Dear ‘Fisayo Soyombo: An Open Letter
By: Deji Yesufu
I write this letter as a reaction to your latest investigative series, where you have been publishing your findings around churches and mosques – revealing false prophets both in the Christian and Muslim religion; especially their inability to cure a fake malaise you brought to them. Very simply, if these men and women where true prophets, they should have known from the onset that the whole thing was a ruse. Unfortunately, they fell for it and thus revealing their plain falsehood.
While I personally commend your effort at revealing false prophets, I think your investigations may be giving the enemies of religion a reason to stay away from religion entirely. In this letter, and writing from a Christian perspective, I want to explain to you the fundamental problem with religion in Nigeria and I want to suggest a way to solving this problem (I will be writing about Christianity because I have not done much research into Islam. It is easy, however, to see from your investigations that Muslim clerics have also adopted the same manipulative tendencies that their Christian counterpart bring to their work). I have been in Christian ministry since 2004 and I am quite conversant with this problem. I can say with all confidence that there is no church on earth that can withstand a thorough going scrutiny of any kind. The Bible talks about judgment beginning in the household of God (1 Peter 4:17). Scriptures says this because of two thing: the certainty of God judging his own people; second, because of the provision that God has made for the failings of his own people. I will return to the latter later in this letter.
The first presupposition I want to present to you is simply to state this: there are no such things as prophets in either Christianity or Islam today. I am able to confidently state this position for the two religions because the idea of revelation, as given in both the two holy books, Bible and Quran, does not leave room for new prophets today. The Bible makes it clear that all the revelation that the church will function with has already be given in the Christian Holy Writ (Deuteronomy 4:2; Galatians 1:6-9; Hebrew 1:1-2; Revelations 22:18-19). The same presupposition goes for Islam: Muhammed is the last prophet. Anyone giving new prophecies today in either of the religion is also presenting new revelations and such revelations must be discarded. It is this basic presupposition that Christians of Muhammed’s days used to also refute his ministry: they made it clear to him that the final revelation from God has been secured in the Bible and they are not expecting a new prophet. This is a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity and the scope of this letter cannot attend to core of the argument. The point that we can however safely begin with is to show that there are no prophets anywhere in any of the two prominent religions in this country and anyone claiming to be a prophet or claiming to possess some supernatural abilities should be seen as a thief and a robber.
The second thing that we must attend to, especially from a Christian worldview, is this: the whole point of religion is not physical well-being; the essence of religion is spiritual well-being. If, for example, you were to approach me for help to be delivered from the spirit of homosexuality, I will not be taking you through any ritual. I will simply take you through counselling with the aim of revealing to you your rebellion against a holy God. I will first of all show you that the Bible is the word of God and then I will help you to see that a gay lifestyle is sin against a holy God (Leviticus 18:22; 1Corinthians 6:9). If by God’s mercies you are able to comprehend this truth, our counselling session will proceed to the point of helping you to repent of this sin. Afterwards, you will be advised on changing your whole lifestyle: exposure to gay friends, publications, and exposures on the internet. A truly repentant individual will be earnest in discarding all these things and will be willing to come under oversight that will help him get rid of this way of life. Finally, I will encourage you to join the church I lead and as your pastor, I will pay particularly pay attention to your progress. The spirit and practice of homosexuality does not come on people overnight and it will be foolhardy to think that it will go in one day. It is time that will reveal to the minister and to yourself that you have been rid of gay tendencies and such processes could take years to happen.
The fundamental problem with religion in our day is people thinking that God is seeking physical wellbeing for people; when actually God wants spiritual wellbeing for a people. Today, people imbibe religion – people pray and fast – because they want a certain miracle to befall them. The point of religion, at least from the Christian worldview, is for sinful humanity to be restored to a holy God. In Exodus 19-20, God revealed himself to Moses and the Israelites, and he gave them his laws – the ten commandments. The whole story of the Old Testament can be summarized as this: man is unable to keep God’s holy laws perfectly. God’s people, in the process, sinned against him. This is why Matthew 1:21 says that Jesus came to the world to save his people from their sins – their sins against a holy God. The fundamental problem that God has with humanity is not poverty, sickness or a need for deliverance. God’s problem with all of us is our inability to keep his holy laws. Therefore, when Jesus came, he lived a perfectly righteous life; he was killed by the Romans; and he rose again. Jesus became the lamb of God that takes the sins of the world away. Theologically, this means two things: those who trust in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior will not be judged by a holy God, because God has judged their sins in Christ. The second one is equally fundamental: God comes to the redeemed sinners from the point of his conversion to begin to sanctify him through his Holy Spirit. The sanctification of the Christian is a lifetime process and it usually entails enduring suffering and embarking on personal discipline.
So, taking the gay person’s example: the individual must be brought to a place of repentance. Then he must be made to trust Jesus as his Lord and Savior. It is at this point that the laborious work of the pastor begins: he is made to see his need for daily prayer and Bible reading. He is helped to join church life – where older Christians can bring him under their wings and tutor him. And finally, and hopefully, he finds a Christian girl in church he will be interested in marrying. If he can ever reach this latter point, you can be sure that he has finally been delivered of being gay. So, you see that there is no hard and fast rule here: true biblical deliverance is one that will take time; it is one that will follow genuine repentance and faith; it will one that will occur as God sends providential dealings in our lives that will rid us of our love of sin – suffering; and it is one that every one of us Christians are undergoing even right now with different kinds of sins in our hearts.
Finally, this is a personal appeal to you: ‘Fisayo you must find true safety in Jesus Christ. This is what I mean: the kind of work that you do exposes you to grave danger. I followed with keen interest your adventure with the Nigerian Police and I am thankful to God that you escaped that episode with your life. However, religious people are even more dangerous. I hope you realize that this “Prophet of their Pocket” series might be the most life-threatening investigation you will ever undergo. The reason is simple: you are threatening the livelihood of these people and to secure it, they will not mind killing you. On a Facebook post you made, I told you that I was praying for you; and I am. I trust the God of heaven, whom you are serving by helping humanity to be better; particularly seeking a better Nigeria… I trust God to keep you from all harm. But whether you are killed by one of these people you are exposing, or you come to a good old age and die – die, all of us will die. It is therefore important that along with your love for investigation and your desire to see a better Nigeria, do add a love for God to your work. This is what I mean: ‘Fisayo, you will need to place personal faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You will need to trust God yourself to keep you in the way that you go. So that whether in life or death, you will always be with God. There is a lot I could say in this regard but I will just want to bring this letter to a close at this point.
Thank you for all that you do and please know that while many evil people may be seeking your guts, many good people are also praying for you. Stay well.