Church Envelopes and the Right Amount of Money to Offer a Big God

“Show your neighbor your offering,” I heard the pastor yell from the podium. Okay so this must be a joke, I thought. But no, it wasn’t. At this point everyone had their envelopes opened to the person sitting next to them. My body language said clearly: “There is no way in Heaven I am going to do this.”

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I agree with my dad on a lot of things: like how it isn’t right to start a quarrel or be the last to end it. We agree that it’s somehow irresponsible to eat meat before finishing rice, or, in his wise words, eat without putting in the work. But there’s an exception, which is: “going to church is a waste of time.”

I remember nights arguing with him about this.  He has never moved his ground. “Ukadinobi,” he would always say. Church is in the heart. As a child, this didn’t sit too well with me but as an adult it has served as a pillow where I lay my head and think.

I went to church as a little kid, but going was not complete until dad gave me offering to put in the church basket. Emphasis on basket, because, recently, that has been dropped for envelopes. I get the idea of adopting the use of envelopes for privacy. Or I thought I did.

After riffling through the five shirts and two pants I own, it dawned on me that going to church was going to take a lot of convincing, because I needed new clothes. I was tired of wearing my “Kadomanya” (recognize me clothes) to church every Sunday and weekday service. After so much thought, I decided to just wear what I had. I mean who was so jobless as to take note of what I wear to church. (Kemi the usher, Tayo the protocol officer who comes with the bus to pick us up and a whole lot of others.)

I was half way out of the door when I realized I didn’t have money for offering, I rushed back in and searched through my shirt and pant pocket looking for change. My search was fruitful. I was able to raise Fifty Naira. Yay!

I missed the bus to church, so I had to walk. “It’s not far, I can trek it,” said the poor bastard in me. Who was I kidding? Ten minutes into the walk, I decided to settle for an anonymous church by the roadside.

Their praise and worship was lit—my favorite part of going to church. As I walked into the church, the usher at the door welcomed me with a smile and a hidden frown. You could tell her high heels were killing her. “Is this your first time here?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied as she led the way, directing me to sit in front. She lost me midway as I sat comfortably in an empty chair in the middle of the congregation. There was no way I was going to sit in front, not with those two giant split unit air conditioners mounted behind the altar. I wasn’t shy. I just didn’t like the idea of sitting in front. Going to pee would be too difficult. Plus, it is always freezing in front, but in the middle you can always keep warm. These are church tactics no pastor would teach you in their sermons. I sat with my head bowed evading the usher’s confused search for me.

Soon, it was time to give our offerings, I stood up with my hands in my pocket, my fifty Naira gently squeezed into a small ball. “Can we all come forward with our tithes, let me say a special prayer for you,” the pastor called out. Now I knew I was screwed. I had no tithe. How do I sit back down now without anyone noticing? With a fake smile on my face, I looked around for a close exit. I locked eyes briefly with the lady who ushered me in, and she kept a straight face as she motioned to me to go forward. I knew that was a bad idea. At this time, more than half of the people who stood up with their tithe were out already. Slowly I sat down.

“It is not yet our turn,” the brother sitting beside me with the red bow tie whispered to me while looking straight ahead. From his look, you could tell he wasn’t happy with the ongoing segregation but he had long accepted his place: a place where I now belonged.

You could tell when it became our turn, because the whole church was up and cheerful. Everyone was holding a white envelope except me. I didn’t have the chance to collect mine from the usher who directed me to sit in the front. Now ,she was standing in front of me with a white envelope in hand, her frown very visible. “Thank you,” I said quietly as I straightened my fifty Naira note, hand still in my pocket. With the speed of light, the fifty Naira was well hidden in my envelop.

“Show your neighbor your offering,” I heard the pastor yell from the podium. Okay, so this must be a joke, I thought. But no, it wasn’t. At this point everyone had their envelopes opened to the person sitting next to them. My body language said clearly: “There is no way in Heaven I am going to do this.”

“If you cannot show your neighbor your offering then it means it is too small to give God.” The pastor’s remark singled me out of the crowd. At this point I was way past angry. “He can’t say that,” I said, turning to the man with the red bow tie sitting beside me. He replied by opening his envelop and showing it to me with a smile on his face. In it sat a neat one thousand Naira note. His smile told me all I needed to know: “At least i am better than this one.” With a straight face I looked forward as the ushers passed the offering bag around. I dropped my envelope in it and made my way to the exit, angry.

As I walked back home I couldn’t hold my anger. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. how do I say this to someone without indirectly condemning the house of God? My dad was right all along. This was one of those bitter facts that couldn’t be swallowed without water. I stopped at a shop, fished out my rumpled fifty Naira note from my pocket, and paid the shop attendant for a cold bottle of water. You are damn right I dropped an empty envelope. My offering was obviously too small to give God in that big Redeemed Christian Church of God parish by the road side.

Responses

  1. Bkd
    Hahahahhahahahaha… I love how you dropped the church’s name in the end. But let’s be sure if one thing, this church is no different from the on earth you normally attend and all the other churches out there.
    I have come to realize that most Christians don’t actually read their bibles. They only know as much scripture as is quoted by their respective pastors. If Christians truly read their bibles, they’d quickly discover that the Christian religion and its god are a huge joke.
    Let’s talk about this tithe issue for instance. I bet the only scripture the average Christian can quote to support tithing(in the way it’s practiced today), is Mal 3:10. I am yet to come across any Christian who’d quote Deut 14:22-28 when talking about tithes. I guess it’s because the moment any rational person reads this passage, such a person would never want to pay tithes again. And pastors avoid this passage because it’s bad for bad for business.
    And your dad is quite correct. Church going and tithes paying doesn’t guarantee heaven, according to the bible. In other words, yiu can easily make heaven without tithing. That’s what’s the Bible says Jesus said.
  2. Larz
    A friend invited me to a church. A guest pastor from Benin, Nigeria said God had special prayers to answer. Only for those bold enough to drop £5,000 in cash or in promise will receive that blessing. She brought it down to £1000 and managed to get 4-5 ppl desperate enough for Gods blessing that must have thought Gods blessing can be priced like they do in Idumota market. She encouraged people to pay with credit card in faith and that God will be so pleased with them for stepping out in faith he will respond in multiples. PS: don’t that came out did not look like they could afford it, it seemed they took the credit option.

    I was super angry at such manipulation, I never went back to the church again. My friend tried to convince me that his church is not usually like that. To me it doesn’t matter, his church leaders invited this woman to come minster to their flock and when she was extorting from their members, they did nothing to manager he her

  3. 'E
    Fave:

    “Show your neighbor your offering,” I heard the pastor yell from the podium. Okay, so this must be a joke, I thought. But no, it wasn’t. At this point everyone had their envelopes opened to the person sitting next to them. My body language said clearly: “There is no way in Heaven I am going to do this.”

  4. PJ
    Lol… Ever since I left Nigeria, its like I suddenly understand God amd the bible better. Less manipulations from pastors here (keyword is less). One of the reasons I loved my church back home was; there was never any sort of manipulations involved (that was hard to find). I remember we needed chairs once and d pastor simply said. We want to buy new chairs, i pray God provide for us so we can buy it. Next time i was in church we had new chairs. Simple, nothing like market place pricing of special offering starting from 500k to 1k. Nice and wonderful piece. I always enjoy your write-ups
  5. vanilla
    Old church and new church….the never ending debate. I have gone to some churches that just make me really wonder and i totally relate with the writer on that ‘shock’ when you hear some things!

    Last last, a Pastor is a man and they may get it wrong every now and again, so never take everything they say (esp those advise they give that is outside what is in the bible) 100%

  6. Sussy
    Brotherly, you had nothing to be ashamed of. My bible says don’t offer anything that didn’t cost you something. You trekked instead of using the money that you searched your whole house to find to give offering. It is not about the quantity but the heart behind the giving. I attend Rccg sometimes and such has never happened in my church however not every pastor is the same and Adeboye will never do such. The pastor should be reported sef, as they
    Give the church a bad name.Please nothing do you, a pastor or anyone has no right to make anybody feel inferior

    P.S. please don’t be discouraged from going to church as it is God we are serving not any man.

  7. Dips
    If you are to be given the benefit of the doubts that your account of what happened is accurate, I will like to ask if this one incidence should dissuade you from going to Church? I will ask you to do a rethink. This is just one pastor and one church/parish. Your decision to attend church should be based on the Bible and not the ‘mistake’ of one ‘man of God’. You could pray to God for direction as He promised in Jeremiah 3:15, “And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding”. Perhaps God didn’t ‘give’ you that pastor.
    1. Kelvin Amamize Post author
      i totally agree with you on not applying a “one size fits all” when it comes to matters like this, but your last comment about God giving pastors is a bit too vague, because they all come in his name, its difficult to tell them apart. what gets to me is that people are so scared to speak against these kind of things because they are so deeply rooted in their churches that they have lost all sense of reasoning and questioning everything. and trust me this story wasn’t made up. this is me speaking up. thanks dips.

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