The founder of Royal People Int’l Bible Church Inc, headquartered in Benin City, Edo State, Bishop Dr Toyin Adetunji, takes a look at the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people’s faith in God, social and economic lives of Nigerians in this region interview with TAI ANYANWU. Excerpts
Christian and Muslims alike have dem- onstrated great tolerance towards the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Would you say that this is really the solution at a time like this?
Lockdown is not the solution to COVID-19. The fact is that sometimes, our leaders just embark on a journey without looking at it’s side effects. That has actually affected the people economically, socially and otherwise, everything is being affected.
That is not the way to handle issues. We have a government that is not pro-active when things happen. They don’t have measures put in place to handle issues in case it happens. We are always like a fire brigade, running around looking for water when there is fire and before the water will be ready, the fire has done what it wants to do.
The lockdown has not solved the problem but it has affected the people, the economy and a lot of things. It has also affected faith in God. Many Christians today are backslidden.
As l speak to you, there is no church that has fully regained it’s membership this period, even after lockdown has been relazed. It has affected belief in GOD and that’s what the devil wants anyway. The devil wanted people to backslide and not to have faith in GOD again.
So, the lockdown has not done anything good. It has not solved the problem. If it has, then why are we having more number of cases on a daily basis. As we speak now, in Nigeria we have over 30,000 cases recorded according to them. If the lockdown has solved the problem, there shouldn’t be new cases .
This is to let you know that the lockdown has not solved the problem. As a church leader what has the pandemic taught you? It has taught me to know the level of people’s faith in the church. It has taught me that many that comes to church are not actually serving GOD .
They are just after what they want GOD to do for them. It has has taught me a lot of things in the aspect of membership to know my real and true members because a lot of people have stopped coming to church .
If they are actually serving GOD, nothing would have stopped them from coming to church during the lockdown and even after the lockdown. It also taught me the need to be on social media. A lot of Pastors are not socialized on media to enable them reach out to people and for people to reach them.
It really affected their ministries. A lot of us too, come live on social media this period of COVID-19 to minster, it really helped. It taught me that in times like this, even without gathering in a hall, we can still reach out to as many as possible, that the church cannot really die.
Though the gathering of people can be affected but the church cannot die. It taught me how to raise more Home Cell Fellowship because Home Cell Fellowship really helped those that have it this period. It taught me to have Home Cell Fellowship, for if l have it, if there is anything like this in future, the church still lives on because it’s not going to affect the Home Cell Fellowship.
Actually, from the scripture, all churches started in the house. There was no major gathering of the people in those days, until development started coming that the crowds were increasing, they started building temples and all that. So, in case something like this happens again, l have learned to put things in order as a spiritual leader to reach out to my members, even if we cannot gather together in a particular hall for me fellowship.
I also learned the level of faith people has when it comes to issues that has to do with the people. How have your church members been able to cope through this pandemic era? It has been by the Grace of God. So many do call me on phone that they are down, no money, that they need financial assistance. It has not been really easy but by the Grace of God, they have been coping.
Not handicapped to do one or two things for themselves and l have been doing everything to encourage them as well. Thank God for them, they have been picking the courage not to relent in their efforts in what they are doing in order to survive at this period of time. So many of them have not been receiving salaries like teachers and others because they don’t go to work but thank God , God has been faithful.
They are coping and they are still going to cope in case it happens again. We walk by faith not by sight. Could you give an insight into life after the COVID-19 pandemic? Life after COVID is going to be successful.
Life after COVID is to serve God and faithfully too; because the remaining part of the year is still great. Things will still work out for those that know what they are doing.
Those that will not allow what has happened to affect their goals for the year. Even in the midst of COVID-19, a lot of people are still achieving great things for themselves.
For instance, in the midst of COVID-19, I have opened two more branches. So, one must not allow anything to affect his goal in life. Whatever goal you have set for yourself, pursue it, it is still achievable.
The remaining part of the year can still produce a lot of things for you if you don’t relent in your effort and your faith in God. COVID-19 has come and l believe it’s gone. Serve God and God will bless you abundantly.