Unfortunately, in their recent video statement, the Pentecostal Assemblies of God of Guyana (PAOG) failed to address the dangerous political impasse that faces the country.
The leaders of the denomination focused only on the problem of racism. They spent substantial time on the COVID-19 health crisis, but avoided any mention of political dilemma, even though Bishop Dr. M. Raphael Massiah indicated that they would.
Bishop Dr John O. Smith made a weird and incomprehensible statement: “We need to move from ‘facts’ to ‘truth,’ to which Massiah responded by saying “Excellent!” after that statement was made. These gentlemen need to know that ‘truth’ is a generally an accepted outcome of reasoning, while fact is a proven truth.
Smith also stated, “The church is almost two-thirds of the nation, and we are the biggest constituency in this nation…” If that is the case, why did he not condemn the violence on opposition political forces?
Freddie Kissoon, in a recent column, cringes: “Windmills in my souls were spinning out of control when I saw video clips last Friday night in Kingston of APNU+AFC supporters literally and visibly manhandling opposition party officials and media workers (both cameramen and journalists), and there were graphic video clips of policemen laughing as the victims ran from intended violence.” If Mr Kissoon is stirred by such violence, what about Christians? Are they moonlighting, like Nero did when he played the fiddle while Rome burned?
Those church leaders emphasized the need to obey the Bible; but have they forgotten that God’s people were intricately involved in political goings-on of the day throughout history? Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament were used by God to influence policies. Jesus was engaged in holistic ministry. He cared for the spiritual and physical needs of people, but also supported the idea that God’s people should be model citizens and do whatever it takes to embody godly responsibilities.
Jesus’s incarnated message was that of reconciliation. The apostle Paul affirms this message (Gal. 6:10, and Eph. 2:10). The “good works” mentioned by Jesus and the apostle include that of calling on people to do what is right and just (Micah 6:8) – not to sit on the fence.
Why is it that Christians in Guyana only seem to criticize those in government when the PPP is in power? Is it because the PNC leader is always a good church-going person? The PAOG lost a glorious opportunity to be salt and light by ignoring the palpable political problem that could affect the economic, social, political, and spiritual lives of the Guyanese people for decades to come.
St Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, rebuked the Roman Emperor Theodosius, and refused to allow the Church to become a political prop, despite concerns that doing so might endanger him. His Christian conviction and desire for holiness took precedence over political expediency.
The good news is that all is not lost; there is time to acknowledge our transgressions, as individuals and as a nation. This is especially true for us who label ourselves as Christians; we need to make the right move to do what is right and just (2 Chron. 7:14).
There is still time for all religious, civic, and forward-thinking Guyanese to condemn attempts at corruption and fraud, and espouse godly principles for the good of our peoples.
Dr Devanand Bhagwan