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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Columnist: Dr. Isaac Nortey Darko

Paradox of the national cathedral

National Cathedral National Cathedral

I have watched and followed the news and debates over the past weeks on the building of a national cathedral and I have a humble opinion and recommendation for the Christian Council.

As a Christian myself, I remember the great commission Jesus gave to his disciples before leaving, instructing them to make disciples of all nations teaching and baptizing them. This to me is the goal and purpose of a Christian, to show Jesus to the world by teaching and practicing Christian principles. I, therefore, ask the question "what would Jesus have done” in a situation like this? I have been quite dumbfounded that the Christian Council is bent on building such a cathedral while the money could actually do things to fulfill the great commission (Mathew 28:18-20).

If the goal in the building of the Cathedral is to make Jesus see the work we are doing or to show the world that Christians exist in Ghana, or to tell other religious bodies that we are Christians, or at best if the thinking is to preach the gospel and spread the love of God to others through this cathedral; then I beg to submit that the approach is wrong.

I am not exactly sure what the purpose of the Cathedral is because in my opinion, it has little to do with Christianity. Why am I saying this? Are Christians getting ready for heaven? Will Christians be taking any of the properties and church buildings to Heaven? My answer is No! When you read John 14:1-3, it says Jesus already has many mansions, so we will not be needing any of these in heaven. The bible says, at the coming of Jesus, all these will be destroyed, thus my worry and assertion that the Christian council and other Christian leaders are disappointing Jesus and God.

For what salvation purpose will this cathedral serve? Almost all the churches supporting this project have big church houses already so why would we waste money on building a national cathedral and for who if I may ask? We have the national theatre, we have the stadia, and we have the international conference centre as well as other buildings and centers to serve as national gathering places when the need arises, so why are we wasting money on building a cathedral where God will not be living any way? Because His word clearly says He does not live in buildings made by men (Acts 4:48).

I have a suggestion for the council. Instead of investing this money in the cathedral, please use that money to reconstruct the Tema motorway and ask the government to rename it after Jesus or as the ‘Christian motorway’.

The construction will save hundreds of people that die on the road every year. If we do not want this, we can work on supplying the hospitals where mothers of newborns sleep on floors and this will speak the love of Jesus to people, it will appear on the map and minds of Ghanaian anytime they travel on the motorway or visit such hospitals. Foreigners who may not be Christians will drive on the motorway and thank God for the Christian council.

This to me is more about doing the work of our Lord Jesus Christ because it will serve everybody and not just Christians. It will become a direct way of showing people the love of God. What is Christianity if not extended to the needy and the less privileged? If all churches in Ghana come together and harness their resources, Ghana would be a different and wonderful place to live in.

Thousands of cedis are given in churches every Saturday and Sunday, yet we have pastors and men of God who buy luxurious things to satisfy their own vanity all in the name of God. Please, when I study from the bible, what I see Jesus doing is far from this. He helped people first before asking them to follow Him. Many churches in Ghana today are missing the point.

I have also followed online news for some time now, especially the documentaries on factories by and have seen the number of old factories wasting away. If the Christian council really wants to show the love of God toward salvation (which I presume is the goal of the Christian journey), then please invest that money in these factories, create jobs for your church member and other people, let them also have a bit of comfort that all these pastors are enjoying and they will serve God better.

Church members are crying for work, are struggling to take care of their families yet they get money to pay tithe and offering for our pastors and their families to enjoy luxurious lives forgetting that they should rather support the needy. I have seen some homes of our ministers of the gospel and they are living in ‘mansions’ in today’s terms, yet the ordinary church members who throng their churches struggle to feed or to buy school uniforms for their children.

What is more Christian than to feed the poor and take care of their needs? The Christian council sits and watches as many children learn under trees, and many communities struggle to get clean drinking water. Many of our politicians are Christians, so should the Christian council decide to respond and tell me it is the work of government to provide these amenities then it’s an irony and an oxymoron; they are basically telling themselves and I will expect the solutions to come from them.

To me, Christianity has the potential to change the economic woes of Ghanaians, thus I will rather propose to the Christian council to use the funds for this cathedral in adopting Korle-bu hospital. Many will travel and come for healing. They will see the love of Jesus first hand. They will experience the beauty of loving one another, which I think is the core duty of Christianity. Jesus prayed for his disciples before he left for heaven. He asks that we may be one just as the father is one with Him. By being one, we are each others keeper and this is the entire gospel.

I have heard a number of people on radio proudly boasting that Ghana is a Christian nation. I ask myself, what do we have to show for being a so called ‘Christian nation’? Is it by building cathedrals that only the privileged in the society will get the change to enter? Or by showing off the wealth God had blessed us with? No, it is by showing the world that we are living the commission of Jesus. Is by showing our neighbors that in Ghana when things are not going right, the Christian community steps in and builds schools, hospitals, roads, help the government out and sends it onto the right track. This will show we are real Christians living our faith. Building a cathedral in the center of the capital will show off our wealth and add no value to the commission. It will simply look like the life of king Hezekiah whom God had told was about to die, after pleading with God, 15 years was added to his age, but instead of showing others the mercies and love God had shown to him, he rather showed his gold, silver and the properties he had accumulated and sadly the neighbors came back, conquered Israel and took everything away (Isaiah 38). I humbly plead with the leadership of the Christian community to reconsider the idea of this cathedral to avoid what Kofi Awoonor would term “a cathedral of doom”. Those thousands of dollars can be invested in areas that will benefit the majority of our church membership and Ghanaians as a whole.

Not forgetting the buildings for the judges which will have to be broken down, the re-location of these judges and the costs involved as well as the environmental impacts of cutting down trees and other vegetation just to build pavements and car parks to serve this edifice.

Once this is done, an example will be set for the other religions in Ghana to also follow suit in future. Let us stop putting the fear in the government to support our efforts at wasting money on the cathedral. What example are we setting should this cathedral be built? Should we get a Muslim president one day he or she will also be forced to build a national mosque! For the love of Christ, all these buildings will be destroyed one day when Jesus appears in the sky. This money can save souls who are the very reason our Lord Jesus came unto this earth. We must remember that the only things leaving this planet when Jesus comes are humans. So why are we ignoring the reason our Lord Jesus died on the cross for? I will therefore humbly plead with the Christian council once again to take this great opportunity to show love and exemplify the leadership that Jesus would have showed. This is the time to live to our names as Christians. Please invest that money in social interventions, invest that money in the welfare of the good people of Ghana of which some are your very own church members because they are hungry, some have no jobs, some are really struggling and the future of their children are at stake. And these children will end up as the very people who will take over the church when one day you are old and unable to organize these churches. If these children grow up in poverty and grow to hate our Lord, they will question the love of God, they will not have a good Christian life because we did not show them the right path to take. I strongly believe this is what Jesus would have done if he had that money to spend. He will use it to save lives by building hospitals to care for the sick not a fancy cathedral where people only dress nicely and go, to show their wealth. If we are indeed Christians and living to the standard of our Lord Jesus, then we will reconsider and reinvest this money in saving lives not in building a cathedral, for in the end, we will reach more people and save them for the kingdom when we do this. May God bless and keep us.