We went into stomach infrastructure long before politicians did – Meduoye, Foursquare G.O

Reverend Felix Meduoye is the General Overseer of Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria. He is one of those that frown at prophecies of doom about Nigeria especially as regards the 2015 general elections. According to him, God is interested in Nigeria, and He will see the country through her present predicament.

As part of activities to mark the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the church, the G.O recently hosted select journalists in his Lagos office, where he spoke on varied issues, including the attitude of the church towards the needy:

As Foursquare Gospel Church marks its Diamond Jubilee in Nigeria, how has the organization fared in the last 60 years?

For me, 60 years in itself is an achievement because, as it were, even beginning from Jesus’s coming to us, the gospel has always been a seed. And you know, when you plant a seed, you have the possibility of that seed either being scorched by the sun or you find that birds can come by and pick that seed so that it will never even germinate at all. It can also be among thorns and can be choked to death. So, many missionaries have come to this country today but we thank God because we can comfortably say that the Foursquare Church, Nigeria, is a seed that has been sown on a good ground. It has not only budded, it has grown. And by the special grace of the almighty God, today, Foursquare Church is in the 36 states and the federal capital of Nigeria. We have about 3,200 branches in Nigeria and we are all over the country including the northeast. Not only that, Foursquare has also gone to neighbouring countries such as Benin Republic, Togo, Gambia and a lot of other west African countries. The church has extended the gospel from Nigeria to all these places. In fact, as we speak, the Foursquare, Nigeria is currently doing some jobs back in America, from where the gospel came to Nigeria. The church from Nigeria is presently working in America, India and other foreign countries. So, on that note, I would say that by the special grace of God, the church has been impactful and a blessing, not only to Nigeria but even beyond this country. And of course, nationally, in the community of churches, Foursquare happens to be one of the founders of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), which has made great impact in this country.

Is the church doing anything to contribute to the success and peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections?

As a church, we shall continue to sensitize our members and indeed all Nigerians to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) in order to vote for candidates of their choice, according to their conscience, as part of our efforts to ensure peaceful elections in the country. We are also praying for this country, and we know that our God answers prayer. To that extent, I can already say that our prayers will continue to affect the lives of our people, including those in politics. But then, it always takes not just prayer but maybe talking to the people. And the talk we have for the people is that everyone who is into campaign must see election into political office not to be a matter of do or die. You don’t have to die because if you campaign in such a way as to stir up acrimony and problem for the country that you intend to rule over, it might just happen that by the time you succeed in achieving victory at all cost, the people are no longer there. So, everyone that is into campaign has to be careful and ensure they speak to the people in a manner that does not tear them up against their opponents. That is so important and it should apply to all candidates from the presidential candidates down the line.

Do you think it is right or wrong for the church to encourage the faithful to support and vote for a particular candidate?

For us, as a church, we pray for the government and for the nation; but we are not partisan. We try as much as possible never to give such impression. People are free to come to our church with whatever political inclination that they have. Either way they go, it does not remove anything from them being Christians. And so long as they are believers in Christ, we leave them to their free conscience to personally do that scrutiny themselves. That is why we urge them to obtain their permanent voters cards so that they can vote. We believe that in terms of leadership of the church, the civic responsibility we have towards the nation is to encourage our people not to allow their franchise to filter off; that each one of them cast their vote. But as to who to vote for, I can only say that the only influence we can have on the faithful is that as we pray for God’s will be done, God will guide them to do His will. But as for coming out in terms of our partisan inclination, we do not do that.

There have been several conflicting prophecies from men of God over the forthcoming general elections. Is it possible that some of those prophecies of doom were mere personal opinion and not divine revelations?

Even the bible says that when there is any topical issue, you always hear so many voices. There has been no time you don’t hear many voices when issues were being confronted. But there is something about utterances that men of God make that we need to create a foundational understanding about. First of all, you know that the bible tells us that at our best, we are still human beings. The bible says that we see through the glass today but there is a time that is coming when we shall not make mistake. If you put on a glass that is dark, what are you going to see? Even when you look at something that is white, it will appear dark. So, it depends on the glass that the man is putting on at a particular time. There is going to be jubilation in this country. I say that because I have prayed; and I believe God. That is the shield that I put on.

Many people have said the election will be bloody and chaotic. What is your view?

I can assure you and all Nigerians that God loves this nation. As a church, we have a firm belief that God’s hand is involved in the affairs of this nation and it is His will to prosper Nigeria. So, contrary to every prediction of doom, Nigeria will come out stronger and better in the years ahead. And our confidence comes from the fact that our God answers prayers and we have prayed as a church for the peace of this nation. So, the church will continue to offer prayers for the peaceful conduct of the general elections. It is the fervent prayer of the church that all shall be well with Nigeria. The unity of this nation is non-negotiable and we counsel all political parties to run their campaigns based on the value they intend to add to the lives of the people and refrain from inciting comments that would heat up the polity.

What has been the impact of the church on the needy in Nigeria?

At Foursquare church, we are very concerned for the needy. As a matter of fact, caring for the needy is top in our programme. Recently, we began to hear some government functionaries and politicians talk about stomach infrastructure. We actually went into stomach infrastructure years before politicians started talking about it. We have a policy within our system, which we tag, ‘Give them to Eat’. It is not all about what we do but it signals the kind of mind we have towards the needy. But as a church, we ought to help and see that poverty is ameliorated and that people who are in need can get what to eat. And we do that in various ways. One is that as we invite people to our programmes, we give them to eat. We also do that when we know of the need of the people. As a church, we have a department called the love ministry. And from time to time, they watch out for the needy, including those that do not relate to the church directly. For instance, we usually read in the media appeals about people that are in need of several amounts of money for surgery or overseas treatment. We assist in such areas too. We have also been assisting victims of the current insurgency in the northeast. Our members are doing a lot to send various items to assist them. Just a few days ago, we sent another consignment of support items to the northeast via the train. So, we regard assisting the poor and less privileged as part of the calling of the church and we have achieved so much in that area.

What is your position on a situation whereby the churches use contributions of the faithful to build schools that children of their members cannot attend because of high fees?

First, I would say that our church runs both secondary schools and university. Our university is called Macpherson University, which is located in Ogun State. But one foundation that I must lay here is that schools cost a lot of money, not only to build but also in running them. Supposing we decide to build a school and just build houses and say well, because we have built houses, let us do it in a way that it will not cost us anything; and just bring children there. You will see that at the end of the day, we will not give the children the best. So, to start with, let us understand that schools cost money to build and maintain. Some people say that faith-based schools charge more than the Federal Government-owned schools. Again, I think that such people do not consider that faith-based schools are not entitled to the subsidies that federal universities receive. You may say, let them make everything free since they are churches. But you know that the church also has primary responsibilities, not only to man but also to God, for the salvation of the human soul. And it is an expensive adventure and expensive project too. It is out of this expensive adventure of soul winning that the church is going the extra mile of coming out with schools. I just chose to lay this foundation so that we may understand a little bit that it is not because many of the churches are out there to make profit. Some of them are out there to at least have a break even. But trying to break even in private school, when you don’t have government subsidy, is not a cheap thing. Like us, we have the Macpheson University and I think that our fee is one of the lowest amongst private universities in this country. And we do that deliberately because we want to help those who will want to come and be part of our school. But even beyond that, we also have scholarship scheme. We give discount to some categories of people such as church members who may not have all that it takes. We also give special discounts or scholarships to a number of those who are seen to be poor. All that effort is in place to see that what we do is help, not only in getting people to school and also to know God as well. So, our fees are one of the lowest among private universities in Nigeria today.

What is your take on star reading, otherwise called the Horoscope? Is it godly? Should Christians engage in it?

The thing is that anything you do without having a focus, you get nowhere. It should be clear to us today that what we call Christianity used to be called, ‘The Way’. It was called such because it was the way of Christ that people were following. And the truth actually is that if a person makes a decision to follow Christ, it is that person we call a Christian. And when someone answers a Christian, it means that he has to follow Christ. And Christ says: I am the way, the truth and the life. So, in Christ, the bible says, is the fullness of the Godhead bodily revealed. Now, the implication of that is that even in the Old Testament way of worshiping God, He sounded it out very strongly that people should have nothing to do with necromancy, witchcraft, mediums and others. In fact, witchcraft and witches were driven out of the city to the point that when Saul in his frustration, went to the witch of Endor, that was the end of his life. So, God doesn’t want us to seek into the things that are not revealed. Horoscope, Star gazing and the rest are wanting to know … In fact, some people open their palm and say, what is written here? That is not good. Some look at the star and say, ‘This is what the star is telling us today’… Some people will say the biblical three wise men from the east followed the star… Sorry, that is a big mistake because those people were wise men from the east and they were not necessarily Christians. And the prophecy that we had long ago, already point to the fact that if there is anyone that should be called a star today, it is Jesus Christ. That is the one we should all look up to. So, going to seek what is in your life; or star reading, is anti-Christ. So, for the church, it is completely ruled out.

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