The last may not have been heard of the roof-topped then downed $65 million Evangelist Creflo Dollar’s donation campaign. A campaign that has continued to leave many, Christians and the unbelieving world totally aghast.
Now, let us take a peep at the pricey flying toy on the spot. “The Gulfstream G650”, according to Wikipedia, “was formally launched as an internal company project in May 2005, and publicly unveiled on March 13, 2008. At the public announcement occasion, company executives stated the new model would become Gulfstream’s largest, fastest and most expensive business jet on entry to the market.
The aircraft project was named the 2014 winner of the Collier Trophy, for having “strengthened business aviation through significant technological advancements in aircraft performance, cabin comfort, and safety.”
Now, which blooded human would not want that- anointed or not? So on a fateful day, Creflo Dollar got led or “led” to desire this beautiful toy to enable easy, safer, and faster movement all for the sake of the gospel. His campaign managers say,
“The ministry’s current airplane was built in 1984, purchased by the ministry in 1999 and has since logged four million miles. Recently on an overseas trip to a global conference, one of the engines failed. By the grace of God, the expert pilot, who’s flown with Creflo for almost 20 years, landed the plane safely without injury or harm to any passengers.”
The Gulf G650 Jet will “allow him to safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide in a way that commercial aircrafts no doubt just couldn’t”
“The mission of Project G650 is to acquire a Gulfstream G650 airplane so that Pastors Creflo and Taffi (his wife) and World Changers Church International can continue to blanket the globe with the Gospel of grace. We are believing for 200,000 people to give contributions of 300 US dollars or more to turn this dream into a reality—and allow us to retire the aircraft that served us well for many years.”
Why this particulare jet? Why not another, less EXORBITANT in cost and still very safe, fast, effective for the cause of the ministry?
Now what is the equivalent of $65 million (minus the yearly maintenance const of $4 million) in other currencies and what can it do?
$65 million in Nigerian Naira is currently a whooping some of N13 billion (thirteen billion naira ONLY), about 7.9 billion Japanese Yen, and 4.09 billion Indian rupees.
With 13 billion Nigerian Naira, over 26 million complete bibles can be bought and distributed world wide; over 200 million tracts can be printed and distributed world wide over a period of six months; the lives of millions of displaced victims of religious extremism especially in Asia, Europe, and Africa can be turned around for God with a few safe haven to lay their traumatized heads, warm soup in the bellies, small heath centres, evangelical radio or TV stations can be established, and modest worship tents for them to know more about Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (New American Standard Bible) says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
Though we may have the liberty to do what we may, perhaps because we can afford it all the times (afford it, borrow it, beg (ask!) for it), Wisdom, Love, and Prudence may say No some of the times.
A budding Nigerian gospel singer once sang “…in your presence anything goes…”. That is an incoherent nonsense. No nonsense goes in God’s AWESOME presence. Ask the Israelites of old.
We must eschew that strong urge to live in the realm of insensitivity. Of complacency. Of ME and ALL ABOUT ME and Mine alone. WE must try to remain true to our first love, denial for the sake of love, and focused. May God help me too. Amen.
By the way, while I do not begrudge diligent servants of God their GOD-GIVEN privileges, lets us all remember that the Lord Jesus Christ could have had an 8-wheel chariot (earthly and heavenly ) ride Him into Jerusalem but chose a lowly, unheard-of, naïve donkey.
Who do we emulate and crave after?
Below are just few reactions from the jet brouhaha. I seek not to cast further pain and disrespect to the person and ministry of Evangelist Creflo Dollar, who I respect deeply and would someday love to meet, I seek only to emphasis the need for us all, especially leaders of the gospel to take heed before every private and public action lest we cause weak believers to fall away from the faith and possibly block few others from coming in. A soul lost is more than a 1,000 trillion pounds sterling lost in God’s presence.
Here are some of the reactions from two Christian writers, among several others:
Lee Grady, writing for Charisma says, “A few people dug into their wallets to send Dollar the needed cash. The rest of us started feeling sick to our stomachs. By this week, after the blogosphere blew up with angry reactions to Dollar’s outlandish proposal, his public relations firm announced that “Project G650” had been placed on hold. Dollar reluctantly caved to public pressure and decided that, for now at least, he will have to be content to either charter a private jet or—heaven forbid—fly first-class on a commercial plane”.
The more succinct of the comments are Dr. Michael Brown’s “five top reasons why I (he) would never give Creflo Dollar money for a private jet:
- Private jets are a foolish use of donor funds. The Bible calls us to be good stewards of God’s resources. Private aircraft cost an exorbitant amount of money compared to commercial flights because the owners must provide service and upkeep on the vehicles. If a preacher insists on renting a private jet, the cost to fly from Fort Lauderdale to New York would be in the ballpark of $59,000, compared to a $652 ticket on a commercial plane. People who own private jets spend as much as $4 million a year just on maintenance.
- Ministers shouldn’t use donors to boost their egos. So why would any preacher need his own plane? They can give you a litany of reasons: Time saved, hassle-free travel, no worries about lost luggage. But the real reason is obvious: It makes them look good. It’s all about image. It reveals a pride problem. And the Bible says: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6b). If someone needs to fly to the most remote village of Borneo, and there are no commercial planes, then I can understand the need for a private plane. But Rev. Dollar is not going to Borneo. Usually he is flying to his satellite church in Brooklyn, New York. (Delta has a round-trip ticket for $337 from Atlanta.)
- Ministers who demand luxury deny the core of the gospel. Rev. Dollar has been known to twist the gospel in the past, proposing that Jesus was independently wealthy. Dollar invented this gospel to make it easier to build a case for his own wealth. But the prosperity gospel has become a hollow message in our generation. We are confronted every day by the reality of poverty and suffering in our world, and we know that true followers of Christ are called to give and share, not take and hoard. We also know that a preacher who gets rich off of the offerings of poor people is involved in exploitation.
- The world doesn’t need a message of greed. The prosperity gospel was popular during the 1980s, when many Christians in the United States were riding the wave of American capitalism. But most of the get-rich preachers of that era either landed in jail or fell morally, and we reaped a whirlwind of bad fruit. We were supposed to learn a lesson from that failed experiment. God blesses us not so we can become selfish consumers but so we can become selfless channels of His blessings to others.
- Jesus rode a donkey. When the Son of God was about to be presented to the city of Jerusalem as the promised Messiah, He didn’t raise money to buy a gold chariot drawn by Caesar’s best horses. He rode on the back of a rented donkey, the transportation of a poor man. He didn’t require a first-class seat or a luxury vehicle.
Jesus humbled himself. He lowered the bar and invited all of us—especially those who call themselves ministers of the gospel—to model servanthood.
“I’m all for generous giving, and I’m all for taking care of ministers of the gospel, but I will not be sending Creflo Dollar $300 to help him buy a $65 million jet for his ministry. The very thought of it is obscene,” Dr. Michael Brown concludes”.
May God help us all. May He continue to keep His servants safe, informed, true to the gospel he has entrusted into their hands.
Let no one rejoice or dwell in the destructible castle of sarcasm. Creflo Dollar might have made a not-so-cute decision now, he still remains a weapon of mass destruction in God’s hand. Let’s all take heed of the banana peels all about us lest our fall be heavier- May God forbid such.
1 Corinthinas 10: 11-13 says: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it”.