It was 1992 and the church I first pastored was growing faster than I could possibly have envisaged when the journey began. 2nd anniversary was approaching and over 2,000 people were pouring into the Wallan Hall of the then D’Rovans Hotel, Ibadan every Sunday morning. We had started a satellite campus of the ministry’s bible institute by the side, foundation was about to be laid for a 2500 seater auditorium and I was only 23. My day started with at least 2-3 hours of prayer. I’d then head out to the office where my able administrative secretary would have organized a pile of documents awaiting my attention. After briefing me about each of them for the first hour, I would dive into them one after the other with the phones buzzing and also keeping appointments with members for counseling. A few caring pastors in the city would come by occasionally to check on me. By 5pm, it’s either time to refresh for evening service or bible school classes. I left for the office at 8.30 and would either have fasted and eaten nothing or managed a meal at a local cafeteria.
For 7 years I had learnt to walk in divine health from my Pastor, George Adegboye and resources of Kenneth E Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, John Osteen, David Oyedepo and a few others. Symptoms of sicknesses were easily dismissed whenever they showed up in the light of God’s Word that was revealed to me about Healing in the Redemptive work of Christ. When this fever came upon my body about mid year of 1992, I just ignored the “lying symptoms” as usual. 14 days later, the symptoms were worsening. As I sat down for the beginning of first service this Sunday morning, I was extremely uncomfortable and demanded to be taken back home as the youths were in charge of the service anyway. It was Youth Week. A deacon called a doctor who was a church member who after examining me pled for me to accept medical treatment. I succumbed in my pains and injections and drugs were administered to me. By evening, things had rapidly grown worse and I was taken to the hospital where further examination revealed my body was fighting an infection. The results scared my doctor so much he summoned 2 other colleagues to study it with him. I was not allowed to walk to the ward on my feet but was wheeled in a wheel chair. Blood samples were taken and sent to an external laboratory for confirmation the following day and the results were released. My doctor would later explain the infection was so bad I could have dropped dead at any moment. It was a miracle I was alive and that my intestine had not been perforated by what was diagnosed as typhoid fever. I did not realize that expecting divine health with poor nutrition was nothing but foolishness.
The doctor called the attention of a deacon to the unbelievable compromise by my immune system and together they queried the only young man who lived with me at the time about my nutrition. Church officials were alarmed that their ever upbeat, energetic and anointed pastor never cooked in his house and went to bed on an empty stomach most times. Efforts were made immediately to improve my living conditions. Things got better after I got married but a pattern of sickness had developed similar to the life I had before the revelation of divine healing came to me. My wife was exasperated and interestingly so was my doctor. I looked into his eyes one day and probed the reason for my regular sicknesses and he confessed his confusion about it. I had no choice but to turn to the Lord in fasting, prayer and a search of scriptures. My discoveries were that I lived a lifestyle that could not sustain the level of stress that my responsibilities placed on my shoulder. Not only had it become imperative that I got better nutrition, I must add recreation and exercise to become healthy again. The result was that I reduced fasting from three times to once a week, started taking multivitamins and mineral supplements with my meals, made Monday a resting day and spent time swimming and taking a nap. Tunde Agarawu, the then African Badminton champion also installed a net by the side of my house and gave me all I needed to recreate with it in the evenings. In addition, I became more sensitive to my body and lightened my workload when feeling stressed and that was how I broke the cycle of sicknesses. I realized my body needed proper care and so did my soul. To be a tripartite being (spirit, soul and body), but only cater to the wellbeing of the spirit is nothing but foolishness.
Another manifestation of foolishness is for me to be as sick as I mentioned earlier and refuse medical intervention. I would have died if I had not allowed medical treatment. Kenneth Hagin is known in the body of Christ as the father of the Faith movement. Since going home to be with the Lord, his mentee, Kenneth Copeland has been regarded as the unofficial leader. “Word of Faith People” don’t see themselves as a movement but only people who take God at His Word. At the recently held Believers Convention in Texas, brother Copeland talked about the importance of using supplements and vitamins as vital parts of living long and healthy lives. He also mentioned having a heart condition recently (I believe due to old age) and the Lord led him to have a pacemaker inserted into his heart to keep him alive. That does not mean he no longer believes and confesses the Word, but only that he understands body function and old age. Many Christians have lost their lives in the lack of understanding that natural medicine does not negate Faith and that since God provided the natural, He expects his children to be wise enough to take advantage of it when necessary. As a Christian of almost 40 years and Pastor of 30 years, my heart has ached many times when children of God died needless deaths stayed barren by refusing medical interventions or lost babies and spouses at deliveries by refusing Caesarean sections. Some of those decisions were not based on Faith but fear or wrong doctrines that amount to foolishness.
I have seen similar foolishness displayed in financial matters. Expecting divine prosperity without any job or business whatsoever just because a Christian tithes and confesses the Word of God is foolishness. I have seen Christians who are quick to give but lack industry, financial prudence and order who expect financial abundance just because they believe and confess the word of God. They do not realize that it is God’s order that our needs be met as we are rewarded for the value we add to the lives of other people. God brought us all into this world with gifts and talents that ought to be turned into skills through training and practice. When we put our skills into the service of others, they reward us for the value we bring to their lives. Benevolence, social security and handouts are not God’s best for anyone. Preachers who only emphasize tithing and giving as keys to prosperity do their congregants great disservice and should re-examine their motives. It is Faith to honor God with our giving, knowing that He will multiply our seeds. It is also Faith to save regularly towards payments of bills, execution of projects and achievement of dreams with expectations that at the end of the day, God’s miracles will make up for inadequacies. It is faith to invest wisely in financial plans. The Lord Jesus Christ had a Judas who kept the finance of the ministry and accounted for it even if he was corrupt. It is foolishness to confess Philippians 4:19, without doing the above.
I remember running a Television ministry many years ago and while paying the bills was a constant stretch, I decided to add evangelistic crusades to our outreaches. After organizing the first 2 crusades, we were owing the producer 3 months’ worth of payments and so also were we owing the TV station. It would take almost one year to clear the debts. I kept the programme on the air expecting God to honor my faith by bringing financial miracles, but I was foolish in the first instance to have started the crusades in the face of financial challenges. It is a different ball game if I heard God’s voice giving me a clear direction to do it. Under such a circumstance, God will perform miracles. Some funny Christians play the lottery, gamble on betting apps, borrow at incredible interest rates and expect supernatural debt cancellations. Such are certainly not demonstrations of faith but foolishness.
Is it impossible for God to provide by miracles? Of course not! Is it impossible for him to heal and change baby positions without C-sections, of course not! God has performed many wonders in scriptures but we must be open to His direction in every circumstance and discern when he wants to use the natural also or when our own faith requires the natural. Faith is on different levels and we cannot base our faith on other people’s testimonies. We must be true to ourselves and to God about what we truly believe, otherwise, we might be presumptuous.
Where we need to nurture our faith, we feed it by the hearing of faith (Galatians 3:3, Romans 10:14). Once we believe, by the Spirit of faith, we declare the Word (2 Corinthians 4:13) and act in line with the Word(James 2:20).
Next week, I will draw clearer lines between Faith, Foolishness and presumption