Revered Mwelwis Philip Dafes is the current secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Plateau State branch. He was called into the Gospel Ministry in 1990 when he enrolled and trained for a Diploma in Theology at Kaduna and Amadu Bello University, Zaria. He was also in the Baptist Pastor’s school between 1993/ 95. According to him, God called him back to lead the Baptist on the Plateau and parts of Bauchi and Kaduna in 2006.
When he joined CAN there was chaos as unity was absent in the Christendom, CAN was so polarized that denominations withdrew their brethren from CAN. His presence in CAN as secretary immediately spurred the organization into holding series of meetings leading to the election of the present CAN officials. It was also at that Juncture that an idea of a bridge between CAN and the Jama’atu Nasril Isam , JNI, came. The link became necessary as both are stakeholders in peace building in the state.
Dafes says that the congregation within a church come from different political affiliations. It is the role of the pastor to work towards ensuring unity within the congregation. This works only if the pastor shuns partisanship. He says that the fact that people belong to different political groups is even an asset to the church and as such the pastor should only be seen to call and encourage them to remain united.
The church he says is a political body. His experience has shown him that leading the church is difficult as the members come from different backgrounds. Their understanding of what it takes to be a follower also varies. The challenge is to lead people in the right direction as the church has become some sort of club were groups are only allegiant to their interest groups. The clubs are largely based on ethnic differences. Hence there is usually rivalry among the tribes, each of which is trying to ensure the dominance of leadership within the church. We are working to let the people know that Christ has an indivisible body!!
His position and by extension the position of the inter-religious body as far as the politics of Jos North is concerned is that people should see the elections as battle between political parties. People should vote for a party they consider capable of giving them ideal leadership.
Mafes also answered question regarding the proliferation of churches. He explained that not all churches belong to the membership of CAN. As far as churches in CAN are concerned, they don’t have a problem. He is not aware of what goes on outside CAN. “Perhaps there may be chaos especially if they are all independent. If all churches worship one God then there is need for all to be members of CAN but since there is freedom of association, denominations cannot be compelled against their wishes to join CAN”. What he cannot deny however, is the lesson that denominations learn from each other under CAN.
Even though there are more churches now, he agrees that sins are more on the increase. This is because the large numbers of churches are not actually dedicated to the real Gospel. People go to churches were they want to hear about prosperity and not a rebuke for their sins. The churches are actually founded on the foundation of commercial ventures. “In the past, churches used to pursue sins but now the sins are actually pursuing the churches. The major problem of the churches is the absence of discipleship”.
When he, the Chairman and Treasurer of CAN paid a visit to the Governor, Da Jonah Jang, their advice to him was that he can only win his political enemies by friendship.
Mafes also agrees that, on relative terms, a Pastor can go into politics play clean and win. The difficulty however is the fact that as a pastor you don’t have the money to run campaigns. The only way out is thus to look for Godfatherism. He that however eats from the Kings table must be ready to dance to the tune of the king. Pastors are free to join politics but they should be prepared to dance like politicians.
In Nigeria he believes that the dividend of democracy is really available. It is just that it is going into the pockets of those who are getting the dividend. Go to the street. It is there you will understand who gets the dividend. The feeding ratio of 1-1