I woke up to this breaking news today (reproduced verbatim below but also see screenshots).
Deeper Life Bible Church unveils the biggest and best equipped hospital ever built in Africa.
It's a 10,000-bed capacity mega facility that can see to the needs of well over 35,000 indigent people in a single year.
It has Pediatrics, Psychiatry, General Out Patient, Burns, Oncology, and 15 other such departments, all stocked with the latest equipment necessary for such a world class facility.
The Surgery section boasts of state-of-the-art equipment that rivals Johns Hopkins hospital or any of the best health care centers anywhere in the world. It would be available to all and sundry irrespective of their financial or social statuses.
The General Overseer, Pastor Kumuyi, says it would employ thousands of Nigerian doctors and attendant health workers graduating from the nation's many health institutions. He also hopes this would bring a halt to brain drain resulting from doctors jetting off abroad to find greener pastures, as well as billion-naira medical tourism the elite and politicians engage in monthly.
While cutting the tape to open the facility to the needy and poor in society, the vice president, Professor Osinbajo, commended the idea and quoted several verses from the Bible that showed how Jesus Christ healed the sick, fed the poor, and generally looked after the welfare of thousands of poor people around him. He is excited that at least some people are thinking in the right direction and emulating their Master, the Messiah, instead of accumulating wealth that cannot travel with them to the great beyond.
On the part of the Lagos State governor, Mr Ambode, he showered praises on the millions of individuals who contributed to build the magnificent and well-equipped hospital, hoping others would emulate them rather than gift their money to jet-acquiring pastors littering the landscape, who in turn build mega businesses for themselves and family to enjoy, yet, they teach their followers to pray to God to solve their financial needs in return.
The Gbagada-based mega hospital is reported to be free to the public irrespective of tribe, religion, or political affiliations, and is going to be maintained by further contributions from faithfuls across the country and abroad.
Is this the turning point for 'Christiandom' in Nigeria?
*End of News*
Initially, I was overjoyed - I thought: Phew! Finally, a Nigerian church that is going to make a real difference to people’s lives - until I engaged my critical mind. I trained at the University College Hospital at Ibadan, arguably the biggest hospital in Nigeria. UCH has less than 1,000 beds which means this new hospital is more than 10 times the bed capacity of UCH. I do not know of any hospital in the world with that bed capacity. How did a project on that scale escape the attention of the medical community for so long, after all it is people like us the church is going to have to employ to treat patients? It took me seconds, literally, to search the Internet and debunk the news.
My suspicion is that the author is a satirist and he has earned my respect. Satire is a brilliant way to communicate. As at the time of writing, the news had been shared more than 5,000 times and has had more than 5,000 comments - all in less than 48 hours. The comments are filled with phrases like “praise God” and “hallelujah”, and a lot of praises for Pastor Kumuyi, which means church goers actually think it is desirable for churches to build hospitals and equip them. Yet, they refuse to hold their church leaders accountable for how their tithes and offerings are spent. They say: “Mine is to give, I don’t care how the money is (mis)spent.” How disappointed will they be in a few weeks when it becomes absolutely clear to them that Deeper Life Church did not build a hospital? Instead, Pastor Kumuyi built another massive church auditorium just like RCCG, Winners Chapel, MFM and a host of other Nigerian mega-churches which are engaged in an ungodly competition to build the world’s largest church.
I am saddened by the realisation that more than 90% of those commenting on the said breaking news actually believed it to be true. These people are not illiterates for if they can write in reaction to a news article then they must be able to read. The overwhelming majority of them are youths - possibly undergraduates or even graduates. They carry a powerful tool (mobile phone with internet access) in their hands but refuse to utilise its most basic function, namely, to conduct a simple google search. What has happened to our curiosity? Where is our skepticism? Ignorance is a matter of choice in this Information Age. The brand of Christianity we practise in Nigeria has corrupted our way of thinking and has produced a generation of Nigerians without critical thinking abilities. This is sad but true.
In closing, I invite the reader to think about this for a moment: How refreshing would it be were this fake hospital news to be true? If Jesus lived today, what would He do with the billions collected in tithes and offerings in our churches? Would he build another impressive edifice or would He feed the hungry, shelter the homeless and build hospitals to care for the sick? What benefit - apart from attracting more funding crowd to the church - will these gigantic structures bring to people who are hungry, diseased and depressed? I used to think that church was all about community and people, not concrete and steel. What happened to the Nigerian church?
Ijabla is a medical doctor and a humanist.