Saturday, 13 April

The Church and Social Revolution: Where are the believers in Ghana?

Feature Article
Church

1.0       Purpose and Background

To begin with, it is important for us all to appreciate that Salvation, from the perspective of the Christian religion, among other things, is about saving people from oppression, depression and suppression. In the New Testament of the Bible, the physician and Apostle called Luke recorded that when Jesus Christ began his work he went into the synagogue in Nazareth.

A scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Jesus Christ, and he read the following from the scroll: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

The point is that, from the Old Testament teachings of the prophet Isaiah to the New Testament teachings of the savior Jesus Christ, God’s mission after the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden has been to save mankind from all forms of oppression and make mankind enjoy the good things of God.

In a sentence, what this topic means is this: “The Modern Church being able to get the true understanding, and also assuming its Rightful Place in Ghana and for that matter the World”.

1.1       What is then the place of the church?

In Genesis 1:28 after the creation, the first thing God did was to give man dominion. Man fell by going against God’s directives and, as a result, man lost the right to implement this authority. Notwithstanding, Jesus came in to restore man to the position where he can fully execute this authority. The work of Jesus was not going to be an easy one, and indeed it is proven that it wasn’t an easy task to accomplish.

In Mathew 5:13-15, Jesus said to his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world.” In other words, He told his disciples to lead the direction of this world, the direction of the economy, the direction of how local communities and the country should go. Yet, many churches and followers of the Christ have still not appreciated this call to public leadership. In his frustration, Jesus asked his disciples in Mathew 17:17, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?”   In other words, how long must I be with you in order for you to realise and take up fully your authority and leadership in society?

Later on, when Jesus’s time was getting closer, and realizing that the believers have still not come to terms with appreciating their truthful place, he assured them in John 14:18 that he will not leave them as orphans but will come back to them, through the Holy Spirit.

Today, it is believed that the churches have the Holy Spirit but yet we the followers of Jesus Christ, are still failing to appreciate our role in society.

Fellow believers, my expectation, my hope and my belief is that this article will get the followers of the Christ inspired enough to lead the church in assuming its rightful place.

2.0       Practical References from the Bible

·         Samuel, representing the church in the days of old, guided his society, that is Israel, in the selection of their first King by name Saul.

·         Prophet Elijah led his society by protesting against the increasing immorality, injustice and corruption that were taking place in Israel. He instructed Jehu to wage a revolution in which King Ahab, the wife Jezebel, and other people including 450 Baal prophets were killed.

·         Jesus appeared to his society at large as a usurper of institutional religion, a blasphemer, a drunkard and a false teacher.  Jesus declared in the book of Mathew chapter 10 and the verses of 34 and 35 that, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In other words, Jesus came to challenge and shake false beliefs, teachings, and practices that the society had accepted as the status quo. In the minds of the majority in the then society, Jesus was seen as an extremist. Jesus was seen as a radical person. Jesus was a revolutionist.

When we observe the provisions in the Book of Luke chapter 4, Jesus became an absconder in a society called Nazareth. If we look also in John chapter 7, Jesus was declared a wanted man on the streets of Jerusalem. Luke 9:19 will tell you that public opinion of Jesus was that he is a revolutionary man. Jesus Christ in the book of Mathew 23:27 did not commend himself to the religious leaders of his days. In his quest to give direction to society, Jesus went as far as describing them as “hypocrites” and “whitewashed tombs.”

3.0       Reality

The hurting part is that the present-day church that is expected to be followers of Jesus Christ are still failing to appreciate their true authority and call to public leadership. Even though the church is full of Holy-Spirit filled believers (at least that is what we are told), the current church is usually consciously or unconsciously living by three principles:

1.      See No Evil

2.      Hear No Evil

3.      Speak No Evil

o   We live in a society where youth unemployment has become a norm.

o   Injustice is speedily becoming a norm

o   Bad roads leading to loss of human lives is a norm

o   Lack of quality healthcare and shortage of medical supplies is a norm

o   Employment opportunities and vacant positions are accessed based on who you know and no longer based on competence.

o   Quality of education, from the basic to the tertiary level, has been left in tatters, and universities are delivering many programmes with expired accreditation.

o   The church of today embraces and accept the presence of corruption without having any feeling of anger against corrupt leaders who make big financial donations.

o   We live in a society where the number of v8 cars and sports utility vehicles at the Presidency are more than the number of ambulances in Ghana.

o   We are in a country where inequality has become our way of greetings.

o   We live in a society where the water used by political elites  for their gardens and washrooms are more hygienic than the water  used by the majority of citizens as their drinking water.

o   The strong political and economic elites in the society are consistently oppressing the weak and the vulnerable  in our society.

o   Corruption has speedily become a way of life and yet the churches say they see no evil, they hear no evil, and they speak no evil.

Even when believers have been authorized to be the lights of this world. Even when the Christians have been given dominion. Even when we have the Holy Spirit and even when the death of Christ has restored the churches to the original place where they are to exercise dominion. The Christians, believers and the church still says I see no evil, I hear no evil, and I speak no evil.

I have read of reports and stories where expectant mothers die with the unborn baby because the only avenue in transporting them was to sit on a bicycle and pushed through a long distance to access healthcare. The church is in the know of this, and many more, but yet we fail to do what Jesus did in Mathew 9:36: When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Many believers and christians of today fail to have compassion on innocent lives that are suffering as a result of bad administration from leaders and the politicians of our country.

Sadly, it is only in Ghana that we can have a borehole that is supposed to cost less than 20,000 Cedis, presented in a national budget as costing 132, 000 Cedis, and yet there is no anger shown by the christians and church leaders. We do not realise that this is an act of corruption which the ordinary defenseless person will suffer. All these are happening and yet there is no compassion exhibited by the followers of Jesus Christ. 

I was in court the other day when I heard a counsel talking to a client. He told the client and I quote “my friend, if you do not have money, do not litigate”. In other words, if you do not have money, just keep quiet and let your rights be abused. We live in a society where justice is made available to the highest bidder and not he who has a good case.

Reader, I am still asking the question; where is the church of Christ that is supposed to determine the direction of Ghana and lead the country to economic prosperity?

4.0       Reasons why the believers, the clergy and the churches in Ghana cannot be found

1.      The body of Christ in Ghana do claim that they do not want to be tagged as belonging to a particular political party and as such they do not want to involve themselves in political leadership. We claim to have a reputation and that we want to protect this reputation. We claim that we will be insulted by political commentators and as a result we have decided to see no evil, to hear no evil, and to speak no evil.

The irony of this excuse is that:

           i.            Jesus the Saviour, in the book of Luke chapter 11:15, was described as being used by a demon, and yet it did not deter or discourage  him from being a revolutionist.

        ii.            Prophets in the old testaments could stand up, go straight to kings and tell the kings that because of injustice, because of mismanagement, because of abuse of power, they will lose their crown. They looked straight in the eyes of the political leaders in their society and told them that because they failed to allow their society to be led by God, it will not be well with their descendants, and the crown will depart from them.

      iii.            Disciples in the New Testament were imprisoned, some were killed, and yet it did not deter them from being revolutionists.

Strangely, today’s church and believers are saying they see no evil, they hear no evil and they speak no evil, simply because they are scared of being merely tagged and insulted. In other words, they do not want to stand up, protect the truth, and free the oppressed in society.

Gone are the days where kings were consulting and asking for approval from God through the church and the prophets before deciding on major public policies. In England, Christians were those determining the direction of rule of law in the society. Today,  Ghana decides to go for loans, make unreasonable agreements that will bind everyone (including generations yet unborn); yet, the Christian clergy, because they claim to be protecting their reputation and do not want to be insulted or tagged, is being treated as though they do not exist.

I dream of a day when the Christian clergy will be consulted before national budgets are read. I dream of a day when the leaders of the body of Christ will be consulted before major policies are adopted. I dream of the day when the church will be consulted by decision makers and politicians. Christians must assumed their rightful place of having dominion in public leadership and policy-making.

2.      The church itself has soiled its hands. One of the maxims in common law says that he who comes to equity must come with a clean hand.

In Ghana many clergy men and women are on the payroll of the government for no work done, and they are just to keep mute and turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings of the government. Where the body of Christ has allowed itself to be infiltrated by political influences, and instead of being impartial, being the voice of God, being the light of the world, and giving direction to society, Christians are rather chasing politicians for favours. In other words, instead of having dominion, we are rather begging to be dominated. 

5.0       Way forward

1)      The body of Christ in Ghana must behave like Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8.

When he realized the truth, he said “Look, Lord!  Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  

My expectation and hope is for believers, particularly the clergy men and women in Ghana, to say Lord, henceforth, we shall be in charge of our society. We shall lead and give direction to our society, in accordance to your will.

2)      Arise against corruption and speak against corrupt leaders.

3)      Engage in Political Advocacy. For instance, the church must take up every budget that will be read. The church must look out for every bill that goes to parliament, scrutinize them according to the will of God, and raise questions before they are passed. The church must identify, encourage and support Christians who are political leaders (not church goers or those who pretend to be christians), and have the passion to make things right. The church must be leading political advocacy. The church must lead the fight against bad policies and unemployment in society.

4)      The church must engage in picketing. I am looking for the day when the body of Christ will announce that on a particular day there will be no service in the church auditoriums and the body of Christ will continuously and consistently line up on a particular street till the street lights are fixed. Or Christians will picket at Jubilee House till people in Kayoro in the Upper East Region get good water to drink.

5)      Petitions must be submitted. The body of Christ must take the posture that it will not rest until the purchasing of incubators by government for public hospitals  to save the lives of innocent babies. Most of the time I wonder if the clergy men and women, and the body of Christ still remember what Jesus said in Mark 12: 31: “You love your neighbour as yourself”.

6.0       Caution

The time is now for Christians to arise and assume our original position as public leaders. We must be seen giving direction for Ghana. In sounding a caution, permit me to state that if we continue to sleep, and do not rise up to take our rightful role as the light of this country, trust me, on the day of judgement, a lot of casualties and disappointments will take place. May we not miss heaven because we failed to adhere to Mathew 25: 41-46 which reads:

41        Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42        For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

43        I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44        They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45        He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46        Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

7.0       Conclusion

I keep asking everyone a simple question. Where are the churches that;

o   Struggled against racism and injustices in South Africa;

o   Fought against racism, segregation and injustice in America; And,

o   Fought the repression regime in the Philippines?

I keep asking myself, where are the individuals like the William Wilberforce and the other Christians who helped abolish the slave trade throughout the British Empire? And I keep asking, where are the Desmond Tutu’s of our generation?

Fellow believers, giving the increasing poverty, corruption, violence and injustices in Ghana, the Christian church is more than ever being called upon to embrace, engage and continue with its mission of being an agent for transformation and change.

God is still here asking the same simple question he asked Adam as found in the book of Genesis 3:9: “Where are you?”

The believers and clergy in Ghana, where are you?

Prayer

I pray that Jesus the revolutionist will be the true head of the churches in Ghana, and the head of our hearts. I pray that Jesus the revolutionist will change us, so that we will be able to change Ghana and, for that matter, the world.  

God bless us all.

Authored by

Emmanuel Wilson Jnr

[email protected]

Source: Emmanuel Wilson Jnr