Countrymen and women, loyalists and opponents, Have you observed what I have observed about God? I think that He's too merciful, too gracious and too patient. Sometimes when I look at what people are doing here on earth in his name I get amazed that he's sitting somewhere and doing nothing to redeem His good name.
Just take a look at what is happening in the Winners' Chapel, for example. The church has been split in two simply because its leaders are fighting over money – and there is a lot of cash in that church. The church in Sikaman has broken ties with the leadership of the church in Naija and they now call themselves 'Champions'. Having so publicly disgraced themselves and embarrassed God, they see themselves as Champions. Champions indeed. Champions of greed, manipulation and influence peddling.
Well, I can't believe that a single church in Sikaman has over the years been repatriating hundreds of thousands of dollars to its founders in Naija. If all the churches have been repatriating such huge amounts of money to their founders, come to think of it – my government can ask the church to give us loans to build a few KVIPs, dig a number of boreholes and buy pesticides to spray our cocoa farms. I don't know the truth about the whole sorry episode but the fact remains that the leaders of the (former) Winners Chapel, Ghana have decided to stop repatriating the money to Opoyedo and his cronies in Naija. This has angered Opoyedo so much that he is breathing fire and brimstone whiles allegedly issuing death threats against his former right hand man, Bishop Amangye. What is happening in the church reminds me of some of the mafia videos I watched when I used to go to the movies with Mama Tess.
To cut a long story short, Bishop Amangye claims that he decided to stop sending the money to Naija because the repatriation of the funds was done illegally, such as stuffing dollar notes in spare tyres and transporting them across the Aflao border. Hearing him speak you will think that he's such a law abiding citizen. But wait. I am reliably informed that before he was brought down to head the Winners' Chapel in Ghana Bishop Amangye was Opoyedo's right hand man – the two of them built the Winners' congregation worldwide and they were almost inseparable. So my question is this – when did Bishop Amangye come to the realization that the funds were being repatriated illegally. Having heard about the proximity between the minds of Opoyedo and Amangye, I am inclined to refuse to believe that the Sikaman cleric did not know about the illegal repatriation channels when he was in Naija. Furthermore, having decided to stop the illegal transfers, I am at a loss as to why he is still refusing to send the money to Nigeria through the appropriate channels. To this, Bishop Amangye and his followers respond that they want to use the money for church projects here instead of repatriating their funds to be used on projects in Olu's backyard. All well and good. So why couldn't this matter be addressed amicably behind closed, using well-proven Christian principles? Why has this issue degenerated into a conflict between some Sikaman citizens and the 'Anago' people? The answer is simple – greed, the love for money and the absolute rejection of the principles Christ stood for.
What is happening in the Winners' Chapel is a reflection of how churches have become money-making machines for a lot of greedy and selfish charlatans, who have taken advantage of God's supreme mercy and the gullibility to our people to enrich themselves. I have said it before in this column and I want to say it again – being a member of the clergy has provided a strong façade for people with criminal minds to engage in fraudulent activities under the guise of doing the work of God. That's why I think God is too merciful – so much so that those who are dragging his name in the mud seem to be getting away with it with such impunity.
But He knows best. So the best I can do now is to pray. Pray for God to act and do something. He should not wait to punish these wayward pastors, evangelists and prophets in hell. We want to see them punished here on earth. Those pastors who use all sorts of tricks and sugar-coated words to squeeze offerings from unsuspecting congregation members should be exposed for who they are. These are the pastors who organize church services everyday of the week, morning and evening. At each service they take various offerings with spurious excuses – for example, they would say that the first offering is a 'normal' offering, the second is for the church building project (which never starts or get completed) and the third offering is for the needy but the needy end up getting nothing. Everything goes into the pocket of the general overseer and his cronies. I pray that one day God will perform one of his miracles and cause all these pastors to confess simultaneously. Those who confess should then be struck with such diseases as leprosy and blindness. I can bet my last pesewa that if the Almighty One decides to “do something” about those who have been using his name for criminal purposes, very few pastors in Sikaman will survive His wrath. Most important of all, I also pray that God will “open the eyes” of my people. My people should realize that any “man of God” who changes his car as frequently as his underwear whiles members of his congregation hunger for food and wear tattered clothing is not worth following. These are the pastors who live in mansions and do not care a hoot about where their followers sleep. I will like my people to demand more from their pastors. Pastors should be more accountable – they should account for every church money spent. Pastors should also be forced to declare their assets, because we are worried by the regularity with which they change their cars, houses and mobile phones. We should also question our pastors as to why they choose to wear the most expensive designer suits and 'agbadas' when so many members of their congregation cannot even afford a visit to the bend down boutique at the Tema Station.
If you sit down and decide to “leave everything to God” and fail to demand accountability from these pastors, they will enrich themselves and do what politicians do – eat expensive meals in five star hotels, drive in the most luxurious of cars and send their kids to the best schools abroad. Then what happens to you – poverty will kill you. And when poverty is killing you, the only option left is for you to engage in criminal and corrupt practices to feed your family and even to be able to give offering. No wonder cocaine dealers, armed robbers and pimps are seeking refuge in our churches.
God save us all,
J. A. Fukuor [email protected]