I have always believed that the survival of Nigeria is not in the hand of the political governments or its leaders, rather it is in the hand of believers and intercessors that humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways and seek God earnestly. As we read the history of the Israelites; we see a cycle, first sin, then repentance and a cry out to God, then a deliverer. As it is, the church in Nigeria is not only docile to the events in the country, but they are contributing to it, through enslaving the minds of their sheep, rather than teach truths that sets free. Instead of crying out to God for the country (prayer initiatives, prayer-walking etc), the prayers in Nigeria are for personal provisions and killing the enemy.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines slavery as submitting to a dominating force or the state of a person who is a chattel of another. When we think of slavery we think Africans taking as slaves to America and the Islands and sometime the domination of Africa by European powers some decades ago. Unfortunately, there is a new level and dangerous form of slavery taking place in Nigeria (perhaps all Africa) at this time, and instead of its condemnation, it is been hailed and God is been dragged into the equation.
According to my friend Dr. Gary Maxey of West African Theological Seminary, Lagos Nigeria, the growth of Christianity in Africa has been exponential, from 10 million in 1900, to over 400 million by 2000. According to him, many of this converts are not being discipled and that the single most urgent need of the African church is not evangelism like a lot of American Christian love when they visit Africa, but discipling this huge number of converts. In the meantime smart folks are taking advantage of the situation by starting churches as a business entity and they are taking advantage of the people's ignorance, culture and traditions to enslave them.
The predominant religion in Africa before Christianity and Islam is African Traditional Religion or what theologians refer to as Animism. Animism believes there is a big god but we have to approach this big god through intermediaries, depending on the part of Africa you are in, intermediaries could be a human being (dead or living). Animism attributes every occurrence and circumstances in life to spirituality, hence God, the devil or an aggressive or helpless family member are culprits for everything, with no one being held accountable or taking responsibility for wrong actions. As a culture, Africa tremendously respects (our definition of respect) its elders, but this respect is now worship, a trait of the traditional religion (I have a feeling our craze for big titles comes from the desire for respect as well). Animism has priests who consult gods for the people, and often make predictions about the future or impending circumstances, of course with money for the priest.
As Nigerians switch from ATR to Christianity and Islam, a lot of the Animism attributes followed, and this hybrid religion is enslaving people rather than set them FREE, the very reason Christ came into the world. This slavery is not physical with chains and shackles but of the mind, rendering educated and the uneducated alike subject to the very few, in the name of anointing, power (stolen money) and access to God.
The Nigerian situation seems hopeless, as many people as can get out are out and more would do so if given the chance. Governments don't work, roads are terrible, hospitals are useless, the supply of electricity is very erratic. Politicians, their family and friends see elected offices as an avenue for riches (our time syndrome), not to serve. There are no standard operating procedures or accountability for anything, from the health system to education, nobody simply cares. The citizens of Nigeria have given up on the country, nobody seem to have an idea what the solution is, except to talk about it and get angry.
To survive the lack of everything and anything, religion (not relationship) has become the comfort for Nigerians, and that is where the slavery begins. Churches (and other houses of worship) have sprung up and rather than teach the truth that sets free, they cater to the feeling of the people, so they can keep coming back. Pastors and church leaderships are now intermediaries that the people go to and believe in (instead of in Christ). We now have prayer contractors, who are paid to pray. With a little knowledge of scripture, lots of culture and residue of traditional religion, enslavement of mind is now in full swing.
Worship of Leaders
In the days of ATR, Africans believe a human being could be very powerful and become an intermediary, so we have a lot of ancestral worship. Our culture with kings often referred to in Yoruba land "Alase ekeji orisa (second in command to the gods)" also added to the worship of humans.
As the church (universal) grew, many leaders with anointing and the grace of God on their lives emerged (some have no grace or anointing). As miracles or supposed miracle occur in their place of worship, the vehicle God used now becomes the god, and rather than stop such nonsense, such human worship is now encouraged in the name of protocol.
The bible is very against human worship, when angels visited in the Old Testament, they are usually very quick to tell the humans not to bow to them because they are just messengers. Jesus Himself said calls no one father (the in-thing in Nigeria now), that you have only one father. The leader cannot be challenged nor can his/her mistakes be pointed out by close allies, in-fact, they talk bad about the leader when he/she is not there but worship him/her in their presence.
Religion based on Emotion
As Nigerians takes a sharp turn backward (thanks to bad governance over the years), they've sought solace in religion (like its happening in America today) and rather than religion setting them free, through the power of God and infilling of the Holy spirit, which only comes through spiritual rebirth and righteousness. The church cater to the emotions of the people through placebo effects, they organize all night prayers, waiting on the mountain, 21-40 days of fasting and prayer and other things that make the people feel they are doing something to please God.
According to Jesus, they that must worship God must do so in spirit and in truth and not with their emotion. Emotion is housed in our soul (our spirit person is distinct) and it changes with time and circumstances, which is how God designed it to function. We have a whole bunch of people in Nigerian churches who are serving God with their emotions and not in spirit, and being encouraged on by their pastors through lack of teaching but activities that keep them coming back or rather enslaved.
The Nigerian church has been so programmed that emotion based services (deliverance, demon killing nights, have your miracle nights etc) are packed out, but teachings (marriage, finance, communication, conflict resolution, parenting, leadership etc) that transform lives through the mind are empty. I once got an invitation from a so called bishop in Nigeria, who told me the best way to get people to come for the program, is to do it at mid-night and call it "deliverance of your marriage night", needless to say I turned it down.
Apostle Paul said we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. Minds are usually renewed by knowing truths that sets free. If the churches keep feeding the sheep emotional bologna, then we are going to continue to have what we have. The day we decided to teach the truth about the kingdom of heaven, then freedom will come to our nation.
Today, the teaching in most churches is that every problem is from the devil, so a lot of time is spent casting away the devil rather than in worshiping God. There are no sound doctrinal teachings; time is wasted on inconsequential things like women wearing pants (trousers) or small or large jewelry. Prayer is taught as something you do at vigil or when you are going into spiritual warfare rather than as a way of life. Spiritual warfare is taught as being fought by humans (remember the song "ogun maja yio, ogun maja yi ajaye"), rather than God sending His angels to do battle in the heaven-lies on our behalf, and our role is to maintain our link to the throne room of heaven with a pure heart and a holy hand. We have denominations that specifically propagate this lie and their services are noted for extra-biblical (but emotionally pleasing) activities, such as shooting the devil with an invisible gun while making the sound of a gun with their mouth.
Money is another area where wrong teaching is enslaving the people. It was reported some years back, that a low rank person working at one of the hotels in Lagos, Nigeria, stole money from his office, and gave it as tithe; meanwhile the church knew he was not a senior person to bring in such tithe? Church folks are told they are robbers if they don't pay tithe, - that is a law for the Israelites, who by the way pay more than 10%. If you don't give (according to what you've purposed in your heart or bountifully, with joy, and in faith Luke 6: 38, 2 Corinthians 9) to church or to the poor, you are not robbing God, you are stealing from yourself. Jesus and Apostle Paul made it clear that in the church dispensation under the new covenant, if you sow sparingly you reap sparingly, and if you sow bountifully then you reap bountifully. It is the measure that you measure that will be measured back to you. While I don't think tithing is for the church, Jesus never condemned it either (see Luke 11: 42, Matthew 23: 23), but chose to promote something else. Apostle Paul also chose to teach on giving rather than on tithing.
The fear of robbing God is so enslaving that we now have armed robbers, politicians who loot government treasury, policemen who collect bribe and civil servants who stole from petty cash, all giving tithes to appease God.
Works rather than relationship
Every Christian realizes that we are saved for a purpose, and usually once we found what that purpose is, we set about doing it. However, we (myself included) run the risk of letting the work of doing our purpose come between our relationships with God. As Jesus explained to us in John 15, the primary function of a branch is to remain in the true vine, and not to bear fruit.
Unfortunately, the church in Nigeria is enslaving its people, and doing exactly what Jesus preached against - Works (specialty of the Pharisees). If a member misses a Sunday, that member is made to feel like he/she has lost their salvation. Husband and wives are fighting at home, because the wife, a deaconess in Church, spends the whole day in Church (doing church stuff - holy gossip) while the unbelieving husband starve at home, yet she'll claim "I'm doing god's work" - I don't think so.
The fruit we bear as humans are by-products of our relationship with God. Most people with great anointing will tell you, that whatever God has gifted them comes from a time of intimacy with God alone, what you see in church services and seminars are simple manifestation of God's power from a time of intimacy.
Social or moral transformation would never come to Nigeria, until the church wakes up and leaders stop enslaving their flocks. The flocks also have responsibility to start looking through the scriptures and asking questions. Jesus and the apostles were revolutionaries; they preached something different and challenged the religious leaders of their days. Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church hierarchy who were stifling the Holy Spirit in the sixteenth century, leading to the birth of what we now know as the Pentecostal movement.
Let me commend those who are praying and earnestly seeking the face of God to deliver our country, the Lord knows you and He will greatly reward you. Do not give up now, the answer to our prayers for a deliverer is on its way. Remember, it is he/she that endures to the end that is saved.
Lord, I pray that you give the Nigerian church boldness to stand for righteousness and not human worship, the courage to prayer-walk around every government building and pray against spirit of corruption until something happens, the grace to challenge leaders whose teachings are extra biblical in love, like Paul did Peter. Father, we pray for freedom of mind for your people. Lord, like you sent Moses, Deborah, Samson at the appropriate times for Israel, please send a deliverer (who would be voted to office and would make righteous decisions) to Nigeria. In Jesus name, Amen.