The Nigerian presidential election has become the epitome of all that is wrong in our national discourse. In particular, in the Nigerian Christian community.
In one of my ministerial visits to Nigeria, I met a very promising and quite prosperous Pastor in Lagos. He decided to invite me to minister in his church, for which he needed to do some publicity to get people to come. When he asked for my regalia, I simply told him I am Pastor Sunday Adelaja, he wasn’t satisfied with that. Consequently, he attempted to convince me that I had to put some lofty sounding titles apart from Pastor to my name. He wanted me to use titles like Apostle, Prophet, and Doctor etc.
At the end of the day he settled for Prophet Doctor Sunday Adelaja. According to him, that was a title combination worthy of selling at that time. Obviously I refused.
This interaction is an example of how title crazed our society has become. Even though I hold an honorary doctorate, I don’t see the need to put it beside my name. But a Prophet? I never thought anyone would label me as such. The point is whether it is true or not, it doesn’t really matter to them, what matters is what sells.
Another example on this topic occurred to me in North America, while I was flying into Toronto International airport in the early 2000s. You would not believe the sign I saw written in bold as immigrants and foreigners were lining up to get their clearance. Adjacent to the custom boots was a sign that read, “BEWARE OF GHANAIAN PROPHETS”.
That was in the early-mid 2000s before the prophet crazed syndrome hit Nigeria. I was so shocked that I went to see the immigration officers and asked them what the problem was with Ghanaian prophets. Why should they single out a whole nation to put to shame in an international arena like that? When they realized I was a pastor too, a few of them pounced on me wanting to know if I was one of these Prophets.
Unknown to them I was coming from the former Soviet Union where I had been living for more than a decade. I had not had many interactions with the outside world, and hence I had not heard much about these so-called prophets.
It was only later as a result of other traveling engagements that I began to hear that what was in vogue among the newly formed charismatic churches in Africa, was a movement of prophets who go about calling out peoples credit card numbers, telephone numbers and names. All in an attempt to avert a supposedly imminent death or danger coming upon the life of their victims.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in the gifts of the Spirit. I myself, by the grace of God, operate in the gifts of word of knowledge, word of wisdom, calling out situations and diseases during my ministrations. But these so called prophets are so desperate to the extent of making money out of it, taking photographs of people’s plate numbers, taking information out of people’s conference registration forms, scanning people’s telephone numbers. That is something that must be of a concern to every honest Preacher of the Gospel.
It is one thing for us to have this going on in our so called “Christian circles” but the trend has gone so viral that it has now become a matter of prestige. People now determine how anointed a man of God is by his so called New Year prophecies.
Prophesies before national events like the elections have become prevalent all over the place. The Nigerian Media fraternity has made it even worse because they have popularized this negative trend by congregating at the homes and churches of these so-called prophets to give them insight into what God is saying.
In regard to the Nigerian general elections. Unsurprisingly, our so called prophets fell into this temptation in droves. Falling over each others feet and jumping on the bandwagon of newspaper prophecies.
To add insult to injury and for the purpose of greater credibility, they recruited the services of foreign-based prophets. Top on the list were people from neighboring countries like Ghana, Kenya and even South Africa, America and etc. Prophets lined up one after the other prophesying whom the winner would be. Of course most of the prophecies favored the incumbent President. He was providentially earmarked for a landslide win. It was a sure bet and easy guess! Clearly, these folks were trying to put their money where their mouths were…
When the results turned out differently then came the predicted outcome. The very same news media that tempted and pushed the prophets into error turned on them and were the very same ones who started exposing them.
I joined the conversation by re-posting on my social media wall an article that listed the big prophets that awfully missed it, prophesying that Jonathan was going to win the election when we all know what really happened.
I added as a footnote a personal message to the tone of “Wow, it’s a pity… we all miss it sometimes…” The avalanche of attacks that were released on me was telling. I could clearly see that I’m dealing with people who mostly refuse to think and analyze my words and actions.
“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed” Friedrich Nietzsche
What follows is my attempt to expatiate on my position that was so clearly misunderstood.
- I decided to address the readers of that article (note I did not author the article) to pay attention to the fact that we are all human and we all miss it sometimes. We men of God should never make the mistake of portraying ourselves as perfect human beings. There are no perfect human beings anywhere on the surface of the earth. I would be the first to admit to my frailties. We are all fallible!
- I intentionally decided to align myself with these men of God who missed it. Hence my words that read “we (including me), miss it sometimes. Meaning we should be lenient, laugh it off and move on. This is by far not an attempt to castigate or pull down other men of God as I have been accused of. It is an attempt to make the general public know that we Men of God are human too.
- I expected a few of these men to have boldly come out to admit or at least explain their positions which none did to my knowledge. The only article that was a slight resemblance of repentance came from Dr. Okey Onuzo. I guess he was one of those who supported or predicted President Jonathan’s victory. He was mature enough to come forward and admit that he had missed it.
- I knew that somebody must come out to speak about this forthrightly. We must not just sweep things under the proverbial carpet. We needed to take responsibility as the body of Christ and admit our faults instead of just acting as if nothing happened. One may ask, “Pastor Sunday, Why is this necessary anyway and why through Facebook?” To me it is obvious why it should be public and through Facebook. Since most of these men called press conferences to give their prophesies, it is clear to me why it has to be on Facebook and in the public arena.
1 Corinthians 14:29 “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge”
- If no man of God addresses it, then we are laying a very bad precedence not only to our church members, the larger Christian community, but also to the general public that we could get away with things for which we rebuke and chastise others. That is to say in the words of George Orwell, “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than the others” meaning if you are big and famous enough you cannot be wrong. No Sir, we all can be wrong!
- Alas!! Over and above what I have earlier stated, I think God is trying to get our attention and correct the church in Nigeria. He is trying to tell us that we are wrong, by chasing after prophesies. I believe God is trying to correct our ways. It shouldn’t be that civil authorities, like the Canadian government I referred to earlier, be the judge to warn others through advertisements in airports and newspapers that we are thought of as charlatans and crooks. Let’s rather address each other in brotherly love to correct our ways. As leaders we should be able to admit our faults and correct them ourselves if needed.
- Frankly speaking I believe it is high time for us to stop all the title craze, the Doctor Prophet, Apostle Prophet, Professor Apostle Pastor Etc. All these things must stop! Let your gift and calling validate you. Furthermore, we must stop the notion of getting prophecies to run the nation, when only common sense is needed.
It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense – Robert G Ingersoll
Friends, you won’t believe how much pressure I had on me from the outside to say in my articles that it was God that told me who was going to win. Even though I clearly had a premonition that Buhari/Osinbajo ticket was going to win and I told my close friends about it.
However, that shouldn’t be the argument to try to use to convince others. It got so bad that people began to condemn me out rightly for speaking my mind. They said things like “we are not interested in what you have to say, just tell us what God says”.
They wanted to hear a prophecy from me. My response to them was you too have the Spirit of God in you, why don’t you talk to him yourself? Why should a Pastor tell you what God is saying? We are no longer in the Old Testament where we need to seek for seers and prophets to tell us the mind of God.
Today in this dispensation of grace, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God. (Rom. 8:14)
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil”. 1Thessalonians 5:19-22
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHURCH AND NATION
By Pastor Sunday Adelaja