How safe to serve God in times of terror, adversity
It would be stating the obvious that this is a perilous period for Christians in Nigeria, especially those in the Northern part, where they are under incessant attacks and killings, with their churches either set ablaze or destroyed by unidentified raging groups. So far, there has been no recorded reprisal attack from Christians. While it is true the Bible enjoins Christians to pray for their enemies and those who persecute them, it is expected that the civil government will come to their rescue and protect them against harm. Where government fails repeatedly to do its job, what are those things Christians can do to defend themselves, without offending the Bible and disobeying government? CHRIS IREKAMBA and ISAAC TAIWO report.
When We Take A Position Of Peace, It Does Not Mean Weakness’
(Rev. (Dr.) Felix Omobude, National President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
I APPRECIATE the passion behind your question. What do you recommend for the church to do? Would you recommend that we take up arms and fight? Let me also tell you that the church is not scared. Go back to memory. Those who fought against the church, with some saying let the Bible be completely amended, but the Bible outlived them. When we take a position of peace, it does not mean weakness. The church is not sleeping. We are called to pray, we are called to evangelise. So, we are not going to raise an army with bows and arrows, and I do hope they don’t press this nation to that point. I’m as worried as you are, but let me tell you, when it comes to a man’s faith; he can give his life for it. So, we are peaceful. We are not weak. And I think this is just the best I can say for now.
When Christians come under attack, what do you advise them to do? There is no law, whether in our law books or even in our faith, that forbids you from defending yourself. Of course, if you have the capability to defend yourself, why won’t you? Especially when those who ought to defend you are not doing so. We cannot watch and just allow these things to continue. If government cannot rise to it responsibilities, there are lots of communities in this country that have civilian JTF. What are they doing? They are defending themselves.
‘Government Should Come To The Aid Of Helpless Christians’
(The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Primate, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
THE law does not provide for self-defence. This is the essence of politics. During elections, politicians would go to various communities and ask the people to surrender their power to them through their votes, with a view to representing them afterwards.
They promise the people that they would use the power given to them to protect them. This is actually what is called government; it is a social contract.Nigerians have given their power to the government at the federal, state and local levels. So, it is now governments’ turn to do their own part, by protecting the people. The government should respect the contractual agreement between it and the people, and come to the aid of helpless Christians, who cannot take up arms, but depend on government to which they have surrendered their power.
‘You Cannot Use Devil To Correct Devil’
(Pastor Israel Alaba Ibironke, General Overseer, The Assembly of Faithfuls Church, Worldwide)
PERSECUTION of Christians did not start today and before we can live happily among idiots, we must understand that it is only true love that can help us live peacefully among such people.
Even in the church of God, you still discover there are people who do not see eye to eye. Hatred is at the root of such quarrel. How can you just wake one morning and say, ‘I don’t like so and so person.’ So, it has been there, even right from the time of Jesus Christ.
Have you forgotten how some of the disciples were killed? None of them died well. Some died by hanging, and such things. It will continue and what we need is to stand firm and know whom we are serving.
Fighting back cannot solve the problem. You cannot use the devil to correct the devil, and darkness cannot correct darkness. In the process of doing that, you might kill an innocent person, and God will never forgive you for that. You cannot correct wrong with wrong. If we say ‘let us all go out there and kill,’ you might end up killing righteous people. You would kill Muslims that don’t know anything about Boko Haram or those perpetuating that evil.
My prayer for this nation is that God would give us a new heart to understand the purpose of creation and why we are here on earth: The heart that will love God, as well as his neighbours. If we have that kind of heart, there is no way darkness would prevail over light. No matter the number, light must surely overcome. We should pray not to experience war.
‘Any Attempt To Defend Self Would Not Be In Consonance With God’s Word’
(Pastor Johnson Odesola, Assistant General Overseer, Admin. / Personnel, National Secretary, The Redeemed Christian Church of God)
IN my view, I believe we should limit ourselves to the scriptures that commanded us not to recompense evil with evil. More over, we are assured that the weapons of our spiritual warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God… As it is said that no leaf can fall from a tree without God’s knowledge, so I quite believe that no riot can take place without His knowledge.
He has promised to always be with us, even go ahead of us and always make a way of escape, as we believe in His power to fight for us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, Who shielded Elisha and the servant at Dothan with chariots of fire. He fought for Joshua and his army by casting down stones from above upon the enemies of Israel and the Bible tells us that those that were killed with hailstones were more than those that Israeli army killed with swords. When and where it is necessary to do so today, He can still repeat the same thing. He saved the three Hebrews, Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego from the fiery furnace of Nebuchadnezzar and turned the furnace to air-conditioner, to the extent that no single hair on their heads got burnt. He delivered John from hot oil and preserved him to write the book of Revelation. He has told us that the glory of the latter house will be greater than the former and He will do more than all the above in our days, as we trust in His Almighty power, pray and believe. The only thing we can do is to run from any assault and He will always make a way of escape.
Any attempt to defend ourselves by carrying arms, which would result in killings, would not be in consonance with the Word of God that we should not kill. Taking up of arms will multiply murder. I was in the North during two terrible riots and all we did was to tell our members to run to the barracks. All I believe we can do is to run and our God will always make a way of escape. We can even pray that God should silence any form of insurrection, since every physical riot started from the spiritual and our Almighty God is able to nip in the bud every form of evil. He has given us the power to subdue the world.
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