STATE OF THE NATION: THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN BUILDING A SAFE AND SECURE NIGERIA. – RT. REV. PROF. DAPO F. ASAJU

 

Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju (Bishop Theologian, Church Of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)

Lecture presented by Rt. Rev. Prof. Dapo F. Asaju (Bishop Theologian), at the Lagos Diocese Pre-Synod Lecture Series, held at All Souls Church, Lekki, Lagos on May 1 2021.

I  congratulate the Lord Bishop of the Mother Diocese of Lagos, Rt. Rev. Dr. Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye for the Synod of this year and for organizing this conference  in order to add the voice of the Church to concerns about the security and welfare of our dear country, Nigeria.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote:

“When evil men plot, good men must plan,

When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind,

When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.

Where evil men would seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice”

THE RELEVANCE OF CHRISTIANITY TO GOVERNANCE, PEACE AND SECURE SOCIETY.

1. God is the creator of man and the world (Jesus is creative Agent- The Word of God – John 1:1-5, Colosians1:15-18. Therefore He has control over world affairs. He judges the world when they sin (Noah’s Flood) and He sends prophets like Amos to challenge evil rulers and leaders. He reigns in the affairs of men. He actually ran a Theocracy in Israel before the monarchy was introduced.

2. Man is a complex Being, made up of the Body, Soul and Spirit. It is Christianity that can influence his behavior and psychology (The Heart of Kings are in the hands of the Lord… He turns it wherever He wants- Proverbs 21:1).

3. The Bible is a manual for successful human governance, nationhood, peace and security.

– The government of the Universe is upon the shoulder of Jesus Christ and of the increase of His government there shall be no end ( Isaiah 9:6).

– His name is Prince of Peace. His influence has brought peace and civility to kingdoms and countries of the world.

– Only regenerated man can bring about good governance and peaceful reign. Man is intrinsically evil and wicked. God once regretted that He made man. God gives new heart and spirit which can enable them have compassion on the welfare of the people and receive revelation to govern aright. Otherwise, typical man is selfish, evil and corrupt.

4. There is a raging battle between the kingdoms of God and Satan (Ephesians 6:2).

Demonic influence over rulers and governments is well known. Many political leaders have involved themselves in pagan rituals including ritual killings and bloodshed of all sorts and are under the influence of Satan, Principalities and Powers…. The Church is the only establishment by God empowered to overcome evil forces and their manipulation of the society. Elisha healed a cursed land of Jericho (2 Kings 2: 18-22). In Daniel’s time, the Prince of Persia withstood the Angel sent from heaven to bring an answer to his prayer requests. (Daniel 10:13) What we see in

Events in different parts of the world, especially Nigeria manifests this ongoing battle in the end time.

Christianity is today under co-ordinated attacks from various opponents: Communist Atheism, Secularism in the West, Paganism in African communities and Islam.

5. The governance structure of Executive, Legislative and Judiciary is Bible derived (Isaiah 33:22 – “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King. It is He who will save us”).

6. Similar trends of religious expansionism, terrorism and systemic domination in Nigeria are old strategies employed by Jihadists to take over North Africa and Asia in UK, USA, Asia and Middle East.

NIGERIA’S CURRENT SECURITY PROBLEMS

1. Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist Jihad in serial order such as Maitatsine, Boko Haram, etc.

2. Attempts at Internal re-colonization, domination and Islamization.

All activities and policies of Government point to these:

Dominance in: Government strategic ministries, Parastatals, Military, Police, Paramilitary, Finance, Education, Foreign Policy, Internal Affairs, Judiciary, Legislature, etc.

3. Fulani herdsmen deployed in every forest in nooks and crannies of Middle Belt, South-West and South-East.

4. Migration of multitudes of Northern youths, Almajiris, handicapped who settle in isolated settlements, fully armed, serving as Guards, Motor cycle transport riders, etc. These pose danger to peaceful settlements as most of these people have access to external remote control through their transistor radios, their mosques and the modern communication gadgets. The south can be overwhelmed if care is not taken by host communities to recover their sovereignty and defend their lands.

5. Spate of kidnappings, abductions, murder of innocent people, including students, ethnic cleansing of Christian communities in the north.

6. Outright failure of government due to incapacitation of the military to check Boko Haram and Isis, who are sacking communities, taking territories, taking over wives of communities, moving towards caliphate imposition.

7. Quranic challenges to Bible and violence instructions in the Quran: There is a need to appeal to fanatical Muslims to re-interpret these violent instructions as inapplicable to religiously plural societies of the modern day; rather they should emphasize the peace content which Islam means.

8. The Apparent silence and compromise by Southern Muslims to speak out against this evil,

9. Threats of secession and beating drums of war fare and restructuring, etc

10. Failure of Government at all levels, hyper inflation, arms proliferation among criminals, heavy debt burden, rudderless governments and complicity of government in the Islamisation agenda.

11. Politicization of Religion in Nigeria has been ongoing for many years in sectors of constitution, education, judiciary, public service, etc.

12. Tactical error of northern domination: Feudal elite exploit their people, Neglect of educating the people, using religion as political weapon and arming the Islamic uprisings such as Miatatsine, Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen, etc.

The Role of the Church in ensuring Safe and Secure Nigeria

1. Jesus Christ and Earlier prophets intervened in the affairs of the State: Joseph (economic policy to save from famine), Moses (liberation- Let my people Go), Elijah (challenged idolatry and autocracy of Ahab and Jezebel), Jeremiah and Ezekiel criticized false shepherds exploiting the sheep, Esther reversed decree to annihilate Jews (deliverance through positioning in strategic location [ WATCHMAN AND STANDING AGAINST EVIL]

2. The Early Church persecution and Constantine’s liberation and church -state relations. [CONVERSION AND EVANGELISM]

3. The Martin Luther’s and John Calvin’s Reformation of the Church opened up the world to freedom, education, enlightenment, democracy etc.

4. The Church led the fight for abolition of slave Trade through the parliamentary efforts of William Wilberforce.

5. The Church in Nigeria, like other parts of Africa participated in the vigorous fight against colonialism and for independence of African nations, through Ethiopianism. Names like Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop James Johnson, Herbert Macaulay etc.

6. The Civil Rights Movement in USA was led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a fulltime Baptist Minister. The church leaders can lead a peaceful revolution in Nigeria and other African countries towards peace, justice, equality and fundamental human rights of all citizens without oppression by one religion or tribe, of others.

7. Islamic Agenda and assaults against Christianity and the Church. [ NEED FOR CHRISTIAN AGENDA AND STRATEGIES TO STOP ISLAMIZATION and TERRORISM]

8. Loss of North Africa and Asia Minor to Brute force of Islamic Jihad, legislative sharia control. The Church was weakened by disunity, theological controversies and internal strife; thus the easy prey to Islamic invasion. [CHURCH TO AVOID DENOMINATIONAL DIVISIONS, FORGE UNITY AND MOBILISE MEMBERS TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN POLITICAL GOVERNENCE AND ELECTIONEERING]

9. The fundamental error of the Amalgamation. British positioning Northern dominance. Lugard covenant with North and official policy to resist Christian evangelism and missionaries in the North. [RESILIENCE OF THE CHURCH THROUGH ACTIVE PROTECTION OF THE VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES, CONGREGATIONS AND USE OF ALL PEACEFUL LEGAL MEANS TO MOBILIZE AND RESIST EVIL POLICIES].

10. International moves should be pursued to redress the fundamental amalgamation of the country and the much talked about restructuring should be vigorously pursued by non-violent means, after the patter of the USA Civil Rights Movement and Mahatmas Gandhi’s non-violent resistance.

11. The Church must deliberately design means of training and raising credible leaders who are disciplined and God fearing and knowledgeable enough to provide leadership at all levels and in all sectors of Nigeria. We are leaderless at the moment. The Church is the Light of the World and Salt of the Earth. Bad leadership endures because of absence of the good.

12. The Church must exit its indifference and lackadaisical attitude towards elections. They must register and vote, campaign and monitor elections to prevent rigging and god-fatherism. The church has for now sufficient population to effect positive change in governments at all levels. Note the populations of Roman Catholics, Anglicans (about 18 million), Pentecostals, Aladura, etc. With proper political education, necessity of current insecurity and failed governance should compel all good Nigerians of all religions (Christians, especially to ensure that the next elections in 2023 does not go to those who are bent on bringing this country down to the grave.

13. The Nigerian churches are too proliferated and materialistic. Some Pentecostal leaders live in too much opulence, being mentioned among the richest pastors in the world, preaching a wrong theology of prosperity theology at this time of national emergency! Of course they afford to own private aero planes and build many mansions and institutions in the names of their families, whilst there is abject poverty, killings, violence, joblessness, youth restiveness and refugees all over the societies. 

The church must first cure itself of internal errors before it can challenge similar exploitations in the larger society.

14. There is need for mass reorientation of the citizenry and reeducating the present and coming generations about patriotism, nationhood, nation building, civics, etc., new curriculum to be redesigned for primary and secondary schools, to compulsorily include prayer and Christian religious education. Education is knowledge and

15. Prayer is effective but it must be complimented by action. Faith without works is dead. The Church must organize, protest, speak truth to power, instruct her members in government to be accountable to God through the church to do that which is just and right, and not to indulge in corruption or evil Through prayer and divine intervention, God has the power to humble preliminate all pharaohs and Nebuchadnezzars. And there will be peace in the land.

16. Where it is difficult for government security agencies to defend vulnerable citizens of Nigeria (Including Christians) in the face of rampaging killers, then the Church must organize security for their congregations and communities in all ways legal. They are entitled to defend themselves and their lives as well as that of their family and church members. The church can consult its members who are knowledgeable in intelligence gathering, defense strategies etc., to guide and educate them in case of emergencies. This is the stage we are at in Nigeria already where government fails to provide most of its constitutional obligations, forcing citizens to provide same for themselves. It will help if all prominent Christians in public and private sectors speak out to save Nigeria. Church Leaders should be bold to speak out against the insecurity that is going on in Nigeria. If they fail to be watchmen as commanded by God in Ezekiel, the blood of many people will be accounted for by them. Let us bring to remember the genocide in Rwanda and killings in Sudan, Somalia, etc. We cannot afford any civil war again in Nigeria. This is the time for everyone to shout- Enough is Enough!

When the current storm passes, we will need to reengineer and re-orientate our police and Armed Forces in a manner that will make them genuinely patriotic and committed to the security of one Nigeria. May God have mercy on us.

“If my People, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Amen.

Insecurity: CAN Declares 3-Day Fasting, Prayer for Nigeria

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has declared three days of fasting and prayers against insecurity and bloodshed in the country.

CAN National General Secretary, Daramola Joseph, announced this in a circular dated May 11, 2021, and addressed the Christian body’s leadership at various levels.
He explained that the leadership of the association is concerned about the various killings, banditry, terrorism, and other problems facing the country, Hence there is a need for important prayers to be offered to God.

The address states that “This is to inform you that the CAN President, in view of the continuous killings, banditry, and host of other problems in Nigeria has considered it imperative and absolutely necessary that our country needed prayers for God’s mercy and intervention in our land. “Consequently, all local churches are expected to gather in the evening of each day (May 28 – 30th) set aside for the prayers to pray to God in the attitude of mourning or soberness for the bloodshed of many innocent Nigerians most especially Christians. “In the light of these, the following are the suggested prayer points to be followed during the said prayer meetings:

“That we are sad and pained for the blood of many innocent Nigerians that evil people in our midst had shed or for those kidnapped and abused in various ways.

“That our leaders would do justice in leadership and show fairness to all ethnic and religious groups in all their actions so as to douse ethnic and religious tensions we have presently.

“That the law enforcement agents would rise to their responsibilities and provide the necessary security we need in Nigeria.

“That every step the terrorists, bandits, kidnappers, gunmen and other wicked people in our midst take henceforth would be failed. That unseen hands and the army of the Lord would fight them and Nigeria would be at peace.

“That the plans of the evil people in our midst to paralyze human, social and economic activities in this nation and throw the nation into chaos would be foiled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

“That God should forgive our sins wherever we as a church or Nigerians, especially our leaders had sinned against God.”

The CAN leadership had repeatedly expressed its displeasure with the current state of affairs in Nigeria, particularly the rising of insecurity across the country and demanding for better governance and security.

The Power of His Presence, Our Hope of Tomorrow

Christmas is not a myth, not a tradition, not a dream. It is a glorious reality. It is a time of joy. Bethlehem’s manger became the link that binds a lost world to a loving God. From the manger came the Saviour who did not only teach us a new way of life, but brought us into a new relationship with our God. Christmas means God is interested in the affairs of people, that God loves us so much that He willingly gave us His only begotten Son in order for us to become His children. To us, as Christians, the joy of Christmas is not limited to His birth. It is built even more on the triumph of His death and resurrection- that gave meaning to His birth. The mysterious spirit of generosity which possesses us at Christmas is the afterglow of Calvary.

The mysterious spirit of generosity which possesses us at Christmas is the afterglow of Calvary

The fact of the cross illuminates Christmas day and hallows it.
Christmas is also a season to advocate peace in the world that is full of wars, strives, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery and other criminalities. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He came to give us peace. To preach good tidings unto the meek; to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to give to us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

It is painful that many people are mourning due to the demise of their loved ones as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism, kidnappings and other criminalities. We should remember that Jesus was also born during the darkest time in Israel’s history. Israel was under the tyrannical rule of the Romans. Yet the Angel announced the birth of Jesus as the glad tidings to the world. So, I urge those who are mourning to rejoice in hope that they too are still alive. I pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit for all those who lost their loved ones for one reason or the other. May the birth of the Saviour mark the end of coronavirus and every evil in our land. May it herald a new season of prosperity, full recovery and great joy in the name of Jesus.

May the Lord help our governments to rise up competently and stop the menace of insecurity occasioned by the terrorists, killer herdsmen, bandits and kidnappers in Jesus’ name. Year 2020 will be the last year of COVID-19 globally in Jesus’ Name.

As we rejoice and celebrate, let us be security conscious and observe the COVID-19 protocols in our places of worship or in any public gathering for our general good.

Wishing you MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR AHEAD.

Signed
Rev Dr Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle
25 December, 2020

Pray First, Then Act


The book of Nehemiah is one of the most important chapters which contains a great deal that is relevant to Christians today. Nehemiah was a servant of God who was instrumental in the rebuilding and reestablishment of Jerusalem which had been destroyed in the Babylonian invasion.
The main lesson I would like us to take was how Nehemiah stood steadfast with God before taking action. A lot of us Christians act before praying (which I am guilty of), but in the case of Nehemiah, he knew what it meant to get the news that was not great and caused his heart to be heavy with concern

The first thing Nehemiah did was to pray to God in Nehemiah 1:4, “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven”. He also confessed his sin and the sins of the people who had disobeyed God’s commands in verses 5-7.

This is exactly what God expects from us as believers not just to keep going ahead in doing what we feel is right for us which isn’t God’s plan for our life but to come first to his presence and seek his help in directing us to the right path. Many of us are guilty of ignoring God’s warning which leads us to suffer the consequences. But as the merciful God that he is, he still shows up for us in a difficult situation when we call upon him.

Then he acted; after seeking guidance from God he went further to the king to get his permission if he could rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, The king gave his consent and Nehemiah left for Jerusalem where the citizens agreed to help him rebuild the wall. Nehemiah 2:4-6, 16-18
In essence, Nehemiah reminded God of his promise to his people. And beseeched him to hear his prayer and help him find favor in the eyes of the King. So Nehemiah did not just pray, then sit back and do nothing. He saw a need and went forward into prayer, after which he was expecting God to act.

Healthy Living in Christ

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 1:2

God desires fullness of health and freedom from any bodily affliction which is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. Most importantly, he also invites us to participate in the work of restoring and stewarding our bodies. The state of the body exercises a great influence on the mind and soul.
When unhealthy, our impressions of the outward will be untrue, and our influence upon the outward will be limited and feeble. Our spiritual feelings and expressions are also considerably toned and stained by our physical condition.

Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”.

God’s plan for man was never to be unhealthy or out of shape. So many people including us believers fall into the trap of thinking that God finds no worries in seeing a sick Christian (but no, he does). That is far from the truth. As Jesus walked on this earth fully reincarnated as man, one of His most proactive ministries was the healing of sickness and affliction.
The Scripture tells us in Matthew 4:23, “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.”

An unhealthy lifestyle can be caused by so many things, not just what we eat or drink but through sin passed on from generation to generations and most importantly ignorance of God’s laws (take a look at the Laws of Moses especially Leviticus which is regarded as a book of health laws) or sometimes simply just affliction from an enemy that doesn’t want you to experience the fullness of God’s plan in your life.
Psalm 38:3 reminds us that, “There is no soundness in my flesh because of thy anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.” This simply implies that the absence of God in our spiritual life can lead to sickness and disease. This is not to say that all the people who are sick are not right with God, but we live in an imperfect world that needs more of God’s grace to sustain us.

God’s goodness and fullness have always brought forth a flow of healing and goodness not just upon the body, but even our souls and spirits. As God heals hopelessness, uncertainty, anxiety, lack, fear and so much more, He also brings healing upon our physical bodies. And just as God gives us the enabling grace to say no to the sin that entraps our spirits, He also gives us the grace to be good stewards of our body to exercise, eat right and still live a healthy life in Christ.

Life As It Is

As a child, we look forward to the future

Creating an image of what we want for the future

But when we become adult everything seems different

The images we created as kids begin to fade away

And new images are been captured                               

Some images are been deleted deliberately by us

While some are been formatted or corrupted by life experiences

Perhaps life is just full of mystery that captures images we never planned for…..

Woman; Guard Your Tongue

It is often said that the woman’s tongue tends to get them in trouble when not cautioned.

Our tongues can bless, cause, complain, and communicate the gospel all within a matter of seconds or minutes! And can also inspire the hardest heart or crush a tender spirit.

However, I am convinced that more people are injured by the improper use of the tongue than by any other force.

   The Bible says in (Proverbs 13:3) “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction”

This simply implies that a virtuous woman should always make it her goal to use the tongue properly and only for good.

     As believers, we have nothing to brag about in our Christianity, if we are not actively working to “bridle our tongues.”

Although James 3:8 states that no one (in their power) can “tame the tongue,” thankfully, God has provided all we need to discipline this unruly critter in 2 Peter 1:3-8. Ask God to help you tame your tongue.

DEAR BELIEVER, HOW OFTEN DO YOU READ YOUR BIBLE?

It’s commonly said that Christians should read their bible every day but do we read and meditate on the word of God. Are we required to read the bible daily? How often do we need to study the bible to be faithful followers of Christ?

In as much as no law or commandment says, ‘Thou shall read your Bible every day’. It’s very important for us as believers to not only read but study the word of God daily in other for us to build a strong relationship with our creator.  Let’s take a look at some principles in the Scriptures.

Ps 119.105 tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”.

When we dwell on God’s Word daily its brightens our pathway, guards us on our journey through life, and lifts darkness before us. Our desire as believers is to be a follower of Christ and not to sin against him but to honor him. Therefore we need his daily guidance and the Bible is the first place to look for it.

So how Often should we study the Word?

As much as we can! Especially for new believers, I highly recommend studying the Bible daily to gain more overview of different messages from the Scripture. It will help us understand and see the world from another perceptive through God’s eyes.

However, studying the Bible every day is not a direct command but we can’t do away with the Bible either. Let’s try to incorporate Bible study into our daily routine in other to fuel an infectious faith that defines us as Christians.

Green Pastures and Quiet Waters

Green Pastures and Quiet Waters

IIn a similar vein, around 1000 BC, Israel’s King David composed his most famous work—Psalm 23. Many of us know how it begins: “The Lord is my shepherd.” I’ve read or recited that psalm hundreds of times over the years, but I recently noticed something I hadn’t observed before.

Why did David say, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters”? Why must the shepherd—David’s reference to God—“make” and “lead” him to do things that seem desirable, even idyllic? Did David not want peace, beauty, rest?

While scholars of ancient Hebrew history aren’t certain what was happening in King David’s life when he wrote this psalm, what is known about his life, in general, is that he had enemies near and far.

We also know that as a result of these many enemies, David was frequently on the run, either chasing off an enemy or running from one.

David’s reference to God—“make” and “lead” him to do things that seem desirable

While there are certainly accounts of David enjoying the benefits of being a king, his life was busy and burdened. In numerous other psalms, he admits to being exhausted and demoralized. 

While we aren’t ancient Israeli kings constantly fending off giant and regular-size adversaries, we can relate to King David’s feelings of exhaustion and demoralization.

Most of all, we can relate to needing someone to make us lie down in green pastures and lead us beside quiet waters.