According to Independent News paper, Last Sunday during the ‘Freedom Service with King Sunny Ade’ at Throne Of Grace (TOG), National headquarters of The Redeemed Christian Church Of God (RCCG), Ebute Metta, Lagos; the Revered cleric and General Overseer of RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, granted an interview to INDEPENDENT’s Chinyere Abiaziem, through his Assistant on Admin/Personnel, Pastor Funsho Odeshola on the much ado about church heads owning private jets, the likening of RCCG parishes to business centres and the controversy surrounding tithe payment. Excerpts:
Looks like the month of October for TOG was much about celebrating freedom?
October is the month of Nigerians’ freedom and for us as a church here at TOG. What we have been talking about from the beginning of the month was freedom- freedom from pressure, freedom from poverty, freedom from crises etc. So to cap it up, we chose to speak about freedom, pray about freedom and celebrate freedom in the service. God being a God of freedom we believe that whatever we ask him, he has done it. So by faith we are celebrating what he has not done and what we have already received. That is why we asked King Sunny Ade to come celebrate with us; incidentally he is a member of RCCG. He gave his life to Christ in this church, he is still here and we are still working on him and he is doing the adjustments he could do by the grace of God.
How can Nigerians be truly free even in the face of the leaders allegedly oppressing the masses?
I would not totally agree with the view that leaders oppress the followers. The question someone asked me few days ago was that how do you lead your leaders? You lead your leader by leading yourself first. Every citizen should be good, mindful of others, do not cheat others or take advantage of others. I know it is hard because corruption in Nigeria is endemic and systemic, but there is a catchment area of influence, you can start from the family. Everyone should strive to have freedom from sin, freedom to be able to live within your means, no competition with others. Unfortunately people are more competitive today.
I look at what they are talking about some men of God who have aircrafts, and I look at about 45 they packed here in Lagos by some people who graduated maybe 10 years ago. Some of which are in the House of Assembly, some of them have oil blocks, with nobody querying them but they are talking about two, three or four men of God who have aircrafts.
It is just like what they were saying on what the church is doing about this and that. I said the church’s primary aim is to call people into the kingdom, if we do any CSR it is just additional, it is not our primary aim that is the work of the government that is why we pay tax that is why they do all kinds of things. The same thing, we need to lead ourselves, we need to be sure that we would strive to obtain freedom and the way to do it is to give your life to Christ, live within your means and be mindful of others. This freedom we are talking about would come first within our spirits because freedom starts from the heart. It is just like the story I read few month ago, somebody who has a poverty mentality, they got money and gave them money, I mean they say a rich man is our problem, they got the wealth of the rich man, they shared it and they became poorer and the rich man became richer and they got the same, so this question of freedom has to start from the heart, off to the head before it can come to actual performance, but for us as Christians, freedom can only be obtained by Christ, that is when other things follow, once we are set free by Jesus, then breakthrough can follow because the spirit of God blesses you and then instruct you on what would work and what would not work and that is why we are different from other people and for the government, we can only pray for them, advice them and the people who are around them.
Some observers think it is not in place for clerics to own private jets. What is your view on this?
They have asked me this question severally but I have not answered. Let me take time to answer this. It depends on what that man of God is doing, somebody who has a global ministry, who needs to travel almost every week, why not? So as for me, people of God who have a global ministry having an air craft, nobody has neither moral nor biblical justification for them not to own an air craft, it is just a means of transport just like a car, so why would they not have an instrument that would help them do the work? I do not know where they got this mentality from that when you are going to Kano you should ride a bicycle; I do not know where they got it from. They do not ask people who are senators who have two aircrafts. They do not ask about the governor who is just there when they are finishing the first term, going for second term, where are they going? So it is not morally wrong nor biblically wrong, it is also not ethically wrong for them in the global ministry to have an air craft.
The vision of the General Overseer in terms of planting churches within five minutes walking distance in every city and town of developing countries and within five minutes driving distance in every city and town of developed countries has been faulted by some individuals including Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie and Lawyer Femi Falana. What’s the church’s response?
Regarding saying RCCG is like a business centre, my take on this is the fact that for people’s hearts to change, they have to be exposed to knowledge. RCCG is not a business centre; our vision is to get people to change their life styles and change the society. Number one vision is to make it to heaven, carry as many people as possible and make holiness our watch word because there is no way that you are holy and think of evil and get involved in corruption. There is no way you would be holy and take up arms and be a robber and until you are enlightened. The purpose of the RCCG is to keep taking the light into the world. The bible says ‘No one lighted a candle and put it under a bushel.’ The Bible also says that salt is good for nothing until it is applied to make things sweet.’ I am not sure those people have the knowledge about Jesus saying ‘Go yea into the world and preach the gospel unto every creature.’ He said we will be his witness starting from Judea, Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth. The Redeemed Christian Church of God is not a business centre, we are light carriers and light bearer.
There has been an argument back and forth regarding tithe payment as some believe tithe should not be paid since some church leaders allegedly live flamboyantly off the members’. How do you see this?
The thing is that there are many who inverted the word of God and are saying things they do not know. God commanded us to bring tithes and offerings. Even when people do not pay what they are supposed to pay the work of God would not suffer. Somebody came to church and said why do we need to pay tithes? The chair they sat on the first time they came they are not the ones that bought it. They are not the ones that likewise built or bought the church building. I think those people who said they should not pay tithe they are misinformed and do not have knowledge of the Bible and if they know the Bible they have twisted it in an inverted manner.