally JESUS said in Matthew 18 verse 6 “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”.
We may argue that we are not guilty of these atrocities since we did not drive the nail into the head of Etido, or severe the arms of Udo or bath Nwanaokwo with acid; however, since we keep silent, we are just as guilty. Martin Luther King once said “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people”. This statement applies to the Church and it is time for us to wake up and fight against injustice in whatever form, because if we keep silent then we are co-operating with it.
So let us pay attention to social justice and avoid being like the Pharisees so that JESUS will not tell us: “You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every Naira and Kobo you get, but on the meat of God's Law, things like justice and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it”.
Am I a Radical?
Having read the issues raised in this letter, some may label me as a radical. Though, I would not describe myself as a radical, neither would I like to be tagged as a radical, however upon second thought, I might gain a measure of satisfaction from the label, if it would lead to a reformation in the Nigerian Church. Was Martin Luther King not a radical for justice: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Was David not a radical for the house of the Lord:“ I will dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Is Obama not a radical for change: “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change.” Throughout the course of history, there are times when we need radicals for change.
Message to my Non-Christian Brother and Sisters
Thanks for having the patience to reach this part of my letter. Before I round up, I feel that I should devote this section of the letter to you. You may wonder why I have copied you in this letter, especially as you are not born-again Christians. It is a valid question to ask, but I think I would be doing a great injustice in not copying you in.
I know that some of you may be disillusioned with the activities of what I will call a minute segment of the church. However, that cannot be used as a basis to reject Christ or to disregard Christianity. For instance, just as we cannot use the activities of a few corrupt bankers as basis to describe every Nigerian banker or Nigerian as corrupt; similarly we can’t use what is going on in our churches to describe Christianity.
I would like to explain what Christianity is about from two perspectives, namely our paradigm and religion.
Paradigm: We are called Christian because we are followers of JESUS Christ our Lord and Saviour. I repeat again, we are FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. JESUS Christ is our paradigm and as Christians, we aspire to emulate his behavior. However, because JESUS is perfect and committed no sin, it is impossible for us to emulate him. Fortunately, because JESUS knew of our fallibility, he came to earth and took on our sins. Though Christ never sinned, God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.
You may observe that certain things may not be right with the Church. You may even question the validity of Christianity. However, remember that JESUS is our standard and model. We may not always meet up to this high standard, but this still does not deny the power of our Lord. As we the Church strive to be more Christ-like, remember what JESUS stands for. JESUS stands for justice, JESUS stands for righteousness, JESUS stands for compassion, JESUS stands for hope and JESUS stands for Love.
Religion: Christianity in its true form is more than a religion. It is more than the magnificent church buildings; it is more than the lifestyle of the pastor. Christianity is about a personal relationship with our Lord JESUS. When evaluating Christianity, look at JESUS Christ. When JESUS was here on earth, he also had an issue with religion, which is often burdened with man-made rules and doctrines that drive people away from God instead of drawing them near.
I will give you an example from JESUS’ time on earth. There was a woman who was caught in the act of adultery and at the time she was supposed to be sentenced to death, according to the religious law. The religious people brought the woman to JESUS and wanted to know his opinion on the matter. However, rather than condemn the woman and judge her with the religious law, he challenged the religious people by telling them that if they had committed no sin , then they should throw a stone at the woman. Since the religious people were not clean, they left the woman alone. JESUS then told the woman that he does not condemn her and he forgave her sins. From this story, you can learn what Christianity is all about, it is about restoration of our relationship with JESUS and our justification through JESUS resurrection and it not about man-made rules.
If there is one thing that you should remember, sorry I mean two things to remember, they are: First what you see going on in some of our churches is not a reflection of what Christianity is all about, and second and more important: JESUS loves you.
Never in my life have I written such a lengthy letter. If you have been able to reach this part of the letter, please accept my apology if it has taken much of your precious and valuable time. It should have been shorter, but I have been carrying this burden for almost eleven years and I have reached a stage that has left me with no choice but to express my concerns through this medium.
I would like to reiterate that I have no intention whatsoever to cause division or confusion within the Church. I have come to the point of writing this letter because my conscience leaves me with no other choice. This letter is borne out of my love for JESUS Christ and for the Church for which he gave his precious life.
As I have earlier explained to my non-Christian brothers and sisters, we as Christians are the followers of Christ. As a result, we have a responsibility to ensure that the Church is effective in witnessing to the non-Christians. Effective witnessing can only be achieved if the people we are preaching to can see the fruits of JESUS in our lives.
So when we do things, let’s pause for a second and ask ourselves the question, ‘What would JESUS do in a similar circumstances?’ For instance, would JESUS remain silent when a nail is pieced through Etido’s head? Would JESUS discriminate against the unmarried in his church? Would JESUS accept criminal proceeds as tithe and offerings? Would JESUS give undue attention to the rich in his midst, while ignoring the poor? Would JESUS ignore the plight of passengers caught in traffic due to a crusade organized by JESUS? Would JESUS enjoy the luxuries of life, while his congregation wallow in abject poverty? Would JESUS wine and dine with corrupt political leaders without pronouncing the judgment of God upon them? Would JESUS publicly ridicule a mother for coming late to church? Would JESUS curse any of his disciples or congregation who disagrees with his viewpoint? Answering these questions should guide us on our Christian journey.
I would like to close by imagining what Paul would have said if he decided to write to the Nigerian church rather than the church at Corinth. I guess it may go along these lines: If I have fifty thousand church branches scattered all over the world, but no love, then I am like an ant colony; If I have twenty million people attending my crusades, but no love, then I am like a mega pop star; If I make the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk, but have no love, then I am like an amalgamation of an Ophthalmologist, Otolaryngologist and an Orthopedic surgeon; If I can quote the scriptures from beginning to the end and from the end to the beginning, but I have no love, then I am like an IBM Roadrunner Supercomputer.
SO LET US ALL DEMONSTRATE THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
If I have written anything in this letter that overstates the truth of what is going on in the Nigerian church, I plead for your forgiveness. If, however, I have written anything that understates the truth of what is going on in the Nigerian church, I plead for the Lord’s forgiveness.
Keep the faith.
Your fellow citizen of the Household of God
Ahmed Olayinka Sule, CFA
PS: If you would like to discuss any of the issues contained in this letter please feel free to contact me on my email listed above ,otherwise , you can go to my blog (link below) and leave your comments.
Appendix A- List of Some of the Clergies copied
- Pastor A.T. Williams
- Pastor Adejare Popoola
- Pastor Afolabi Oladele
- Pastor Afolabi Samuel Coker
- Pastor Agu Irukwu
- Rev. Albert Aina
- Rev. Dr Albert Odulele
- Pastor Alloy Okechukwu
- Pastor Amos Babajide Oyetuga
- Pastor Andrew Adeleke
- Pastor Anita Oyakhilome
- Archbishop Anthony Okogie
- Pastor Ayo Oritsejafo
- Rev. B Durosimi-Etti
- Pastor Babatunde Adebiyi
- Pastor (Mrs.) Becky Unoarumhi
- Pastor Ben Adewuyi
- Prof. C. Olowola
- Deaconess Ceceila Ibru
- Pastor Charles Ojei
- Pastor Charles Salako
- Pastor Chiristopher Adetoro
- Pastor Chris Ojigbani
- Pastor Chris Okotie
- Pastor Chris Oyakhilome
- Christian Association of Nigeria
- Christian Council of Nigeria
- Pastor Colin Bruce Starr
- Pastor D. Olowu
- Dr. D.K Olukoya
- Most Rev. Daniel Okoh
- Pastor Daniel Uwaeme
- Pastor David Ojelabi
- Pastor David Olatona
- Bishop David Oyedepo
- Apostle Dele Johnson
- Pastor Dele Oduntan
- Pastor Dupe Afolabi
- Pastor E.A. Adeboye
- Pastor Elijah Oludele Abina
- Evangelist Elishama Ideh
- Pastor Emma Omon
- Evang. (Dr). Emmah Isong
- Pastor Emmanuel Iwuoha
- Pastor Emmanuel John
- Pastor Erastus Akingbola
- Rev. (Dr.) Etukudoh
- Pastor Femi Emmanuel
- Pastor Femi Taiwo
- Pastor Festus Adewole
- Pastor Folarin Akinsola
- The Revd. Canon Foluso Taiwo
- Pastor Francis A. Tella
- Bishop Francis Wale Oke
- Minister Franklin Omoaghe
- Full Gospel Business Mens’ Fellowship International, Nigeria
- Rev. Mrs. Funke Adejumo
- Deaconess Funke Adenuga
- Apostle G.D. Numbere
- Pastor Gbenga Fagbami
- Brother Gbile Akanni
- Rev. George Adegboye
- Pastor Ghandi
- Pastor Gladys Bawo Omamofe
- Pastor Helen Ukpabio
- Pastor Ibiye Iyalla
- Pastor Isaac Temitope Olufoye
- Pastor James Fadele
- Pastor Joel Onyema Uzoma
- Archbishop John O. Onaiyekan
- Journalist For Christ
- Pastor Kayode Adefina
- Pastor Kayode Ijisesan
- Pastor Kayode Owolabi
- Pastor Kemi Ilori
- Pastor Ken Egede
- Pastor Kola Ayeni
- Pastor Kola Ayeni
- Pastor Kola Bamigbade
- Pastor Kola Ewuosho
- Bishop Kola Onaolapo
- Pastor Kolawole Carew
- Pastor Kunle Oladebo
- Pastor Laolu Bamiteko
- Pastor Lawrence Osagie
- Bishop Margaret Idahosa
- Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo
- Pastor Mercy Arinze
- Pastor Mike Dada
- Bishop Mike Okonkwo
- Pastor Mike Tomomewo
- Pastor Modupe Afolabi
- Pastor Niran Fafowora
- Pastor Nkechi Anayo-Iloputaife
- Pastor Nkem Emerald Osuigwe
- Pastor Nma
- Pastor Olatubosun Sowunmi
- Pastor Olubode Olutunda
- Pastor Oludare Akinbo
- Pastor Oludare Ayeni
- Pastor Olufemi Oyelowo
- Pastor Olugbenga Adenuga
- Pastor Olutayo Ojajuni
- Pastor Omawumi Efueye
- Pastor Oyonnude Kure
- Pastor Paul Adefarasin
- Pastor Paul Akazu
- Rev. Paul Emeka
- Pastor Paul F. Usman
- Rev. (Dr.) Paul Jinadu
- Pastor Paul Oloyede
- Maj-General (Pastor) Paul Toun
- Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria
- The Most Reverend Peter .J. Akinola
- Pastor Peter Oludare Oloso
- Pastor Philip Aladesua
- Rev. (Dr.) S. A. O. Oyelade
- Pastor Sam Adeyemi
- Prophet (Dr.) Samson Ayorinde
- Prophet (Dr.) Samuel Abiara
- Pastor Segun Kingsley
- Pastor Segun Olatunde
- Pastor Shola Adeaga
- Dr. Sola Fola-Alade
- Pastor Stella Babalola
- Archbishop Sunday Makinde
- His Eminence, Dr Sunday Mbang
- Pastor Susan Somide
- Pastor Tai Olamigoke
- Pastor Taiwo Odukoya
- Dr. Tayo Adeyemi
- Pastor Tayo Ojajuni
- Mrs. Titi Oluwatudimu
- Pastor Tony Rapu
- Pastor Tope Dosunmu
- Pastor Tunde Bakare
- Pastor Tunde Olorunwunmi
- Pastor Tunji Akinola
- Rev. Ucho Abel
- Dr. Uma Ukpai
- Pastor Victor Erhabor
- Pastor W. Kumuyi
- Pastor Wale Adefarasin
- Pastor Wale Babatunde
- Rev. (Dr.) Wilson Badejo
- Pastor Yemi Balogun
- Rev. (Dr.) Yinka Ojo
- Pastor Yinka Somotun
- Pastor Yomi Adeyemi
- Bishop Yomi Isijola