‘No comedian can lead anyone to Christ, but God’s power’
Resident Pastor of United Evangelical Church, Rumuomasi, Port Harcourt, Revd. Justice Amego, spoke with ANN GODWIN in Port Harcourt on why comedians are invited to church programmes and activities marking his church’s 55th anniversary.
What is the history of the United Evangelical Church in Rivers State?
United Evangelical Church is 55 this year. This is the first in Rivers and Bayelsa States. The church was founded in February 9,1964 by three brothers, who started with 22 communicants. Today, it has 85 branches. By God’s Grace, the church has grown to have three superintendencies in Eleme, Port Harcourt, Rumuomasi, and Bonny autonomous district. The theme for the anniversary programme is: “Goodness of God.”
Looking at the last 55 years of the church, we have come to realise that God has been good to us. He has given us supernatural speed all round. We have seen His faithfulness. And though we have had series of crisis in this state, the good Lord has protected and helped us.
There is also an exposition on the theme, a courtesy visit to Eze of Rumumasi, as well as a visit to two orphanages and a talent hunt. We want to use the event to make children and youths to discover their God-given talents. Everyone born of God has talent, but it needs to be discovered.
We give incentives and the event is not limited to church members. Over 45 forms have been picked by members of other denominations Today’s youths have a language, and to get their attention, you have to use their language. So, the talent hunt is a means of reaching out to youths. Recently, we printed and distributed over 30, 000 tracts with our phone numbers, but we did not get a phone call. But just within a week of distributing the flyers for the talent hunt and the billboard, we have received several calls because we have got their language.
How can this make an impact on River youths?
We are concerned about the rising insecurity in Rivers State, which made us to put up different outreach programmes to reach out to this category of people. So, by meeting their needs, you make the gospel relevant to them.
There is another package called SMILE. In this programme, we are bringing medical personnel to take care of health needs of people in this community for free. There are also free clothing and free food. As you are meeting their needs, they give you their ears, and when they give you their ears, you give them the gospel and the society gets better.
The nation must address citizens’ spiritual needs. When this is done and there is fear of God among citizens, then they will be mindful of what they do. Through this programme, we are trusting the Lord to enable us get the youths off the street. Government alone cannot address people’s challenges. It is time we began thinking of what we can do for our country.
Nigerians travel outside the country to go and enrich other nations’ economy, while their own land is ravaged with poverty. The church has to rise up to the occasion. The church has three ministries. The first is the Ministry of the word, with the second being the Ministry of Prayer, while the third is the Welfare Ministry. Government is not wired to meet the citizens’ spiritual needs. It is the Church that is saddled with the responsibility of addressing that. But again, like the government, the church has also failed.
In recent times, there has been gospel of materialism and gospel of prosperity. There is nothing wrong with prosperity if you don’t emphasise prosperity against salvation, which is the core need of the people. This needs to be balanced, as the gospel is a full dose. But when you promote one aspect and ignore the other, then there is a problem. That is what has affected Christendom in Nigeria in recent years. The crave is to acquire wealth, and because the “Men of the altar’ want this money, when politicians come to church, they worship the politicians instead of speaking the truth to them. They no longer tell them the truth.
The Church has lost it, and that’s why you see some churches bring in comedians, who attract people to the theatre. Now, we bring comedians to attract people to the church because the Church has lost the Word. These comedians make a mockery of the Bible and the man of God, and the man will be there laughing. Tell me, how can the congregation take him serious?
The outsiders will come because the comedian is in town, but at the end of the day, they will laugh and then return to their sorrows and predicaments, instead of crying for their sins. No comedian leads anyone to Christ, but God’s power through the sound massage. So, the church needs to ask: Why are we like this and then return to God and cry to Him for mercy. We need to return to the ancient past and ask God to send His revival.
Are you satisfied with what is happening in the country?
If what is happening in Nigeria today is not happening, we would have called God a liar. What is happening has been predicted in the Bible, that in the last days, perilous time shall come. We are in the last days, when hard times come, people may see President Muhammadu Buhari as the worst President, but note that the hard time is not only in Nigeria. These are the signs of the End Time, and we must prepare for rapture.
However, I would not say I am happy with the situation of things in the country. The unemployment rate is alarming. My father told me that in their days, jobs waited for graduates but today, the reverse is the case. There is a need to step up and generate employment. The government needs to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive. No foreign investor would want to come to an insecure environment. Part of creating an enabling environment has to do with power supply.
There is also the issue of insecurity in the country. Security personnel often collaborate with criminals. The officers are on the roads during the day, extorting money from motorists. At night, when these boys operate, you will not see them.