Some people think that being a pastor comes with many privileges. What is life like for the pastors and bishops of the Universal Church? Many have been persecuted and under gone challenges, yet they offer love to all — the young, the mature and the old.
They give affection and care to everyone as well as spiritual devotion. They are pastors of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG), which now has churches in over 180 countries around the world. Offering guidance to those who want to find the Lord Jesus and attain their salvation is the primary goal of the UCKG. True to the objectives of the leader and founder of the Church, Bishop Edir Macedo,the church has worked tirelessly for 33 years, keeping its doors open 365 days of the year.
“So much work needs people who are prepared to attend to, listen to and take care of those coming to the temples. It is spiritual care and attenti on to the tired and burdened who arrive daily in search of spiritual shelter, comfort, consolation,release, and finally, faith to remove their doubts and fears, ” said Bishop Macedo.
Relinquishing their personal concerns and being ready to face any situation are what the bishops and pastors learn well before embarking up on God’s work.”I have been involved in the work of God for nine years, but before that I studied journalism and engineering at a polytechnic school. I stopped the two courses because I wanted to do God’s work,” recalled Pastor Guilherme Munhoz, responsible for the UCKG’s evangelistic work in Ireland.
The persecution of Christians takes place everywhere the Gospel is preached. According to a survey conducted by Portas Abertas, an organisation specialising in this type of data, millions of people suffer persecution because they proclaim salvation. It has been estimated that in Asia and Africa, nearly 3,2 billion people have not heard about Christianity or been given the opportunity to be converted. Committed Christi ans should focus on areas where there are the greatest number of people who have not been evangelised. More than 80%of the poorest people live in areas which have not been evangelised and only 8% of all missionaries work among them.
Accused of Sexual Abuse
Bishop Marcus, now in Columbia, said he had been in the ministry for 26 years and he wanted to be an engineer. He recounted his experience of persecution.
“In the time I was responsible for the evangelistic work of the UCKG in Rio Grande do Sul, the church was harassed a lot. There was a very popular programme on a radio show and one day a drunken man said that his daughter had been sexually abused by a pastor named Marcus. This was broadcast with out checking if the story was true, “said Bishop Marcus.
As the program had a large audience, many assumed he was the person involved. “It was terrible. An examination was conducted on the girl and it was Then they discovered that the father had heard the girl talking to a guy who had the same name as mine, but he was not from the UCKG. The father just reached his own conclusions. The case received considerable attention, but thank God everything was cleared up, “Bishop Marcus said.
Farewell to home land
Many young pastors face opposition from their families when they choose to serve God at the altar.“My father told me I was no longer his son. When my mother heard the news, it was as if I had told her I was using drugs! They did not understand. I still had to complete one more year of my studies, but the decision was mine and I have no regrets, “said Bishop Renato Cardoso who is responsible for outreach work in the UCKG. There are many cases of pastors who left Brazil and never returned,and others who only went back on rare occasions.
A calling, not a profession Living abroad, learning about different cultures and having the opportunity to learn other languages are realities experienced by many pastors and bishops of the UCKG. Those in Brazil, too,enjoy life with dignity and under go unique experiences, but it is a life which requires many sacrifices.”Being a pastor is a calling, not a profession. The church depends on them. The UCKG began without TV, without radio, simply by handing out leaflets on the streets. I started alone, with out anything. We have to look for opportunities, not for the difficulties. Pastors are the greatest asset of the UCKG,” said Bishop Macedo. One of the secrets of the UCKG’s success is organisation. Every where in the world daily meetings are held with plans focusing on the needs of human beings. All actions carried out in the Church are on the instructions of Bishop Macedo.”What institution does not have laws? If there is no moral discipline,there is no spiritual discipline,” said the bishop.
And language barriers?
Adapting to the many different places where pastors are sent can be more difficult if they do not speak the local language.”Everything that is new and unknown brings some level of difficulty, but the Holy Spirit helps us in all things,” said Bishop Jean Paul (Cape Town)
To have children or not?
Constant changes in cities and countries have made many decide to remain childless. “My son, for example, has studied at seven different schools. When I was in the interior of Africa, he fell victim to malaria and became very ill. One day he woke up totally blind and nearly died, but thanks to God he was totally healed,” testified Bishop Wladimir Nunes, who has done God’s work for 18 years and is currently in the Philippines.
Wives: steadfast in the mission
Pastors’ wives are discreet. They know how important they are in the lives of these men dedicated to the mission of evangelisation. A pastor’s choice of spouse is critical.”When the wife is from God,she adds something special to the pastor’s life. She doubles his value on their wedding day. But if she is not, the two will be as fruit less as two zeros,” said Bishop Renato Cardoso, who has been married to Cristiane Cardoso for almost 20years.When it comes to making a choice for a couple, the pastors are united: “We must make sure that the one desired is actually converted or we may be at risk of carrying a burden for life. I know young pastors who had great potential but were lost due to a sloppy marriage,” said Bishop Wladimir Nunes.
How important is the wife of a man of God in the ministry?
It is very difficult to do the work of God when you are not married. I had to do washing, ironing and cooking. Seriously your wife is your helper who is beside you, watching to see your faults, because as we know, nobody is perfect. My wife at fi rst could not cook, and now I can say she is the best cook in the world. The wife is a helper in the ministry of the pastor.
Bishop Wilson dos Santos (New York)
What can be considered the biggest mistake in the life of a pastor?
The biggest mistake in the life of a pastor is when he’s at the altar, but he does not know God. To me, this is the greatest tragedy.
Pastor Ricardo Silva (London)
What is the greatest reward in the life of a man of God?
When you see someone who has suff ered becoming a happier person and finally getti ng to know to God.
Pastor Guilherme Munhoz (Ireland)
Some consider pastors to be fanatics. Is it a hindrance?
That’s a noise, a distant noise that our ears hear, but we learn to ignore it. Many did the same and much worse to our Lord Jesus. And the disciple is never greater than his master.
Bishop Renato Cardoso (Houston)
Why do some pastors give up and return to their old ways?
Being saved is easy, but it is difficult to maintain salvation. Over ti me, the persecutions and tribulati ons come. Unfortunately, many do not survive. When is the pastor is ready to do God’s Work?
When the heart has a sincere desire to serve, to deliver on the Altar as a living sacrifice, and to serve God’s Work.
Bishop Wladimir Nunes (Philippines)
Are you advised not to have children?
We are not obligated to do anything. I always say that the life of a pastor is a life of sacrifice. Angela and I chose this life, but my daughters didn’t. So their sacrifice is even greater. I received the following advice from the bishop: If you have children, they should be spiritual. Apparently, I was ‘stubborn.’
Marcus Vinicius (Colômbia)