Since the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) believes that its mission as the watch person of the welfare of the society is a vital affair, it cannot help but be interested in politics. Despite this, it is essential to note that CAN is not and can never be a political organization and so CAN should never be seen as a political association, not simply because it was not so registered but more importantly, because it has in it fold people who hold diverse political opinions. CAN believes that it ought to respect those different shades of opinions, if it is to preserve its integrity as a united entity. The best that it can do is to educate its members on the political goings on in the country. Let us examine CAN’s mission in relation to its conception and interest in Nigerian politics.
CAN believes that it is duty bound to pray regularly for the nation ceaseless prayers are needed for those who wield power or authority in the Nation, realizing that power is a delicate instrument and that the art of governance is very difficult. CAN often calls on Christians and other well-meaning people in the country to observe period of prayers and fasting during which supplications should be offered to God, who alone can endow our Leaders with necessary wisdom. Without such divinely given wisdom, our Government cannot rule righteously. It is righteousness alone that can exalt a Nation and bring genuine and lasting peace to the Nation. These prayers for our Nation and our rulers are necessary ingredient of the mission of CAN.
Perhaps the most important political duty which can often performs and must never shirk, is its warning and prophetic function. Christianity preaches that the Church must assume a predicting and admonishing role. Whenever the inspired servants of God are making prophetic Statements, then kings, potentials and rulers must listen, in the overall interest and welfare of the society.
In this particular aspect of its political role in the society, CAN is constantly guided by the exemplary boldness of the early Apostles. If it was a question of choosing between obeying a man and obeying God, Peter and John made it unequivocally clear that they ought to obey God, rather than man. That Apostolic stand is also the stand of CAN. CAN also encourages Christians to be involved in seeking public offices to sanities the polity.
STRUGGLE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE CHURCH AND CHRISTIANITY IN NIGERIA.
The frequent allusion to ‘Church’, ‘Churches’ member Churches presupposes the fact that CAN is aware that it is basically, fundamentally, intrinsically and essentially a Church founded or Church based, Organization. In other words no church no CAN!. Consequently, the primary, recurrent and ultimate objective of CAN is to the watch person of the welfare, in its totality, of the Church and the Christian Faith in Nigeria.
CAN usually takes prompt and appropriate action whenever there is any threat to the Christian Faith. In this regard, there is a record of numerous press statements and conferences through which the Association clearly makes the fact that the Christian Faith shall not be bargained away for any consideration CAN determined to continue to be ceaselessly alert over the welfare of the Church and the Christian Faith in Nigeria.
MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE OBJECTIVES OF CAN.
For CAN to be able to carry out faithfully, its assignment of bringing all Nigerian Christians under one ecumenical umbrella, it has first, to ensure CAN’s internal unity. It must successfully wield together, the many Churches that are already within its fold. Unless there is such a strong, cooperative and ecumenical spirit in each of its 5 Church Groups, the task of making sure that “they all may be one” will become Herculean or even impossible. A strong team Spirit is therefore an indispensable prerequisite for a credible success of its mission.
However, this does not mean that CAN as a united entity must Lord it over its individual member Churches. Its mission does not imply tyranny over any Church or Church Group, within or outside its fold. Those who therefore expect CAN to dictate orders to its member Churches have some what misunderstood the unifying mission of CAN. CAN is NOT a mega Church!.
Perceiving that such dictatorial tendency is not impossible in view of the unfortunate love of power, which many human beings have, CAN has injected a clause in its constitution, which adequately protects the autonomy of each of the member Churches but which also demands collaborative Spirit of being a member Church of the Association.
INDEPENDENCE AND COOPERATION OF MEMBER CHURCHES.
Article 7 of CAN constitution states as follows:- “Each member Church shall be autonomous in its internal affairs, but may receive advice from the Association incase of dissension and sharp disagreement within its fold. Notwithstanding the autonomy, each member Church shall always be ready to cooperate into the other member Churches in order to ensure smooth running of the Association.
It should be noted that CAN does not believe that it has a mandate to weave all the Churches in the country to one single Church. CAN has never nursed the ambition of creating one single organic Church of Nigeria which will abolish all denominations or even other Ecumenical Groups. CAN believes that the variety of ways in which our creator manifests Himself ought to be an aduate guard to the kaleidoscopic variety of methods by which God’s creatures should worship Him and offer prayers to Him. Therefore the though that CAN is a grand/supper Church should be jettisoned. The member Churches should not misconcept the purpose for which CAN was founded.
It is precisely because CAN is not a Church and has no intention of becoming one that the building erected on the land given to it at Abuja by the Federal Government is named National Christian Centre. The word ‘National’ presuppose that it is owned by all Christian, no matter the denomination you belong to. The National Christian Centre is a physical symbol of our ecumenical unity, in keeping with CAN’s motto that they all may be one.
CONCLUSION: Nigeria Christians of all denominations should always give thanks to God for the existence of CAN and for the completion of the National Christian Centre, which is not only a pride to all Christians but a National Monument that all Nigerians should be proud of.
We give glory to God and sincerely appreciate all those who made its reality possible.
CAN, like other organization established by mortals, cannot satisfy all but we must we bear its seeming inadequacies. But we must pray that both now and in the future, that CAN may constantly remember that great and grand vision which was divinely given to those Church Leaders who founded such a stupendous “Ecumenical Umbrella” for all Nigeria Christians.
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