By Adekunle Adewunmi
A 3-day Capacity Building workshop on Christianity and Corruption organized by Priests Peace Justice Initiative (PPJ), sponsored by MacArthur Foundation will for a long time resonate in the lives of participants.
The #SHUNCORRUPTION PROJECT was designed to sensitize church leaders on the need to eschew corruption. The General Overseer of Palace of Priests Assemble (PPA), the church that gave birth to PPJ, Pastor (Dr.) Otive Igbuzor said at the opening ceremony of the three-day event that PPJ is part of the divine vision from God for Palace of Priests Assembly.
The vision according to him places emphasis on how the church should play a role in ensuring democratic governance, peace and stability of society. “The vision of PPJ is a world of prosperity and social justice backed with the mission to act as catalysts to empower citizens, so as to reign as Priests and work for peace and social justice.”
He expressed worries about some practices in the church and public perception of the church noting that there is so much emphasis on material prosperity and individualism; which made the social dimension of the church decrease immensely. This he noted, has led to the faulty public perception today. “Church in many instances is only interested in prosperity and not concerned about issues of development in the society.” He said.
At the workshop the wrong perception of people to kingdom work and the need to redirect the church to true nation building came to the fore. It was agreed that spirituality is not enough but a major advantage for us to rule the world because it’s only when the righteous rule that the people rejoice as such, the rejoicing of this nation lies in the qualitative participation of a large number of Christians in the political process.
On the first day of the event, the Assistant G. O, (Dr.) Mrs. Ejiro Igbuzor did an expose on Christianity and Leadership while the Programme Director of PPJ, Tive Denedo did justice to the topic Christianity and the fight against corruption. This ended with a group work with more insight from all participants.
Mrs. Igbuzor had earlier made a clear distinction between leadership by compulsion and leadership by influence, saying the former is an epitome of a person in a leadership position which doesn’t conform with the attributes of a leader. Amongst other things, she explains that “a leader places value on people, rewards initiative, looks for political leaders and provides a safe environment where people asks questions, share ideas and take risks. But, a person in leadership position places high value on position, feels uncomfortable when others take initiative, looks for followers, and takes it personal when questioned by followers.”
She asserts further that a leader is one who knows the road, who can keep ahead and pull others after him. She stressed on the virtue of “servant-leadership” for it is a major way to getting the Nigeria everyone clamours for.
Denedo in his paper however noted that like osmosis, corruption is taking over everybody including believers adding, “It is the lack lustre attitude to corruption that gave rise to a widespread saying that “if you can’t beat them then, join them”
Defining corruption, Denedo refers to James 4:17 which reads; “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” He then backed it up with 1 Timothy 6: 6 which also explained that godliness with contentment is great gain.
Christians were urged to uphold this great virtue in the tiniest group they may find themselves because it will surely go a long way in doing the magic. He reasoned that God’s visit to the Garden of Eden was an anti-corruption visit stressing that Christians should be involved in checkmating corruption and ensure it doesn’t stand.
Igbuzor had also emphasized the need for taming Corruption starting from the family unit. “It all starts when parents don’t encourage exams malpractices by not being party to those that pay for “special centers for their wards” she noted.
For Ademola Adeoye who took one of the sessions, “There won’t be any peace in Nigeria until there’s justice “We as the body of Christ need to understand that the gospel addresses the whole of man including all his social and political situations because the message of peace and justice is central to the message of salvation in Christ Jesus”.
Expressing displeasure at the church’s lack lustre attitude in fighting for social justice, Ademola said, “the church should be compassionate like the Saviour, Jesus Christ who made case for the downtrodden in the society and called to order the wicked political leaders and the suppliant religious establishment that aided and abetted the oppression of the poor and needy to order”.
He said the church needs to go beyond shouting against injustice from the pulpit to reaching out to the homeless, orphan, despised, abused, those suffering without legal aid, the oppressed and other less privileged people in town.
In his paper, Pastor Obiora Ochokwu noted that God is a political strategist who planted Moses in the palace to be raised by Egyptians so he could learn all their skills and secrets because He knew that His people didn’t have the capacity to train Moses for the task of leadership. On this basis he explained that Christians should be actively involved in politics following Jesus’ declaration after his resurrection that “All powers in heaven and on earth have been given to me” which he has also handed over to us to subdue the earth and trash the bankrupt dispositions of “our kingdom is not of this world”, “politics is a dirty game.”
He observed there is a need to prepare men that would man political offices in line with Exodus 18:21. – Able men, Men that fear God, Men of truth and men that hate covetousness.
For the church to effectively break the jinx Obiora observed it must consider five elements including security, Finance, Bureaucracy, International Diplomacy and the Media.
If these elements which he described as gates are given due consideration it will help enhance the place of the church in the political process.
The module on ‘Social Dimension of the Church was handled by Pastor Chris Akasio. It was a time for awakening the ministers to their primary duties to the society. Participants were told that loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is not just a duty to the Church but the society. He explained “one’s neighbor constitutes the destitute, indigents and other less privileged in the society whether close or far, whether saved or not”
He noted that there is a need for “Kingdom Agenda” not Christian or political agenda because according to him “the Kingdom addresses everything that has to do with the good works without tribalism or nepotism.”
Pastor Paulson while delivering his paper noted that politics is a dirty game adding however that Christians have a responsibility to clean it up. He said, “One way to share the good news is when we have power yet the Church boasts of having over 50% of the 180 million Nigerians and still lament like a beggar when all it needs to do is go and take over the helms of affairs.”
He stressed the need for every believer to vote in the coming elections noting that the decision not to vote is voting for the wrong candidate.
The three-day event came to an end with participants agreeing on the need for the church to form a synergy and also get involved in the political process. It was agreed that the church is the hope of the world and indeed the hope of Nigeria.