Synod Secretary of the Diocese of Kwara.
My name is Oyinkan Medubi, I’m a professor of English in the faculty of Arts in the University of Ilorin and I’m also the synod secretary of the Diocese of Kwara. The hosting to me has been excellent. We have enjoyed seeing so many people from all over Nigeria.
This is my own first experience of the standing committee meeting because I have not had the opportunity of going to any because most of the time it’s taking place, our school is in session, so I have not been able to go, so I have enjoyed seeing so many Bishops and so many ArchBishops. It’s been very exciting for me. A few challenges here and there but that’s natural, that’s normal when you bring so many people together at once, it’s normal that you get a few challenges here and there but by the grace of God we are able to overcome many of them.
DARKNESS IN THE SOUL OF MEN
I find the theme “POVERTY OF THE RICHES” very deep; I actually think that the people who came up with it went to a really deep level of thinking to bring out the contradiction in the Nigeria society, in the Church of today. Let’s take the Church for instance, there are more Churches now than in the seventies, in the eighties and I wouldn’t say it’s a proliferation, I’d just say it’s an increase. I see it as an increase of the word of God because Paul said as long as they are preaching the word of God that they are not against us.
There are a few challenges even in that direction but I think by and by we would overcome all this challenges. So in the Nigerian Church, there is a little bit of wealth now, we are experiencing wealth, we are experiencing riches even in the Church but there is also the contradiction that even with all the wealth we are also experiencing poverty because the headship of the Church in general appears to be enjoying. I’m not talking of the Anglican Church, there is order, and you know Anglicanism stands for order but in the Church general there is a lot of wealth and also a lot of poverty because a large percentage of Church goers are not comfortable materially and spiritually they are also being deprived because there is a tendency for the headship of the Church to concentrate more on wealth creation, wealth getting, wealth owning rather than spiritual growth.
There is less concentration on the growth of the spirit, the development of the individual and we are more interested in the growth of the spirit. So I think the theme really captures all that, the Church needs to turn inwards, look at itself, I’m talking of the Church in general now, the Church needs to look at itself, and ask itself “what am I teaching? What am I giving to the people, am I telling the people it’s alright for you to look for money in any direction from anywhere?” is this what we are telling people that it’s alright to kill to get money, it’s alright to rob people to get money and so on, and bring to the Church, it’s alright to rob the nation blind and bring to the Church? So there is plenty of money but there is darkness in the soul of men because that’s what they are telling people that you can rob your soul as long as you are materially wealthy.
THE MOST REV DR OLUSEGUN ADEYEMI
ON POVERTY OF RICHES . . . The Laodicea Church was a Church that had no commendation from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Let’s take it in a short perspective, Paul, who was evangelical in south East Asia visited about eighteen cities. Paul had labored, had done first, second and third missionary journeys. And about sixty years after Paul had been martyred, the owner of the Church chose just seven of them to tell His own people what His reaction was. Then, let’s come back to Laodicea. Laodicea literarily means judgment of the people. These are the people of God who succumbed to what people say. It’s not always true to say that the voice of the people is the voice of God. Yet God is not always a democrat saying where He goes is what people are saying. We are talking about people who from Revelation 3:17 have three ‘Is’ – I am rich. In other words, he’s saying that I am today; I have prospered. He said I was, I am and I need nothing. I yesterday, I today and I in the future. That is the way to talk about a self opinionated person. Our God was telling them that they are living in a fool’s paradise, you are in the world. Let us talk about the rich fool too, he was saying I, I too, soul eat, soul drink, soul have for tomorrow, and God is saying in Exodus chapter twenty, the ten commandments that you have no other gods except me, the symbol of Christianity is removed, crossed. When the thinking is introverted, the door has been shut to God; He was talking from the outside, “I’m knocking at the door”, so when you are talking about the POVERTY OF RICHES, what a paradox, they were spiritually poor and I could tell you there is nothing called crash-landing. Backsliding is a process let me give you an example, there are twenty four in a day, this Laodicea church they are like the parable of the sower, and they are like the ones that fell among the thorns, they are aware of the care of this world they squeeze out and they are unproductive, when you are rich, you need time to service your wealth. These are people who have no time for quite time, bible study, they have no time for morning worship, evensong, they don’t even have time for home fellowship, talking about revival, vigils. We are not talking about millionaires, they are busy somewhere else. So when insight is lost, priorities becomes lopsided, I could tell you like Jesus told his disciples “is your heart harden?” when insight is lost decision becomes ungodly, let me give a little story, there was a psychiatrist, who wanted to see if his patients were getting better, so he drew a gate on a wall and told them “escape through this gate because there was an emergency” and the mad people started struggling for the handle drawn on the wall and one was by the driver side looking at them, and the doctor said “what’s happening”, and he said “I could see that they are mad, they ate struggling for the door but they didn’t know that the key us un my pocket”. So there is no difference between six and a half a dozen.
When the world has gotten to the church it become so worldly, if possible we would even monetize God, the spirituality is all about the time we have for God, our Lord Jesus Christ taught us in the Lord’s prayer our father give us………. thy kingdom come. In Laodicea it’s not God’s kingdom that they want to come, this is a city that had five factors of wealth, (1) Many banks, (2) Embroidery industry, (3) they had University Medical Schools, (4) they even produce a mineral from which they produce eye and ear ointment and (5) what could have being their problem they did not have water, they now use six mile stone conduit to put water in the city, so their weakness now become their strength. So they were so proud, so conceited as I begin to see in our contemporary world, go and find out, most churches about 100 years and over, are being put in to spiritual dustbins of values. When we stop having the first love, when we stop making God first, we slumped in as the Laodicea. Today 99.5% of Turkey is Islam, which is the historical remnant of the ancient church and our environment today need to take a cue and learn from the way He sees us, because we are spirit, soul and body and when we are only mindful of physical things, our lenses become fogged and we cannot see the way God is seeing us.
(The Most Revd Olukayode Akinyemi immediate past Archbishop of Kwara Province)
The theme is very appropriate at this time because POVERTY OF RICHES is about when one is rich, wealthy or affluent don’t let this control you. It is a gift and a blessing from God and God who puts you in charge wants you to use it according to the dictates of the spirit of God for people in need not acquiring and making it for your good alone but let it go as far as to the widows, orphans and those in need.
This is what God wants us to do with it. In Nigeria, it is not like that people see their wealth like “it is for me and my family alone” that is why we are having problem and people are not satisfied even with their riches, they want more. As you seek to have more you will never be satisfied and you will be committing sins ,atrocities and then become poor spiritually and you are nil because you have not allowed the spirit of God to guide use of the blessing of God in your life.
Bishop of the Diocese of Jebba
I am Bishop Sunday Timothy Adewole, by divine permission the Bishop of the Diocese of Jebba in Kwara province. By the grace of God our province is hosting and I’m a chairman of the local organising committee. Honestly speaking we just have to praise the name of the Lord, for how far He has helped us. You know this is the very first time this kind of hosting will be experimented and because of that the uniqueness of the hosting we had to entertain some fears, but thank God for what He has done for us, we have been able to curtail it and then so far, what we have done we have been successful. We thank our ArchBishop and all the Bishops in the province for what God has enabled us to do.
The decision at Port Harcourt has not affected attendance, the house of Bishops were about one sixty something and one of the highest number so far in the past five, six, seven, eight years and then we were thinking initially that definitely we are going to cater for our feedings, our hotel bills we thought so many people will not be present but to our surprise we have a better attendance this year.
Looking at the theme at the surface level, it would look contradictory, that how can somebody say “POVERTY OF RICHES”. But I want us to know clearly that what the organisers or the Primate office are trying to bring out is to tell us that what we think is to take the principal place of our heart they are not things that should take principal places and for example what people were gunning for in our countries now (zeroing in unto the Church) the ministry would be measured nowadays vis-à-vis the number of cars, or the kind of cars you are using, the kind of countries, how big your cathedrals or your Churches, and then we are majoring in the minor by neglecting the souls of men because winning souls to the kingdom of God has been the uppermost heartbeat of the Almighty God.
What we call riches and what we pursue today are things that have no eternal consequences. And so because of that, just like the Laodicea Church was told that they thought they were rich but yet they were poor because their riches cannot go beyond this mundane world. So if we continue to pursue it, there will be a lot of things like that and I think that is what the Church of Nigeria want to bring to the understanding of the members and not only that, to the global Church and the entire Nigeria and the whole world that in this world what things we think are very important, they are not important when it comes to spiritual matters and when we look at it , the number of Churches keep on increasing every day and that has never increase our holiness. We have so many men of God with big titles but with all this big titles it has never affected the level of corruption in our countries. There are a lot of monies and there are a lot of people that are still perishing and still hungry, that are still dying because of so many things, so I think it is very appropriate if we ruminate on it better and then we would be able to know better and get ourselves ready for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bishop Diocese of Isialagba
I am the Rt Rev Timothy Oyinyechi Nwagbuka (the bishop Diocese of Isialagba), the topic of this standing committee is very timely and very relevant to the church and society at large POVERTY OF RICHES. Here, we are not saying that to be rich is bad what we are saying in essence is that somebody can be rich as a matter of fact can also be poor in the spirit and we ought to know that very well.
If you look at the Laodicea Christians, you will discover that they were rich when it comes to wealth but it as a matter of fact took them away from God. They felt that money answers everything; they felt they can do every other thing with money.
They were very far away from God. Recently you can see an individual acquiring wealth and when you say “thank God you have made it in life” the individual will say why is it that after somebody has toiled you feel like it is God that has done everything, it is by strength and sweat. These are the kind of people that have acquired wealth and have no understanding that it comes from God. Money is very good but the bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. There’s a way you can attach your mind to money and will be far away from God. You will wake up and be considering your money and will not bother to pray or thank God like the laodicean Christians.
They acquired wealth and their mind was far from God. This time, God is actually ministering to us as the church of Nigeria that an individual can be rich but likewise be poor. We should seek first the kingdom of God and every other thing shall be added unto us.
Treasurer Mothers Union Church of Nigeria
My name dayo koyejo (treasurer Mothers Union Church of Nigeria). On the topic of POVERTY OF RICHES, I just want to look at it the way of women, the way we acquire things, clothes, gold, accessories and all these does not make us rich. I think we are more in poverty, when they bring aso-ebi and Mr A and B brings their own you will discover you will only wear it once and buy up to ten and buying ten is all useless and it is not a class. There’s a Yoruba Adage that says “Aso nla koni eyan nla” by the time you start acquiring shoes you discover you have 20. You can’t wear them all, these are things that make us commit atrocities of life but when we have the fear of God in us all we need is peace of mind, contentment. We need ability to discuss issues. Whether you wear lace, Ankara or jeans it won’t stop us from where we are going. When we keep on acquiring, we need to talk to ourselves and go back to the scriptures. The bible in Ephesians says we should do everything in moderation. And we show the beauty of the Lord, which is the inner beauty that will radiate outside and show us that all these riches are poverty at times because we are doing what is not necessary.
Kayode Adebogun from Canada
I’m Ven. Kayode Adebogun (from Canada). To me, I think it’s appropriate that is time & that is an area we need the grace of God. There are so many things making men and women compromise today especially the impact of riches. The Bible study today is a call to wake up and make sure our faith is not bought with riches, and make sure we are not losing it. It is a call to be awake for Christians.