Pastor Osobase Godfrey is the General Overseer of the Covenant Life Global Mission with headquarters in Warri, Delta State. In this interview with EBENEZER ADUROKIYA, the Edo-born cleric speaks on various issues on the state of the body of Christ and the country. Excerpts:
It is believed that despite many churches in the country, vices, including youth restiveness, are still prevalent. How does your church see these?
As a church, we have been trying in our own little way to organise programmes for the youths. We teach them the benefits of doing good and the repercussions of doing evil. The word of God is a medium of change, though we know that in this generation, many of the youths don’t want to pay attention to the word of God. As a pastor in this area, majority of the youths know me for who I am. If I see them doing what is not good, I call them and advise them as a father would do to his children, whether they are my members or not. For example, there are some that put on earrings, ratty hairstyle and if I see such, I will call them and tell them that this thing you are doing is not good and by the grace of God, many of them have changed for the better. One of the ways to change people is to sow the seed of God in them. When we first came here, the restiveness in this area was at its peak, but by the grace of God, God has been using me and the surrounding churches such that many of these youths are now living their lives for Christ.
So why are vices still on the increase?
If the church is spreading and the gospel is still being preached and things are like this, what do you think will happen suppose there’s no church? The worse would have happened. That’s why I’m telling you now that the gospel is the only medium to curb crime. It’s sad that when something goes wrong in this country, Nigerians always accuse the church of doing nothing about it. They don’t refer to any other religion apart from the church. Like I will always say, the church will continue to spread because it is the salt of the earth. The more the spread, the better it is for our country.
One of the reasons for the outrage against the church is the allegation that the increase in church programmes nowadays is just another way for church leaders to make money from members. What’s your take on this?
I’m a pastor, we do programmes often, even before you came, we just completed one and it’s good to collect offerings. The issue is that people go to the market every day, they sell and make profits, they don’t complain about that. People go to bars every day, they drink and spend money, they don’t complain about that. It’s only the one about the house of God where their lives will get better and where they drop offerings that they complain about. By the way, how much are they even giving as offerings to God? Is it the N50, N20 and the N100 that they are complaining about? Can they compare that to the bottles of beer they drink every day? When you talk about giving offerings every day, there’s no organisation that runs without money. Even in our homes, we need money. To keep an organisation like the church, we need fund and where can we get this? It’s only through the offerings that people give in the church. Those people who complain that the main aim of organising church programmes is to collect tithes and offerings don’t understand what they are saying.
With all the unpleasant things happening in our country, do you think God is happy with Nigeria?
God is the God of all nations. There’s nothing happening now that is happening in the absence of God. God is aware of everything that is happening in Nigeria. God has the capacity to stop any negative thing. If He decides to keep quiet for a while, He has his reasons for it. It’s either for the people to get better or He is still giving the people that are causing others harm time to change. I will not say that God is angry with Nigeria. If you look at what is happening with other nations of the world, you will know that God is happy with Nigeria that His Grace is fully upon us. We have nations in the world where there are more brutal killings, earthquakes, riots and different ugly things. Nigerians are good people. This is one nation where the people are peaceful. They know how to seek the face of God. The negative things that are happening in Nigeria are not up to the things that are happening in other countries.
It seems the title ‘prophet’ is what is lucrative in Christendom nowadays. Everybody wants to be called a prophet. What’s you view on this?
It depends on the context of usage. A prophet is anyone declaring the mind of God, and if we go by that context, we are all prophets of God. There are people calling themselves prophets because the society where we live believes in a seer to see for them. And they feel that when they see someone who sees things for them, they are in the right place. Christianity is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. Believing and depending on this is what makes you a Christian. Jesus is capable of solving the problems of anyone who believes in Him. A prophet is one of the offices of God in the body of Jesus Christ, but beyond that, majority of Nigerians are coming from the African traditional religion. Many of them in those days, if they had dreams, they would go to seek the meaning of those dreams from native doctors. So, even after Christianity came, some have not been delivered from those traditional forces. That is why you see some of them running helter-skelter looking for prophets to tell them their future.
What can the church do to reduce the level of insecurity in the country?
One of the practical things is actually preaching the gospel. One of the reasons killings and kidnappings are still very rampant is because the carriers of these evil acts have not yet imbibed Godliness. It’s because these people’s heart have not been changed. What will be my gain if I kill somebody and take all the belongings of that person? That is why we say the gospel is the main instrument with which the heart can be changed. If everyone of us can imbibe the gospel of Jesus Christ, there will be peace. The gospel of Christ is love. If I love you, I would not want to hurt you. For now that we are having a lot of killings and kidnappings in the country, I think what we need most and more urgently now is prayers. We need to pray more that God should intervene in the problem of our nation.