ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has re-echoed his call on the Church to redefine its end-time message by focusing more on the gospel of salvation rather than on prosperity and prophecy.
Ewhrudjakpo gave the admonition when he granted audience to the Bishop of the Western Izon Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Victor Okporu, during a courtesy call in Government House, Yenagoa.
In a statement on Thursday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Doubara Atasi, the Deputy Governor also stressed the need for Christians to live the life of sacrifice as exemplified by God in order to build a virile church.
The statement quoted Ewhrudjakpo as saying that although the Church as the body of Christ was doing well in some respects, its current efforts had not yielded the much desired result in terms of saving souls for eternity.
He maintained that it was necessary for the clergy to shift the focus of their message from prosperity and emphasize more on salvation, which according to him, was the main thrust of the gospel of Christ.
Ewhrudjakpo noted that flocking people to fill up the Church was different from true conversion which leads to salvation, stressing that it is all vanity to erect large church buildings for worship without firmly establishing the worshippers in Christ through sound doctrines.
He particularly enjoined the Anglican, Catholic and other orthodox churches to do more of what he described as break-even preaching in Ijawland to enhance their acceptability as well as raise the spirituality of the people through belief in Jesus Christ.
Ewhrudjakpo said: “The Church, for me, is doing well. But there is still much to be done in terms of what the church is preaching today. In my opinion, what the church is doing is not commensurate with what we are getting in return in terms of dividends.
“With the expansion of the church, can we say that we are getting the same results the 72 disciples appointed by Christ achieved in their time? Have we been able to make converts or we are just bringing people to church?
“There is a difference between conversion and bringing people to church. I really believe that we need to do more than we are currently doing because the Bible has been expounded more than it used to be.
“I really want to interrogate us: Do we really need to change our strategy? Or is it that the message we are giving out is not coterminous with the reality of our time?
“Is it because we have overemphasized prosperity over salvation? Is that the point? If that is the case, can we recalibrate the content of our message?”
Responding to the Diocese’s appeal for support, Ewhrudjakpo assured them that the government would carefully consider their requests with a view to giving assistance within the limits of available resources.
Stating the purpose of the visit, the Bishop of the Western Izon Diocese, Anglican Communion, Right Reverend Victor Okporu, lauded the development strides of the present administration and its commitment towards promoting the work of God.
According to Bishop Okporu, the young Western Izon Diocese which cuts across two local government areas in Bayelsa and four in Delta has been grappling with a lot of teething challenges.
He, therefore, appealed to the government to support the ongoing efforts of the diocese to acquire land for its Cathedral project and procurement of an operational vehicle.