A former National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, says most people who claim to be pastors or men of God are not, as they were not called by God in the first place.

Oritsejafor expressed displeasure over how ‘these men of God’ have now turned the church into a business centre and living flamboyant lives, stating that the development was the reason kidnappers now see the church as a place to make money.

In a recent chat with the Punch, the outgoing President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said, “The problem we have in the church is that a lot of these pastors are not men of God as they were not called.

“They are mercenaries, commercially minded people. The duty of the church is to preach morality not materialism and because Nigerians are very gullible; they are easy victims of deceit.

They fall prey to some of these pastors or prophets of doom. The way they live gives a wrong impression of what should be in a church of God. There should be no room for material possessions.

“I am not saying a man of God should not live a life of comfort but it should be a life of good comfort; that is why kidnapping is now a common thing even in the church.

“It is unfortunate that we are having this kind of problem because most places of religious gathering, particularly of the Christian faith, are seemingly reducing their faith to commercials. So many people think they have money and most of them live a flamboyant lifestyle.

“As such, the kidnappers mistake them for money men but there is nothing there. The kidnappers would be kept at bay if they stopped preaching prosperity and allowing dirty money to go into the church coffers.

I also think the church is losing its moral values. The values are disappearing gradually.

“We should preach values and not materialism. I think the churches themselves should look inwards and correct the poor impression they are giving people outside that there is money in the church, whereas there is none,” he stated.

On his opinion on the Kaduna State bill against public preaching, Oritsejafor said Governor Nasir el-Rufai had seemingly taken the wrong step.

Oristejafor said, “He should call a meeting of all the stakeholders in that state with respect to religious activities before rushing to the state Assembly for any bill. Be that as it may, we have to be very careful if there is any bill intended to wear religious colouration.

“When Sharia was introduced into this country we were lucky to have a Christian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who tamed it. Nigeria would have been engulfed by the conflagration. Sharia would have been misunderstood.

“There are already enough laws in the statue book that take care of what Governor El-Rufai has in mind. I have no objection if he wants to curb noise pollution in the name of religion. I quite agree if this is the basis.

But in a situation where it is meant to tackle extremism, libel, sedition, incitement and more, there are enough laws in our statute book for this. Doing otherwise is not good for him.

“I have tremendous respect for him for he was the person bold enough to say that there should be no more street begging. Yes, that was a sensible thing because even in the Islamic countries such is not allowed,” the pastor stated.

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