2019: God our refuge and strength

January 9th, 2019

By Folu Olamiti

In September 2018, the Church of Nigeria (An­glican Communion) held its Standing Commit­tee Conference in Minna Niger State with the theme: “God Our Refuge And Strength.”No topic could be more appropriate at this hazardous time in Nigeria, when the Christian commu­nity, especially our brothers and sisters in the northern part of the country face re­alties and threat of persecu­tion, violent attacks and ex­termination.

There is no pretext about this, as we witness and read everyday how the blood of the innocents is shed and­tears and sorrows envelop communities and families of victims. Not only that, thousands of infants and school children are daily or­phaned and forced to help­lessly watch their promising dreams evaporate and gaze at a bleak future, eking their daily bread from dustbins!

Even those at Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps are not better off, as Boko Haram terrorists reg­ularly raid and loot their domains, while wreak­ing havoc on their means of livelihood. In the same breath, their social welfare is nothing to talk about, as money allocated for their upkeep is allegedly being mismanaged.

Against these pitiful and horrific tales, the choice of the theme of the bi-yearly Conference in Minna was, therefore, premised on the need to seek God’s face in recognition that all human efforts had failed to solve the quagmire.

The Primate Of All Nigeria and Archbishop Metropoli­tan, The Most Revd. Nicho­las Okoh, set the tone for the conference by speaking to the theme with comforting assurance of God’s love and protection to the bereaved, homeless, widows, widow­ers and orphans, reinforced with the biblical saying: “And lo I am with you al­ways to the close of the age, to bless you… to encourage you when success delays in coming, to strengthen you when persecution and trou­bles are present.”

Primate Okoh pointed out that the world had known great evils in the past, con­sidering the magnitude of evil unleashed upon it by the First and Second World Wars and national, regional and international conflicts with crises across the globe, which has also found their way unto the shores of Ni­geria, in form of the vicious and deadly Boko Haram in­surgency.

Side by side the rampaging terrorists and suicide bomb­ers are also the menace of ritual killings, invasion and burning of churches, mass murder of worshippers and predominantly Chris­tian communities by land grabbers and power mon­gers by some armed gangs and youths, especially in the Northern part of the coun­try.Primate described this gruesome trend as sad, un­fortunate, alarming and rep­rehensible and alerted that: “The nation is being sur­rounded by unrelenting en­emy, where innocent peo­ple are being gunned down and butchered. Bomb man­ufacturing factories are be­ing discovered. The Boko Haram terrorists have unre­pentantly sworn to destroy Nigeria, unless their inter­ests and that of their spon­sors prevail.”

Describing these times as troubling, Primate Okoh asked: “Would God help her? Has He helped in the past? Can we rely on His Faithfulness?”

The Primate was affirm­ative in his Episcopal re­sponse, stressing that the Lord has always intervened timely to rescue the nation and restore peace.

“Follow­ing past powerful interven­tions in our national af­fairs, one can say God is a Nigerian.”He expressed con­fidence that: “God Who de­livered Jehoshaphat from the menace of the Moabites and the Ammonites; Who delivered Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem from Sen­nacherib, his arrogant and defiant Rabshakeh, would deliver Nigeria” from cur­rent travails.

Primate Okoh admon­ished political gladiators and the nation not to despair, but to embrace peace and faith in the Lord, as demon­strated by renowned Civil and Liberty Rights crusad­er Rev Martin Luther, who on hearing depressing and gloomy reports, summoned the faithful brethren around him and exhorted: “Come, let us sing (or read) 46 Psalm” and thus challenged God ‘the mighty one in bat­tle to arise and let His ene­mies scatter’, saying, “This is the time such prayer should continue to be repeated by all.”

Assuring Nigerians that the presence of God “guar­antees security for the country, he emphasised: “Nigerians are being pur­sued by an implacable foe. God is our fortress, our ref­uge, our help and our de­liverer, and He will help us at the break of day!” Con­sequently, he urged those presently in distress not to lose hope, assuring them that “Our God never sleeps and is watching what is go­ing on and will surely come to the rescue of the op­pressed.”

The Minna meeting rounded off with an inter­cessory prayer by delegates and participants, compris­ing the houses of Bishop, priest and Laity for urgent Divine intervention in the affairs of Nigeria and for im­mediate end to the merciless killings and persecution of Christians and innocent Ni­gerians by the Boko Haram terrorists.

Folu Olamiti (FNGE) writes from Abuja

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