Clerics on Churches and social responsibility
It is said that government alone cannot shoulder the burden of development. Therefore, well-meaning corporate and individuals have also been urged to contribute their quotas for the betterment of society, welfare and well-being of all. How does the church understand CSR as a concept? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
‘It Is Our Heartbeat’
(Pastor Johnson Odesola, Assistant General Overseer, Admin/Personnel and Pastor-in-Charge of Region 1, The Redeemed Christian Church of God)
Apparently, it is the duty of government to provide amenities for the people, because it collects tax from them. It, therefore, behooves on government to cater for the people they have levied, as robbing them of basic needs would be tantamount to unfaithfulness on its part and shirking its responsibilities.
However, the church comes in to render support because of government’s failure in this wise. The government seems to be hiding under the saying that “the government cannot do it all alone.” Construction of good roads and provision of medical care, in terms of good hospitals, among others, are the people’s statutory rights, because they pay tax. Citizens do not pay tax to the church, but rather they pay to government.
The Redeemed Christian Church of God, despite government’s insidious attitude on this issue, has a solid programme that covers many areas of needs of the people, especially where we operate.
We have dug boreholes; provided books for schools, as well as renovated public toilets. We have even gone to the extent of providing police stations for convenience of members of the force. The Church also offers scholarships to students. RCCG has an elaborate programme, when it comes to giving back to the people or what is known as corporate social responsibilities in the various areas of our operations. The Church does not limit this to construction of roads and provision of amenities.
The Church also empowers members. For example, not long ago, one of the provinces in RCCG, organised an empowerment programme for members in demonstration of care for the people, perceived to be confronted with economic challenges. After assessing their needs, the Church paraded high profile human capacity development and empowerment professionals from the Bank of Industry (BOI), Fidelity Bank, capacity development and skills enhancement agencies to empower the members to be job creators. Every province in RCCG has robust corporate social responsibility programme as ordered by the General Overseer, worldwide, Pastor Adejare Adeboye because this is one of his heartbeats.
‘CSR Is Heart Of The Gospel’
(Rev. Dom Ofuya, Senior Pastor, Zonal Superintendent, Foursquare Gospel Church, Ajao Estate, Lagos)
Social responsibility is not out of the church’s purview. This is heart of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the world’s Saviour. It is all about giving to others. In John 3:16, God gave His Son, Jesus Christ, to the world. Jesus Christ “…went about doing good…” Acts 10:36. This is the core of His ministry to the world (Luke 4:18). He brought salvation to the lost, hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless. He restored hope and help like no other has done. Praise the Lord!
The church is established to continue the work Jesus Christ started and to walk in His footsteps. The church, by its very nature, is a people-centred institution and should naturally care for people in the community from where it draws its membership. Social responsibility must be done secretly and discreetly with love and compassion for others. Remember, “…Love your neighbour as yourself…” are the evergreen words of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ in Matt 19:19.
While encouraging churches and individual Christians to actively engage with their communities, it must be done with the rules of engagement set out in the Bible, not from any other source. By His Spirit, Christ instructs His church which area to demonstrate His love to the community. The rules of engagement with our community are set out by Jesus Christ in Matt. 6:1-4.
For example, giving to others for men to see how good you are is hypocrisy, not philanthropy. Hypocrisy is seriously anti-church ethics. Do not tell the whole world what you want to do. Do good to your community joyfully, because you are obeying God’s command.
In our church, we have undertaken many social responsibilities and interventions over the years. For instance, thousands have benefitted from our health programmes, managed by medical professionals, where consultation and free drugs were given to participants. We have also provided potable water for our immediate community. Some students enjoy a form of bursary to attend public primary to tertiary institutions.
We had at a time also embarked on road repairs and maintenance. The peculiarity of our immediate community road is such that we do not have the financial resource to fully effect necessary repairs and maintenance. In fact, the cost of road construction and repairs are very prohibitive for churches to embark upon. Such basic amenities as road construction can best be handled by government, which should wake up to its basic responsibility of meeting citizens’ basic needs, while the Church will continue to do its best for members and community according to its ability.
‘Churches Should Fix Roads Leading To Their Location’
(Bishop (Prof.) Iroelekanya Cyriacus Uwanaka, General Overseer, The Pentecostal Restoration Church, Mafoluku, Oshodi, Lagos)
I know that those who brought Christianity to us also brought social amenities alongside it. So, we don’t just preach Christ. There should also be development with the preaching of Christ. The Europeans that brought church also brought education, water, and almost every social need. So, I see no reason why a church should not take care of communities around it. A church must be thinking within and without. But if you go to some mega churches, you will be surprised that their roads are in terrible state. For instance, I went to one church in Satellite Town, the road was so bad I wondered how members could attend. When we were at Ijaiye Street, beside one canal, I knew what we did to transform the place. I don’t see why churches should be collecting money from members and won’t think of fixing roads leading to their place. I don’t believe we should just be preaching holiness, righteousness and at the end of the day, we just go home. We should also impact on lives. When I was PFN zonal chairman, I called some pastors together and appealed to them that we should buy sand and fill potholes around the community. But some of them said, ‘what are you talking about? Do you think we are government or what?’ Only a few of us agreed with my suggestion and started the work. We are supposed to give back to the society. In fact, the day we were sand filling the potholes at some of the bus stops with our apron on, some people who saw us cursed us, saying ‘these people have taken contract from government and are using ordinary sand to fill the place,’ though some commended and blessed us.
‘It’s Part Of Our Ministration’
(Rev. Isaac Adeyemi, Senior Pastor, Embrace International Assembly, Ikorodu, Lagos)
While awaiting government to tar our roads, I want to say we have done a lot in fixing bad roads and ensuring that things get better. In our community, we are very good in organising outreaches. We’ve been ministering to people in our community, extending our hands of fellowship and sincerely speaking, God has helped us in this area.
Few years ago, we went to the General Hospital in Ikorodu and donated six hospital beds at various times. We have also visited prisons, where we donated various items such as tyres and generators, among others, to inmates. At a time, we fed all inmates at the Medium Prisons, Kirikiri, and we didn’t get assistance from anywhere. We have at several things alleviated condition of Nigerians within and outside the church. For example, during our yearly event tagged Embrace, we give free medical treatment, free eye glasses and have screened people of various ailments, aside those we have trained on different skills.
We have donated boreholes and in the past, we filled potholes in Ikorodu, especially the terrible portions opposite our church on Eruwuen on Obafemi Awolowo Road. There was a period it was so bad that we organised our members and filled the potholes before government’s intervention.
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