David Oyedepo, A Pastor and a Sack Letter
By: Deji Yesufu
A few days ago I sat down with a brother and for a few hours we reasoned into a theological point of view. At some point the discussion bordered on 1 John 4:1ff, part of which reads as follows: 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” The phrase “try the spirit” in KJV reads “test the spirit” in modern translations. I argued that “test the spirit” could not only mean merely comparing the words of a so called man of God with the Bible; I said it more likely meant a holistic examination of the life of the bearer of a message.
So when a man comes forth making high sounding claims about God, we do not only examine his words – we also go to his home, we look at how he treats his wife and children. We examine his relationship with his subordinates. We look closely at how he responds to pressure: does he return insult for insult; does he curse easily; is he apt to teach; and does he display general godliness, such that those who do not know what he claims can readily say this is a man of God. Then I made this point: the high point of Christ’s ministry was living with his disciples. By observing Christ up, close and personal, the twelve concluded that this man was a prophet from God. In fact Judas’ betrayal was doubly sinful because it will require a genuinely satanic mind to betray Christ as he did, even after seeing his righteous life on close quarters.
The news hit Nigeria’s social media outlets a few days of the sack of a pastor who had been in the paid employment of the Living Faith Churches led by David Oyedepo. The young man was employed in August last year and his appointment was terminated in July this year. After close to a year in the so called “commission”, Living Faith felt that they were running at a loss keeping him in their employment. He was being paid forty thousand naira and probably enjoyed some other employment packages like accommodation and so on. The church said that at this time he ought to be making at least as much as he was being paid. At least forty of these young pastors were laid off. The news is that other pastors are also being considered to be axed if they do not meet up to their given targets.
I request that you excuse a bit of my personal anecdotes – as this story hits a bit close to home for me. Again, a little less than a week ago I sat with a senior Christian sister and this dear saint told me that she agrees with me that there are some fundamental flaws in the ministries of persons like Oyedepo and even Adeboye. She however felt that publicly criticizing them, like I often do, will ridicule the Christian religion in public and give the enemies of Christ more reason not to be associated with the gospel. I sincerely couldn’t respond to her that day. Now I think I have a response. First, I’ll like to look at the matter of practical missions.
Practically speaking, Christian missions is a failed enterprise at the start. The Bible says that the message of the Cross is foolishness to the lost. The real success of a pastor in missions begins when he finds a few people who are ready to pay to him to minister the word of God to their souls. In other words the success of a pastor is not one that is easily measurable. It is mostly after years of ministry that the fruit of missions begin to show in converted sinners, changed lives and upright members. So a church has completely lost its vision that thinks that it can begin to measure fruit of ministry in less than a year of missions. Most of the missionaries that came to Africa, labored for years before they saw any convert. Yet they kept at it and today the continent has a thriving Christian population.
As to the person of David Oyedepo and his ministry, I have often remarked that there is very little Christianity in the Living Faith organizations. Oyedepo runs a business center and this recent event of placing pastors on financial targets is proof of that. Oyedepo and his types remain in ministry because people like my dear sister continue to lend legitimacy to their fraud. In my YouTube video, I argued that Oyedepo is not a false teacher because he does wrong things like this recent sack; he is false because he teaches doctrines that are antichrist. You may watch the video to learn more. As to whether my criticism lends arsenals to enemies of Christ: with or without my criticism of Oyedepo, Christ’s enemies will still blaspheme his name. Oyedepo’s very actions lend greater fuel to these blasphemies. I am convinced that by clearly stating Oyedepo is a fraud, I am helping a few people find discernment and stay away from churches like Living Faith. And it is not just Oyedepo, the hallmark of many churches today is to trample the weak. You are only given respect in these churches when you bring money. They treat their employees like garbage and they use people for their own gain.
The times are hard in Nigeria and evil continues to thrive. However it is when darkness envelopes a society that light has greater opportunity at displaying its glory. When government fails at providing jobs and social amenities, churches have the opportunity to stand in the gap by providing employment and helping with social net to curb the suffering of people. Whatever else you may say of Roman Catholics they are still one of the few Christian organizations that provide social safety nets for the ordinary people. Where unemployment thrives, David Oyedepo should not be populating the labor market because young men he brought into his organization are unable to meet financial targets. It is plain obscene to imagine Christians thinking this way. Perhaps we are this disappointed because we placed too much optimism on Oyedepo and the organization he runs.
I understand that the sack letter ended with good wishes. We should thank the Living Faith Church that while they do not have severance packages for their employees, they had some humanity to pray for their sacked employees and wish them well because that is what the Bible taught us to do: when the poor comes to you, pray for him and send him away empty handed (James 2:16). So much for what many regard as true Christianity in our day and time.
It is on this premise that I have long argued that David Oyedepo is not a Christian, the organization he runs is not a church and the spirit that rules that organization is not the Holy Spirit. Using the biblical yardstick and following the admonition of John the Apostle in 1 John 4:1, David Oyedepo is a false prophet.
This however does not leave the haters of religion and critics of Oyedepo the freedom to gloat and rejoice. The testimony of the Bible is that both hypocrites and haters of God shall spend their eternity without God and without his Christ. The gospel message to Oyedepo and to all haters of religion is: repent, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.