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Apostle Jesulere, his Pentecostal aluta and the Lagos PFN

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Apostle Jesulere, his Pentecostal aluta and the Lagos PFN

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 It is not unlikely that many people don’t know why the Pentecostals in Nigeria and indeed globally get the rough end of people’s tongues each time they notice an infraction from some of them. Not many people know why.

This is the reason some feel uncomfortable each time they are being bashed in the media. It is believed that what Pentecostals are accused of doing is worse in other denominations.

 That is the truth. There is nothing wrong among Pentecostals that is not also wrong among the traditional churches. The traditional churches are the progenitors of all the wrong vibes that people talk about today. And that is not because that was the nature of the church in its early stage.

 It is just that the human element has a way of interfering with spiritual truth thus causing the pollution we talk about.

The Bible, our constitution

 The good news is that we have a document called the Bible which we all can refer to when there are infractions by practitioners of the faith.

 That is what has been helping the church right from the time Martin Luther the reformer came up with the immortal revelation from the Bible that the just shall live by faith. From that time till now, the church has been evolving. Each time it derails, there is always a movement that comes in to check it using the Bible as its reference.

 Many of the denominations we have today were products of agitations. Some people feel uncomfortable with certain faith practices and they decide to start their own. Some of the denominations were however products of people’s stomachs and egos.

The Azusa revival

 But the Pentecostal movement did not start as an agitation as it were. It started from a revival programme in Azusa Street, in Los Angeles, US. That revival was like what happened on the day of Pentecostal when people came from all over the world to Jerusalem and they all experienced the outpouring of the holy spirit.

God used a black man called William Seymour to start the revival meeting on April 9, 1906. The revival continued till 1915 or thereabout. It was not long after that experience that some persons in Nigeria like the late founder of the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Prophet Moses Orimolade experienced what could also be termed an outpouring of God’s power. And then Apostle Ayodele Babalola in the 1930s.

 Those who experienced the revival of the early 19th century rode on its wave to bring sanity back to the church. Unfortunately, over time, many Pentecostals lost track of what transpired in Azusa. Unknown to many, the Azusa revival was more about the fruit of the spirit than the gifts of the spirit. That is an entire discourse for another day.

The Lagos PFN

 Many of those who embraced the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria starting in the 70s wanted a departure from what they termed as corruption in the Orthodox churches.

 Unfortunately, there is perhaps nothing that Pentecostals kicked against in the mainline churches that they are not doing and perhaps doing more.

 That brings me to the sad development in the Lagos chapter of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. An Apostle by the name Jesulere James, an acclaimed Pentecostal is towing an aluta line.

 James is the president of a seemingly innocuous body called, The Pentecostal Association of Nigeria and Diaspora. He is angry that there has not been a change of guard in the Lagos PFN since the demise of the chairman of the chapter, Bishop Olusola Ore.

 But he goes about the narrative in a rather unholy way with half-truths in between his presentation. He is alleging that the National President of PFN, Bishop Wale Oke is trying to impose the current Chairman of the Lagos PFN. Apostle Eyinnaya Okwuonu on the Lagos Pentecostals.

 He was quoted in Sahara Reporter as saying “Bishop Wale Oke is doing all things possible and impossible to ensure that Okwuonu is imposed on the Yorubas in Lagos State. Apostle Okwuonu has boasted to some people that nobody can remove him or else Lagos will burn”

He made several other allegations that border on impropriety. But the most disturbing part of his campaign is the Yoruba Versus Igbo dimension that he brought to it. It is most disturbing because one would not have thought people who claim to follow in the footsteps of Christ will toe the mundane tribal line in their relationship with people.

A campaign gone awry

 If it was on the premise of the need for a change of guard in the Lagos PFN that he based his campaign on, it would have been so nice. Everybody would have clapped for him and called the PFN to order. One would have asked, why keep an association in a static position when there are constitutional provisions for transition?

 But for Jesulere and his travelers, it is not just about the transition. It is about a perceived move by Igbos to entrench themselves in the Lagos PFN. He approached the issue from a rather disturbing tribal perspective, insinuating that Igbos are becoming egregious in the PFN.

 That to me is the sin in his campaign and he must be nipped in the bud if the PFN wants to save its face.

 The moment somebody begins to talk about Yoruba Christians and Igbo Christians, it is a red flag that such a person has just only been marking time in the church. It is indeed a sad commentary that a church leader will stoop to that level of tribal bigotry.

 And that is why many churches are formed along tribal lines. Promotions and preferment in some churches are also along tribal lines. Pray, when are we going to be free from this tribal suspicion and the undue trading of merit for tradition?

Bishop Ore’s passage and succession

When  Bishop Sola Ore, the then Chairman of the Lagos PFN passed on about three years ago, the Vice Chairman, Apostle Eyinnaya Okwuonu had to step in following the constitution. He completed the remaining two years left in their tenure.

 Naturally, there ought to have been an election or selection to fill in the position for a new term and perhaps a new chairman.

 But right from the death of Ore, there were agitations and subtle moves not to allow Okwuonu to step into the position because he is Igbo. Some elders in the fold had to step in, insisting that the constitution has to be followed. Reason prevailed.

 The remaining two years of that tenure came to an end sometime in July last year. But no (S)election has been done since. And this is because the agitators are still working in the background. After all, they feel Okwuonu, an Igbo man should not be allowed to step in.

 There is thus a stalemate. But such a stalemate can’t continue. The election or selection has to be done and the national body of the fellowship has to be bold about it.

 Whether Igbo, Hausa, or Yoruba gets the baton is no issue and it should never be an issue except we want to confirm to the world that we are not different from APC and PDP.

 In matters of the kingdom, there is nothing like Igbo. Hausa or Yoruba Christian. If that is not a settled matter we have no business proclaiming Christ.

 Apostle Paul had cause to warn the early church against such division stating there is neither Greek nor Jew, male or female when it comes to matters of the kingdom.

 That is the minus in the media outing of Apostle Jesulere. Making a public show of his tribal bigotry is the height of a lack of understanding of what it means to be part of the kingdom of God.

Not a campaign for Okwuonu

 And by the way, this is not campaigning for Okwuonu to retain the seat of the PFN chairman. If the leadership of the National PFN finds him qualified to continue, they should allow him.

 But if they are going to ask him to leave that seat based on his tribe, it will just mean that the PFN as a body is not different from PDP, or APC. And we have no moral right to condemn what transpires in the world.

 In the kingdom, we don’t see tribe, we see Christ.

By Gbenga Osinaike

 

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