‘Increasing spate of divorce among Christians embarrassing’- Pastor Sola Adebawo

The Senior Pastor of Total Gospel Bible Church, House of Goshen Parish, Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, Pastor Sola Adebawo, is a widely-travelled conference speaker, who makes appearances on international radio and television shows. In this interview with CHARLES OKONJI, he explains some salient issues in the body of Christ.
What kind of church is the House of Goshen?
House of Goshen is a parish of the Total Gospel Bible Church Incorporated with Headquarters in Akoka-Yaba, Lagos, under the leadership of Rev. Sunday Daniel Akingbelure and Pastor Bukky Akingbelure as General Overseers; and Dr. Yomi Oduwole and Pastor Tessy Oduwole as Deputy General Overseers. We are a fast growing multicultural Pentecostal church on the Lekki Peninsula in the bustling city of Lagos, Nigeria. Ours is a warm congregation of friendly people with a wholesome atmosphere ideal for family worship.
The church provides regular servings of rich courses of spiritual victuals, including profound life transforming teachings from the Bible, electrifying and soul lifting worship, battle-conquering and miracle-inducing prayers, divinely inspired counselling, creative platforms for spiritual development and discipleship plus an ever-available opportunity for service and sacrifice.
Our church is a veritable place for steady and stable spiritual growth, functional knowledge and deep understanding of God and His Word. We provide awesome platforms for personal expressions and destiny actualisation. At the House of Goshen, everybody is somebody. Our vision is to be a major reference for Christ-centred leadership and also a centre of spiritual, ethical, social, economic, cultural and political influence in Lagos State, Nigeria and the World, by positively affecting our immediate environment with the Total Gospel of Christ.
To achieve this, we have a mission to raise a prosperous people with positive influence in all spheres of life, through the transforming power of the Word of God, effectual fervent prayer, and soul winning, by the preaching of the Total Gospel and practical-impact-based Christianity.

You are a staff of Chevron and equally a pastor. How do you cope with your ministerial work and the secular job?
I have been asked this question at many fora, both locally and internationally. My first response is a re-echo of Apostle Paul’s declaration, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” While I cannot lay claim to any conceptual formula for multi-tasking, what I can say is that the Lord always sustains whatever He ordains. When God commissions you on any assignment, He provides all you need to deliver on it. This includes environmental and climatic provisions; wisdom, grace, people and other resources to work with. He understands your life’s commitments and He mobilizes the factors of life to aid the assignment. Don’t forget, the scriptures say “… all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”
The purpose of life is a major driver for the distribution of life’s investments. Atop the pyramid of life is attention to God, then family, then career, and afterwards comes everything else. Each person must determine the order of importance in his or her life. For me, I would be nothing without God! So it makes sense to give Him priority attention and then allow Him position everything else in my life in their due order.
The creed for bi-vocational ministers like me is to understand that everything has its place and to give everything its due place. I have observed that the trend of my spiritual commitment and performance at work moves in the same direction. In other words, when I’m spiritually compliant, my professional performance grows and vice versa. Therefore, I have understood the strong influence of my spirituality in my career. The Bible says, “The root bears the stem and not the other way round.”  My spirituality is the root of my career success. If I want to continue to perform exceptionally at my secular career, I necessarily must ensure to nourish my spirituality. It is the definition of who I am.

Some people have said that Nigeria is witnessing high rate of crime in spite proliferation of churches in Nigeria. As a pastor, do you think the gospel is having much impact on the lives of the people?
I agree that the rate of crime in Nigeria is increasing at a disturbing rate. But it will be inappropriate to attribute this to seeming ineffectiveness of the gospel. You can argue that the sole factor influencing the peace in any country is the gospel. While this will be true in part, it will not be a valid argument in whole, particularly, since you have countries like Switzerland with very lax regulations on all moral subjects and cannot be strictly called religious; yet hasn’t fought a war in centuries! I would rather posit that the gospel is a strong factor for generating peace in any society. What is critical is what people do with the ethical principles, which the gospel of Christ proposes.
We must not forget that the responsibility for maintenance of law and order is reposed in the government of the country. We have entrusted the leaders of our country with the duty of protecting citizens. This is the way it is in every society, whether religious or not. When leadership begins to fail, we look around for whom to blame. The moral crisis we witness in our country today is the result of years of ethical permissiveness and degenerative lowering of the standards of personal characters. The Bible asks a very valid question, “can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes will not be burned?” Can anyone walk on live coals not reasonably expect his feet to be bruised?
The gospel has grown in this country in an atmosphere of hostility and social antagonism. Every moral and ethical suggestion we have presented had been ridiculed as religious bigotry or social retrogression. Yet, we forged ahead proving consistently by the testimonies of our own lives that the gospel of Christ has the power to transform lives and build character.
We cannot take out of life what we did not invest into it. Our society has discouraged young people from attending church services early in their lives, only to allow them do so as adult criminal prison inmates! People who commit crimes as adults are those who have rejected moral instructions as younger persons. Character is formed over time. The gospel recommends that we guard our thoughts, because they form our habits, which form our behaviour, which form our character, and determines our destiny.

Another worrisome issue is divorce, which is even rampart among Christian marriages. How do you explain this phenomenon from the context of the scripture?
God forbids divorce! This expresses the mind of God very articulately on this subject. Divorce is not of God. As a matter of fact, God says, in the Bible, “…I hate divorce….” The increasing spate of divorce among Christians is not only worrisome, but embarrassing. It is a reflection of how much the church is being influenced by the environment. The symbiotic influence of church and society is a reality no Christian should gainsay. Whether this is desirable is another question. But as a chosen generation, peculiar people, a called-out people, we must understand the need for us to bear the standards of God for our society and not allow our lives to be soiled by the grease of corruption that has covered our world.
Divorce is the sign of growing weaknesses within the moral fabrics of the Christian church. We must return to the teaching of the fundamental principles of God’s word on marriage. We shouldn’t allow the influence of the New Age philosophy to redefine our faith. The foundation of God stands sure, and the word of God cannot be altered to suit a growing libertarian theology!

Boko Haram has caused a lot of havoc in this country, particularly in the northern region. Following the death of many Christians and churches burnt, some people are calling on Christians to retaliate. What is your view on this?
It is a painful situation that we have on our hands. But we cannot forget who we are. This is not the first time that Christianity has been attacked in human history and, of course, in our country Nigeria. But no attack, bombings or murders can kill the spirit of God inside us. Every drop of blood of a Christian spilled will wet the ground to germinate the seeds of the gospel in our land. We do not need to retaliate. We serve a God of peace. Vengeance belongs to God.

As a Christian leader and concerned Nigerian, what advice would you give to the government on how to tackle the menace of Boko Haram?
I will address Nigerian Christians first. All Christians should rise up in consolidated actions against this assault of evil. First, we should raise platforms of prayer and support for Christians who have lost relations, churches and fellowships in the attack. Also, we must put increasing pressure on the leaders of our land to ensure the unwarranted attacks on Christian places of worship cease. Also, all people of all faiths should speak up against this evil. We must come together very strongly at this time as a nation, irrespective of faith and religion, to fight against this evil that’s targeting the very root of our existence as a nation.
The government needs to address the issues from a multi-faceted approach – political, economic, social, and of course spiritual angles. Our experience is typical of nations who forget their God. When the leadership of Israel sinned in the Bible, it is the nation that got afflicted. We need national repentance to be led by the leaders of our country. This will bring the hands of God down into our situation.

Some pastors like Pastor W.F. Kumuyi of Deeper Life Bible Church and Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, among others, left their secular jobs and went into full-time ministering. Do you have such plan?
The days of life are a gift to men. The value of life is not in duration, but in donation. “Cast your bread upon the waters”, the Bible says, “and after many days you shall find it”. My life is donated to the one who made it. Like the clay, I am in the hands of the Potter to do with me as He pleases. My only prayer is that whatever He does with me, He should ensure I make Heaven at last, with my wife and children! I cannot talk about a plan outside God’s purpose. God’s purpose is the plan.

What do you think tithes and offerings are meant for in the house of God?
Tithes and offerings are meant for deployment in God’s service as the Levite is led by the Lord. The concept of tithe was created by God to ensure his full-time ministers have provisions to meet their own needs. Offerings are freewill donations meant to develop the church. But tithes are specific, 10 per cent of profits, designed to meet the need of the ministers. It is different from offerings. By Levitical ordinances, Levites (full-time ministers by today’s interpretation) are to live on tithes so as to allow them concentrate on caring for God’s flock rather than running around seeking means to meet their personal or family needs. This is the order of the Bible. It is not a matter of personal opinion. I pay tithe, and I do not draw regular financial benefits from the church, since I have a day job. But my full-time church employees get paid from the tithes that come into the church. That’s the way the Bible proposes it to be.

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