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Opinions of Sunday, 12 June 2011

Columnist: Osei, Sammy

Our Pastors Are Leading Us To Hell

Fellow Christians, I beg you - don’t be too quick to condemn me or call me a devil for writing this article – It’s a very daring move, but I will do it. I write this piece not because a pastor took my girlfriend like one did to a former boss of mine; neither do I write to buttress the cynical and sometimes uninformed criticisms by unbelievers and non-Christians who do not know a thing about our faith and yet have made it their business to drive Christianity in the mud.

I have not backslidden, neither am I waging a campaign against the vessels God Himself has chosen to propagate the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the avoidance of doubt let emphasize that I am a Christian who believe absolutely in Jesus Christ and every single word or doctrine in the Bible. I also believe in the Scripture in I chronicles 16:22 that says that “…touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.”

I believe true Pastors of God deserve the highest level of respect and honour but I have been wondering and meditating intensely on the activities of modern day pastors and am asking myself – are these the ‘anointed’ we are not supposed to touch and do no harm to?

Over sixty percent of Ghana’s population professes Christianity. On daily basis, innocent children of God troop to Churches hoping that they would find comfort and possibly experience the miracles Sarah and co enjoyed in the Bible. Out of a pure heart, several others walk in there with the hope of finding the kind of peace and rest our Lord has promised us. Sometimes when I go to Church, I get saddened as I watch poor women, some of them in tattered clothes, many of them barren after years of marriage, some physically sick in their bodies, crying and kneeling in prayer with the hope that they would find a way out of their predicaments.

Then there are men, who are very genuine in their ways and have vowed not to indulge in armed robbery and other social vices. They have heard about Jesus and His noble teachings. They have heard of how he healed blind Bartimaeus, changed Saul from a hardened criminal to an apostle to the gentiles.

They have heard of how the prodigal son was cleaned from his mess and restored to a glorious position and have come to partake in this brand new experience in Christ.

Most of these people run to the churches because they’ve had enough of the lies and deceits of global politicians so the church for them is the ideal place. They get to the churches and what do we see? A man stands in front of them, preaches the Word of God in unadulterated eloquence, rhyming with scriptures like good old Shakespeare, urges them to pray till they see drops of blood in their bodies. He pours anointing oil on them, prophesies over their lives, gets them to dance, shout and jump and it ends there.

The next moment - these innocent souls become the victims of these pastors. Innocent women who desperately need babies are sexually abused; businessmen are defrauded in the name of tithes and special offerings, young singles get pregnant for some of these pastors and are consequently cowed to commit abortion.

If they dare complain about these evil deeds perpetrated on them, the pastors threaten them and are quick to quote the scripture “…touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.”

The poor and less privileged are the most miserable of people in a modern day Ghanaian church. No matter how anointed one is, once his financial contribution to the church does not hit a certain level, he cannot be considered for a leadership position. The poor are the only ones labeled as witches and demon possessed in our churches.

In spite of the fact that these less privileged people are the ones who mostly require attention and counsel, they are usually the ones who struggle even to be noticed by the church leadership.

Sometimes it’s so pathetic to see very old women and unemployed young men wait for two or more hours after church just to receive five minutes of the pastor’s attention. There are times they don’t even get to see them at all and in other cases they would have to pay for consultation before the ‘Man of God’ attends to them – and yet these are the people for whom Jesus came to die. (Matthew 18:11, Luke 4:18) The opposite is however the case for the rich and powerful ones. – Is this the church of Jesus Christ?

Folks, the rot in the Church has become so embarrassing. There are now cases of pastors who beat their wives mercilessly on daily basis while cheating on them at the same time. Men of God divorce their wives at will when it has been clearly stated in the Bible that a man who is bound to a wife should not seek to be divorced. (I Corinthians 7:27)

After market women and ‘trotro’ drivers have toiled with their blood to come and contribute to the church offerings, our ‘Men of God’ use these monies to enrich themselves just to convince people that they are being blessed by God. If you look at the way our pastors, especially the prophets dress lately, one wonders if they are pop stars or some kind of Michael Jacksons. You see prophets wearing hats over white suits and a shiny red shirt, a white shoe with sunglasses to match and even sometimes with a walking stick, standing right behind the pulpit preaching. Interestingly when it comes to preaching, they ignore the weightier matters Jesus spoke about in Matthew 23:23 and concentrate only on prosperity and how to make financial gains.

Churches are no more teaching and training people for evangelism and hospital visitations. When we have to visit the prisons, we invite journalists with video cameras to cover, show our ‘exploits’ to the world and tell everybody that we are also doing something.

We no longer visit prisoners out of a genuine passion and a desire to get them saved. So in effect, we use these poor souls to inflate our ego and sense of self worth when in actual fact we are expected to use our lives to bring them to Christ where they are considered Kings and priests unto God. (Revelations 1:6) We no longer win souls for Christ. What we are doing now is what I call rotation of members – busily convincing the rich and the talented ones to leave their churches and join ours. So in effect the sinners are left unattended to and those who find themselves in the church are not experiencing the true purpose of Church. Is this what Christ came to die for? Are these the reasons for which the glorious son of God was humiliated, stripped naked, tortured and beaten forty stripes less one?

When I read about the works of the Apostles of old and the founding fathers of Christianity and juxtapose them against that of our 21st Century Pastors, I get embarrassed;

When I read about John and Charles Wesley, Charles Finning, John Knox and the kind of sacrifices they offered with their lives just to bring Christianity to where it is today; I feel unworthy to call myself a servant of God; When I read about the works of monks and bishops, some of whom had to literally walk for three years just to preach the word of God in Asia and in Papua New Guinea and I weigh it against the luxury with which the modern day Christian wants to serve God, I fear for this generation; When I read the Bible in Acts 28:30-31 about the Apostle Paul who used his own rented accommodation as a church for two years and I weigh it against 21st century preachers who refuse to carry the gospel to some places because there are no decent hotels there I conclude that the modern day church is in a mess. I am not talking as a ‘holier than thou’ saint, but I am talking as a Christian who has possibly contributed to the mess the church of God finds itself today and feels burdened to speak on the state of affairs of this noble institution. The situation is that bad and Christians must wake up from our slumber and effect a change.

I am not saying there are no good pastors or churches in Ghana. There are very godly and selfless Men of God in this country, some of whom I have had the privilege of working with.

I know of Pastors in Ghana who have preached all over the world for over twenty years and yet, they don’t even have a house of their own. They have channeled all their financial resources to building orphanages and schools for the deprived. (That is not to say it is wrong for a pastor to build a house of his/her own.) I know of those who are going to the hinterlands and very remote villages to preach the pure gospel of Jesus to the unsaved. I know of Pastors with exemplary marriages. There are also those with great burden for the poor and less privileged and are doing whatever they can to better the lots of people. Unfortunately, the good works of these Servants of God have been eclipsed by the immoral and nefarious deeds of countless so called Pastors who are using the innocent members to satisfy their insatiable appetite and lust for sex, fame and riches.

These pastors are leading more people to hell than they are to heaven because most of their followers have been deceived into seeing them as Holy men who cannot be touched.

Some of these followers believe that they would die or be cursed if they complain or challenge these pastors and so they are living in bondage in the house of God where there is supposed to be liberty. I pray for a sense of godliness and sanity in the church and may there be deliverance for all those under the bondage of these so called Men of God so that they can also taste of the joy that exists in Christ. If you are a true believer reading this piece, I throw a challenge to you; to lift up your Bible and lift up your voice in prayer and cry unto God to save this generation - for the days are evil. As for all those charlatans parading themselves as pastors and deceiving God’s children - bear in mind that God always gives a long rope but when you get to the edge there would be no more room for mercy.


By Sammy Osei