Govt Is Using Corruption To Fight Corruption- Rev. Unen | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Faith, LIFE

Govt Is Using Corruption To Fight Corruption- Rev. Unen

Posted: Nov 14, 2016 at 2:28 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Hunger, Poverty Causing Pastors To Commercialise Their Calling

Reverend (Dr.) Eseme Unen, President and Senior Pastor of Grace Impacts Ministries, Iyana-Oworo Bariga, Lagos, in an interactive session with journalists last Sunday at the annual thanksgiving and dedication service of the church’s new worship centre (Sanctuary of Grace), talked about his ministerial mandate and views on some contemporary issues in the Christian and national circles. Chinyere Abiaziem was there for Independent.

You happen to be a media practitioner alongside a cleric, do you have any plan to quit your profession and fully face your spiritual calling anytime soon?
I have seen ministers who have made impact, who combine their career and profession with their calling. Speed is made possible when you are financially independent. Part of the reasons why the body of Christ is suffering in the changing nature of our economy is because ministers are hungry and because of hunger you see a lot of what I call preying manifestations. Many ministers have made merchandise of their calling because of hunger and lack, so I will still be doing what I know is good while ministering. Apostle Paul was made to be a tent maker, Abraham was a minister of God and he still had his flocks, David was a successful man of God and a prophet and was man of international merchandise. When Jesus was with his disciples and when he needed to pay his tax he sent Peter to go fishing. And you and I know that Peter was a fisherman who never threw away his net when he received the call. So I do not know where we got the impression that whenever anyone gets a call he must resign from his profession or career. I do not believe in this.

Must everyone who has a calling establish a church because churches sprout at every nook and cranny almost on a weekly basis these days?
I will be very frank with you, I am one man who hated been called a pastor, the first flyer we produced I did not include any title; infact I did not want to use my picture because I hated it.  Somebody said you cannot put the pictures of the guest ministers and not put yours. The reality is that I heard it clearly that I should go into church planting. Now, we have ministers who run non-denominational ministries. We have ministers like Dr. Akin John who happens to be my mentor but did not establish any church. We did not come into church planting as a result of lack of something to do like what my people in the village will call it. We came into ministry and church planting by divine revelations.

There are talks that federal government has concluded plans to impose tax on churches, what is your take on this?

I am not aware and do not know the detail of that arrangement. The little I imagine or assume is that they intend to tax the staff of the churches. Now everybody pays income tax, so there is nothing wrong in churches deducting payee from her workers and remitting to the government. To that extent there is nothing wrong in this. So as a nonprofit organisation by law you do not have to pay income tax. But if you are taxing the staff of the church there is nothing unusual about that. If you are asking pastors to pay income tax, pastors are not NGOs they are staff of NGOs.  But if any government is imposing income tax on churches it’s an aberration because the church itself is a non-profit organisation and does not have income.

You are coming from Assemblies of God Church (AG), do you intend continuing with the doctrines in your ministry?

All that AG practices that are in the scripture I will maintain; whatever they practice that is not of God, I will not practice because the gospel is our standard.

Do you mean AG church practices some unbiblical doctrines?

For me there is nothing that I see in AG that is wrong.

What is your impression of the leadership tussle in AG church and how do you think it can be resolved?
I was a member of AG church for over 25 years before I was called into the ministry. AG is one, indivisible and registered by the public affairs commission. I do not know of two Assemblies of God. I only know of one which is the only one I subscribe to.

You mean you do not support any of the leaders embroiled in the tussle?
Like I said I do not know of two Assemblies of God, I only know of one. I do not support any individual I only support the body of Christ. As far as I am concerned if there is any schism it is a matter of time and will be resolved. I do not see it as a major problem. What you see there happens in other places. There is conflict of belief and doctrine worldwide. I believe God will unify the church. Do not forget this is the end time and the Lord is in His holy temple, He will build His church and the gate of hell shall not defeat it.

Where do we see Grace Impact in five years?

Grace Impact is a vision God is leading as long as we are concerned, we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. The next phase of the church is increase and expansion and we trusting that the Lord will take us to places and beyond the boundaries of Nigeria. I do not believe in one branch mandate because Christ told us to go ye into the world and preach the gospel. Where we will be in the next five years I may not be able to say because in just a year ago we were in a rented apartment in a shopping complex who would have believed that in eight years we will be here.

In your view, are churches doing enough to affect the society?

The church has a fundamental responsibility; Jesus said go ye into the world and preach the world and make disciples of men. I am eight years old in the ministry. Well I would not know what other people were mandated to do.  I cannot speak about their mandate .

You are so particular about working in line with your God given mandate. What exactly is this mandate?

The Lord said to me that He will raise a people of honour who will impact the world positively and He referred me to Ist Samuel 2 verse 8. He also told me to preach the gospel of salvation and adoption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Is there any hope for the nation’s ‘bleeding’ economy?

There is hope for our country Nigeria. The reality of what we are passing through is man-made. Nigeria is greater than what our leaders make us to be. When I say leaders I am not discriminatory.  Every man that has led this nation from the foundation of this nation till date is a culprit in the fate of this nation.  Every man that has led this nation either as a local government chairman, governor, minister or at whatever level has a hand in what is happening. So sometimes I feel uncomfortable when people isolate some individuals for blame. Even those that said they led for a month.  They are all partners in the destruction of the economy of this nation.

You mean even the founding fathers?
The first leaders emerged by what they claimed to be fighting for independence. If you are a student of history or political economics you will discover or agree with me that our founding fathers had myopic vision, they were promoting regionalism, ethnicity, they were promoting ‘clannish’ agenda if there is any word as such. They made themselves political gods in their various locations so that when they speak everybody has to listen and you cannot build a nation that way. Forget about what they told us. The foundation was faulty and even those that chose them to take over had an agenda to elongate their colonial leadership so they picked stooges who will represent their interest. Nigeria had independence but was not independent. Those people have continued to grow and why do we have those who have link with the first generation in power. Why did Obasanjo come back? Why is Buhari in power today? Have you asked yourself why we are still having ministers who are over 70 years old? Honestly, I do not like talking about politics.

Are you suggesting that what happened in Ghana should be replicated here in Nigeria?

No. Every community should have its own strategy of solving problems. The solution in Ghana may not be our solution. One thing I know is that Nigeria is in God’s hands and He will sanitise it.

What solutions do you recommend to Nigeria’s problems?

One, prayer; two, political participation; three, political education. Those who claim to be fighting corruption are using corruption to fight corruption. In the Bible, Jesus said a house divided against itself cannot stand. You cannot use Beelzebub to fight against Beelzebub. You cannot bend an old tree, you will break it. Whatever we are doing in the political arena we are just occupying space. God will sanitise Nigeria.