Beyond the beard

 

 

 

david owuor 2

 

By Gbenga Osinaike

Not many people in Nigeria know Prophet David Edward Owuor. But in the last couple of months, there have been media adverts talking about his coming to Lagos. A group known as Repent Now Nigeria is at the vanguard of his coming. Preparations are ongoing and all hands seem to be on deck to ensure the successful outing of this man of God in Nigeria. He is billed to minister at the Muson Centre in Lagos to church leaders on March 11and then will hold a one-day crusade at the Tafawa Balewa Square.

Owuor whose picture appears on this page is a Professor of Medicine by profession. He has spent the better part of his life in the USA studying and doing research in scientific and medical fields. While based in Chicago in the USA, he worked as a faculty post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Owuor also published works in the Journal for Biological Chemistry, Molecular Pharmacology (JBC) and also worked with American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

He reportedly told a news medium while answering question on how he transformed from medical practice to the pulpit that, “I was a born-again Christian, but discovered that God wanted me to be his hand on earth. The earth has turned out to be a filthy place full of sin and fornication,”

Prophet Owuor is reputed to be holiness cum righteousness preacher. He does not run a church. He does not preach the gospel of money. He preaches hard against sexual sins and immorality and tells of the impending coming of the Lord. He is said to have brought many to the Lord through crusades and evangelical meetings. Those who went to witness his programme in Kenya confess that they experienced the hand of God in their lives. The testimony about the awesome power in the life of this servant of God is simply incredible.

A Kenyan by birth, Owuor’s strange encounter with the Lord, however seems to be a source of concern to some people in Nigeria. Though some select church leaders were said to have participated in one of his programmes in Kenya which reportedly attracted thousands of people; the inability of the organisers of the March event to answer some of the questions on this man of God seems to have doused the enthusiasm that initially greeted his coming.

The big question the Pentecostal pastors are asking is: Who is his father in the Lord? That question seems to have trailed some other men of God in Nigeria. And it seems to us that the Pentecostal movement is always armed with such question to get to the roots of any minister of the gospel. When the question was not producing the desired response, the leadership of the PFN in Lagos tactically withdrew its initial support waiting for the nod of higher authority in the Pentecostal body.

Perhaps Repent Now Nigeria would have just had their programme without seeking for the endorsement of the PFN. Perhaps they would have gone through the Christian Association of Nigeria which is all encompassing and all embracing. Perhaps they would have just taken up the challenge of the crusade and go all out, daring all odds.

But the truth is that they never expected a last minute ditch having navigated their way through some carefully selected men of God to get the PFN endorsement. They did not consider the strong prejudice in the church before embarking on such grandiose project. They took it for granted that the church is liberal and would welcome any offering especially coming from a foreign land.

The issue however is not with the acceptance or non-acceptance of Owuor. Despite the fact that Owuor presents an intimidating credentials in both the spiritual and secular world it was difficult for him to be accepted by some in the Pentecostal circle. And the issue for many is that the man’s beard is suspect.

The question of his uncontrollably long and weird looking beard gave birth to other questions. Perhaps if Owuor had kept a clean shave he would have been welcomed even if he was not genuine. If he had maintained a neat look by the Nigerian standard, nobody would have had cause to begin to probe into his background. They would have been satisfied with the powerful messages coming from him and the fact that the Lord uses him to perform a lot of miraculous feat around the world.

His beard gave him away as one of “them”.  His beard sends a supposedly wrong signal. His beard brought confusion to the minds of many. Many could not come to terms with the goatee, which according to report had remained untouched for years. The man of God was said to have told the people who went to Kenya that he made a covenant with God not to touch the stubble as long as the Lord uses him. Though those who had met him in close contact explained that the bushy hair on his chin does not look as rough as it appears in the picture, Owuor has remained a hard sell for some Pentecostals..

It is however important to come to the question of the beard and our sense of discernment. It seems that our parameter for judging if a man is genuine or not is faulty. Though official sources in the PFN indicated that the inability to have a grasp of Owuor’s background was the cause of his non-acceptance, the major bone of contention was the man’s beard. Beyond the beard they perhaps would have welcomed him if he is tied to a known name in the gospel circle. But Owuor had none of this.

The lesson in the Owour case however is the poor sense of discernment that is ravaging the church. We seem to only walk by sight. So, many pastors who have succeeded in packaging a clean and attractive look often get celebrated while the obviously rough looking are viewed from the distance. Does that sound like a right way of judging if a man is genuine or fake? That is the question that may have to be grappled with for a long time.

It is however good that the PFN did not allow itself to be submerged in needless controversy. But the body perhaps next time will check thoroughly before engaging in collaboration with another body. The organisers on the other hand should not see the volte face of the PFN as an affront and dereliction but must in good spirit understand the emotion tied to issues like this.

These are indeed trying times for the church. It may just be in the line of Jesus’ admonition to watch and pray.  By the time Owuor comes from March 11 to 13 to Lagos, it is hoped that the doubting Thomases would have a rethink and avail themselves of the blessings that would come with the programme.

 

 

 

he question that may have to be grappled with for a long time.

It is however good that the PFN did not allow itself to be submerged in needless controversy. But the body perhaps next time will check thoroughly before engaging in collaboration with another body. The organisers on the other hand should not see the volte face of the PFN as an affront and dereliction but must in good spirit understand the emotion tied to issues like this.

These are indeed trying times for the church. It may just be in the line of Jesus’ admonition to watch and pray.  By the time Owuor comes from March 11 to 13 to Lagos, it is hoped that the doubting Thomases would have a rethink and avail themselves of the blessings that would come with the programme.

 

 

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