The church grew like wildfire. Word spread round the city that God had finally gotten an office open 24/7. It was in Pastor Yemi’s church. Within the first year, they had acquired a massive piece of land. Things were happening really fast. By the end of the second quarter of the second year, their building was sitting erect in a choice location at New Bodija, in the ancient city of Ibadan. The church members started work on the pastor’s house. If anything, backbiters and that clique of people Pastor Yemi referred to as “Tobiases,” were shutting their mouths for a change.
“We are beginning to breathe in fresh air,” he told his ministers at the weekly meeting they held to plan and launch out.
Indeed, it was a breath of fresh air. When Yemi started the church, it had been tumultuous. He had started off as a pastor under a large ministry. Initially, they started in Ondo town and then began spreading all over the Western states of Nigeria. They targeted the state capitals. From Akure, they opened up at Ado Ekiti, then Oshogbo. When the church moved to Oyo State, they needed a highly charismatic pastor who could pull a crowd. He had to be highly anointed as well as be an orator. Yemi stood out like a sore thumb! Even though he had only recently joined the church, he was already loved by everyone. The general overseer sent him to Ibadan!
In Ibadan, Yemi did not perform below expectations. He did massive evangelism and worked harder than was rationally human. But he was not deterred. He was more determined than anyone else to make a mark, especially because he was the youngest among all the pastors. Many people had doubted his ability; many tried to discourage the GO the stakes were high on him, and he didn’t want to let down the people who believed in him.
The church grew big after only six months, but Yemi got a transfer that was least flattering. He was sent to Oshogbo, which, though an older church, was much smaller than Ibadan. He took it in good faith, though with a lot of bitterness. He had served in Oshogbo for only three months when the church attendance blew up. To compliment Yemi, he got posted yet again to another branch of the church recently opened in Abeokuta. Yemi went, but by now, the bitterness within him had taken root. He now realised the leadership of the church was using him without any consideration for him. His wife, who was not earning a living, was complaining bitterly about the sudden and inconsiderate movements. His two children were forced to repeat classes over and over again. Ministry had become a vicious cycle for him.
As soon as he heard the church in Ibadan was experiencing some challenges as regards attendance because many of the members had left when he got transferred, he lobbied to be reinstated. Reluctantly, his superiors agreed with the condition that he had to build up the church in six months. Like flies flocking around dead meat, word went round that Pastor Yemi was back in Ibadan. All the old members rushed back. New ones came. Things began to happen again. When Pastor Yemi walked, his members walked. When he settled, his members settled. He saw it as a good sign.
One Sunday morning, the members flocked to the worship centre to pay obeisance to their God. Very few noticed the changes till Pastor Yemi drew their notice to it. The name of the church had been changed.
“We are moving to the next level,” he said in his message. “There is something in a name that can make or mar a vision.”
The GO sent policemen from the headquarters with enough curses to destroy ten men. Yemi’s members stood by him like the rock of Gibraltar! It was a strategic plot. The rent for the building was due, and the headquarters had not renewed it. Yemi had paid for two years to secure the building under the name of the new church. The old church was fighting a lost battle. They withdrew their equipment, but then Yemi had new ones on standby. He had been ready for a long time. The old church was suddenly nonexistent. Staunch members left and sat at home nursing their wounds, but they were in a ridiculous minority. From there, things went from good to best. The church grew from strength to strength. They vacated the rented hall and built a magnificent building for the Lord.
Fulfilling several prophecies about his call, Pastor Yemi began travelling out of the country to honour preaching engagements. He had ordained several pastors who worked along with him. These men and women worked hard to move the ministry forward, but soon it was apparent that the church wanted only their pastor. The more Pastor Yemi travelled, the more the attendance in his church dwindled. When he was around, things went well, but when he wasn’t, nothing happened.
When Pastor Yemi announced in church that God had asked him to relocate to the United States of America to begin another church, it was the nail that sealed the coffin on the ministry. Suddenly, their three thousand seater auditorium was heaped with cobwebs. Pastor Yemi had moved on, and so had his members!
“I think the lesson here is that nemesis still catches up on people, even pastors. The Tobiases must have resumed business full-scale,” Paul said smugly.
Bishop Jose laughed. “You do like that, don’t you?” He smiled. “But that is not the reason why Pastor Yemi’s church failed. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. We have to learn to let him deal with all those issues. Yemi may have settled with God and the GO, you know. That though doesn’t mean he won’t pay for wrongdoing. What I know is God takes care of these things his own way. Now listen and this is strictly for pastors. It wasn’t the curses or the nemesis that ruined Yemi’s years of labour. It was the modus operandi!” Bishop Jose sat forward and cleared his throat. “What many pastors don’t know is that the scripture says, ‘There is he that scatters and still increases, and there is he that withholds more than is necessary and tends to poverty,’ and that applies to more than financial and material gifts. If you build the ministry around yourself, what do you expect? When you’re not there, nothing will happen. You need to empower people, and you need to train people. You need to scatter wisdom and knowledge and your contacts and experience among people who have the call in your congregation and among your workers. It is a good thing for you to travel and your members don’t miss you too much; they don’t miss the presence of God. You need to trust people. Don’t be selfish with your platform; elevate people. The joy of a father is more in the success of his son than in his own. If Jesus had not called anybody to work with him closely, where do you think his ministry would be today?”