I am not a fan of Pastor Chris; neither do I attend his church. The closest I have been to him and his wife is to stumble on his programmes while flipping through the channels on television. A colleague of mine from work gave me one of their books, Rhapsody of Realities for kids by Pastor Anita, which I used with my kids for a few weeks.
I have concluded that in sum total, people have been blessed by the ministry of Pastor Chris and his wife despite my reservations. People have been saved, healed and delivered through their ministry. He has made a positive contribution to the society, amidst scandals. Musicians such as Sinach, Frank Edwards, Samsong, through the platform provided by the Oyakhilomes, have been able to express their gifting and are a blessing to the body of Christ and a source of pride to Nigerians. I am sure that we Nigerian Christians have at least one of their albums, or know at least of their songs.
A few thoughts came to my mind concerning the separation and eventual divorce of these dear Pastors:
No Christian enters into marriage with the intention of divorce: I can imagine the early days of the Oyakhilomes when all they had was a calling and a dream, with hopes of spending their lives building the kingdom of God together. The thought of divorce may have been as far from them as the thought of going to hell. The truth is, hardly anyone enters into marriage thinking ‘OK, we’ll stay married for a couple of years, then after that we will get a divorce’; at least not in God’s kingdom. Most, if not all of us enter into marriage expecting the best to come out of it, and expecting the best from our spouse. Dynamics change, challenges come, churches grow, marriages crack.
Divorce is painful: The process of divorce is painful, no matter who you are. Your souls are knit together in marriage, and the separation will leave pain and open wounds that need to heal. After all is said and done and we remove our masks, the pain of separation still lingers, and need to be healed.
When one member suffers, we all suffer: Have you ever hit your small toe or your finger on something? The pain is not isolated to the small toe or finger alone. The whole body is uncomfortable, although varying degrees of discomfort. That is the way we are as the body of Christ. No matter how we analyze what could have gone wrong and share the news or talk about it; as long as we proclaim the Lordship of Jesus, we are all members of one body: the Body of Christ. When one of the members suffers, the whole body suffers with it. We cannot isolate ourselves from the secret and open battles of Christians leaders.
Marriage is commitment to hard work: We tend to take it for granted that once we are Christians and we get married, we will live happily ever after, conflict free. While I believe that Pastors Chris and Anita made an effort in their marriage and kept it to the point where it is now, a lot of us tend to take for granted the fact that building our marriage is an intentional and proactive process. Simply put, marriage is work: hard work. In marriage we love, and then we learn to love; we cherish and we learn to cherish, we trust, and we learn to trust, we obey and we then again, learn to obey. If we don’t tend our garden, it will grow weeds and some of these weeds will grow and fill the whole garden, choking the plants.
Pastors are people too: We all breathe the same air, eat the same food, relate with the same people and have the same problems, go through the same temptations. The difference between those divorced or facing scandal and the rest of us is that ‘but for the grace of God there go I’. We cannot afford to judge and point fingers at what we could have done or would have done. We do not know how much heat we can take until we get into the oven.
What We can Do
Pray for the Pastors: Church members, body guards, good music and all the glamor of their ministry cannot shield them from the pain of the open wounds of divorce. It is our responsibility to pray for them. The decisions they make will ultimately be theirs, but we can pray for God’s guidance and peace.
Work out your Salvation (Your marriage) with fear and trembling: Marriage is one institution that can be destroyed by both errors of commission and omission. Don’t take things for granted. Loving someone and adjusting your life to fit theirs is a very humbling process. Learning to like your spouse when your expectations are dashed takes an extra dose of grace. Learning how to love what your spouse loves and hate what your spouse hates spells selflessness and commitment. We were not born with all these loving qualities and we have to learn them. Just like a field grows whatever you plant in it, if you plant these seeds you will reap the harvest. Work it.
Don’t assume that it can never happen to you: This is the biggest and most dangerous form of deception. While I am not saying that we should start fearing divorce at the smallest disagreement and conflict we have with our spouses, we should also not fall into the wrong assumptions that problems will just go away. Unresolved issues can grow into deep seated problems and irreconcilable differences. Watch it.
Remember that the devil is not attacking a particular pastor or reverend, he is attacking the Church. The bigger the scandal, the juicer the story. Manage information properly and don’t be used to spread wrong information. Remember that they have children, they have extended family, and they have a life.
Finally, invest in your spouse and your marriage. Spend time together with a focus of building a good relationship. It is never too early nor too late.
Now unto Him that is able to preserve our spirit, soul and body unto the coming of our Lord.. Faithful is He that has called us, and will also do it.