A lecturer friend once said and I quote: "The fastest growing industry in Nigeria today is the Religion industry." I laughed about this statement for a while then I gave it serious thought and discovered that it contained some amount of truth. I can only talk about the Christian religion which I happen to be a member of because little or nothing is known about the other Nigerian religions. Using Lagos state as a case study, you cannot count five buildings without having a church in one of them, every street and major road could boast of three or more churches. Renting of shops as churches is gradually phasing out as people even run the 'business' from the comfort of their homes as their faithful are seen gracing their homes for prayers. Nowadays, anybody who could quote a sizeable portion of the bible qualifies as pastor and is optimistic of owning a ministry and growing it into a church. I know that some people reading this would be brewing with anger because I referred to owning churches as 'business' but come to think of it, how do you explain paying huge sums of money for prayer and deliverance or the placement of price tags on prayers. A story was told of a man who went to see a prophet for prayers and was given a list of prayers and their prices which ranges from N20,000 - N100,000. Now my question to the angered people I mentioned earlier is: Does this qualify as business or not?. It is no longer a question of if one has the anointing or not but rather it is how to get members because, the more the 'customers', the more income is generated. Strategies are been put in place to increase 'Internally generated revenue' as the services of professional fundraisers are been employed on a bi-weekly basis (every two sundays). I have watched closely as the theme of most sermons graduated from Salvation to Prosperity simply because a good number of church goers would come back each sunday to listen to the Our-God-is-not-a-poor-God, His-children-must-prosper sermon rather than the boring Accept-Christ-and-be-saved-or-
refuse-him-and-perish sermon. The pastors being observant of this fact would not hesitate to ask their members to give an intimidating offering that would provoke God, i.e. after delivering such sermons. In a country where there is high rate of unemployment and the average citizen living on or below $2 a day, it is not uncommon to see anointed men of God cruising private jets which costs between N2.3bn to N9bn. The Aviation sector is in a poor state, I know but I think some of these 'religious wealth' should be channelled into Nation building and by this, I don't mean building universities which the citizens can't afford. Am using this medium to plead with the active participants in this 'Industry' to alleviate the sufferings of the masses not just with prayers and wonderful sermons. Jesus knew how important this is that he had to multiply the bread and fishes to feed the 5000. I don't even want to imagine what would have happened if he had asked them to give their pennies for his ministerial work in that their hungry state. The nation is hungry and in dire need of food but the irony is that poor Christians still give from their lean pocket. The take home question to our religious leaders is this: If Jesus is really our model, shouldn't He be imitated in every aspect?.
Follow me onTwitter: @victorikeji