Pastor Sam Adeyemi was quoted while preaching a sermon on mental health and one particularly unfortunate slide from the tweets being shared online has caused a lot of kerfuffle.
The second I saw it, my heckles were raised, but I went to the Pastor’s Twitter page to read for myself. I read ALL the tweets preceding and following that one and I was still mad as heck.
So, here’s my thing: I don’t care for most Nigerian pastors. This is no secret. But I have come to learn to “gee dem shance”. They have their circus and I ain’t their monkey. Everybody’s happy. I felt the same way about Pastor (Daddy? Father? Landlord? Some title sha) Adeboye’s comments on the what constitutes ten yards of wife material. I thought “I know you ain’t talking to me. So carry on.”
Pastor Adeyemi is well within his rights to say whatever he wants to his congregation. My main problems with the tweets are two-fold: when your sermons leave the hallowed halls of building and you publish them on social media, you are now directing it to all. So if there is criticism, you (the congregation!) will need to buckle up and take it. This is one of the reasons I didn’t get mad at Commander Adeboye: someone RECORDED his sermon and pasted just that bit online. He didn’t share it; he wasn’t talking to us.
Second problem I have with Pastor Adeyemi’s message is the “Read the message in context” crew. Why must you all go so hard for a pastor? Is there a reason you feel he is above reproach? Why must you correct our thinking?
Well, I have read it in context and it is still bunkum and declares JUDGEMENT on mental health sufferers.
If he had written “The root cause of CANCER is Sin (Rom 6:23) and the foundational solution to CANCER is Salvation” – everyone would have lost their God given minds*, even given whatever tweets followed before and after. The good pastor is well out of his depths on this one.
And since we’re talking about context, that verse does little to prove his point, but what do I know? It’s not like I built a big house with other people’s money that I convinced them to give to me or anything so…#shrug.
To tie a lack of mental or physical health to sin is unhelpful and judgemental. So what about people who are not mental health/cancer/car accidents/blunt force trauma to the head/sickle cell anaemia sufferers? Are they not descendants of Adam too?
And no, salvation is not the foundational solution. Salvation is everlasting life in the afterlife on the right hand side of God. This earthly body of dust and sinew plays no part in salvation. Or at least, I hope not: it is my intention to partake of eternal calorie-free egusi when I finally meet Jesus.
Look, if you are of sound body and mind, then good for you. But to suggest that illness is somehow the person’s fault is unforgivable and not the message of hope that a pastor should offer.
And it is not a message that congregants should fight for. Context, content, carton or kuli kuli; it is not everything that a pastor says that is helpful.
It is perfectly fine to say a message could perhaps have been put better or indeed, not said at all, and still consider Pastor Adeyemi a fine preacher. One does not exclude the other.
If you wish to address mental illness, talk about coping with mental health and the power of prayer through the difficult times. Talk about strength for the carers of mental illness patients and the grace to care without resentment or ill will. Talk about seizing the moment and enjoying every breathing moment with loved ones.
If that message is too benign, talk about the fact that y’all can’t move to larger premises because you have given the proposed land over to the construction of a new state-of-the-art hospital. Talk about the fact that you’re doing that because you’re hoping good deeds will absolve you of Adamic sins. Wait, what was that? You’re gonna go ahead and build your mega-church because good deeds cannot absolve you of sin? You have already been saved by virtue of The Blood and by reason of faith? Because Ephesians 2:8?
Yeah, well, so have mental health patients who so believe. Every last one of them.
*If you DO NOT lose your mind over this, then you are the problem, not any pastor
**Written by** Rachel Adepeju Onamusi