By: Razaq Yekinni
….Nigerians hit Oyedepo hard for defiling govt ban on church services
The General Overseer of Living Faith Tabernacle a.k.a Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo is being heavily criticized by Nigerians for defiling the Federal government and Ogun State Government’s order banning gathering and congregational worship of over 50 worshippers, as he held congregational service at his Church auditorium in Ota, Ogun State which accommodates 5000 worshipers at a time.
It is on record that Lagos State government placed a ban on gatherings of people over 50 at a time, which was followed suit by the Ogun State government where Nigeria recorded her first index case of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic through an Italian businessman.
As the spread increases, the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwoolu reduced the number of the congregation at a time to 20 people in the state.
It is a verifiable fact that the Ogun State Government in a press statement on her twitter handdle with title COVID-19; Ogun Extends Ban to Schools, Worship centre says, ’’Due to the global spread of the Coronavirus and the recent ban of all high-density gatherings in Ogun State, the @OGSGofficial wishes to clarify that the ban on high-density gatherings affects all.
On Friday 21st March, 2020, the majority of mosques in Nigeria obeyed the government ban on congregational gathering and worship of over fifty people in the Nation and this is in a bid to curtail the spread of the virus in Nigeria. Most of the mosques where Jumaat services were usually observed where seen to be under locks and keys as Muslims results in Zuhr prayer.
The reverse is the case on the part of Winners Chapel Founder, Bishop David Oyedepo who held her congregational worship on Sunday two days after the Muslim counterparts in the country shut the mosques to Jumaat prayers in the state.
The essence of the closure of worship centres Nation Wide is to avoid the spread of the pandemic coronavirus in Nigeria and to see the possibility of not having more cases as it’s been recorded. As of 17th March, Nigeria only recorded 3cases but with 6days it rose to 36cases with one death which is more than 12times more. This is a very alarming case and this has really put fears in the minds of several Nigerians considering the available medical facilities in Nigeria.
The country has spent 1.6billion Naira on the prevention and curtailing of the pandemic and Nigeria has been doing relatively fine as the index cases are still less than 50cases in all. The government at all level are doing everything humanly possible to curb the spread with sensitization and campaigns for the citizenry but citizens are not cooperating with the government enough.
Part of why the government efforts and campaigns may be in futility is as a result of some citizens’ unrepentant attitude of defiling the law by disobeying government on rules, regulations, and principles set aside to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Many Nigerians took to their handle to condemn the action of the Bishop of the Lord, Bishop David Oyedepo and many were not friendly with words considering the likely implication of the church service held on Sunday at the church auditorium.
The magnitude of the number people’s present could cause the nation a lot of havoc if unfortunately or by chance one positive patient was present at the service just like the South Korea trending PATIENT 31case of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony who infected most of the members of the church who later spread the virus across the globe.
According to reports PATIENT-31 infected 1,248cases of 1,314 people in Daegu out of the whole 2,022 cases in South Korea making her a super-spreader whom had been traced to 80% of the pandemic spread worldwide. Findings shows that several people spreading the virus today contracted it through her of her contacts. The 1,248cases in question are members of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony as research and reports had shown and this is the same church she worshiped.
The statics of the entire 2,022cases then in South Korea’s case is as follows: In Seoul 62, Basan 63, Incheon 4, Gwangju 9 and Daegu had 1,314 where we have the religious centre that accommodated PATIENT 31 for the super-spread session during the church service as reported.
The South Korean case of the 61year old woman in Daegu in South Korea of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony popularly known a PATIENT 31 is a bit different from that of Winners Chapel because we do not have a confirmed case. Winners Chapel in Ota Ogun State and Shincheonji Church of Jesus in South Korea both had very constant premises which are, the church’s service and the multitude congregation. Another similarity in these cases is a carrier who never knew she carries the pandemic disease but later spread it to the globe.
In Daegu, South Korea worship center, Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where PATIENT 31 infected over 1000people in the church because the majority of the people who were tested positive in Daegu are members of the church but if PATIENT 31 had subjected herself to the COVID-19 test, or observed the self-isolation measure; the whole world will not be in this mess now as 80% of the infected cases worldwide had been traced to her or her contacts and this is the reason many are condemning that singular act of Bishop Oyedepo for holding the regular Sunday service at the church premises thereby endangering the lives of the church members.
As for me, I pray he never has a reason to kneel twice to beg people who are not even as holy as himself if the whole thing later turns south just like it is in South Korea for Lee Man-hee who bowed his kneel right in front of several media cameras during a press conference in South Korea. This is the height of submission in a sane clan but in Nigeria, ‘‘them go say, apa ti jabo oo Jesu’’, meaning his hands had fallen.
The bible has stated it clearly that where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there with them which implies that one can be home with his/her family members and pray to the son of the most-high and God Almighty will answer such prayer and oblige one’s request.
However, one must not forget that some Christians do say that God does not disperse congregational worship which is the usual way in Nigeria before the pandemic coronavirus outbreak. So having congregational worship is good but it is extremely wrong at a time like this when the government has ruled over congregational worship.
There is no point disobeying the rule of the land as it was done by Bishop David Oyedepo and any other religious leader. As good as it pretends to look, during the church service Bishop prayed for the end of the coronavirus outbreak in Nigeria. He spoke with the anointing and cast the virus out of the nation. Meanwhile the bible says in the book of Isaiah 1 vs 19, if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.
The Bible speaks decisively to this issue, the book of Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.”
This verse speaks to three issues: That it is God who influenced the election and elected our officials; we need to follow the law of the land; and, if we refuse to obey, punishment will follow.
If the Bible could speak clearly on this then I see no reason why one should go against the scripture. 1st Peter further elucidates on submission to civil authorities. 1 Peter 2:13-17 reads: Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 – or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15- For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16- [Act] as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but [use it] as bondslaves of God. 17- Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
The place of prayer is quite important in all man endeavor but have you observed that across the globe, religious houses have been closed not because God does not answer pray but because there is a very high possibility of people contacting this pandemic coronavirus when we have a very high number of people gathered together and the church or mosque in Nigeria is a place with such features and the possibility of coronavirus spreading from this area is very high thus, this places should be avoided if members of such religious house are more than 50 and social gathering must also be avoided too.
For every action or inaction, there will definitely be a consequence in a sane society just like a pastor was reportedly arrested in Sagamu, Ogun State. Truth be told, nobody is bigger than the state and the security of the lives of everyone is paramount to the government. Whoever stands against this should be punished.
The safety of the people must be of the highest esteem by the government and anybody found wanting should be punished.