Bishop (Dr.) Mark Omonze is a General in the Chaplain Corps where he serves as the GOC Western Region.He is also the presiding Bishop of All Grace Cathedral Church, Okota, Lagos. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, the cleric whose duty in the body of Christ is to raise sons for the kingdom of God talked extensively about the Church in Nigeria, the need to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and other national issues.
Can you tell us briefly about your ministry?
I am the presiding Bishop of All Grace Cathedral Church Incorporated my ministry spans beyond just church ministry, the work that God called me to do is to raise sons. By sons I mean those who have become matured by their faith. There are children of God and there are sons of God. When the Bible refers to sons in the New Testament, it is referring to those who have grown into maturity. Galatians chapter 4 talked about an heir when he is yet a child differs not from a servant but is under governors and tutors until he comes to sonship. If you look at the church of Christ, Christians are still like we are beggars even the rich. The way we live our lives make us look like we are not in control, we are not yet in charge of what happens to us like the Old Testament people, we even cry more than them. God called me and gave me the apostolic and the prophetic ministry primarily to raise believers by that I am called with a strong passion for teaching, training. My ministry is a ministry that is concerned with the responsibility of Christians. Generally of you look at the church today the church is weak because we blame the devil for everything, we bind the devil and ask God to move while we ourselves are not taking responsibilities. I believe in the gospel of responsibilities.
Where do we separate materialism from the church?
We are not supposed to separate materialism from the church. That is the reasons for sanctification spirit soul and body. The problem is the church started with the mentality of poverty. The devil fed us with that mentality and people equated godliness with poverty, we go through this pain endure this life and when we are done enduring the pains we go to heaven where the streets is paved with gold. Later the church began to see differently from the word of God so the healing revival started but the poverty remained until a time we didn’t see reason in taking medicine or seeing doctor anymore. We did not take note there is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God, not everyone has the faith for supernatural healing, so why don’t we administer the first aid so the person can stay alive until he can have the faith so to speak. So the church flung to the next extreme. Later the church began to see that we can prosper. There is nowhere the Bible says the gospel will be spread through evangelism. The word evangelism and witnessing are not same. To evangelize is an English word which means to announce, to witness means to give testimony like a court testimony that I saw it. The Bible says we should be witnesses, meaning I am supposed to show Jesus we have experienced. When you are a witness, you are a son and you produce evidence. Jesus was very wealthy, he had financial wealth because he had a treasurer called Judas. The day they poured 300 pound of perfume on him. The disciples wanted to get angry and he told them let her do it, the poor you have with you always. This means he wasn’t among the poor. People assumed Jesus was poor but how can a man be poor and always having 15,000, 20,000 people in his services? It wasn’t recorded he took offerings but offerings must be part of his meetings. He actually taught them to be paid. He said the labourers is worthy of his wages.
You have confirmed from scriptures that Jesus was rich. What can we say he was into?
The Bible told us people attended to his needs. He had people who sponsored his ministry and he who preach the gospel must live by the gospel. In the traditional customs of the Jews and the Arabians a story teller in the market tells stories and people drop money for him the same thing a preacher would also have people who would give him money after he is done preaching Jesus had people who gave after he ministered to them.
Many have said in our clime prosperity preachers are getting it wrong in area of taxing people. Have you seen this?
Yes people have said that. Prosperity ministers preach but it is not their hands that enter your pocket to bring out the money.
What if they have overwhelming control of words?
What control? You are servant of who you obey. You chose to obey anybody you chose to obey there are people who would give nothing no matter what you say. Those who give do because they believe in you and if you chose to believe in lies that is not anybody’s fault. If what he preaches is true, why should you condemn a man of God? Why God did chose a widow to feed Elijah? Why not a rich man? God said I have commanded a widow woman to feed you, when he got to her she pretended as if God didn’t tell her anything but Elijah placed a demand on her to make his food first but that demand fed her through the famine. The Bible says in Zechariah my gospel through prosperity shall be spread abroad. If God says it’s through prosperity it shall be spread who is man or nay preacher to challenge it. 3 John 2, if the word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit and if He spoke to the physical beloved then, He is also speaking to we spiritual beloved that above all things we should be rich above all things that we may prosper and be in health. God says in Isaiah He is the one that teaches us to prosper. Many Christians are suffering serious poverty. Prosperity is perfect will of God. Without prosperity the kingdom of God will not spread, evangelism will make no meaning if there is no money. Check the big churches today making the impact they are the not the poor churches. If you see a church that is very poor it cannot affect its locality. Unbelievers will never attach themselves to what is not successful. Abraham, Jacob Isaac, David were materially prosperous. The Bible says in the last days false brethren will appear and perverse the gospel. They will use these genuine principles to benefit themselves but the wheat and tares will grow together before the separation. Some truly have derailed all they are doing is feeding the people but are they genuine, are they preaching salvation, are they living by examples? The fakes have mingled but the teaching of the scriptures will help the believers to know the truth.
Are you confirming that CAN collected money during the 2015 elections?
I cannot confirm because I wasn’t there, I found the story sketch, I found it as a political gimmick, they needed to discredit the church because they know the church is actually the still the power behind whoever wants to become the president, whether a Muslim or a Christian, the person needs the support of the church. It has always the Christian votes that swings the votes, if that had not been could they not have picked anybody. Two time that particular party pitched two pastors of popular churches, why can’t they have picked their own cleric they know the vote of the Christian is significant. They went for a man from one of the largest denominations in the country and they themselves could not see it that the man who see you as a no body, a nonentity and an insect to be crushed at any time they went to form alliance with such a person.
Nobody cares about others who may have taken money too. They didn’t see anything in that it was a political attempt using the mouth is the so called Christians who signed contracts or has come into fellowship with them. Somebody who wanted a position and signed off his soul to get that post. I was very disappointed and I’m very sorry to say all due respect to CAN chairman of Lagos State, I don’t know him very well but the report I hear about him I appreciate him so well but there is what I don’t agree with in what he did. Everyone praised him when he challenged the political parties saying give us a Christian governor. Why do I disagree while everyone clapped this is because a muslin, a Hindu or a babalwo cannot government me a Christian so me asking them to give me a Christian means I am weak, they will give us one of them they will not give us someone among us. If democracy in Nigeria is genuine then it is the people that are in need of a leader that should be given the leader, so it was wrong for CAN to say give us a Christian governor, if they are the one giving us then our vote is irrelevant, if it is relevant CAN should have raised a Christian many can really vouch for, not one the other party will give us, they won’t give us something detrimental to themselves. It still shows that we are still not matured in our thinking. The real church will not ask to be given a candidate, the real church should produce their own candidate. We have children church that is teaching our children Samson and Delilah, they have mosques that teach their own children leadership. Not everybody in Islamic religion is violent and wicked, they have good people who are not violent, morality upright people selfless who will serve the community without stealing but we also know there is a large chunk both of so called Christian and Muslims so corrupt. The only way we can correct the matter is to produce people who are good. But the church is not united. Everyone is selfish. If every church protest about the churches shut down won’t the government stay back? If we protest those laws things will be rightly done. Not that we should protest the law guiding he environment, the law is good but the implementation is not right. To me a law like noise pollution should not infringe on my fundamental human right of free association. Today the law wants to tell us where churches can hold. It’s still part of what they are working on, that is evil. The fundamental right as recognized by international convention permits me to gather anywhere with my friends to clap and sing as long as I’m not disturbing anyone. People have parties everywhere are you going to legislate on where they can have birthday parties? If you are going to enforce a law it must be internationally accepted. The laws in Lagos State is just to generate revenue. Multiple taxation under the same government led by someone you call a Christian. People who are out to elk out a living rather than the government to make room for them it destroys their means of livelihood and create criminals. Security is not about having police everywhere, it is about removing the causes of crimes, if the man selling ogi is not disturbed from selling his ogi he will not result to crime. In a situation where you make him pay ten times what his ogi would have given him, where his relatives would have to go and steal to bail him out. Why do people result to kidnapping, crime has a source. In Nigeria everybody wants to exact authority without responsibility.
What is your take about the argument about CRK/IRK and Arabic studies in secondary schools?
Why are they leaving Arabic, why are they laving Arabic studies? Is Latin in the course, is Hebrew in the course we are Nigerians why are we learning Arabic, any which way this government has demonstrate its determination to islamise Nigeria I have a newspaper article where our current president before he became president that his passion is establishing sharia law in Nigeria he stated it clearly. He said it long before the election. Ever since he came there has been enough evidences that he is trying to sideline a certain people. Now states are coming up with environmental laws to arrest the churches for making noise on Sundays leaving the mosques that make noise everyday by 5am. There is no proper procedures in encoring these laws. Before you can say a church is causing position you must have at least got signatures of 300 members of the community, if that law want to be a correct law. Not that one person will just go and report a church for making nose. It is not a criminal offence to make noise but an offence against the community. The point is they don’t shut down mosques, club houses, vehicles that do advertisements or generators that make noise but they shut down churches. When they say someone who is our governor is a Christian allowing these things begging to ask questions. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian is a Christian, not every pastor is a Christian, we have infiltrators among us. They shot down churches, a law like that has several steps. The ministry of environment can’t just shut a church, their job is to have enough signatures from the community and after getting enough signatures they would then warn the church that your noise is disturbing the community it is above the comfort of the community before you can shut down a church.
The churches fought during the crusade when Islam wanted to forcefully take over everywhere, knights fought and these people took up swords, they bore cross on their chests, they killed a lot of people they shouldn’t think history cannot repeat itself. What we have in Nigeria is not law, a lot of them have agenda and they create the laws arbitrarily to suite themselves. They want to see who run churches, they won’t ask who runs babalawo shrines, I know they want to Islamize us, it is not done it is part of the gimmicks. Look at the herdsmen for instance. How many herdsmen have been arrested yet they are killing people anyhow but they are arresting people who say they want their own Biafra. The herdsmen that kill ruthlessly are free and rather than arrest them they want to make a law that will help them.
So what is the place of the church, is the church untied enough to address these things?
The thing is this, what has the church been saying all these years, the Islam would say it is the religion of peace. There are Muslim clerics who do not believe in the ISIS, book haram terrorism agenda but the point is this you have book haram in the name of Islam killing people and saying Allah is merciful. They claim there cannot be peace until Islam is totally enforces they claim there is no true place until Allah is declared totally. Why the Christian say there cannot be peace until Jesus can’t is totally declared lord? It boils down to the point that when they slap you on one cheek you turn the other, we preach it and preach it and we stop defending ourselves, we fail to see that Jesus said they should take up their cross, is it for decoration? The fight of faith is spiritual, there is time for everything under the sun there is time to fight, if Jesus already suffered and died for us as a lamb that was slaughtered, why are we still walking to be slaughtered? I do not advocate that Christians should go and fight but I am of the opinion that Christians should defend themselves and if that defense results to loss of life, good luck. The dead cannot praise God, the early church suffered it and it almost wipe out the church and the early church almost got wiped out. The Israelis did it in the world war but after that they learnt their lesson. The church also must realize in its doctrine. That is why we have to grow up unto sonship. We keep telling our members when it’s time to build they are the ones God will use, when it’s time to preach the gospel we tell them it is them God wants to use but when it’s time to fight we tell them God will fight for Himself. God is going to fight but he’s still going to use his and David were servants of God and warriors, we serve a God who changes not if He expects us to fight them he expects us to fight now, he has not changed. Someone says Jesus said if my kingdom is of this world my disciples would fight but that was before the kingdom came, Jesus died and his kingdom has come and he has disciples that can fight. At some point we have to fight to fight for our God, we have to defend ourselves, the Bible says he teaches our fingers to war…why God didn’t fight for the children of Israel? Even when he fought for them he still asked the soldiers to march in the days of Jehoshaphat. It is we that He will use to set the people free. Unfortunately when we have people out there they become selfish. Do I see them as Christians? No I see them as people who only go to church. How do you align with a man that tells you your father has no son, you keep quiet, when he tells you are an infidel only fit to be slaughtered, you keep quiet. It was a Christian governor that said CAN collected money, I am a member of CAN and I was aware that CAN kept telling the church to go out and vote their conscience. If CAN truly campaigned for a particular man and voted do you think we will be in this kind of predicament today? CAN did not at any time tell anybody to collect money and vote for somebody.