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Clerics’ message of hope in difficult times

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Ayokunle

Easter, a unique period in the Christian calendar, is celebrated all over the world by Christians. It marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As Nigerian Christians join their counterparts globally to mark this season today, what resurrection message do clerics have for citizens in these difficult times, to cheer them up for a victorious 2017? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.

• ‘We Must Discourage The Growing Trend Of Suicide And Despair In Nigeria’
• ‘If God Raised His Son Jesus From The Dead, He Would Raise Up Nigeria From Its Quagmire’
• ‘Our Leaders Should Demonstrate Fear Of God, Consult Him On Affairs Of The Nation’

Christ’s Resurrection Is A Story Of Hope And A Better Tomorrow’
(Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, President, Christian Association of Nigeria/President, Nigerian Baptist Convention)
Perhaps, the greatest story in the Scriptures is not only the story that Jesus died for our sins, but that He rose again from the dead in power and majesty, to put death to shame like no other prophet before or after Him. It is a great story, a distinct story, our hope, joy and pride. It is a story that each of us needs to hear again and again, not only to make our faith stronger and sustained, it is a story that would assure us daily that when the enemy has done his worst in our lives, there is hope of a better tomorrow. It is a story we must be proud to tell others, because it would give them hope and joy of glorious eternity awaiting them and also victory over the challenges of life. This is the story, which our nation needs to hear again and again at a time like this, so we can rise above our present national challenges and see better days ahead.

In His resurrection is the assurance, ‘do not be afraid.’ No cause for fear again, because Jesus has overcome His enemies and also restored your hope and joy. By His resurrection, there was no more shame for His disciples, because their Lord was restored to them. Their Lord has overcome the most fearful enemy, death, by rising from the dead.

Since His resurrection, everyday you wake up; there is ‘do not be afraid’ for you. It is time for you to appropriate it. The resurrection enhanced a better sense of trust and dependence on Him in His disciples. The Bible says that when the women saw Him, they held Him by His feet, that is, they didn’t want to be separated from Him again.

May His resurrection make you and I to be closer to Him more than silver and gold. He must always be our objective of worship. In our worship of Him is our appreciation of Him. In it is our praise of Him always and our service of Him in every position we occupy.

May we all be His ambassadors wherever we go and wherever we are in the name of Jesus. He is risen; we shall rise also like Him. We shall rise above our problems, our ordeals, our failures and our detractors in the name of Jesus. All our enemies will be put to perpetual shame in the name of Jesus.

(Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, Catholic Diocese of Oyo

‘Message Of Easter Is That No One Should Ever Despair’(Bishop Emmanuel Badejo, Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese)
The resurrection of Jesus is not an isolated event of history. It is closely related to and in fact, is derived from His passion and death on the cross. Saint Paul put it very clearly in his letter to the Philippians. “Though he was in the form of God Christ did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped but emptied himself … He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death in the cross. That is why God exalted him” (Phil. 2:6-11). The same Christ said: “In the world you will have trouble but have courage, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16: 33). We must always present the message of Easter along with that of the Cross. Likewise, people who believe in Jesus must also believe in His total person, as Jesus the crucified and the resurrected. Note that even in appearing to His disciples after the resurrection, Jesus showed them the mark of the nails on Him. Therefore, all the challenges of this world, recession, difficulties, war diseases and injustice, etc., become bearable through the Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without Good Friday, there can be no Easter Sunday.

The message of Easter Sunday is that no one should ever despair. The Son of God went into the deepest abyss of suffering and disgrace, crucified like a common criminal, but at the end, He was given in His resurrection, a name that is greater than any other name. While we sympathise with and must support all who are most hit by the current woes, we must discourage the growing trend of suicide and despair in Nigeria. It rather compounds the problem. If Mary had committed suicide on Good Friday, she would never have become Mother of the Redeemer. We must caution the institutions of society, which teach that poverty, hardship or illness occurs only because one is out of favour with God to desist, as they only breed despair in people. We must give each other hope, especially in God’s goodness and His power to turn things around, if we work with Him. “…Knowing that trials produce patience, from patience comes merit, merit is the source of hope and hope does not disappoint us (Rom. 5:3-5). There can always be a better tomorrow, when God turns the race into grace. That is the authentic Christian and resurrection spirit!

‘Our Leaders Should Emulate Our Lord Jesus Christ’(His Eminence, Dr. Chukwuemeka Samuel Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church, Nigeria)
There is no way we can talk about Easter and not talk about the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
My message to Nigerians, therefore, is that they should believe that, as Jesus resurrected from the grave, and became victorious, all our predicaments in this nation will be over one day, as we all work together to make Nigeria a better place. However, I want to remind the leaders in this nation to emulate our Lord Jesus Christ.

Symbolically, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet to show the example that though He was their Master, teaching and establishing Master-servant attitude. He was humiliated by the type of death He faced, which at the end led to victorious resurrection.

He, therefore, wrought for us victory against sin, death and Satan. This is a lesson to our leaders in the country; they should know that they are elected into their various offices to serve Nigerians and not to lord it over them.

Our leaders should think more about the people they are serving and realise that they are committed to making the electorate happy and live better. Those enjoying fat salaries among the leaders should be able to sacrifice by cutting down on their income to bring succour to the less privileged.

I heard of a state government, which in a bid to save cost, reduced expenditure of billions to millions, a thing other states should emulate.
Local governments should be empowered accordingly by the State governments. This can only be effected by the State government releasing the allocation meant for them and not pocket such.

In many local government jurisdictions, there are no roads, no bridges and whenever it rains, their roads become impassable. Government should also work on electricity, because its availability is one of the catalysts of development. Light is needed by most people to work, including iron benders, welders and hairdressers, among others. Electricity would definitely reduce the migration of people from rural to urban areas.

Leaders should know that the best they can do is to ensure Nigerians live comfortably and not by amassing wealth that belongs to others. Such would bring judgment upon them sooner or later. Love of money is evil, more so, when it is to the detriment of the people.


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