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Gabe Ozoani

Engineer, Aerospace Engineering

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Extraordinary wealth of pastors in developing countries and the congregation that support them.

Bishop David Oyedepo is the richest pastor in Nigeria. He has amassed a wealth of over $150 million dollars. He has numerous business ventures (which he obviously encourages his "faithful" members to patronise) including a recently launched airline. He adornes himself in expensive watches and clothes and has more than one private jet. Many other "men-of-god" are in the same ball park (in terms of wealth).
This isn't only peculiar to developing countries as there are quite a few "millionaire" pastors in the west also.
Are the people who support these "representatives of God" brainwashed?
Are they providing this financial support to these men and their "empires" with the hope that the "investment" will one day pay off?
Could they be victims of a discrete form mass hypnotism?
Or could this be a aspect of Christianity that comes natural to the believer?

This is an epidemic that has plagued not only developing countries where the populace are searching for hope and prosperity, but also the developed world.

In this time of austerity are these institutions simply a drug to help soothe hopelessness?

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  • Apr 4 2012: It is biblical that a pastor receive his living from his work.

    However the ultimate aim is to serve Jesus and bring others salvation through him. Paul gave up his rights so that it would not cause those he served to stumble or fall away. It was an issue for them. Contextually it was common for Greek orators to be paid to speak. Paul states that even THEY would have received pay, and he has also brought them spiritual understanding so how much more should be be able to reap material things from them. BUT again Paul denied himself for the sake of the gospel and the truth of Christ.
    1 Corinthians 9:7-12
    "Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
    Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ."

    Jesus talks a TON about material possessions because it is a sure way to separate us from him. He himself had nothing, but gave everything. He was a humble servant, He came for our sake and good not his own. He endured the ultimate pain, suffering and humiliation unto death.

    How this African pastor is walking in the ways of Christ I don't know. Based on what I read it sounds pretty sad. But again I don't know the context. Jesus never said it was bad to be rich, but certainly HE should be our aim not $. God gives us all things.
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      Apr 4 2012: "God gives us all things."

      I really agree with you there. I think if we read and meditate on Matthew 6 24-34 we will come to understand that God himself makes sure we have the basics.....food, clothing, and shelter. The fact that those who are leaders in the churches of christendom are getting rich, and living a materialistic lifestyle will help the truth seeker to identtify the false christians......our Lord said..... "by their fruits you will recognize them....."

      Again, I repeat what I said on March 27 in my comment:

      That people looking for some kind of hope, willingly make a human rich.....well, they are adults, and should know better. If you study scriptures you would know you are being had. People are followers of men.....true Christians follow the Bible, and follow their exemplar, Jesus Christ.

      God does not need our money.........obviously preachers do............How sad :(
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      Apr 4 2012: Ramon,
      I agree it is not bad to be rich, but a pastor/man-of-God/priest (in the Christian faith), has no business WHATSOEVER owning a private jet, expensive watches etc. As a matter of fact, I will go as far as saying they have no business being rich.They should set an example by living a HUMBLE life/lifestyle and not flaunting their riches with wealth "acquired" from their congregation.
      These blood-suckers prey on the hopes and desires of people. This is a legal fraud that must be stopped.
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        Apr 5 2012: Gabe,
        You touched on the heart of the matter. There is nothing wrong with being rich, and it depends on how one uses the riches that is the important piece. Taking from the poor to fill his/her own pockets, and live a life of luxury, is not reasonable. When one is teaching that greed is a sin, and yet living a life of greed, it does not send a very good message.

        We see justifications for wealthy pastors here on this thread...everybody in our society is doing it...they are only men...sinners...just like us...be patient with them...god will take care of them in due time..etc...etc. As long as these and other excuses are used to justify the behavior, the practice will continue.

        Priests in the catholic tradition present themselves as "representatives of god here on earth". They put themselves in a "higher" position than the rest of society. What is the message? If one is in a higher position, greed is ok? Do what we say, not what we do? God wants us to be wealthy even though people in our congregation are often starving? We will pay for this later when god catches up with us? None of these messages are acceptable, reasonable, or appropriate.
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          Apr 5 2012: Well said Colleen. I struggle to understand how a good proportion of people seem to think it is ok to exalt a "man" to a god-like status and give him the privilege to their hard earned possessions.
        • Apr 8 2012: I was once told you are either given knowledge or faith/hope.
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        Apr 6 2012: Thanks Gabe,
        I don't totally understand it either, and apparently there are enough people in our world to support the practice, otherwise it would end! The only reason I can imagine, for people supporting a religion in which this is allowed, is because they are so insecure in themselves, they cannot make a decision that goes against the religion they depend on for their own security and well being?

        If people really think about it and feel the ramifications to so many people, it seems like they would NOT be justifying the practice.
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          Apr 6 2012: Colleen, there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this......it is not limited to people living in poor countries.............I have had conversations with people who attend churches here in the states, and they have told me how their pastor gets up on the stage and tells the members about a wish his wife has of owning a turquoise ring.....and then he tells the audience..........."help me make my wive's dream a reality.........and then the plates are passed around. I ask these people: "why don't you leave that church?".........and they just look at me as if to say............Ah, it's not that bad.............I don't get it either.

          They know they are being taken, and they continue to support these churches and the crooked individuals who run them........It is very sad to see Colleen, that is why I said my comment:

          "That people looking for some kind of hope, willingly make a human rich.....well, they are adults, and should know better" God does not need our money....

          Gabe is not alone. Many honest hearted individuals want to do something. The best thing to do is educate people on how to identify these false leaders. But, it is hard to take the veil off people's eyes......until it's too late and they have to see their minister being taken to jail or spread on the front page of a newspaper for some terrible act of fraud.....etc

          Many times these ministers provide meals at the place of worship, and an active social life.....so the members don't mind paying for these services....it is a complex issue....one that cannot be fully discussed on TED.

          Someone is watching......that at least gives me a bit of hope that one day, they will have to render an account.....
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        Apr 6 2012: Hi Mary,
        I don't agree that "there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this", and I DO agree that ......"it is not limited to people living in poor countries".

        I happened to be in Germany years ago and was invited to attend Easter mass with the friends I was staying with. We attended an absolutely beautiful, extravagant production in one of the largest and most beautiful churches in Europe...with 20 priests and bishops attending, the Frankfort symphony and chorus...a LOT of pomp and ceremony....it was really a magnificent show:>)

        After the service, the archive in the basement of the church was opened (only on easter sunday every year) for the parishiners to observe the riches of this particular church. We walked through the entrance, which had 3ft. thick walls, and into the archive, which was several HUGE rooms, covering the space of a city block. There were garments, rings, crowns, staffs, tabernacles, etc., which this church had horded for centuries. It was all made of gold and silver, encrusted with precious stones.....diamonds, rubies, saphires, emeralds, pearls...some the size of my fist. There were probably billions of dollars in wealth in that one place. I actually felt sick to my stomach thinking about all the starving people in our world, when these jewels are stored for people to look at once a year.

        I think it CAN and is being discussed on TED, right here and now! What better place to discuss a global issue, than on a forum that is available to the global community? This is a great place to discuss the issue.

        I agree Mary..."someone is watching"...actually, the global community is watching, and that may be one of the first steps to change. It is time to "render an account" now Mary.
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          Apr 6 2012: When I said "there is something that is beyond comprehension in all this", I was referring to why humans who obviously see all this as wrong..............continue to oooh and aaah at the lavishness of these churches, and continue to fill the pews on Christmas and Easter, and then they walk out complaining at the riches.

          Why not stop participating. Don't you think that when you are against something, the best way to show your disapproval is by not being involved in it's activities......?

          A club is only as strong as it's members.

          Did you know that these are not my ideas? I learned 20 years ago what those seeking the true God must do today to show their disgust at false religion:

          "Get out of her, my people. If you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." Revelations 18:4-5

          I have no faith in humans. I do however have faith in God's word and in our Creator. If he says he will make the world empire of false religions (referred to as Babylon the Great in scripture) pay for their acts of injustice, then you know what? I believe it. For there is only one thing that God cannot do: "he cannot lie" (Titus 1:2)

          I do understand your feelings. I do know people are upset. I do know you want action.

          I have seen sincere people walk out of their church after 30 years of attending it because they had had enough.

          I have seen church doors closed and turned into restaurants, and I have seen dishonest ministers incarcerated and held accountable. But it always seems like too little to late.

          A good way to disarm these churches, is by exposing the truth to the "people". If people are educated and their eyes are opened to the facts, then maybe they will react. That is part of what truth seekers do.......help themselves to facts, and then help others.

          Always happy to interact with you, and feeling your pain.......Mary
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        Apr 6 2012: I don't participate Mary, except to honor my friends request, because I was staying with them. Yes, I agree that the best way "to show your disapproval is by not being involved in it's activities", which is why I left the catholic church 45 years ago.

        I agree...people need to walk out when/if they had enough...church doors need to close when there are dishonest priests/ministers. It's NEVER too little too late...in my humble opinion. The catholic church in my area, is selling all their property to pay victims of sexual molestation. Some of the victims have waited 30, 40, 50 years and finally, the courts are recognizing the abuse, and ordering the church to pay some restitution. I say, better late than never!

        I totally agree..."A good way to disarm these churches, is by exposing the truth to the "people". If people are educated and their eyes are opened to the facts, then maybe they will react. That is part of what truth seekers do.......help themselves to facts, and then help others". Well said Mary.

        That's EXACTLY why it is a good idea to make the facts known, talk about it here on TED with the global community, and hopefully, more people will understand how many people throughout the global community are impacted.

        I'm not really feeling pain Mary. I perfer to spend my energy taking action, rather than spending the energy feeling pain....thanks for your thoughtfullness anyway.

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