Should clerics refer difficult spiritual cases to superiors?
Almost all medical personnel can provide basic care. But when matters become complicated or more challenging, the attention of a specialist is sought. Rather than depict the first responder as grossly incompetent, such referrals merely show the diversities of experience, training, inclination or even passion; maybe something like the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that (I Cor. 7:7b).” Should the servants of God also make referrals? Or are there ‘one-stop shop’ clerics, endowed with all grace and able to supply the same? Should a cleric feel ashamed for beckoning to a ‘big brother’ to help iron out a thorny spiritual issue? And what would the laity make of their revered Papa G.O. seeking the assistance of another? CHRIS IREKAMBA unveils the pulse of clerics on the subject.
‘To Recommend A Church Member To Another Man Of God For Prayer Is Difficult…’
(Charismatic Cardinal Olanrewaju Obembe, Archbishop of El-Shaddai Bible Church, Ikoyi, Lagos)
Are you saying if a man of God has tried to pray for somebody and he/she is not getting well, he can recommend him to another man of God for solution?
Generally, James 5 actually recommends that if anyone is sick, he should call for the elders of the church. But the Bible also restrains us from suddenly laying hands on somebody.
Before recommending a church member to another man of God, there must have been an appropriate appraisal of the kind of grace that that man of God enjoys. Is he born again and saved? It will be difficult to ask somebody to go somewhere for prayer, especially when you are not sure of the salvation of the person praying. This is because we have so many people that are pracitising magic. For those that are confirmed to be born again, there is nothing wrong asking another man of God to join in praying for a church member that is sick. We’ve discovered that some men of God are very good at praying for the deaf. Some are good at praying effectively for the blind, who are able to see again. Some have anointing of God’s grace in the area of cancer disease.
So, according to what God has given to us as graces, we can explore. But I must ascertain the quality of life of the man of God I’m recommending to somebody. He must be born again and filled with the Holy Ghost. I must be sure he is not operating under any demonic spell. There is nothing wrong Biblically, if you know with which gift the man of God is operating. Whatever my feeling, God’s word is the final authority on any matter. Healing is from God. Those of us in the ministry have discovered that some sicknesses are as a result of unbalanced human nutrition.
For instance, years ago in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos, where we were doing ministry work, there was this young boy with bloated tummy. It was so swollen that we even thought the disease he had was contagious. But as we were praying, God suddenly revealed certain things to us. So, we invited medical personnel, who diagnosed him and discovered that he lacked protein. They recommended that he should eat one or two eggs daily, together with some other things. According to them, it was advisable the bloated physical anatomy be corrected. So, I requested that crates of eggs be bought for the young man. I was so shocked to see that after one week, the bloated tummy started going down to the extent that you would hardly recognise him again. So, food is also medicine. All healings come from God whether medical, divine or otherwise. In this modern time, there should be a combination of all these things because some of the things people are suffering from are man-made.
However, it should be established that the sheep belong to the Lord. The Bible says, ‘I know my sheep and my sheep hear my voice.’ Even the man of God is being shepherded under Jesus. We are all the sheep of His pasture. When you recognise that the ownership of the sheep belongs to the Lord, then you know that somehow abusive control cannot come because they themselves are God’s children and they know where to go. And if they need assistance somewhere, the Holy Spirit will give them direction. There is no threat, but as you have said, people might be afraid that they may lose their members to another man of God, but you cannot keep what is not yours.
‘I Will Never Refer Someone To The Aladura Church’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Enugu, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
Firstly, when a member is sick, you need to give him all assistance by taking him to the hospital, so that doctors can diagnose and investigate what he is suffering from. Thereafter, you follow it up with prayer. You don’t take everything for granted and assume that every sickness is spiritual. God is not a magician. After the doctors have done their bit and the cause of the sickness has been ascertained, then prayers can come in. Prayer without work is not effective. So, I don’t believe in tackling everything by prayer and this is why when the missionaries came with the gospel, they also brought hospitals and education because they wanted to ensure that you are medically fit and sound to be able to read the Bible. Every man of God has got the ability to pray. It is also okay to have a group of prayer warriors to handle certain issues in the church. But most importantly, it is necessary to investigate the medical condition of that individual and what he/she is suffering from. Before asking my members to see another man of God, I must be sure of the type of spiritual gifts he has. In our church, we have diverse gifts, which we use. No one can appropriate everything to himself or herself. But you cannot refer somebody to another pastor and from another pastor to another pastor and things like. Prayer is prayer, and even among your church members you can find out who has the gift of deliverance. However, as an Anglican, I can never refer some one to the Aladura Church. And if the primate has higher gifts than the Bishop, I can take such matter to him to handle, but he has so much he is doing for the church. I believe that God works through everybody, if you give yourself wholly to Him, He would use you.
Again, it depends on the denomination. I believe “iron shapeth iron,’ and just like the Bible says, ‘physician heal thyself” physician may not be able to heal himself. When a doctor is sick, he goes to see another doctor. If you are sick and you need some help from another man of God, is there anything wrong with that? The prayer of faith availeth much and you cannot be sufficient to yourself because each of us has different experiences and power given to us by the good Lord.
For instance, Corinthian 12 talks of the different gifts God has given to everybody. He gave some the gift of healing, to some the gift of teaching, to some the gift of prophecy and prayer and so on. If you have somebody who has that gift of healing, why can’t you approach him/her for healing?
Personally, I’m not afraid of anybody taking away my members because you have to understand what faith is, if you are a minister of God. It is the most important thing, so you should not be afraid of anybody ministering to your member. I’m also not afraid of anybody coming to minister in my church, because when you finish, you will automatically leave afterwards, you cannot steal my sheep. Some people come to me for prayers. There was a time a reverend sister came to my office for prayer and she is not the only one. I have done such things for people that are not members of my church. I have received members of Assemblies of God. It is the way you make yourself available for God to use you. When I go to hospitals to pray for people, I don’t ask them the church they belong. God knows who is serving Him.
‘It Would Be Based On The Giftings The Other Pastor Has’
(Archbishop Joseph Ojo, Presiding Bishop of Calvary Kingdom Church, Lagos-Badagry Expressway)
IN the first place, the flock belongs to the Chief shepherd, “Jesus,” irrespective of the church they belong. So, the issue of losing members to another pastor does not arise. God gave diverse gifts to His servants. These gifts are for the edification of the body of Christ. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in referring a member to a pastor friend whom you know his/her particular area of gifting. It is similar to the referrals done by medical practitioners. However, it would be based mainly on the knowledge of the giftings upon the life of the other pastor.
On the other hand, there are people who are of the belief that unless Prophet, Bishop or Pastor so-and-so prays for them, they won’t be healed. The wisest thing in such a case is to let the person go there to satisfy the thirst and experience that it is Jesus that heals and delivers and not the pastor. God only uses His servants. Jesus said have faith in God, (Mark 11:22). If your faith is in God, anywhere you are, He will do whatever you ask of Him. The numerous wonder pastors and prophets that abound today is one of the signs Jesus told us would show in the Last days (And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. Matt. 24:11) (For there shall be false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matt. 24:24). These people are here already, and we need to prayerfully ask that the Almighty God will help the elect not to be deceived by them. Shedrach and his friends said to Nebuchadnezzar, (…. we are not careful to answer thee in this matter, if it be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hands, o king. But if not, let it be known to you o king that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image, which thou hast set up. Dan. 3:16-18).
In conclusion, I believe the choice and faith is that of the person who has the problem. No matter the heat, no heaven conscious child of God should bow to the pressures of these false prophets.
‘A Pastor Must Be Careful Not To Throw A Sheep To A Wolf’
(Pastor Mike Onyeka, Senior Pastor/Vision Bearer of Victorious People Assembly Intl Inc. (House of Praise), Aba, Abia State)
EVERY genuine servant of God with his or her peculiar grace is a gift to the entire Body of Christ and not just to a particular denomination or local assembly, even though he or she needs to be identified with a local assembly. His or her gifts need to be used for the edification of the body of Christ as a whole. Apostle Paul explained it this way: “And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11,12, 16)
It becomes clear then that God expects His servants not to be in competition, but in cooperation in ministering to the members of the body. So, a pastor does not even need to try and fail a number of times before arranging for a meeting between his member that needs help and another servant of God who operates in the grace required for that need.
As a pastor, I do so. The only caveat is that manifestations of power alone do not guarantee the genuineness of the spirit working. So, a pastor must be careful not to throw a sheep that the Lord has put in his or her care to a wolf that would devour the sheep. He has the duty to test the spirit and the principle is: ‘if you are in doubt leave out…’
On the issue of being afraid of losing members, every pastor needs to know that this only happens, when you gathered the people by manipulation in which case God is not involved. The Bible said: “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).
God gives a Christian a pastor and gives a pastor He called his own congregation. Every act of manipulation of God’s people shall be accounted for before Him.
Again, every servant of God should pray to hear God’s voice. The safest thing in ministry is to be able to receive directions from the Holy Spirit on what to do in every situation. Even Jesus said: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the father do” (John 5:19). You cannot go wrong carrying out God’s instruction. Note also that God can use anybody to do anything. In spite of the different ministerial offices, God can put His spirit upon any man to accomplish His purpose.
‘Not Every Miracle That You See Is Coming From God’
(Bishop Moses Adedipe, General Superintendent of The Universal Christian Mission Int’l, Lagos)
IN Matthew 10:1, the Bible says the Lord gave power to men to exercise and the Lord expects us to be holy so that we can effectively operate without limitation. But because some of us are living dubiously, it is not easy to vouch for anyone. Some of us live double lives, as what we show to the world is not how we are in private. This brings limitation in operation. God has given us five fold ministries, which have extension everywhere. There is nobody that has the totality of the ministry of God, as He gave us various giftings at various levels. Before some men of God call the name of Jesus, their requests are already granted. They don’t need to fast because people have fasted on their behalf and whatever they say the Lord shall surely answer. But there are some people that still have to fast for 70 or 120 days before their prayers are granted. So, what we are saying in effect is that if some one has prayed for a sick person, who has not responded, you have to examine yourself to see whether if you are truly living a righteous life. If you are but the miracle has not happened immediately, there is no problem. If you can refer that person to another man of God or you invite another man of God and two or three of you then join hands together to pray on a particular issue, there is nothing wrong with that. But then, I believe strongly that the same Jesus you as a servant of God will call is not far from you. It is not until you refer a case to another person that the answer will be given.
In my entire ministry, I have never experienced an issue. No matter how chronic that madness may be or whatever that I stand to pray in the name of Jesus, which He has never granted me. The covenant God has with me personally is such that there has never been any situation I prayed for or requested that God has ever been denied me. Pastors are not the healers, Jesus is the healer. We are only a medium, a source for setting people free. So, it is not a shame to ask your bother in the Lord to join you in prayer to deliver somebody. It is also not a shame to send your member to another person. But these days, you cannot vouch for the spirit that is using another person. You may not know the power behind whatever they are doing.
Majority of people are following miracles, but miracles are supposed to follow us according to the Bible, as they obey God’s word. These days, the church of God and men of God are polluted. Many people are looking for power in different places: mai mai and water power, they just want to make it at all costs. Even the devil himself can work miracles. So, when you talk about some one who is healed and such things, it is not necessarily genuine Christianity. The error of some men of God is that people coming to them, are not there because of them. They are there before God, Who is only making use of the men of God. Luke 1:37, “…for with God nothing shall be impossible,” not with a bishop, an archbishop or with a pastor or with an apostle with big cross, but with God nothing shall be impossible. We are a medium, representing God and the moment we humble ourselves to that level, heaven will respond to all our requests.
Nobody should have the audacity to say ‘my member.’ That is pride, arrogance and disillusionment. ‘My church, my message,’ all these are the things negatively impacting on the church of Jesus Christ. But let me say that the church of today has been bastardised, men of God are making merchandise out of the people.