Reverend Samuel Akpan-Isong is the General Overseer of Champions of Christ Ministry in Asaba. In this interview with Dave Okpogadie, National Point’s State Corespondent, the clergy bares his mind on the controversial CAMA Bill and the Church.
WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON THE CAMA BILL?
Honestly speaking CAMA Bill is quite disturbing. It is a disturbing phenomenon in the sense that it looks like government interference into religious activities and other companies that are even registered by individuals. Of course, the church is a group thing but maybe by the nature of how the church is being run today by Pentecostals/ The Church has become attractive to the extent that the government wantsto take total control to the extent of nominating the Board of Trustees and everyone that is involved in the leadership of the Church.
That is why I said it is a disturbing phenomenon.
Do you not think that some of the Pentecostal Pastors’ flamboyant lifestyles must have attracted government’s attention to begin to look at the Church?
You are not far from the truth because the government will not keep quiet and an individual is richer than the state’ the government will not keep quiet and one person can control the country. You know in some of the churches, especially Pentecostals, one man has so much followership, one man has so much finances, one man has up to six jets. This is quite disturbing. In an emerging democracy like Nigeria, you find out that powerful individuals can overturn the decisions of the government. So the government is becoming apprehensive of persons becoming richer than the state. Also, the flamboyant behaviour and activities of some of these pentecostal pastors must have attracted the attention of the government towards this CAMA amendment Bill.
What is your advice to the government in respect of the CAMA amendment Bill?
First of all, I will advise the government to withdraw their interference in the Church. It is not easy to establish a company. The Church has also been equated to a company; that is why it is under the Companies and Allied matters. I will ask the government not to interfere with the church because of its spiritual organ.
I will also advise the government to look inwardly because there are so many things the government could do to improve the lot of the masses. It doesn’t need to be the CAMA Amendment Bill. It doesn’t need to be the interference with the leadership of the Church. There are problems such as insecurity, power failure, inappropriate industrialization, unemployment and all kinds of problems in the country. So, the government should look elsewhere and not within the church except there is something else they want to achieve.
Also, the whole thing has a connection with the picture of the end time. Like in Russia, we are told that President Putin has also signed a law to limit church activities. Thus it is like there is a consensus among some leaders to censor, limit and narrow the churches’ activities.
What is your advice to the church?
Honestly, what we call a church today, to be very candid, I am a pastor myself, the church is becoming very controversial and the more controversial are those who call themselves pastors. In that sense, you will find out that the church has become more worldly than the world itself because everything is moving to the carnal level.
You will also discover that spirituality has been watered down such that comedians are being invited to the churches to entertain people. Nudity is taking over in the church. You see people dressing half-naked in the church and nothing is being done by pastors to check this ugly trend all in attempt to attract membership.
I like to say this, the church needs to go back to the fundamentals. The fundamentals mean, starting where the Bible starts and stopping where the Bible stops. The fundamentals also mean following the footprint of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fundamentals mean living a life of sincerity and honesty. So many pastors are very hypocritical. We are talking about rapes and murder everywhere and pastors are being linked up with some of these criminal activities. Pastors are being linked with murders, some pastors are involved in ritual murders, ritual sacrifices, all in the attempt to enhance membership of their churches. These things have been reported and they are in public domain.
Honestly, the church needs to go back to the fundamentals. It is giving some of us concern; we are crying over all of these. We are looking at it helplessly because this is not the church that Jesus Christ founded.
The Church that Jesus Christ founded is predicated on the truth and for the church to stand and withstand the forces of darkness, it must stand on the footprint of truth and if pastors are custodians of truth, the enemy cannot overpower the church. But the pastors go the other way as they are becoming more political.
Pastors are becoming dishonest, pastors are becoming hypocritical; pastors are becoming dormant in evangelism. Pastors are going into things that are not attracting souls into the church. Honestly speaking, the church cannot move ahead like this.