A peep into life in Africa, through the eyes of an African Reformed Baptist pastor.

Water, water, water, everywhere. What else do you expect? I am a Baptist, and I live in the land of the mighty Victoria Falls!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nigerian Religious Junk!


“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will recognize them by their fruits... So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit…Thus you will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-20).

I begin this blog by apologising to all my Nigerian brothers and sisters for its title. At first sight it is rather offensive, but I hope that as you read on you will see why I elected to still use it as a title. As nations or tribes or social groupings we take on a certain characteristic that is not true about each person in the group but which we come to be identified with. Hence, Paul could write, “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:12-13). In the same way, we tend to (rightly or wrongly) identify Americans with arrogance, Kenyans with marathon running prowess, West Africans with fraudulent activities, Afrikaners with racism, etc.

I have just returned from a consultative meeting in South Africa where the first day was spent surveying the spiritual state of the countries in the southern African sub-region. Central to all this was the state of evangelicalism in all these countries. Nation after nation reported on the arrival of “Nigerian religious junk” that was changing the landscape of what there once was of evangelicalism. One or two of the countries were blessed exceptions. Evidently, this junk originated from mega-churches in the USA and then found ready soil in West Africa, and especially in Nigeria. Having given it an African flavour, it is now being exported across Africa at a phenomenal rate.

I feel very sad to write about this, but by “Nigerian religious junk” I mean the phenomenon of churches that are personal-to-holder. They exalt the personality of their founding father, who is still alive somewhere in Nigeria (or elsewhere) and is treated with the aura of a state president or paramount chief. It does not matter which country you go to, the bill boards of these churches do not have the faces of the local pastors of the congregations in those towns but of the founding father in Nigeria—or wherever he has since relocated. It is all about image and power. This “man of God” claims to hear the voice of God and proceeds to minister to you accordingly. If you do not obey him you are resisting the ministry of God into your life. So, the churches are often called “ministries” rather than churches. And to make them even more impressive, the term “international” is often added to their name.

The Africanisation of this religious junk is primarily in the way it has been made to appeal to African spirituality. The pastor is the modern witchdoctor calling all and sundry to come to him for “deliverance”. Just as the witchdoctor appealed to us by inviting us to see him for spiritual protection or when we were struggling with bad luck, childlessness, joblessness, illness, failure to attract a suitor for marriage or to rise in a job or get a contract, etc., these pastors do precisely the same thing. So-called prophetic utterances are made which explain why all this is happening, holy water or oil is prayed over and dispensed, and some money is extracted from the persons seeking help. Thus their churches attract thousands of people who are there for purely selfish reasons. The motivating factor is not reconciliation with God through Christ but rather “deliverance” from perceived evil and to be blessed through the supernatural powers that “the man of God” possesses. Let’s face it: this is our African traditional religions coming into the church through the back door.

The self-centredness of all this is seen in the worship. Churches are being turned into entertainment centres instead of edification centres. People come to church to be entertained, healed and blessed. The fact that professionals, who engage their brains when working with their hands five to six days a week, stop thinking and just dance and laugh in worship is extremely sad, in the light of the demand of God that we are to love him with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. It has been the failure of Christians to think through the implications of their Christian faith on the whole of life that has left Africa filled with Christian churches and lack of development at the same time. Surely, if these professionals were thinking they would have added up one-plus-one by now and seen why their pastors have become stinking rich. It is not their faith but the money of their congregants, whom they cheat with promises, that makes them buy expensive cars and clothes and put up mansions. If one thousand individuals are “sowing the seed” every week to be blessed by the man of God, of course the man of God will get very rich while they will get poorer. That is simple common sense.

The result of this phenomenon of personal-to-holder churches has been the selective nature of church discipline. You do not discipline a Sangoma (i.e. witchdoctor)—or a chief! It is a known fact, even among the church members, that a number of these pastors have serious moral problems. However, “you do not touch the Lord’s anointed” and so they are not disciplined, even when they have impregnated girls in the church. One such anointed one in Zambia changed wives three times through divorce in less than six months and still remains the apostle of his church. To be fair, this man is a Zambian, but he has imbibed this personal-to-holder phenomenon from Nigeria. There must be accountability from everyone in the church—including the church pastor.

Yet another characteristic of this phenomenon which is particularly African is the craze for titles. We Africans love titles! Once upon a time, evangelical pastors were content to simply be called pastors. Terms like “bishop” were left to those who had an Episcopalian system of church government, which was a formal structure that rose to national and global level. Alas, that has now changed! With the advent of this Nigerian religious junk, it is titles galore! You now have bishops, arch-bishops, prophets, apostles, chief apostles, etc. Some are not even content with that and so have combinations like, “chief apostle prophet doctor so-and-so.” This is certainly very different from the teaching and personal lifestyle of the Lord Jesus Christ whom they claim to serve.

Many of these churches have since been discovered to be nothing more than fund-raising outfits, with sole proprietorship maintained by the pastor and his wife. The pattern seems to be: start a church and then milk the congregation. The pastors basically prey on the vulnerable and gullible. They are crooks and conmen. In a number of the southern African countries represented at the consultation, governments have sent these pastors packing upon finding undeniable proof that large stashes of money were being milked out of their citizens and being shipped to West Africa. This has made these governments very suspicious of anyone coming from any other African country as a missionary into their country. They now think that all African missionaries are just mercenaries.

Yet, the saddest part of all this has been the loss of the gospel. Once upon a time, you could go to any church that purported to be evangelical and once you survived what was called worship, you would hear a sermon that finally pointed you to Christ and him crucified for pardon from sin. That is now largely an exception, and is as rare as my great grandfather’s teeth. What you hear now are calls for “deliverance”, and you experience this by coming forward to be prayed for. Inevitably, once you lose the gospel, you lose true spirituality and morality. Christianity becomes a thin veneer of respectability but inside there is total corruption and decay. The church becomes a wardrobe full of skeletons. Or, to borrow a more biblical expression, the church is filled with white-washed tombs.

This explains why, although Nigeria is packed with such mega-churches (and is now exporting them across the continent), it is still the most corrupt nation on the continent. If church leaders are milking the people like this, what hope is there to correct things among the politicians and the civil servants? It is impossible! You cannot grow true spirituality where the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross is absent. We must insist that the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit. Where holiness is conspicuous by its absence, we should never attribute what is happening there to God’s Spirit because he is a spirit of holiness. Crowds and people falling backwards upon being touched prove nothing if holiness of life is missing. Jesus said, “You will recognise them by their fruits.”

In this blog I have avoided naming names. This is because the consultation I have just come from did not name names. However, all I can say is, “If the hat fits you, put it on!” Anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear knows what I am talking about. Let me end by once again apologising to any genuine and sincere Nigerian pastors who distance themselves from all this junk. Just as I know a number of sweet American folks who are very humble, Kenyans who cannot run halfway around a football ground, and Afrikaners who are colour blind, I am sure there must be many West African pastors—and Nigerians for that matter—who will have nothing to do with this spiritual corruption. I only wish they were more vocal in condemning this religious junk being exported from their country!

69 comments:

  1. Thank you for this enlightening post.May I ask how you view 'the orphan missions' of other countries?

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  2. The true church of Jesus Christ must join in bold confrontation of this corruption. It is our African equivalent to the Judaizers of Paul's day. A corruption of the gospel which is resulting in deceived multitudes heading to hell all the while believing they are headed to heaven. I appreciate you my brother. -Phil

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  3. Sir please name names. I'm Nigerian and I can tell you how glad I'm that you've brought this up. It's a shame this is what we are exporting as the so called giants of Africa.
    I attend probably the only Reformed Baptist church in the whole of Lagos and I'll be real glad if you'd extend your African Pastors Conference to our country. God bless you, Amen.

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    1. WHAT IS THIS CHURCH CALLED!? I wanna visit =]
      (please & thanks!)

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    2. Hi Peter, I go to the same church. It's Sovereign Grace Bible Church. It's at 28 Adegbola Street, Ikeja (near Computer Village). Hope to see you soon!

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    3. Are there any African Reformed movies? If so how can I view them?

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  4. Amen! We need to be more aware of our cultural tendencies towards certain sins and to address such cultural idols directly with the kingship of Christ. Where I'm at, it seems that all-inclusive tolerance is the favorite idol, a thing which is no less dangerous than what you are addressing here. May the Lord be gracious to us and raise up men and women who will stand firm in the truth!

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  5. This post makes my heart weep but yet I am glad for it. It makes my heart weep because it is true and accurately describes the spiritual climate in which many of my family and friends are deeply entrenched. I once heard a friend of mine say that "Christianity in Nigeria is miles wide but only inches deep" and I couldn't agree more. I really long and pray for the day when the churches in Nigeria will move away from this self centered brand of Christianity and make their focus teaching and leading people to embrace the gospel centered truths of God's Word.
    Maybe we need you (and other influential and gospel-minded leaders like you) to extend your missionary efforts to Nigeria. Thank you for this wake up call.

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  6. @ christomaniac, there are so many Christians in Naija who worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. Search for 'sovereign grace family' on facebook or 'Bereans' corner' also on facebook. I know that the LORD knows what he is doing and this is just the sifting process. HIS sheep hear HIS voice. Just keep speaking and STAND.

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  7. Thought provoking.The bride of CHRIST is work in progress.In its present state the CHURCH (Eglesia) or sent ones is not in a perfect state. To those who GOD has sent and who make "honest" mistakes may the Holy Spirit correct and restore.
    For those who have sent themselves and knowingly err...May they repent - GOD's grace is sufficient.Here is one simple rule i use If its CHRIST/WORD centered its of GOD; If its flesh (or feeling centered) its of the flesh. However there should be a balance and we should not throw the baby with the bath water.
    The Gospel is "good news" i.e because of CHRIST crucified, we dont have to go to hell, we dont have to be sick, we dont have to be poor, we dont have to be bound. (Isiah 61).Nobody can defend GOD...he is able to do that himself.

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  8. This blog message very timely, and makes very sad reading indeed. True, this has now become the source of enrichment by selfish individuals, using very crafty means that have grave spiritual consequences. We should pray that the authorities look into this and clamp down on such "investors".

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  9. it is a sad reality to see how many people are mislead by such junk. I long for a day when men and women will raise up and worship the true God in a manner which he himself as prescribed in his word.
    Thank you Pastor for this bold stance and move to write this blog and i know many are agreeing with you God bless

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  10. This is a fascinating article. I'm from the UK and several families in my old church have become heavily involved with TB Joshua's church, and the cult-like aspects of his ministry are very alarming. This post gives a really good idea of the bigger picture. So much is familiar from SCOAN.

    Below is a blog that keeps a critical eye on TB Joshua's ministry that might be of interest to you or your readers:
    http://tbjoshuawatch.wordpress.com

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  11. Thank you for this blog and for your boldness in helping us know the truth that sets men/women free. Oh that the Lord will help His sheep not to sit back and watch but to arise and preach the message of salvation, promoting holiness.

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  12. Excellent post and a much needed one. It grieves me to see examples of this all over the world — in the US, Kenya, Nigeria, wherever it occurs. There are so many faithful servants of our Lord — pastors and laymen, servants of tiny churches and servants of large churches, nationals and expatriates, etc. It's bad enough that the actions of these self-centered individuals cast doubt on the faithful service of many but much, much worse that they bring into question the truth of the Gospel.

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  13. You are spot-on Pastor Mbewe. There can be no better term to describe what is emanating from Nigeria other than "junk." How so, so true. What grieves the heart is that many African "Christians" have shallowed hook, line and sinker this junk, and have made it a regular part of their diet.

    I shudder to think of the religious haemorrhage that this junk is causing! May the Lord cause truth to triumph over falsehood, and raise up a bold and militant army of His servants who will flood this continent with biblical Christianity.

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    1. I beg to slightly differ sir. While I am primarily a citizen of heaven, who will not because of the gains of this world pride myself in being a citizen of an earthly nation, I will not because of emotion neglect the truth. The fact is "junk" is being exported out of Nigeria, but to say that "what is emanating from Nigeria", is nothing but "junk" is wrong. Mr. Mbewe is right in his observation, but that the "junks" are more fanciful, doesn't mean the genuine Truth is not being exported from Nigeria. You might be scared of the gospel that comes out of Nigeria, but right there among the mess, is a pearl of inestimable value. Watch it, lest the devil scare you off the blessings God is patching through Nigeria to the world.

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    2. I agree with you Adegboye. I don't think we have a lot of evil in Nigeria b/c of "Nigeria religious junk". I think a lot of evil is in Nigeria because where light shines the most is where satan fights the most. I would choose Nigeria as first good grown for true Christianity in this world. Truly, many have robbed themselves off God's blessings through Criticism and shying away from the Gospel they perceive(with their natural senses) not to originate from God. To say people come for deliverance without being taught of how to have a relationship with God is misunderstanding of scripture to me. This is because you can't truly have a relationship with God unless you're delivered from the kingdom of darkness. That is to say, to be born again, you have to be delivered. When your criticism is based on analysis, you're confessing your weakness, and the weakness is that you're not linked with God. Those who walk by faith do not need sight, and those who walk by sight do not need faith. Ask God's opinion about something, regardless of how bad it looks, before you criticize; perhaps, do good to change the bad you see, not criticizing.

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  14. well done nice write up... but you should also know that the word of God is true and real, there will always be poor people in the world. Jesus said, the poor you will always have with you... whether or not money is taken from people because of the gospel or for deliverance it is better than it going to the beer pubs... and wasted place, when Jesus comes let him judge... you win as much as you can in your area OK, Nigeria Pastors and Evangelist has been a blessing to Africa whether you believe it or not . If the southern Africa countries were better or with out problems you would not have thousands of people coming out for miracles , may be the southern African Pastors were not doing there job well. if you have a problem with Nigeria pastors then let the rest of African pastors start to perform miracles and deliverance i believe then the southern African people would believe and buy your write up and message. or don't you believe that miracles are real.

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  15. In Cameroon, we constantly have to be aware of buying items (especially electronics) that look like the real thing even with the brand names on them but are junk on the inside. I've taken to calling them Nigerian knock-offs. Unfortunately it's not just electronics, but this has crossed over into the spiritual realm as you have so well articulated here. Thank you for your role in exposing this false doctrine and striving for the growth of the gospel across Africa. May your tribe increase for the glory of the Lord and the sake of His name.

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  16. Greetings from London! Over here i'm a member of the Evangelical Reformed Church in London(we have a few folks here from Zambia who you might know Pastor Mbewe) but as a Nigerian I was raised in the spectacle you just described in your post.

    And Pastor would you believe that the "nigerian religious junk" you speak of has even permeated London?

    Churches like the RCCG,KICC, Glory House, New Wine Church etc are first class purveyors of the nonsense, with men like 'Adeboye', ,Ashimolowo', 'Oyedepo', 'Oyakhilome' and the like celeberated as demigods. Not to mention the numerous amount of small churches with the same ethos and so-called pastors aspiring to reach the celebrity status of the above mentioned names.

    My heart is burdened for Nigeria but we must keep on praying and boldy proclaiming the truth by God's grace like you have done in this post.

    @ Mr Smoe & Christomaniac I shall be in contact with you both very soon by God's grace. One of my sisters in Christ has returned to Nigeria recently and we've been very concerned to find her good reformed teaching.

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  17. Sounds like the Nigerian people are falling victim to earthly views of "fruits"... sounds like they need to focus more on the heart of the man preaching and what his objective is. Is it to take a little of your money, or is it to save your soul? Is it to stand on stage and have people love you, or is it to convey the word of God Almighty? They must view fruits as being earthly successful. Jesus was a broke messenger who had no earthly possessions.

    "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Mark 10:25

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    1. I like your statement about Jesus was a messenger with no earthly possessions. The bible talks about us being transformed into the image of God. However, if Christ as our example; then we must seek the spiritual things of his kingdom not the earthly possessions of this earth as they are corruptable and will perish. However, if we seek after spiritual gifts and knowing God in all his entirity, we will attain heavenly gifts, which are not corruptable but eternal. I would say these Pastors and their flocks have been seduced by the riches of this world which will perish and not give them eternal life. Better to be poor in earthly possessions and rich in spiritual blessings would you say is a good way of looking at it. I myself look to the high calling which is in Jesus Christ, and let the world have what belongs to it, and let what belongs to God be God's.

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  18. Ok I will name names. Here is one who claims to deliver you from all kinds of troubles. Check out the creditials and decide for yourself. Pastor Emmanuel Eli Fiagbedzi from Ghana http://www.thekingsvoiceministries.org/sub_pastor_eli-new.html

    Charismatic nonsense. Be a Berean check it out!

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  19. Pastor Mbewe’s “Nigerian religious junk” language is deeply offensive and most unfortunate–more so because it comes from someone who might be looked upon by some of our brothers and sisters around the world to speak for “Africa” and “African” Christianity. Pastor Mbewe may ask Nigerians not to take offense with his language, but that by no means absolves him from recognizing the enormous responsibility that comes with voice. Yes, I am a Christian Nigerian. And by the grace of God, I am both a product of the late 60s/early 70s revival that swept through the Nigerian landscape; and, an active participant in the broad-based life and growth of the church at all levels since then. I have intimate firsthand familiarity with the state of the church there. No, I am not yet engaging in the pedestrian discussion about whether or not there are unbiblical things happening in some Nigerian churches. As is it true with the church everywhere and in all ages, the Nigerian church has its share of the good, the bad and the ugly. But, praise God that on balance, there is every reason for joy and exultation for what the Lord in doing in and through His church in Nigeria. The glass is way half full! And if Pastor Mbewe wants to know, I know personally, several solid–biblically, theologically, morally–christian Nigerian ministers and ministries doing God’s work in his home country of Zambia. We can all together celebrate the great things God is doing in our lives and ministries. Our individual ministries and influence should neither be diminished or increased by how much the works of fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord are scorned or affirmed.

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  20. This is a cheap blackmail. At the beginning I thought you really had something important to say and I was following your train of thought until I noticed you substituted in cheap sentimentalism for fact. You cited an instance of a Zambian pastor changing 3 wives in the space of three months and the best explanation you could muster on that was to credit it to Nigeria. Then you went ahead to say Nigeria is the most corrupt country on the continent; I am personally interested in knowing the data/ranking you're citing on this. You should admit that the Church in your country has issues, but to now attribute the ills to Nigeria doesn't speak well of you as a pastor. I'm Nigerian, and I stand against the issues in many Churches at home; but also against pastors who are obviously at their wits end attributing the blame in the content of the their home spirituality to another country. You probably should close the borders of your country then. Also giving the Church the blame for corruption in a country shows you really don't know what you are talking about. Have you asked yourself why some countries that either profess secularism or Islam (or some other religions) have little or no corruption, is it also because of the presence or vibrancy of the Church in their society? When a secular or non-Christian politician siphons money in Nigeria, should I also blame the Christians and the Church in my country for that?. I know you're a pastor but I have preferred to respond to the issues you raised on purely intellectual ground because you implicitly touched issues that can be addressed on this basis. You raised a valid point in the disgusting spate at which materialism has taken over several of the Churches in AFRICA, but you went too far to base this on the quality of Christianity of a particular country.

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  21. Dear Jide (and other Nigerians that I have offended),

    I apologised at the start and at the end of my blog for any offence I was likely to cause you by my article by using the name of your country. It was not my intention to do so. I said at the beginning that I used Nigeria because of perception. I even added "rightly or wrongly" so that we do not get bogged down with whether this perception is right or wrong. I am sure that some of these churches are springing up from other West African countries, but perception is perception. You cannot get rid of it by simply getting angry.

    An obvious example is the way we here in Africa relate China to cheap goods that will not last you a season. Sadly, China will have to live with this stigma for some time to come.

    However, for your benefit, I have checked out the issue of Nigeria being "the most corrupt country on the continent". I was wrong. As at last year it was ranked about the 20th in Africa (by Transparency International rankings). Sorry about that. But again...it is all about perception (smile!). Thanks for pointing that out to me.

    But perhaps before I leave this issue of corruption, I still want to argue that the church should have a salting and lighting effect on the world. If your country is boasting of having many mega churches, and these are now being exported across the continent, surely we should expect some returns (morally and spiritually speaking) on the whole of your nation. However, my point is that the personal-to-holder nature of these mega churches robs them of the capacity to discipline their top leader when he errs. Hence, the result is a reduction in this salting and lighting effect despite the numbers attending church on Sunday. That is all that I am saying.

    So, to the question of why some secular or Islamic countries have little corruption, the answer is that they "walk their talk". In other words, in their secularism or Islamic religion, they say that corruption is wrong and they really live like they believe what they say. So, all I am asking is that where true Christianity is vibrant, we should see the same results permeating the society. That is what Jesus meant by salt and light.

    So, there is no use coming up with draconian measures that will even remotely suggest that we close the borders to all Nigerians (though I would not mind closing the borders to some of your "pastors" and their personal-to-holder churches). In my last apology on the blog I stated that I know some of you who have nothing to do with this growing phenomenon of "Nigerian religious junk". I just wished you were a little more vocal!

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  22. I would just like to say that the Nigerian people should not take offense to this article. I applaud the pride in country that they have but we Americans have corrupt pastors, more so than probably anywhere else. A once thriving nation we no longer are, and the pastors who sought the fame and fortune are abundantly clear because they are moving elsewhere with there message. Looking for more money. These types of pastors are easily discernible between those who have a genuine passion for Christ alone.

    Satan is having his way with this world, and I think it's time that all Christians learn from our gracious Lord and King and band together. I believe it to be a good thing to understand each other and to form a solid people in Christ. Satan will be at odds with solid Christians who put Christ first and anything else is secondary.

    James 1:19 "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."

    God Bless all Nigerian Christians and Christians all around the world. May the Lord open our hearts and our minds to Him and to Him alone.

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  23. Hey Pastor!
    I see what you are talking about this is true no doubt about what you said. However I have few things to challenge you about.
    1. As a pastor any thing that makes you to apologize may be you should't say it for the fiest place.
    2. You talk brefly on how the properity preaching was esported to Africa, how I wish you go a bit fother with that concidering the fact this is not just an African isseu
    3. I think will be good to give the Nigerian missionaries who are preaching sound doctrine a credit for thei hard work.
    4. The way you article was presented it sounds you have some personal essues with west Africans or let's say Nigerians in particular
    When you do your research well you will agree with me this prosperity gospel is eating the church globaly not just Nigeria my friend.
    Please forgive my English is not my first languge. Good job Bro! Remain bless.
    Muhammed

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  24. Thank you Pastor Conrad for this posting. It is heart warming that someone is bringing this up for discussion. I am Nigerian and attend one of the churches that is likely to be on your unmentioned list of junk peddlers. I have elected to stay there however (I serve in the teaching unit)so I can be a voice for reformed christian faith.

    It has become my ministry and slowly but definitely, I am beginning to see some changes to the extent that I now know some of the Ministers of this particular church who regularly listen to Bible teaching ministers (usually online www.oneplace.com) in addition to the usual crowd of Pentecostal TV evangelists.

    Unfortunately, I lived in Southern Africa through the 90s and the junk you wrote about had already gained ground there. You are right that Nigerian ministers to our shame took some of this message earlier from the Kenneth Hagin,Copelands & Benny Hinn and ran with it through Africa.

    By the way, I think somebody did bribe Transparency International to move the Nigerian position up a notch (laughs).

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  25. Those who seek to deceive and succeed in doing so are unquestionably wrong, however it is worth noting that every Christian is responsible for their own faith. The same Holy Spirit is available for anyone who wants it. We are to work on our salvation with fear and trembling because this problem goes two ways.
    The Christian leader who becomes corrupted with power will have to answer to God for that. But ALSO the Christian who idolises them will be accountable for this behaviour; as we all know idolatry is wrong.
    Furthermore many people are too lazy to diligently pursue God for themselves and so are more than happy for 'a man of God' to do it for them.
    There are many very thin lines in this intricate and complex issue. Discernment is key.

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    1. Have you noticed that there is always a counterfeit for everything in this world. So there will always be a counterfeit church that will try and deceive people out of their salvation. This is how the enemy works, he has come to steal and destroy. He comes to take away what is rightfully ours through Jesus Christ. We should pray for the churches that are being deceived that God will have mercy on them and show them the error of their ways. I imagine if Jesus was here that is what he would tell us to do. Only Jesus has the keys to the book in Revelations that holds the names of all the saints. Let him be the judge and let us be the atmosphere changers using what he has given us, our most powerful weapon of warfare, Prayer.

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  26. Hi Pastor Conrad Mbewe,

    Thank you for you brief report. I am not surprised this is happening in Nigeria and will not be surprised same will happen in your country if your country can stand to be "world most populous black nation". Why have you made China an example? why do Chinese make the best product and at the same time the worst product? why do Nigerisa have the best Pastors and at the same time the worst (fake) pastors? there is one thing in common Population. Where there is Large number of people the best and the worst things are easily popped out!

    Meanwhile, where Nigeria has been sited as bad example of junk Christian practices, I believed you should at the same time commend Nigeria as most superb christian practice. Allow me to mention a genuine Man of God whom (to me) is the most humble Pastor I have seen in the world Pastor E.A Adeboye of The Redeemed Christian Church. (I am not a member of his church mind you, I am from "an old school church" The Apostolic Church) you may say my church is old school but I am very comfortable. Thanks :)
    I am sorry to say, I have listened to so many motivational speaker who look for cheap publicity and you aren't any different. A Holy Spirit filled Pastor do not write article in this manner but they focus their effort in preaching and praying to people to be filled with the spirit of God thereby they know the truth from the lies.

    Pastor, are you born again?

    Your write up is not backed by the spirit of God, The Holy Spirit. I shook my head when i realised you went as far as posting Picture of the Nigerian currencies, tried hard to see what that has to do with your article. Why do you need to even highlight Nigeria Map? are you sure you are not taking this too personal? if you were God you would have surely set the Nation on FIRE!

    I hope people reading this will reason with me the essence you condemned African especially Nigerian Pastors is just to gain attention and increase your pockets through the sales of this book (I know it will sell anyway, people love to read junk, soft sell).

    Please don't get me wrong, I admit there are many fake pastors and churches in Nigeria like any other part of the world just like the pastor who wrote this article! Pardon me if my sincerity sounds unacceptable. this is from my own PERCEPTION.

    *** Please heed to YEMI'S advice, take this teaching to Nigeria, an average Nigerian (african) doesn't have quick access to the internet and if they do they go straight to Yahoo, no one has time for blogs. I'm sure all of us here will support your mission to Nigeria rather than to condemn on blogs and wait for change. There is little or no solution here***

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    1. I reason with you my brother!
      Onpoint!!!!

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  27. Why are you blaming the spiritual decay of your country to Churches in Nigeria?

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  28. Dear tvchost,

    I have answered that question already. Surely, if someone is throwing junk onto your property, which your children are playing with to the detriment of their healthy, it is your responsibility to draw attention to it. That is all that I have done in this article. Let us at least admit that it is junk!

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    1. Brother Conrad i would not agree less. These teachings are spreading like gangrene and reminds me of the Galatians. Recently a mega church of Nigerian decent was opened in my Capital City in Nairobi Kenya. It is said that this is the largest in East and Central Africa. The teachings are nothing but self help philosophy and prosperity. Thanks.

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  29. Please name and shame the God merchants who have colluded with our corrupt politicians to impoverish our people. They have dipped their filthy hands in the pockets of gullible and unsuspecting Nigerians and emptied them, leaving them with false hopes while they squander millions on celebrity lifestyles. Thank you for this and keep it coming because if God has not killed them for the abominable way they are ripping people off, I can tell you that He will not kill us for speaking the gospel truth.

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  30. While i appreciate the attempt to enlighten people about the prevalence of wolf in sheep's clothing, i would rather we all spend more energies in educating people about the truth since for every counterfeit, there is an original. The enemy has got too many Christians in this condemning business which puts the original and phony in the same category and guess who gets hurt? the body of christ as a whole. Jesus knew the tares would grow with the wheat but i dont think he would have us expend so much energy in publicizing the counterfeit at the expense of the original.in fact the reason he said attention should be denied the tares was because the process of pulling it out would injure the wheat too.In my opinion the reason there are many fake churches in Nigeria is because there are many original ones and my job is to focus on the original.

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  31. From the very beginning, I followed your misguided outbursts and having read through the junk you wrote, I came to the conclusion that your rantings are those of a jealous looser. You sit in your corner of Zambia and get frustrated because you cannot make any impact, not even in Zambia. You have just returned from a consultative meeting in South Africa where the first day was spent surveying the spiritual state of the countries in the southern African sub-region. very funny! Who made you a prince and an overseer over the spirituality of countries? Instead of sitting down with your work & making a success out of it, you are writing junks about the successes of others.

    Who ever told you that by just apologizing before and after opening your mouth to say nonsense about a people should ultimately excuse you? You are a shame to the body of Christ world over & Africa in particular. Your whole theory about perception is wrong. You should perceive people through the eyes of God, and not the notions of men. You err because you know not the scriptures.

    If I were you, I would shift my attention to preaching my own message & influencing others with your "genuine" christianity rather than making other people's business your business.

    The bible said that God in the beginning commanded the light to shine out of darkness. He didn't quarrel with the darkness, He didn't criticise the darkness, He didn't call the darkness names. He just called in the light and the darkness disappeared. So quit "striving with the darkness & shine the light", that is if you have it. I really doubt if you do. Sit down & strategise on how to put Zambia on the map of the world and LEAVE NIGERIA ALONE!

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  32. You may decide not to make public my post, but I believe that I have made my point and most importantly, YOU HAVE READ IT!

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  33. Your language is offensive, the title of your post is offensive and even if you apologize a hundred times, it won't change anything. Stay in your little corner of Zambia and leave the rest of us to impact the world with the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is the gospel of truth. Come unto me ALL YE that labor and are HEAVY LADEN and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Quit struggling with your life as a christian and receive the rest that is in Christ. Have you entered into God's rest? The bible says that they that have entered into His rest are ceased from their struggles. John the baptist came with the gospel of repentance that brought people to Christ. Now that they are in Christ, they no longer need repentance again. They now have to be taught to live the good life that the gospel brought. The gospel that Jesus brought is to: the sick you can receive your healing, the poor you can be rich. Anything other than is religious junk.

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  34. It is obvious from Ojay's comments that I have really touched a raw nerve!

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  35. Dear Edifice and others,

    You would “rather we all spend more energies in educating people about the truth since for every counterfeit, there is an original”. I would like to submit that the Job Description of the pastor is also to warn the Sheep about the wolves in Sheep’s clothes:
    1. In Philippians 3:1-2 Paul says that its no trouble to write the same things to them again because it is for their safeguard. The thing he writes about is that they “watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh”. This clearly shows that the Apostle Paul was not kind in to those who were teaching and practicing error in the name of Christianity.
    2. In Titus 1:9 ff, the duty of a pastor among other things is to hold fast to the faithful word… so that he will be able exhort both in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of dishonest gain” Titus 1:10,11
    So Pastor Mbewe’s approach is justified. We should not keep quiet when people are being deceived and being “rolled into hell on a religious wheel chair”. This is why Jude changed his plans from writing about “our common salvation” but instead urged the believers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all entrusted to the saints” Jude 3.

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  36. Pastor Mbewe,
    It is true that you have touched the raw nerve with your comments. I just realised that there are very few people who would stand up for the truth like you are doing.
    I do not agree with Ojay's comment that the world is being impacted with the Gospel. Every promise in the Bible is linked to a condition, for example, if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask what ever you wish and it will be given you. The condition is remaining in Christ and His words remaining in us.
    I have watched TV preachers who only promise prosperity for every person present at their crusades.
    In Phil the Bible says, for you were called not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. Meaning, it will not always be roses.
    Some one said to the Lord, I will follow you, Jesus replied, foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head.

    I just think that, the enemy has been using the same old style of temptations he had on the Lord, One was related to personal needs, the other one to power and riches, this is what he said, "all this you I have been given and I only give to any one I am pleased with if they only kneel and worship me,(paraphrased by me)
    Power and money have become the motive for many to become involved in God's work. I wonder if people do not abide in Christ, and the word does not abide in them, yet they still get riches, who gives them? It is the devil.
    I really thank you for coming out so straight on this issue. We have to be very careful, false prophets are here

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  37. I must commend you Pastor Conrad for your courage. I am a Nigerian and all you have said are the reality on ground. I could not understand why some of us Nigerians who have commented on this should take the stance they have taken. For me let the truth be told so that we can shame the devil. The so many unsubstantiated miracles of healing broadcasted across the nation on various national television made the federal government to ban such broadcasts.
    The scripture says 'you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Thank you once again for this as you also pray for the revelation of the truth in the Nigerian church.

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  38. I agree that the pastor Mbewe only wants to warn the sheep of the wolf acting as one of them. Which in my opinion is fruitless.Do the sheep want to be warned? The reason the junk gospel is growing is because there are people who believe it.They are all looking for miracles so they go to where they can get it and they are so getting it. No argument can beat a live miracle! Only the sick require a doctor but the sick will have to ADMIT that sickness FIRST. OTHERWISE THERE IS NOTHING THAT EVEN JESUS CHRIST CAN DO!!!!

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  39. Pastor Mbewe,
    This stung a little bit to read. But I can't act like it isn't true or I haven't had the same criticisms of the biggest bodies in the Nigerian Church. (The biggest struggle I have right now is deciding who I can disagree with and maintain fellowship & whom I have to draw a line in front of). It's doubly hard spending almost half of my life away from Nigeria b/c now culture & faith have melted into this (oft, questionable) thing that is presented as normative. So if I don't care that a big-name Nigerian preacher is coming to Canada (to disperse divine blessings uniquely received from his pulpit ministry, it's implied), I'm denying my "Nigerian-ness". Murky waters, but by God's grace I'll learn to navigate them and oppose false teaching from within.
    Thanks for exhorting!

    (b/w me and you, you were bound to take flak for such a title. Nigerians are so often disparaged...by everyone else; we're pretty sensitive now IMO lol)

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  40. I was struck by this title from another reference on a video on vimeo to this blog. I have greatly enjoyed and respected your ministry and was shocked at this title. Everything said would have been edifying but the unfortunate reference to name Nigeria (adding the map and flag) as a source of religious junk ...which disparages the work of God in perhaps the largest and most complex of black nations. There are indeed enough challenges in the body ... without the friendly fire ...and you cannot just apologise when thousands will not read your apology. There is a lot of religious junk in all nations - including yours and we need not look to far to see them... and the arguments you present are correct but the reference to Nigeria can be misleading. It is obvious from reading your article that you do not know Nigeria or the religious climate and base your article on what you have heard apparently from many aggrieved persons (rightly or wrongly.

    Still, I like what Paul said ...Php 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
    16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ...

    What the nations of Africa need the most is the fervent prayers of the righteous and not articles like this. If you must say more ... focus on the people God has helped you to lead.

    In summary, I do not disagree with the principles, but the specific attachment of another nation as a source of religious junk is highly accusatory and painful. It will only help you to gain cheap popularity and furthers the agenda of the ultimate accuser. The West particularly enjoy this kind of attack on our own. It is true that we have a lot of ground to cover to be completely freed from past shackles and cultural pressures just as hollywood ravages the american church ...but to attack a particular state or nation is excessive ... why dont you just the names and pin down the issues?

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  41. I was about to follow your blog until I noticed that you too sell the gospel in the form of books, be advised that it makes you no different from the people you are exposing! You speak a great deal of truth though..

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  42. I have just come across this article. I want to add my views about your blog for it is better late than never. It is true that you like wrting and you have been able to blow your own trumpet in your profile. Reading you blog between lines one will not fail to notice a tinge of envoy and jealousy. According to you, you started as far back as 1987 but for this bad-tempered article no one could have heard of you. Yet you are a degree holder. Your blog has made clear that you have personal issues with Scoan and indeed Nigerian. What if your head of state worships in Scoan. There's nothing you can do about my country Nigeria, she is great. Yes, we are everywhere and making it. Take my word for it one day you will be delivered in the Scoan, Lagos, Nigeria,Amen

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  43. While I agree with 'some' of the responses above especially those touching on the specificity of Nigeria, her logo and currency, I am sad to say the the content of your article, whether borne out of jealousy or not, is the truth about the trend and activities of certain churches in Nigeria. My simple advise to my Nigerian brothers and sisters is that while we can be patriotic about our country and be ready to put up any form of defence on her behalf, we should see this article as a wake up call to the church in Nigeria - which many of us are a part of. Let us pray for her that the spirit of true revival will sweep through our nation and the Lordship of Jesus will be truly established in our midst once again

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  44. As a Nigerian, I am concerned about the state of the church in my country, and I'm saddened to see that even outsiders have seen and been affected by the shameful practices and teachings of too many of our churches. I try to do my part to address the issue through my blog. Most of all, I pray for a reformation, and for the planting of many true churches across the nation.

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  45. I feel ashamed to admit but every item you have mentioned above is very true. In fact let me reproduce one of my posts that raised plenty of dust but is also true and relates to this here...
    Pirates of the Pulpits, Bootleggers on the altars and cockroaches on the pews...

    There is a whole generation of new Christians that have become so worldly and focused on riches, money, property and blessings coupled with seasons, miracles, breakthroughs, harvests and revelations!
    Unfortunately the true purpose of Christianity has been forgotten. Is it not Jesus that taught the two golden rules of Christianity. These are
    1. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your strength and might and
    2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)

    True religion (faith) is to take care of the needy (orphans, widows and the poor) and be untainted (unmarked, undefiled, remain pure) by the world. There is too much of the world in the church today and as such we now have the above...
    #Pirates - Hijackers and manipulators who specialize in counterfeiting the ministry of God for personal and selfish enrichment
    #Bootleggers - Magicians and sorcerers who operate using mind control and mass hypnosis at the altar of the church
    #3 Cockroaches - baby Christians that never grow past the (miracles, signs and wonders, emotional junkie) stage of always seeking an emotional experience with God (immaturity - signs) instead of seeking an understanding and manifestation (fruit within ones life) with God.
    Wake up church! Lets clean house and mature for once - leaving childish things behind!

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  46. Don't be surprised that your blog is still receiving some comments 2 years after you wrote this thought provoking article. This is simply because there are more compelling evidences on how the 'MINISTRY' has been clearly shown to be a money making venture. http://vimeo.com/31413008

    While it is unfair to generalize this practice as a Nigerian phenomenon, sadly you are absolutely correct that Nigerians are the sole exporters of this 'lucrative' trade.

    I feel sad commenting on this trend, because I am a firm believer in CHRIST, but Nigerian pastors leave one with no choice than to expose their scam and possibly generalize the practice...... We do not know whom to even believe these days.
    Unfortunately, they prey on Weak, hopeless, gullible, ill and emotionally unstable people. This is a trend you see when the Social infrastructure of a community is destroyed. People look everywhere for solution, in most cases they patronize JUNK!!

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  47. This is so true, South African cities and now even townships are flooded with prosperity ministries all over its sad. You always here testimonies of how poor a person was until they attended a certain church and now they have money, house, cars and a fat bank balance. I wish more men such as yourselves would preach the True Gospel.

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  48. After 2yrs your post is still getting comments. You have not offended any Nigerian, I am a Nigerian living in Nigeria, Your Blog post touched every point of spiritual Life not just Nigeria but humanity, Nigeria is just a Geographical segmentation we are one body in Christ I think Ojay choose to be blind to the truth so let it be.

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    1. Ernest , you can only speak for yourself. I am Nigerian too and I am deeply offended by the title of the post. I think such title and stereotyping is rather unfair to many Nigerian preachers who espouse the same message Con is trying to communicate - unfortunately they often lack the platform and the resources to make their voices heard as their messages are often deemed "unattractive".

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  49. I am a Nigerian and your post is totally SPOT ON. Madness. Jesus did warn us but it is still shocking to see this apostasy unfolding before our very eyes.

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  50. My name is Taiwo, born in the U.S., grew-up in Nigeria, and now residing in the U.S.

    False-Christianity is global; it came into Nigeria too. The Reformed teaching that: "God created certain people to perish in Hell forever and that there's nothing they can do about it, because God refused to give them irresistible grace" IS ANTI-CHRIST too. Indeed FOR THE MOST PART the Christianity in Nigeria is of the FAKE-CHRIST as is the Christianity all over the world (including Zambia).

    I encourage all to search for my articles and website online:
    "Newsweek-Adeboye: Pentecostals" -- GraceTruth7
    "God Did Not Create Anyone For Hell" -- GraceTruth7

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    1. In all seriousness, where on earth did that teaching emerge from? Some things i read on this blog are unbelievable. And who would believe that teaching? They don't read their bibles? *Smdh*. And just to put the Nigerians at ease, Kenyans will soon be giving you a run for your money and you know how good we are at athletics..

      Frankly as a Kenyan i never looked at this phenomenon as a 'Naija Export'. The way i see it, it originates from those US Televangelists who harangue all and sundry to 'plant seeds'. Nigerians being innovative, simply adopted it to appeal to the African context. Its just plain wrong. and is it that we are so selfish as a people that we so easily buy into this gospel?

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  51. Thanks so much Conrad, this is so true But to be fair Naija, This is charismatic business is like a wild fire which will burn the entire African continent to the ground

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  52. Hi pastor Mbewe, amazing that the blog is still going on long after you posted your offensive remark. Am wondering and hoping that you still revisit this site to see the remarks you still provoke after many years, and also be pliable to learn one or two things from it. Whether you read or not, I will still go on.
    My name is Theresa, a Nigerian writing from Atlanta, Ga. The only reason I came upon this site was because my favorite preacher, Paul Washer mentioned your name and as an African, I decided to check you out only to be hit with the caption'' Nigerian con''.
    As a man of God who should be all things to all people in order to win them for Christ, that was a very wrong way to categorise a country bc once any genuine person reads that, they are turned off by the harshness despite your belated apologies. Whether what you said is true or not, you don't win souls for Christ by calling one hundred and sixty million people con artists, there is zero wisdom in that. It's like a woman trying to roar and scream at her husband to make him stop philandering. That will worsen the case and push him back to same place and the problem gets worse.
    I don't believe that all the Christians in your country were righteous saints who have been corrupted by pulpit pimps from Nigeria. There are bad eggs every where. The Bible says that where sin abound, GRACE abound even more. Despite the ''con'' as you said happening in Nigeria by gospel bootleggers, there are even more number of TRUE WORSHIPPERS in the likes of WF KUMUYI, REV ADEBOYE, TB JOSHUA, REV EZEKIEL, etc, etc. These men have been in ministry for a lifetime and have not been corrupted nor their names tarnished in any way and they have influenced millions for Christ worldwide, therefore, GRACE IS ABOUNDING EVEN MORE DESPITE THE CON ARTISTS.
    As a servant of God, after calling Nigerians con artists, how do you plan to go there and preach the sound gospel that you know and harvest souls for Christ. I read all your perceptions, but I didn't see the solutions you offered.
    To whom more is given, more is expected. If you believe that God had revealed to you the corrupt practices going on in Nigeria, He didn't reveal it just for you to criticize them and call them names. He did that with the expectation that you will be like Jonah and start heading to Niniveh. You can't be in Zambia and be condemning the people in Nigeria. Go there and preach the gospel against the corruption that you have seen. If not God will demand millions of souls from your hands. Nigeria is a welcoming country and they will receive you despite your calling them ''con artists''.

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  53. I'm reading through some of the comments and just chuckling. After going through the first three that agreed with you I thought to myself..."It's only a matter of time before somebody brings on the Nigerian ire and outrage that we can be so famous for." And I wasn't disappointed. My Nigerian brethren have come to register their displeasure in your words, Mr Blogger. I expected nothing less.

    Now...if only we could take our Nigerian sense of righteous anger, moralistic argument and noblesse oblige and put our money where our mouths are...in making a change in our corrupt country maybe, perhaps? But no, it seems many of us would rather engage in beer parlour or blogger politics rather than actually make a difference.

    Pffft.

    But...I doubt it.

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  54. Please see my comment on 25-Sept-2013. The warning i gave there is in-line with the following:

    Impressions from John McArthur’s Strange Fire Conference

    By Anton Bosch a Pentecostal pastor originally from Africa, now resident in California.

    ... The first (and last) word went to John MacArthur. “You are the chosen” was the first words out of his mouth. Everyone laughed, but I cringed, feeling that the joke had a real barb to it. This was more than an ice-breaker; this was the message of the conference: Unless you are Reformed and elect – you are in error and not saved!

    It became clear to me that the issues were not so much Cessationism vs. Pentecostalism (or “Continuationism”, as they prefer to call it), but Reformed Cessationism vs. the rest. Non-Calvinist Evangelicalism does not seem to exist as far as the speakers were concerned – you are either Calvinist and Cessationist or nothing.

    MacArthur draws no distinction between classical Pentecostals and Charismatics. Neither does he believe that there can be any such thing as a moderate or conservative Pentecostal. He likes to bandy about the “statistic” that 90% of Pentecostals are into Word of Faith and Prosperity. My personal experience in the USA and in Africa contradicts this exaggeration. It may be true of Nigeria but that’s as far as that “statistic” goes. ...

    ... It was good to hear a fellow African [Conrad Mbewe] speak in an accent and style I could understand and relate to. But he had changed his message!

    On his blog he drew a clear distinction between Pentecostals and Charismatics. He wrote:

    In this blog post, I do not refer to the old conservative form of Pentecostalism once represented by the Assemblies of God churches. I have in mind the current extreme form that is mushrooming literally under every shrub and tree in Africa.

    In his address he still saw Pentecostals and Charismatics as different and separate – a distinction that MacArthur and his other friends do not make. But Mbewe had recently changed his tune and now blames Pentecostals for “opening the door” for the Charismatics. Obviously a message he had picked up from MacArthur and was now echoing. I was very saddened to see him become a puppet of the very Americans he so despises because of what they have done to African Christianity.

    Mbewe emphasized a point that almost evry other speaker also made: that Classical Pentecostals are to blame for the Charismatic movement and that “we” opened the door for it. But that is a total lie. ...

    http://philiplpowell.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/john-macarthurs-strange-fire-conference-wed-oct-16-to-sat-oct-19-2013/

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  55. The following is from my "REBUTTAL -- Legalism the Scourge of Christianity":

    Some Evangelical Leaders such as the Calvary Chapels don’t own Calvinistic teachings, yet they speak well of Calvinists such as John MacArthur AND SUBTLY REJECT 2John 1:10-11 AS THEY DO OTHER SCRIPTURES: “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house nor greet him, for whoever greets him shares in his evil deeds.” Yet the Pastors spoke highly of a well-known Pluralist from 1999 to 2008, praising that Pluralist and saying he is Christian. Chuck Smith refused repentance when i questioned him on this issue on their Q. and A. radio program on kwave 107.9 FM in December 2003. Brian Brodersen approved of Mel Gibson’s Marian Catholic movie in October 2003, months before the movie came-out. Most Calvary Chapel Leaders follow the example of Chuck Smith and refuse to alarm their poor sheep concerning Preachers such as Rick Warren (servants of the fake-Christ); they refuse to identify by name such false-teachers who many embrace as “Christian”, thinking such teachers are sheep when they are really Not.

    Many so-called “Bible-believing” Teachers such as John MacArthur teach that God created certain people for Eternal Punishment and that nothing can change that God-ordained decision including the sacrifice of Christ which they say is Limited Atonement only for the few who will end-up in Heaven because God gave them Irresistible Grace which He won’t give to the many whom He created for Eternal Punishment under His Wrath forever.
    As contrary as the preceding is to the God of the Jewish Scripture: Old and New Testament, Evangelical Leaders who don’t own that Heresy refuse to publicly alarm people against Teachers such as John MacArthur; they refuse to publicly speak against false-teachers such as John MacArthur who reject: 1John 2:2 “And MeshiYah Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

    GraceTruth7.org  http://www.gracetruth7.org/

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