In the July evening, enjoying the unusual warmth of the British Summer, sitting at the dinning table with my laptop in view, a text message interrupted my mood. The was message purportedly sent from the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Dr Adeboye read that:
“Pastor E.A. Adeboye just sent a message that we should pray from 11pm to 1am today that God should not let us weep or mourn over anybody close to us.” It ended with an instruction: “Send to others.”
My initial thoughts were predicated on ignoring the message, pressing the delete button on the phone and continuing with the agenda of the evening. However, almost simultaneously, another message came through on my face book from the Redeemed Christian Church of God via the PA to Pastor Adeboye stating that:
“Good evening Ladies and Gents,
I am sure by now you have received a text message saying that Pastor E A Adeboye said you should pray from 1am to 3am so that someone close to you wont die or something like that…
well this is to let you know this text message is NOT FROM PASTOR E A ADEBOYE, but, however He did say there is nothing wrong with praying at night…
if anything do pray for yourself, your family, RCCG as a whole, for Pastor Adeboye himself and his family…
Happy New Month and GOD be with us all.
PA to Pastor E.A Adeboye”
In the meantime the internet and mobile phones of many across the land had been saturated with the ‘fake’ message and many had gullibly forwarded the chain text to their loved ones in mass hysteria and panic. But why does this phenomenon surprise me?
In the very recent times the advent of twitter and face book on the internet has opened up a space and increased the scope for getting bite sized messages across the globe. With the simple click of a button, from a keyboard, protesters in Iran, China, Myanmar and around the world can engage the unsuspecting and mobilise many to their causes. The same usefulness of the medium to the many now poses a threat to governments such as the communist China who seek to exercise control on their populace. This probably explains the recent plans of the Chinese to force computer manufacturers to insert monitoring software.
They say there are two sides to a coin and with every technology comes a responsibility to exercise some healthy care and attention, if we are not to be carried away and off into a wave of mass hysteria.
In a recent article by Alan Reiter on Swine flu shows the extent to which mass hysteria is induced by the internet is laid bare. It states:
“With every new death, illness, or possible illness from swine flu, the hysteria increases. Swine flu hasn’t become a major pandemic, but the hype certainly has. We need to calm down and employ the Internet to put swine flu in perspective. We need to use Internet tools — graphics, mainstream news articles, blogs, Twitter, and social networking sites — to inject rationality into discussions.”
The seduction of the internet and new technology is so subtle so effective that it is fast becoming the preferred vehicle of transmission for many a man or woman of God, for you can mobilise and inspire ‘followers’ with little expense. They can even use the medium to form and solidify a relationship of Daddy and son, Mummy and daughter even without ever meeting or speaking to their teeming ‘followers’. The mentoring of a cyber variety develops, I describe them as cyber relationships developed and evolved with limited and meaningful interaction.
The apparent danger in the incident is not the speed by which information can be transported to the many around the globe; it is something more sinister, creepy and insidious within the Church. It is the building up of cult like figures, fathers and mother in the Lord without the knowledge of the mentors. A relationship based and nutured by actual distance rather than mutuality. In other words, situations where people hold on to every word uttered without any means of independent verification. It is the increasing departure from biblical literacy towards biblical illiteracy, where reliance is not on contextual study of the word, but on receipt of the next prophetic declaration from the man or woman of God.
I suggest that it is this trend that makes it possible for a fakester of 1st class order to append Dr Adeboye, the General Overseer’s name to his/her text and induce mass hysteria all over the world. I wonder if I had appended my name to the text whether people would have received and forwarded it without questions or verification?
I do not question the biblical need to pray at all times and in every circumstance, nor am unaware that it is appointed on to man/woman to die at some point but what I question is the fault line in our discipleship constantly ensuring the spoon feeding of the many on a daily basis. I choose to end by suggesting to all and sundry to:
“Take time to think about God’s word;
It is the source of power;
Take time to read it;
It is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to play;
It is the secret of staying young;
Take time to be quiet;
It is the opportunity to seek God.
Take time to be aware of God’s word;
It is the opportunity to help others;
Take time to love and be loved;
It is God’s greatest gift.
Take time to laugh;
It is the music of the soul;
Take time to be friendly;
It is the road to happiness.
Take time to dream;
It is what the future is made of;
Take time to pray;
It is the greatest power on earth.