USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com (characterized by The New York
Times as the most influential African-owned, U.S-based multimedia
networks) established May 1992, our first edition of USAfrica magazine
was published August 1993; USAfrica The Newspaper on May 11, 1994;
CLASSmagazine on May 2, 2003; www.PhotoWorks.TV in 2005
If it is building bigger churches, no other race surpasses ‘Black/African’ folks in Africa or USA
By Ejike E. Okpa II
Special to USAfrica & USAfricaonline.com Houston, Texas
Monday August 3, 2009:
Congratulations, to all the hands and heads that saw the coming of All Saints Anglican Church, Houston, a mostly Nigerian/Igbo church. I believe that a visit there on any Sunday, is not really about doing the worship in a manger style, but showing off SUVs and big cars, the most colorful of attires, and making sure one is seen better than being viewed.
The Nigerian-Houstonians have just joined their cousins – African-Americans in doing what Blacks are known to do: build bigger churches, in mostly depressed and deprived neighborhood all in the name of God. Who says blood does lie?
Despite many years of separation from the continent, the way Blacks and Africans do things are alarmingly similar. They will build a bigger church but when it comes to doing something to help advance their community, they will have their hands out to others. No Black church or her African counterpart has embarked on an aggressive research to find a cure for sickle cell; a disease that is known to afflict mostly Black people.. In the Nigerian community in US, a recent survey indicates that about 15% of kids born to Nigerians families in US, have the disease and yet, no church big or small, has taken up this issue to address.
The biggest church in the world outside the Basilica in Italy, is in Cote D’Ivore, west Africa (picture above). In DFW between Potters House – TD Jakes, Friendship West – Fredrick Haynes, Inspiring Body of Christ – Ricky Rush, and Oak Cliff Bible Church – Tony Evans, all churches in zip codes with unemployment higher than the local average, but an expenditure of more than $300m on church edifices: Zero tax base for the community!
In Nigerian communities, what stand as a testament to community collaboration is always a religious facility.
Even in my tiny village of Ihe in Enugu State, the people rallied and built a cathedral. However, they are not able to agree on having a community bank, scholarship fund, renovate the schools, improve the village market or create jobs for local high school graduates who are defaulting into other activities that cause concern on the well being of the people. Because black people/Africans are suspicious of seeing anyone improve on economic and business endeavors, they rather give to a church.
There is something ingrained in black/Africans people about church and its place in advancing the course and cause of man. The Americans, Europeans and now Asians that Africans run to for ‘money in a beggar style’, have lowered their desire for religious/church leanings. Without the vast number of Africans and their south Americans counterparts, the Catholic/Anglican churches would be challenged. In a recent survey by EU, many Europeans concluded that it is no longer necessary to believe in God and as a result, many churches are being converted to other uses as memberships have significantly dropped.
Blacks/Africans will not collaborate to advance their colleges, hospital, real estate/businesses that help in creating jobs and adding value to their tax base. Bishop College now Paul Quinn College, Dallas, that many Nigerians/Africans attended, is at the verge of being shot down because of finances. The vast Nigerians/Africans/ Blacks that obtained their degrees/diplomas from this institution, have not rallied to give generously to the college.
Where the move/need is to build a church on the college ground, I am sure the response would be awesome. Nigerians have no bank or credit union to help them access credit for businesses and economic development. However, they will in a flash rally for a church building.
The average black in America whether Africans or Americans will give generously to a church but will not invest in a program to advance their community. While church is a good example of coming together, it is not a good example of investment that helps advance a community in dire need. Of all the acclaimed presence of black churches in DFW, that in a given year deposit about $2 billion in area banks, there is no African-American owned bank in the area. No where in US have Africans come together to develop a credit union or have a community bank that cater to the financial needs of their respective communities.
Every ethnic group in US has one except Africans. So the Japanese comment that Africans are strong on their individual strides, is right but on collective basis, they are doormats for other races. Churches do not add to the collateral content of any community in terms of job creation or adding taxable base for revenue to the state or local community. Build them as bigger and best, they are just an edifice.
As Blacks/Africans glorify God in magnificent places, how come the lives of Blacks/Africans are yet to be magnificent in the eye of the Lord? Blacks/Africans still suffer some of the most unimaginable afflictions at the hands of others. Does it mean their prayers are not heard or that they pray the wrong prays in the wrong place they think is right? Your guess is good!
God can be worshipped in small places and still hear the prayers.. It is not so much where one worships God that matters, it is what one does after worshipping. I will not celebrate building of a church as a coming together of a people in need and search of economic presence. Anything done in the name of God is what it is.
I will bet that with all the ‘highs and cheers‘ that come from building All Saints Anglican Church, Houston, if a church member is in need of an organ donation, chances are no church member will step forward to assist or even be screened for a match. Blacks and Africans dance and sing to different music and songs, and it is no wonder their standing among other races is where it is.
Since some see religion as the opium for the poor, they may have observed blacks and their African cousins for this saying. Go to Nigeria, the only industry growing in leaps and bounds are churches and they are mega in their physical presence but shady in their conducts. At All Saints Church, Onitsha, a priest in the 1990s was indicted for poisoning a church member on behalf of a rivalry using communion. It led to church goers for a while refusing to be given ‘holy communion’ by priest. It led to communion being put in the palm.
With all the shout of thy name, black folks and Africans appear to remain far from the intention of God because they are still ones that ‘beg’ for their existence. After the worship on Sundays, where do folks go for employment? Mainly establishments owned and controlled by others.
Monday through Friday, Black folks and Africans are subjected to untold employment, business and economic torture. On Saturday, they may barbecue and on Sunday get out in their best attire to ask, sing and dance in the church, seeking temporary reprieve from the torture they endured the week before and about to embark again. There you have it, in the name of the Lord.
Okpa is Dallas-based contributing writer for USAfrica and USAfricaonline.com
Re: Ejike Okpa on Blacks/Africans and building churches….
by Issac Ike August 4, 2009
While I am captivated by Ejike’s manicured and savvy presentation of his viewpoint, I am totally disappointed by the content of the opinion.
First of all, there is no conclusive study which shows that the impediment of economic progress in black race stems from the financial investment in Churches or that the equal investment on Churches if geared towards the economic goal alone could have putting them on equal footings with other races.
If Blacks lacked strong financial and economic foundation but have diverted all other resources into spiritual foundation, then what’s wrong with it and who are we to judge? How can we determine that economic stability is far much better than spiritual stability?
If folks are willing to spend millions of Naira or dollars to building Churches, what’s wrong with it, is it not their money? After all, King Solomon spent fortune to complete the Temple of Jerusalem which was destroyed by the Babylonian troops under King Nebuchadnezzar in 900 B.C., and that Temple in today’s value worth more than a billion dollars according to the historians. If such fantastic monument could be set up then in the name of God in spite of the level of poverty then, therefore, why worry about building ten square foot of Churches in comparison with what King Solomon had built more than four thousand years ago?
You are a strong advocate of building modern Hospitals, banks, paving roads and other multi infrastructures over building modern structures of worship but have forgotten that those givers and worshipers are people of faith. In their mind-set, they should not give to God crumbs and worship him in the shanty buildings and for anyone to suggest or subject them to doing so will be an infringement into their freedom of worship. What if they decide to invest their last penny to their Churches? That is their money, their faith and prerogative. All roads did not lead to economic and material things alone.
There is no doubt; economic stability is a driven engine that propels bread and butter into the global family tables. But Church plays the role of spiritual medication that heals the wounds of both past and present. It acts as glue that holds family together in a mutual and spiritual bondage. To diminish the role of Church in our society today is an indirect way of expelling God in our midst.
The significance of Church even goes beyond human imagination as Paul amplified in the holy book of Ephesians. Wives should submit to husbands while husbands should love wives as Christ loved the Church Ephesians 5:22-28.
Not withstanding the above stated case: many top decisions been made that uttered the way of our lives today were been made by people with strong Christian backgrounds and have made those decisions based on their religious convictions. Lincoln for example: his Emancipation proclamation that ends the Constitutional rights to own slaves and his zeal to use the Union Army to crush the Confederate troops during the civil war of 1860’s; a decisive move that put an end to slavery in United States was based on his religious conviction that “man’s inhumanity to man is evil”.
William Wilberforce: his conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1785 had uttered his political approach to a position of strict Christian morality. His eloquence and charming speech of 1789 in the British House of Commons gave way to the final abolition of slavery in Britain and West Indies.
Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech in Washington D.C that hastened the Civil Rights movement in United States and eventually forced the Congress to pass the 1964 and 1965 Civil rights act that lifted the disenfranchisement against the Negroes.
In South Africa, we all observed the significant role played by the Anglican Bishop, Desmond Tutu to dismantle the apartheid regime in South Africa. I couldn’t tell how many trips he has made to United States and how many times he testified in the US Congress to slam sanction against the apartheid institution in South Africa.
Even President Kennedy would testify that he drew a conclusion from the scripture which condemned pride as a way of life during his confrontation with the then Soviet Leader, Chairman Khrushchev during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Had he not swallowed his pride says the President, his approach with Khrushchev could have been different and the out come could have triggered the nuclear World war three.
The role played by Church in our society is quite obvious and could be felt by even the blinds. The framers of constitution were not stupid when they separated Church and State and at the same time made the Church a tax free entity.
If very few of the spiritual leaders for their own selfish means decides to mishandle the money entrusted to them by their congregations or dupe them because they have no way of knowing, leave them alone, they will give the account of their stewardship down the road.
I am in no way defending the actions of few Churches and its functionaries who chooses go astray or protecting those who drive Rolls-Royce or SUVs to the Church and at the same time, am not going to advocate the financial swap of building banks and colossal investments over building Churches.
The question I have for Ejike is this: “are our beliefs, principles and ways of doing things strong enough to accommodate other people’s faith and way of life?”
I believe, “the faith in religion and construction of mega Churches is an art of will and personal commitment embedded in individual free will and such rights and privileges should not be trampled in any form or shape by those who felt repugnant about the movement, unless those rights has proven to have created enormous danger to the public at large.”
To diminish the role of Church and in our society and the blatant indictment of Church as the creator of human misery to me sounds more like a political demagoguery that lacked common sense and reasoning.
Re: Ejike Okpa on Blacks/Africans and building churches….
August 03, 2009
“Monday through Friday, black folks and Africans are subjected to untold employment, business and economic torture. On Saturday, they may barbecue and on Sunday get out in their best attire to ask, sing and dance in the church, seeking temporary reprieve from the torture they endured the week before and about to embark again. There you have it, in the name of the Lord.”
God said in His word, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” In another place He said, “My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
I have always wondered why God decided that His people the Jews should become herdsmen while the Pharoahs of Egypt lived in pomp and pageantry. Why did He take His people to Egypt and allowed them to suffer untold hardships in the hands of the Egyptians for 430 years. It is because we do not really understand the mind of God. He said it is difficult for the rich to inherit eternal life. Many slaves were shipped across the Atlantic. They went through great sufferings. Many of them learned about Jesus, received Him as their Lord and Saviour, and went to heaven. Their affluent masters, died and went to eternal hell. The slave masters used to have sleepless nights wondering why these slaves so awfully manhandled still could sing with joy in their voices after they have worked under the sun from dawn till dusk.
I must add my congratulations to the All Saints Anglican Church in Houston for taking time to beautify the place where they go not only to worship God but also to sing and dance and enjoy this life which is only for a time. The greatest thing a man can have is fellowship and I believe the Church at Houston has just that.
The news is that God has chosen Nigerians to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to proclaim that He is God and that He so loves us that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Heaven awaits the true believer but while here on earth see that you take time to fellowship and enjoy yourself.
I live in London and I noticed that the beer parlours are the places the average white man goes to seek his own reprieve from the tortures of life. Here depression is rampart. Nigerians have turned everywhere imaginable into church and they are doing well both in their jobs and their businesses. They drive the best cars. That is all for being in the house of God asking, singing and dancing instead of alone in the house or in the pub, drinking.
Most Nigerians in Nigeria live lives surrounded by miracles. Why? Because they go to church to ask, sing and dance in the church and come home and meet miracles which eludes the unbeliever.
What is this life if full of care? Enjoy it while you can. It is short. Where is the best place to enjoy it but the house of God with joy in your heart and praises on your lips.