Nigeria – The Church and Times Of Uncertainty or Crisis
Nigeria occupies a choice place in God’s agenda. The Almighty God in His infinite mercy has brought the country Nigeria to a platform where it has become the envy of many other nations. Blessed with both human and material resources, Nigeria remains today one of the greatest countries of the world, notwithstanding her ratings in the eyes of other nations.
As a multi-ethnic and pluralistic religious state, Nigeria has seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of being the most populous nation in Africa, hence the sobriquet, GIANT OF AFRICA! With the number of people increasing on daily basis in Nigeria, it is understandable that the problem of this country equally increases. Right from the onset, the nation has had her feel of both religious and ethnic crisis which left so many areas in ruins. Rising from the problems of marginalization, ethnic sentiments, economic imbalance, Nigeria and indeed Nigerians are always beset with multiple problems. The irony is that no matter the cause of these problems, the Church remains at the receiving end.
There are many unpredictable situations that beset the Church in Nigeria today. These problems which translate to crisis and other sundry troubles are actually the devil’s way of destabilizing the Church and Matthew Gear her to ridicule. The Bible has time without number reminded us that the world in which the Church exists and operate is filled with uncertainties. The Church has experienced periods that are truly nightmarish. These manifest themselves in the unusual crisis that we see in most parts of the country (1 John 5:9). At times it becomes confusing why almost every problem in the land has to settle on the Church despite the promise of God’s perpetual presence for the Church (Matthew 28:18-20).
Times of crisis are times when peace and tranquility cannot easily be determined. They are times when troubles are imminent or likely to occur (Genesis 32:1-12). At a period like this, life and property are not spared. The effect on the Church cannot be overlooked (Matthew 24:10-13). Crisis is always a time of great trial for the Church. The point is that the world does not want the Church and so could use any device in its power to destabilize her. In the Northern part of Nigeria where Islam has sworn on oath not to allow the Church a breathing space, there are so many acts of violence on its part to stop the Church in her mission. It sounds surprising to note that almost every government agency in Nigeria has a mosque attached to it where Muslims go to pray, but permission will not be granted to Christians to use even a shade for a 5-minutes prayer meeting. Christians are denied access to the lands or buildings that are bought with their own money simply because they are for religious purposes. Funny enough, you can count over 5 to 6 mosques all over the area Churches are denied to operate.
When the government eventually permits them a place, Church activities are disrupted and their buildings burnt down or destroyed. In their sermons, Muslim clerics talk only about Christians and their belief inciting their listeners against the Christians. This has brought so much animosity and the adherents of these religions. It is expected that religious leaders talk about things that bring about peace and harmony, train up the people in the fear and love of God but not creating rooms for hatred. There are incisive sermons that are preached, recorded in tapes and distributed to the people to play and listen to. Listening to many of these sermons is enough evidence that majority of all the crisis that take place are truly preplanned, having the seal of the religious leaders. It is important to note that all these developments are geared towards restricting the Church from operating according divine order. These acts of violence and terrorism are to force the Church to compromise her stand in Christ to stop being antagonistic to the world’s standard. So many instruments have been used on the Church, including violence, to stop her from progressing. Right now, the issue at hand has pushed some people in the Church to the wall, to start thinking or contemplating reprisal. There are certain of them who are desiring to fight back rather than remaining victims of circumstance all the time.
In Bauchi State, Nigeria, a Pastor of a large Church was arraigned before a magistrate court for stocking ammunition for self-defense. This is as a result of the insensitivity of the government to save lives. The government of the land has always remained adamant to the porous security network that has been in the places thereby forcing the people to make provisions individually in order to protect themselves (lives and property). The irony is that those who openly display weapons of war and destruction are hardly arrested. This has led the people to suspect foul play on the parts of the government. Where arrests are made, those involved are quickly released to carry on with their evil acts of destruction. This is good evidence that all the forces in the world are set up against the Church.