For the entire Sundays in January, worshippers in Calvary Kingdom Church (CKC), Lagos, are celebrating “foundational Sundays” tagged ‘Four Super Sundays’ to plan and commit the Year 2020 into God’s hand. Today being the last Sunday, Archbishop Joseph Ojo, founder and senior pastor of CKC, speaks on the importance of laying solid foundation at the start of a New Year. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:
We shall be celebrating the last in the series of Super Sundays for the month of January on Sunday (today); what influenced the idea?
Honestly, this January, normally we have foundational Sundays. January is the foundation of all months of the year and we have dedicated this month of January, the four Sundays in it, to four areas of the human life: it’s more than that, but we have chosen four. The first Sunday was our foundational Sunday. God’s word says in the book of Psalm; ‘If the foundations are destroyed, what shall the righteous do?’ We established the fact that the righteous can do three things. If the foundation is destroyed; the righteous can revive it, the righteous can repair it and the righteous can restore it. It is a business of revive, repair and restore. Many foundations are destroyed in this country. Is it marriage? You know those days’ divorce was a taboo; but even in the church today, under flimsy excuses, a man would say to the wife ‘we are not compatible’ and they separate. So, we are using these four Sundays to lay a very solid foundation. Our first Sunday was spiritual foundation; the second Sunday was Youths and students’ foundation. You know they are just resuming now and the message was geared towards building a solid foundation for children and young ones. The scriptures say ‘train up a child in the way that he should go, and when he is grown up he wouldn’t depart from it’. And the last Sunday, 19th was family and marriage foundation. We visited areas where families can live more happily together and the family, the nuclear family, can enjoy the blessings of being a part of a close family. How to manage the family and every member of the family enjoys the fruits of the family? Then the last Sunday which is January 26th, we have foundation for businesses and enterprises. We want to reach out and ensure that people don’t just do business or don’t just do what they are doing this year without having a foundation. Have a focus, at the end definitely, if you have a solid foundation, no matter the tower, it will take it. You see, there is no man who wants to build a tower that would not sit down to count the cost; so that’s what influenced our choice of the four super Sundays.
If I have to tie the spiritual Sunday to the church; the question will be, what is the place of prophesy in Christendom considering happenings in the country in recent past?
It depends on the kind of spirit they have. Some prophetic utterances or releases – a good prophet; the bible says ‘The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet’, in other words you can direct your prophecy so that you would not kill instead of building or keeping alive. You don’t use your prophecy because you want to have ego. So that people would say you are a very powerful man of God, in other words you are also destroying yourself. You know, wise prophets’ advice; they don’t make some of their predictions public even though you see it very clear. Making it public you are just looking for attention. You should not make people to think you are powerful. It is not too good. You see, prophets in the Old Testament, they go to the king. They don’t go to media, they don’t go publicising, saying ‘if it doesn’t happen, you know I am not a man of God’, who cares? They don’t operate in wisdom and that’s the truth about it.
So when you say ‘the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet’, that draws me to the talk on authority as preachers; who are we answerable to?
I am answerable to God.
In the case of PFN and other Christian groups, we know there are hierarchies. Now, in a situation where those at the top find it difficult to call subordinates to order; how do we reconcile the situation?
You begin to see rebellion. You know in every organisation, you have people that have rebellious tendencies, and like I said before those top echelon of leadership use wisdom, not to kill ‘the rat and kill the pot’. They allow time. Time, the English people say is always the greatest healer. You don’t react the way maybe your subordinates want you to. If somebody is bathing, and you are in the bathroom of those days, and a mad man comes and take the cloth you use to cover the road and he ties it, and he is running with your cloth and you come out of the bathroom pursuing the mad man naked; people will think you are the one crazy, not the mad man that is already tying your cloth. You that is naked is the one they would see as crazy. So, leaders use wisdom to handle cases like that because people know what they are looking for. They just want to either make money or make name. And those two things are not really what a wise Christian clergy should try to portray.
Coming to the aspect of marital bliss; late last year, you celebrated your wedding anniversary and one of the Sundays in this foundation Sunday is also dedicated to marriages. So, I will like you to look back as a way of advice, being someone who had been in that institution for quite a while and then speak to the issues we have in marriages today?
You know, the picture that people have before they get married is very important. That picture can be seen as expectation. Some people enter into marriage with unrealistic expectations. And when they get into it and discover that what they were expecting is not what they are getting, they become very unsettled; they want to do everything possible to scuttle the whole thing. My counsel to people today is that before you get married, try to find out from the person you are getting married to what his or her expectations are; ‘what is your expectation of this relationship?’. Now, a common thing like having children can cause divorce. But if the expectation is there and if we get married, children did not come early no problem, we would know how to handle it and if it comes, good. So, when you get married, and the woman is expecting that she will not be trekking to church again, she will not be doing some certain things again or the husband will say ‘when I add my wife salary with mine, it would be able to take care of the family’ and when you get married, your wife says she is not giving you her salary, then there is problem. Some men enter relationship with women because of their income. They will just add up their wife’s income with theirs, saying ‘if I add my own 100 thousand to her own two hundred thousand, at least we can manage it’. And the day you come home and your wife says ‘this is my salary, my parents trained me and I have a responsibility to them’ and you are saying ‘No, I am now your husband’. Failed expectation is one reason marriages fail. By God’s grace, I and my wife we’ve been married for 44 years, this year 2020, makes it 45 years we’ve been married and for 45 years, I can at least counsel people on what has helped us. We have children, we have grandchildren. And in the area of expectations, I have realistic expectation, my wife also has realistic expectation and God has done it. That is not the only thing, but this is a vital point that kills people and don’t expect the unrealistic from your spouse. There are things he can’t handle and other men can, don’t compare him with them. On our wedding day other people may have elaborate party, if the husband does not have the means and you force him to do the same as others; something else may happen. So, just try to be yourself.
So, in other words, what you are saying is that people should manage their expectation?
That’s the truth; they should be able to manage their expectation.
You said that the second Sunday was dedicated to children and youths, and I understand also that the church has a school. I would like you to look at the educational sector vis-a-vis the church. Virtually all the churches in Nigeria are committed to educational institution as well. So, where did we get it wrong with our education?
Well, I think we got it wrong because Nigeria got it wrong. I was preaching on that second Sunday, and one of the things I said was ‘how can a government, for example, borrow legislation from the civilised politics, and tagged it ‘child abuse’? You see a child hawking along the road, they say it’s child abuse; I don’t believe it.’ If there is a policy or commitment on the part of the government to ensure that all children in school at certain age, no child will go and hawk on the streets. If parents have means to take care of their children, no one would go and sell pure water. Most of those children are assisting their parents at home because most of those parents are not working at all and that is the only means that they can even earn a living and eat. So, it is government abuse not child abuse. There is nothing like child abuse in Nigeria, it is government abuse. Government abuses people by not providing qualitative or even average education. The facilities are not there, the infrastructure is not there but thank God that with the help of God and many churches that are coming out to build schools, at least some, not even all, can have basic education which is very important. Many of us were products of mission schools. We grew up having the Roman Catholic School, the CMS School and all that, and that’s how we had education. Very few of us had the opportunity of attending government school. It has been like that. Government has not been able to provide enough classrooms for the teeming population. So, I think the government needs to come out with a policy to ensure that when a child is at the age of five, for example, that child must be in school. It is the same thing we take all things with levity, that’s why today we are having problem in knowing our exact population. Because in other civilised places, they plus and minus. They don’t do this census we do here often. They take data from hospitals because there is nobody born that his birth is not registered. There is no person that dies that is not registered. When you calculate the number of death plus the number of birth, you add it to last year’s own; you will know your population. But here in Nigeria, every five years or so they are doing censors because we lack planning and God someday, somehow will give us leaders who are reasonable and sensible enough that will not put money first but will put service first.