Popular Nigerian columnist and Lagos-based Pastor, Femi Aribisala, has lambasted ‘Yahoo Pastors’ who fleece their members of their money in the name of Tithing saying that God gave him a house in V.I, Lagos without Tithing.
Why should God do this for a sinner like me who does not pay tithes?
I was standing in the parking lot of the building where I lived in Lagos, talking to Bimbo Dada, now Director of Library, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, when a man walked through the gate and came to talk to me. He said he worked for an oil-company but had recently been posted out of town. There was a lunch-hour fellowship meeting every week in his house and he was at a loss what to do about it now he was leaving. So he had been asking God for guidance.
On that particular day, God told him to stop praying. He told him to go out of the house and walk down the road. When he got to our gate, God told him to go in. Then he said to him: “You are to hand over the lunch-hour fellowship to that man talking to the lady over there.” So the man said to me: “The Lord says I should hand over the lunch-hour fellowship meeting in my house to you.” After getting the confirmation I required from the Lord, I agreed to take over the fellowship. That was how I inherited a 20-man lunch-hour fellowship in 1994.
Soon, I rented a flat in Victoria Island for the fellowship from Chief Olisa Metuh, then PDP National Publicity Secretary. Two years later, God told me he has given me an entire building. I jumped to the conclusion he had given me Olisa Metuh’s building. As a Christian then schooled naively in the sacrificial system, I concluded God would sacrifice the landlord’s interests for my sake.
I got a prayer group to surround the building and quickly claimed it in the name of Jesus, according to the principles of Joshua: wherever the soles of my feet tread, I take possession. (Joshua 1:3). I don’t know if someone quickly alerted Olisa Metuh he was in danger of losing his building to a determined prayer-warrior. Or perhaps he received a warning about me in a vision or a dream. But shortly after I embarked on these UNGODLY prayer-sessions, the landlord gave me summary quit notice and I had to move out.
Hand of God
When I started looking for alternative accommodation, my estate agents, Diya Fatimilehin, first took me to a big dilapidated building in the same Victoria Island. I did not like it and rejected it out of hand. But later that evening, God told me the building I despised was the one he had given me. Therefore, I went back the next day to take a second look. I discovered my “Promised Land” was formerly occupied by the Palestinian Embassy and, significantly, it has quite a number of fruit trees.
I moved into the building in 1997 and spent a small fortune renovating it, confident it belonged to me. In 1999, at the expiration of my lease, the landlady, Eniola Vanderpuye, offered to sell the building to me through her lawyers, Abiola Morgan & Associates; even though I never asked to buy it. I later discovered she had never even seen it before. It had been willed to her by her late father. But she lives in Chicago with her American husband and has no desire to return to Nigeria.
The realtor she hired to value the building turned out to be Pastor Seinde Adegbonmire of RCCG, a good friend of mine. He asked me how much I could afford. We finally agreed on a price convenient to both the landlady and me. Moreover, I was allowed to pay unconventionally; in instalments over four years. Nevertheless, after four years, I was still unable to complete the payment for the building.
One day, Mrs. Nike Shonibare, a woman I had never met before came to see me. She was then Head of Commercial and Community Banking at MBC International Bank. (This bank was later merged into First Bank). She told me her bank would like to encourage me to buy a new car. I would deposit one-third of the cost in their bank and they would finance the rest. She told me to go to Coscharis Nigeria Limited to choose any car I liked.
I went there and chose a Land Rover Freelander. But while the deal was still being negotiated by my lawyer, Pastor Tokun Pedro of RCCG, God told me he did not send Mrs. Shonibare so I could buy a car. He told me he sent her so I could secure a loan to pay off my outstanding debt to Eniola Vanderpuye.
Accordingly, I borrowed N10 million from MBCI (now First Bank) to pay off my former landlady. I serviced the debt and brought it down to N5 million. But then I fell on hard times and it grew back to N10 million. Then God appeared to me in a dream in the person of T.S.B. Aribisala and promised to send me money “from Canada.” Within eight days, I received miraculously a number of unsolicited gifts totalling N11 million from people who were not even members of my fellowship. One friend I had not seen for years, walked into my office and said: “The Lord says I should give this to you.” He placed a cheque on my table face-down. When I turned it over, it was for N6,300,000.
I asked for a meeting with MBCI and insisted they should knock N2.5 million off my debt since I was prepared to clear it outright. They agreed to knock off N2.1 million. Thus, I completed the payment for the building, while still leaving me with a generous balance of nearly N3 million.
In effect, God gave me the building without dispossessing the owner. I did not offer any sacrifices and nobody was sacrificed. My heavenly Father proved to be also the Father of the landlady. She got what she wanted; the money to supplement her purchase of another house in Chicago. I got what I wanted; a ridiculously low-priced building in Victoria Island, a choice area of Lagos. Today, the value of my building is now over fifteen times the purchase price.
Someone who pays tithes needs to explain to me why God did this for a sinner like me who does not pay tithes.
Jesus says: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight.” (Matthew 11:25-26).
About the Author:
Femi Aribisala is a scholar and international affairs expert. He is currently an iconoclastic church pastor in Lagos. He is also a syndicated essayist for a handful publications in Nigeria. firstname.lastname@example.org