The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has stressed the need for the Church to champion the process of healing of the country in a bid to rescue it from the precipice and the danger of collapse or extinction.
The Christian body spoke through its President, Bishop Francis Wale Oke, on Tuesday, while he was declaring open the PFN Executive Retreat 2023, titled, ‘Going from strength to strength,’ holding in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital between Tuesday, 15th August and Thursday, 17th.
Bishop Oke, who doubles as Presiding Bishop, Sword of The Spirit Ministries as well as Pro-Chancellor, Precious Cornerstone University, Ibadan, said that Nigeria is in need of healing. He called for healings to begin in the church after the tension and the trauma that the general elections brought had subsided.
He said, “I had four key goals in my mind when we were praying for this meeting. We just had an election in this nation that almost ripped the nation apart and the church was not spared. The Pentecostals in this nation, by rough estimate, are over 60 to 65million. One of our denominational members has the record of over 11million members in Nigeria, and that denomination is not Deeper Life, it is not Winners Chapel, it is is not Foursquare.”
He recalled that the church played a vital role in the last national elections through the political arm of PFN – the National Directorate of Politics and Good Governance headed by Pastor Femi Emmanuel. Bishop Oke said that Pastor Femi Emmanuel, “Out of his own resources, spent millions of Naira bringing our people (Christians) together. He went down to the 774 local government level to bring people to Lagos to educate and teach and prepare us for the election.
“But the point is that when the heat of electioneering came, we were all split from top to bottom. I came under severe pressure. The heat that each of the presidential candidates put on me was indescribable.” According to him, some people pressurized him to support a particular presidential candidate who is a Yoruba man but he told them that PFN does not engage in tribal politics. We are one body in Christ. We didn’t want Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to be pitched with any particular political party.
According to him, during the biennial conference of the PFN last year all the presidential candidates came with the exception of one. The media reported that the PFN had taken a position, but the Bishop said that the Christian body debunked the report the next day. “I came out the following day and said no, we are not pitching with any party, let everybody vote according to their conscience. How many of us were there and heard me make that statement that day? I called my media team and said no, counter that news. The Pentecostal forum owns all the parties; we are their spiritual father. At the end of the day, we came out of that place bruised.”
Now that elections are over, he said, “Let the healing begin in the church. It takes a healed church to heal the nation. Nigeria is in need of healing. Let’s bring the nation together. Elections would come, elections would go. If the nation is still on ground, the person that lose (an election) today can win tomorrow. Am I correct? Now, we should all learn from Sudan. It was over 30 years that they had election and they never recovered from it. The election led them to war and war and killings. The nation broke into two and they are still at war.
“They discovered a mass grave where over 1,000 people are buried. For what? Why would somebody become president or governor over the blood of people. If the church does not take its place to bring about peace and righteousness and the nation goes to war with big losses. If you think God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted it, the fact that the nation is in peace today is an answer to your prayers. Give God a big hand. So, it is time to put partisanship aside, come together.”
Bishop Oke lauded Governor Seyi Makinde for gracing the opening session of the conference, saying that unlike a typical politician, the governor would at no time make and break his promise. He called leading men of God at the forum to pray for the governor for a more successful second term in office.
While the governor was welcoming the Christian leaders to the Pacesetter State, he expressed reservations about the attitude of Christians to politics saying that they should make delibrate move to serve the people by participating actively in politics so as to change the story.
Governor Makinde, who expressed appreciation for the opportunity given to him to speak on the occasion, canvassed for the adoption of five-year-single-term for elective positions, noting that the practice by the PFN was fine and welcoming.
According to him, in the absence of a concrete political structure structure by Christians seeking political power, it was ideal to support a viable candidate and present a charter of agreement that could help the nation to grow rather than chasing the shadow.
In his view as a politician, the more honest Patriots there are in politics, the better for the country, and politics is not about mere wishful thinking but a practical contest that always throws up most popular candidates.
Earlier in his address, at the forum, Rev Yemi Ayodele from the United States of America, expressed worries that the destiny of Nigeria hangs in the balance, stating that the church that can move the country in the right direction needed to unite and push forward with greater focus and determination.
Ayodele described the church as “The government of God on earth,” adding that through the church, the expressions and the will of God are communicated to all humans. For him, therefore, the responsibility of the church is first to God and to the people. “I believe that the gathering here this evening is in that light because Nigeria as it is today is hanging on the precipice and something must be done spiritually in order to align Nigeria to the will of God.
“In 2014, the Lord told to me through a vision the events that would follow in this country. I said that to some general overseers, and everything He has told me has come to pass except for one and that is the one that is very frightening. He told me except the church takes its proper place, we are going to have a hard time ahead.
“Those of us in the United States are very concerned. This is my fourth trip to Nigeria this year, and I know I am going to have two or more trips. The destiny of Nigeria hangs in the balance and it is the church that is responsible to move this country in the right direction. I am saying this without fear because I have worked with most of you here. Bishop Wale Oke, we have been in this Ibadan for years, right from the 70s.
“I am saying now that God is speaking now to the church that if we must move from strength to strength, Jesus Christ said, I am the vine, you are the branches and without me, you can do nothing. We cannot allow this gathering to be
He said that the gathering must be premised on what is germaine, stressing that “We must be focused on spiritual condition of the church. We must be focused on the suffering population of the church.”
He urged the men of God in the land to jettison their titles and differences and “let us look at one another right in the eye and speak the truth to one another. We need cleansing in the church today. If it is prayer, we can pray. If it is prophecy, we can prophesy. The Bible tells us in Isiah 59 that the hand of the Lord is not short to deliver. His ears are not deaf that he cannot hear but our sins. It is sins that separate us.
“As you go into your sessions and speak about issues of the church and the nation, I want you to understand that the state of the nation is directly related to the state of the church. The Bible says if my people that are called by my name can humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear. I will forgive their sins and I will heal their land. Nigeria needs healing now and the healing starts when the people of God return to God.
“I pray that the blessings of the Holy Spirit will take over the agenda of this meeting and I pray that a new direction would be given to the church.” He concluded by reiterating the fact that “There is a lot of healing to be done in Nigeria.” He then prayed that the Holy Spirit takes full control of the conference.