National superintendent Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC) and Resident Pastor KICC, Maryland Lagos, Pastor Femi Faseru has called on religious leaders to adhere to the guidelines put in place by the government as they plan to resume religious gatherings.
Faseru who was a guest on Lagos Television (LTV) recently said religious leaders need to reflect on their operations of the past in order to review and make amendments where necessary.
“We have to reflect on what we have been doing and the significance of some of those things we have been doing. Of course where there was no COVID-19, you could open the church from morning and close in the night at anytime but right now we are dealing with a killer virus not one that is affecting just a state, a nation, a continent but one affecting continents of the world,” he said.
Faseru added that, “We have seen people who have died in large numbers; we want to give thanks to God because in as much as we have lost about 300 souls to this disease in Nigeria, I don’t want it to just be numbers because these are fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.
“I want to send my condolence to families involved. However, we want to thank the Lord that somehow God has helped us in Nigeria to still keep to the numbers that we have, it is not so in other places. I think that we ought to be cautious even as we want to go back to what we used to be,” he said.
Applauding the Lagos State government on the response so far, Faseru said, “I like to salute the Governor of Lagos State and the cabinet because they are so proactive and that is why we have seen the low number of cases we are having.
“We cannot just rush back into things, we should take out time, we should be cautious even as much as we want to return and have our congregations back. We have to be cautious, take a step back. If it is only one hour we have to do what we have to do based on the data that is available to the government that says that if we allow massive gathering, this virus will be transmitted easily and faster and beyond the figure we can manage that is why we have to be cautious,” he warned.
Talking about the government’s guidelines, Faseru said, “This post COVID-19 guidelines opposes everything that we want to do, for example a church has its doors opened to everybody from all manner of places, the last thing you want to do is to turn somebody back.
“The church is a place for the sick, when the sick comes in the Bible says we should pray for the sick and the prayer of faith will heal the sick but post COVID-19 guideline says if you check the temperature and it is high you should send the person back, the guideline also says you cannot be more than 500 in a particular service or 40 percent of the capacity, these guidelines are opposing what we stand for but this is like saying we don’t want more people in the church,” he said.
Faseru however advised spiritual leaders to be creative. “Now every spiritual leader has the opportunity to think about being creative. How can we be innovative, how can we still be sure we are not contributing to the spread of this virus, are we doing what we have been doing to solve problems in the society and the community?
“We are spiritual leaders, we are very sensitive to this subject, we are responsible and we must do everything to ensure safety of everyone that comes to the church. We need to know this COVID-19 very well even spiritually. Medically we are yet to know it very well, we don’t know it yet, so let us take in 40 percent, that is a good start, we also have the advantage of having multiple services, if you have 2,000 members the government is not saying you cannot have 2,000 people, but let them come in at different times in multiple services to ensue social distance so we can help our people to stay alive, we need living people to have a living church.”
Talking about his church, Faseru said KICC has embraced the guidelines set by the government. “In our church we have embraced the guidelines and we are getting ourselves ready to start gathering again within the guidelines of the government come Sunday 21st, he said.
On the age limit of those who can worship when churches resume operation, the cleric is not too happy some members would be left at home because of the guidelines.
“Definitely we are not depriving them of coming to worship their creator but we are depriving them from coming to fellowship with other brethren and in Christianity we don’t have the need of physical walls to worship our creator but there is need to fellowship together, that is the ability to care for one another show love to one another,” he said, adding that the internet church has its limitation.
“Preaching over the internet is limited, we are able to convey the message, the spiritual aspect of the message is being done but other things like discipleship are not being done. Some other things cannot be done when we have internet church but however, we are depriving these people from fellowshipping with the rest of the church.
“Some of our members that are over 65 are not happy, not with the guidelines but with the fact that they cannot resume with us, our teenagers are going to continue with zoom, our children church is going to continue zoom services too because it is important to know that the guidelines are not just slammed on the church, it is as a result of the data available to the world from WHO and other organisations that suggest that those who are below age one and 65 and above are vulnerable to the attack of the virus and we want to protect and preserve the lives of the citizens and that is what the government is doing but however may be the government should educate the people more, let the people know why, it is of the interest of the church and of course those having underlining health conditions are also advised not to gather, so there is the need to educate people more, so we need to understand why the government is putting down the guidelines,” he said.
On the readiness of KICC, Lagos, the Resident Pastor said the church is putting arrangements on place to be able to commence service within the guidelines of the government.
“The government has given the guidelines, all of us should sit back and plan with it in our different jurisdiction and get ready. Down in our own local church we have started to do some signs around our premises so that people keep social distances.
“We are already getting in our entrances tunnels such that when anybody is coming to worship, not just only taking their temperature, but they would go through the tunnel to sanitise the whole body before you enter the auditorium. Of course the auditorium would have been disinfected before the service.
“We should sit down and look trough the guidelines and execute the guidelines. We shouldn’t be rigid about the method of worship or the way we have been doing it before. It is not entrenched in the ordinances of our religion, it is something we have to do for a while until this thing is over, we want to encourage everyone to just let us work with what we have while we are trusting God for what we want,” he admonished.