MORAL DECADENCE BEGAN WHEN RELIGION WAS BANNED IN SCHOOLS –REV. FELIX MEDUOYE
In this interview with ADEOLA BALOGUN and JESUSEGUN ALAGBE, the General Overseer of Foursquare Church, Nigeria, Rev. Felix Meduoye speaks about corruption and the church’s convention
The theme of your National Convention this year is ‘Working in His steps’ and ‘What will Jesus do?’ Tell us more about it.
It is about considering what Jesus would do if He were to be in certain situations we find ourselves. From the subject of ‘In His steps’, we mean walking in the steps of Jesus Christ knowing that if we begin to do that when we come across situations in life, we should consider what Jesus would do in such situations, which leads us to the ‘What will Jesus do’ part. Considering the situation in Nigeria in terms of corruption and other things, it is about what Jesus would do if He were here. If we put that in mind, the social vices we see here and there may be non-existent or not as brazen as this.
So, if you don’t connect the two together, it doesn’t work. If Jesus were to be in a position to award a contract, would He do it the way we do it now. We believe that if you want to walk in the steps of Jesus, you must continually ask yourself, what will Jesus do in these situations of life.
You mentioned corruption as a problem in Nigeria, what is the view of the church about corruption?
I think we should start by asking what corruption is. We say somebody is corrupt when he begins to use what does not belong to him to enrich himself, which is at variance with the light in the word of God. That is not right. If we vote for people into the various Assemblies to represent us and instead of doing that, they siphon the share of their people for personal use, the question is would Jesus have done that. If He wouldn’t have, then it’s wrong.
We don’t expect God’s blessing when we take what belongs to others for ourselves. Hence, we want to begin to show the people that we are the light of the world because He will not corrupt himself with people’s money. Thank God there are so many churches all over the place today. So, we should walk in His steps.
If we want a corrupt-free society, where should we start from?
It can start from anywhere but definitely if we are going to look at the strata of life, we will start from the family. In our family, if all of us will work in the steps of Jesus, if we will do what Jesus did, supposing Jesus married and had children, even though He did not, what would He do with His children?
I would believe that Jesus would endeavour to train His children in the way of the Lord so that when they grow up, they will not depart from it, by inculcating righteous living in them.
In other words, everyone of us has something to do. It is not only by telling them, we must also show them. So, it begins with the family, starting from the parents.
About employers and employees, which is another stratum, employees should not defraud their employers and employers should be mindful of the welfare of their staff. We can ask ourselves that if Jesus employs people, will He be buying cars and flying overseas while His staff are not paid their salaries?. Even though it starts from the family, the church is also involved in this, and that is why we are advocating this message this time around.
By the grace of God, Foursquare Gospel Church is present virtually in every state of this country since the church came into Nigeria 59 years ago, so across the nation, we are coming together. With our spread in this nation, we should begin to have some influence over people’s minds and thoughts to do the right things. If indeed we want to ultimately get to the Father through Jesus, we must begin to do what Jesus must have done if He were here.
But those stealing money, especially government officials, grew up under families, are we saying that the family system has failed?
When we say there is corruption and we want to apportion blame, that is always a very dicey thing because there are quite a number of things to it. Having talked about families, there are failures in families, and it is all over the world, not only in Nigeria. You see families split shortly after marriage, so, there is a lot to it. I think even in Africa, we still have some fairly decent people living together for a long time.
So, I will say some portion is coming to the family. We also know that there was a time some people in government began to clamp down on schools and barred schools from teaching religion or carrying the Bible or even singing Christian songs, the effect is part of what we are seeing today. The school I attended in my own time, it was compulsory that people go to church and it affected our lives in a way. As a matter of fact, people were expelled from the school I attended for not attending the chapel on Sunday.
So, there is no way that wouldn’t have impacted some of us. That, in many of our secondary schools today, is like a forgotten thing, which is part of our failure. You cannot put God away and expect righteousness.
Some people believe that the church is a direct beneficiary of corruption in this country because those who embezzle public funds go back to invest the money in the church system. How true do you think this is?
How do I say whether that is true or not? The currency we use is not marked, so one cannot say whether one is a corrupt currency or not. If a senator or a minister is a member of my church, he is just like every other member. So to say the church is benefiting from it is a little bit like saying too much because it is just that these people are members of churches and of course, if they know that they have to pay tithe, offering and they do, I do not see that to mean that the church is benefiting from corruption.
Yes, the other question I have heard people ask is why we have so many churches and yet there is a lot of corruption, but what I will say, as I often say to people, is that if we didn’t have these many churches, what level of corruption do you think we would have had? You asked whether the church is benefiting from corrupt people but you are not saying to what extent the church is investing into the life of the men. Perhaps that is what has helped such not to be as wicked or corrupt as they would have been.
Do you think the church is speaking the truth to those in power?
Whether the church is speaking enough of the truth to people will depend on individual’s perspective. I have seen a man of God challenge a governor at an event, so, it is a matter of whether the people want to change or not. That is part of what we are doing now, urging people to walk in the steps of Jesus. We are going to have our convention and we have sent invitation to so many people.
There are allegations by some people that the Christian Association of Nigeria has become partisan because of the closeness of the CAN President, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, to the President of the country. Is such closeness not supposed to help us have a better government?
You know that the president of CAN is just one man and that of Nigeria is one person and people are saying why shouldn’t we have better government because they are close. This kind of question has some complexities. When people say things like this, one is tempted to ask what exactly people expect from the CAN president. It is expected that before the president came to power, he would have had some people he knew and understandably, it will be very difficult for him not to associate with such people. I will also want to think that possibly the president of CAN would have been talking to our president again and again as to what he thinks is the righteous path. I believe he must have been doing something like that. But do you know the complexity of ruling a nation, considering how many tribes we have in Nigeria?
The president is like somebody that is put somewhere and there is a rope tied to his neck from two sides, both pulling him at the same time. That is the complexity.
Somebody wrote in one of the papers that even though the CAN president is close to Mr. President, but the Sultan of Sokoto visits the President more often than the CAN president.
So, because the CAN president is close to the President does not mean an automatic spill-over effect in a rapid manner, and that is why we are here to add our own voice to it.
In the Bible, there were days when priests tended to exert some control over kings, why is such not happening today again?
Nothing has gone wrong. The way we see it captured in the Bible is different in context from what we have now in terms of population, means of transmitting information and the setting.
David was the king of a godly nation. There are people speaking in this nation of about 170 million people and you need the required avenues to reach more people. I can’t just go to Aso Rock now and ask to speak with the president immediately. It doesn’t work that way. If we are able to mount up prophetic utterances through the media, then it will become easier for us to pass that kind of information across. We need a kind of collaboration between those in the media to help us talk to the nation.
Do you think the missionaries have had enough of their schools returned to them now?
No. I don’t think so, but it also depends on the state we are talking about because they are not all the same. Some have not returned anything, some are even converting some into other things but some are releasing them.
Some people believe that politics is a dirty game, how can Christians go into politics without being infected with corruption?
That politics is a dirty game is just giving a bad name to it because it depends on what people call politics. My definition of politics is caring for the populace. If that is what we believe politics is, that is not a dirty game. For the people playing it, it depends on their level of maturity. Perhaps that is why some people say it is a dirty game. That may also be the reason why many who are very strong Christians may find it very difficult to be involved in politics.
Even Jesus Christ taught us that if you want to go into any project, first of all sit down and count the cost. You want to go into politics, especially in Nigeria, what does it take and what will it cost? That is the kind of question I think most Christians will be asking themselves before they take a step.
But I see today that quite a number of Christians are actually venturing into it, whether with true desire to go and influence things or otherwise. We were glad to hear that a member of our church was instrumental to the homosexual bill in the National Assembly. That is the kind of thing we hope to see happen.
Again, we all don’t always have to go into politics to influence what is happening. I want to say that Nigeria is one of the countries that I know where Christians are praying the most. That we still have our country the way it is today I believe is by the power of prayer.
It has been predicted that Nigeria may disintegrate in 2015, do you have any fear for the election?
It is not a question of fear now. What is on my mind is that the will of God be done. I know that churches are praying for the will of God to be done in 2015 and because prayer is backing us up, whatever happens in 2015 is going to be for the best of this nation. I believe God will answer the prayers.