FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, April 15, 2024
[email protected]
St. Ann's, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies
THE TESTIMONY TIME GONE WRONG
(Featuring Dr. Paul Eneche)

1 Sam. 1:9-19; 1 Thess. 5:11-14; Heb. 13:7, 17-18

want to wade in to the video that has gone viral in which a woman who was giving the testimony of how she became the first in her family to graduate from the University was "seemingly embarrassed" by her pastor, Dr. Paul Eneche.

I believe the video more showcases our humanity rather than the seeming hostility which has been projected via social media.

This was really an unfortunate situation, where I believe that the lady giving the testimony and Dr. Eneche are both the true victims and neither was the villain.

I consider it a case of being between a rock and a hard place - a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" scenario.

Firstly, problems like these arise when testimonies are not properly vetted privately before they are given publicly - However, the challenge is that if you choose to vet all testimonies you stand the risk of being accused that you are being manipulative.

This is the risk every ministry faces when you allow "random" testimonies in the light of the current issues of "fake testimonies" affecting the Nigerian church.

To allow random testimonies in a massive congregation like Dunamis Church where there would obviously be a mixed multitude, risks one having scenarios like this.

If this testimony was vetted privately, it would have been confirmed that the lady did in fact graduate and they would have also noted that apart from an LLB, one can actually also have a BSc in Law. Hence, there would not have been a premise for doubting the authenticity of her testimony.

Secondly, I would give Dr. Eneche the benefit of the doubt here in the light of the recent "fake testimonies" in church issue. He was doing what he believed was right in light of the state of the happenings in Nigerian churches. No one can fault him for this. In fact, I praise him for taking a bold stand and not wanting to allow a scenario that would embarrass the church.

I do not believe that his primary intention was to humiliate or embarrass the lady, but rather to protect the integrity of the ministry. This definitely should be the mindset of any good pastor. Though his actions following the later revelations could have appeared that way.

He is a pastor and the very grace on that ministry gift makes me give him the benefit of the doubt that his intentions were pure, irrespective of the result of his actions. I do not need a rocket scientist to discern that Dr. Eneche is a genuine man of God and a phenomenal pastor. I cannot help you if you believe otherwise.

Many who are criticizing him would have also criticized him if they heard the testimony (with the "bad English" and the initial idea of a BSc in Law) and simply allowed it to slide. I believe they would have laughed scornfully at him and called him ignorant and one who promotes "fake testimonies".

These critics themselves would have possibly been the champions of stating that the testimony was fake. In hindsight, because we now have the info that she in fact graduated they have become "professional criticizers" of Dr. Eneche. Demonizing the goodly pastor is in an attempt not really to showcase the truth but to antagonize the church at large.

I really would have wanted to know if these criticisms would have surfaced in the context of the Nigerian "fake testimonies in church issues" if they did not find out afterwards that the woman truly graduated.

However, in hindsight it is not absurd to posit that Dr. Eneche was a bit harsh and could have better handled the situation even if he felt she was giving a fake testimony.

By trying to protect the integrity of his ministry / pulpit, he clearly made the same mistake Eli made when he related to Hannah (Samuel's mother). Read the full account in 1 Samuel 1. He, Eli wrongly called a grieving woman (Hannah) who was pouring her heart out to the Lord, a drunk.

"And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee."

1 Samuel 1:12-14.

This is why I generally encourage ministers to focus on defending "our faith" and not their own position or status.

"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

Jude 1:3

The scriptures also show us that as we defend our faith, we must do it with meekness and fear (reverence).

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."

1 Peter 3:15;

I do hope that like Hannah, the lady in question here also maintains her respect for God's servant (Dr. Eneche) so that she can continue to prosper and fulfill her God-ordained purpose. Hannah humbly interacted with the man of God so he could connect appropriately with her.

"And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him."

1 Samuel 1:15-17.

This lady must not join the detractors who allow their bias against ministers to make them feel it is ok to berate ministers of the gospel.

As can be seen from the preceding verses, Hannah did this and was blessed by the same man of God, Eli who initially wrongly accused her and today we can all read about her greater testimony in the book of 1st Samuel chapters 1&2.

I encourage other believers to continue to respect, esteem very highly and pray for men of God like Dr. Eneche.

"And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves."

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

"Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation… Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly."

Hebrews 13:7, 17-18

It is God himself who chose to use men like you and I to lead and bless other humans on planet earth. No criticism would make God change that model of operation.

Note that in this situation either by "foresight or hindsight" Dr. Paul Eneche did not or has not committed the unpardonable sin. He did nothing that was weird, out of place or unexplainable. He simply acted like any man with the limited knowledge that the scriptures say we have, would have acted.

"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part."

1 Corinthians 13:9

He clearly does not deserve the level of criticism leveled against him. He is not the Holy Spirit and does not know all things. He is after all a "man" of God and not "a god of men".

In all, I would therefore, still cut the man of God some slack. Not many ministers would boldly confront a situation where there is a perceived risk of a false testimony being given.

Though, I applaud him for his intention to protect the integrity of the ministry, I am sure that an object lesson was learnt here by him and others that would ensure that things are better handled in the future. I also believe that he would what is necessary to ensure a closure to this issue that benefits all concerned for the honour and glory of our God.

Even the Apostle Paul rejected John Mark from accompanying him and Barnabas on one of their Missionary journeys, because he perceived that his commitment was questionable. This decision ultimately led to him and Barnabas his major ministry partner separating.

"And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God."

Acts 15:36-40.

We later read that Apostle Paul requested for John Mark to come to him and stated that John Mark was useful to him in the ministry.

"Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:… Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."

2 Timothy 4:9, 11.

It is obvious that the Apostle Paul realized that either his initial decision was wrong or that John Mark went on to demonstrate a greater level of commitment to the ministry which was then later appreciated by Apostle Paul.

Accounts like these are in the Bible so that we can draw patterns and know how to respond in certain "similar" situations.

When spontaneous ministry issues like these arise, we must remember that everything is not black and or white, but there are indeed "gray areas" that require proper navigations.

Remember that all things are lawful but all things are not necessarily expedient or edify.

"All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any."

1 Corinthians 6:12

"All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth."

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Our aim should be to maintain a peaceful coexistence with others by providing for things that are honest or fair in the sight of every man.

"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."

Rom. 12:17-18

"Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."

2 Cor. 8:21

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Hebrews 12:14-15

The aim must always be to hold on to the things that are expedient and profit the body of Christ at large.

Do not be too quick to judge others by standards which we have created. These standards are mostly unbiblical and based solely on our emotional state or hurts and even our desire to have those whom we feel have offended us punished. I trust that this has brought some clarity to the situation and ensures that as the church, we continue to forgive and encourage one another.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."

Ephesians 4:32

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."

Colossians 3:12-13.

I pray that God's healing grace envelop everyone that has been affected negatively by the negative posts that were clearly not intended to encourage but to once again vilify the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is still building the church and so the church is absolutely unconquerable.

"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

Romans 8:37.

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