The role of the Church in Nigeria (2)- THE ALDER STATE OF CHURCH REPORT

However something major took place in the early 80s. A then unknown medical student at the University of Lagos was ordained a Pastor by the Assemblies of God Church. This was an extremely radical event for that period. His name is Dr. Tunde Joda of the Christ Chapel fame. He was a product and proponent of the Faith Movement and was highly influenced by the ministries of Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin and Kenneth Copeland and other generals of the Faith Movement. He opened the door for his generation and made God exciting to young people. That was a generational advent and invariably members of that generation became pastors.

alder-1Because of the educational background of the generation, the Pentecostal movement acquired sophistication. The emergent pastors are generally creative in approach, aggressive, uninhibited, resourceful, and well-grounded in progressive understanding of God’s word. Many emerged through the “model parish” structure of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. Dr. Tony Rapu would prove pivotal to that structure though there is evidence to the effect that Pastor Tunde Bakare was the pioneer of the first model parish of the RCCG (Ladipo Oluwole). That was before he went on to found the Latter Rain Assembly. But Tony Rapu did incredible work and took Redeemed Christian Church of God international.

Reverend Chris Okotie would emerge post Dr. Tunde Joda as an apostle of the doctrine of grace. In Ibadan, Dr. Olubi Johnson was establishing the faith movement, whilst in Ilorin the ministry of Rev. George Adegboye was also very established.

Some in that generation are now in full time ministry but many maintain a dualism – they work as professional managers and entrepreneurs whilst running the churches on a full term basis. (Some are in government). And so we arrived at a literal prophetic era in Nigeria church history – the era of the order of priest-kings technically known as the Order of Melchizedek. All Christians belong to this Order but these young pastors in dual callings typify the Order. Most are successful in their secular callings and it would be uncharitable to assume that they went into ministry for money. Most do not collect salaries from their churches. Instead they contribute.

These emergent pastors signified a generational move of God. The generation is noted for “speaking in tongues” – a peculiar glossolalia dating back to Pentecost. They are thus referred to as “Pentecostals”. (In modern parlance, the term “Pentecostal” has come to signify exuberant loud worship and gifted oratory). They redefined what a man of God is and till today, the redefinition presents a challenge to society. So aggressive are members of this Pentecostal movement that in a strange twist of fate, they exported Christianity back to the UK. And they have established churches in Ukraine, Ireland, America and all over the world. Nigeria as a nation has no social security system. The absence of safety nets is why individuals take care of the economic needs of their parents in old age. This familial approach to social security leaves huge swaths of needy citizens unattended to. Into this void has stepped the Church. The Church complements the efforts of some State governments who clearly cannot cope with the deluge of developmental challenges facing Nigeria. And the Pentecostal generation has acquitted itself wonderfully at this task.

(To be concluded)

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