‘We will work with those who are ready to obey God, follow him’
The fourth part of Archbishop, Metropolitan, and Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican
Communion), Most Rev. Henry Ndukuba’s interview conducted by Advent Cable Network Nigeria (ACNN TV) continues today.
What is Church of Nigeria’s relationship with the Global Anglican?
The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) is not an island. We are working in partnership with the global south and other Anglican churches in Africa, as well as with the global church. But due to some present-day heresies that negate God’s Word, and in rebellion to the authority of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in fact seeking to change the scripture and preach a new gospel, the Church of Nigeria has redefined herself.
Within the Anglican family worldwide, there are some institutions that are like instruments of unity, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the relationship with the See of Canterbury. But because of the way things are going in Europe and America, among others, we felt that we are not tied to the aprons of Canterbury. Therefore, the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria has redefined who we are and in communion with — sister Provinces that hold to the authority of the Word of God, the Bible, both Old, and New Testaments. We cherish our time tested Anglican heritage and doctrines as contained in the Book of Common Prayer, 39 Articles of Religion, and in the Creeds of the undivided church. We have tested the truth of the Word of God and the power of God through His Word, the Bible in worshipping God through this Book of Common Prayer and the means of grace and ordination and everything the Lord has given us and they have proven to be sufficient for us to work with God. So, when this new-found fancy theologies and teachings that are now elevating human cultures and feelings and experimentation, even to the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism that we cannot find even among low-class animals, we have to declare our stand.
As the 39 Article holds it, “just as the Church of Rome erred,” we believe that in this generation, some of the churches that brought us the gospel, so to say, have fallen into the same error. And as Paul said to the Galatians, even if it is the Angels that preach another gospel aside the gospel of Jesus Christ, the One Who died and rose again, let that person be anathema.
So, the Church of Nigeria is in a relationship with those families of believers within the Anglican Church that are holding unto what we are holding unto, that cherish the Word of God and the Anglican tradition, and are ready to live in accordance with God’s Word. We will work with those who are ready to obey God and follow Him. Our father in the Church of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola was instrumental in the founding of GAFCON. He was instrumental in the founding of Global South Fellowship of the Anglican Church and even in bringing Bishops of the African continent together. But one sad thing we are seeing today is that the Global South and even the African Anglican Communion and other organs that are helping us to keep in fellowship and focus have been infiltrated by money and deceptive doctrines. Some have compromised so much that even within GAFCON, some also compromise what we have so much cherished. So, the measure of our relationship and working together with other Anglican Provinces are dependent on their standing by the Word of God and submitting to its dictates, as some would say that they hold to the word but would not submit to its authority and live by its teachings. Any person or church or pastor that challenges the authority of the Word of God is cutting himself off from us.
The issue of human sexuality has come to be a centre focus for the Western world, and they are exporting it to Africa and using it as a measure of their relationship with others. But as far as we are concerned, that which the Word of God condemns stands condemned to us. It is what made God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and deal with individuals and groups in the scripture. We will not bow down to Babylon, which has fallen and will not reign over us. No matter how plausible and modern they may be, we prefer to be Orthodox, faithful and obedient.
What are your plans concerning church mission?
The Church exists for mission. Any Christian, church that has lost the fervency of prayer, the study of the Word of God, and witnessing has ceased to live. Spiritually, that person is in stagnation. The last thing that Jesus left for us is Matt 28: 18-20 – going into the world by His authority and power and making disciples of all nations and teaching them to obey everything that He has taught us, and He says: “Lo! I am with you.” So, I believe that as we go about teaching the Word of God, baptising, nurturing, mentoring, and making disciples, the church is doing what it is called to do. Every other thing that we do or expend on must key into that mission God has given the Church. St. Augustine said: “As a fire exists by burning, so does Church exist by witnessing/mission.” So, when we fail in the mission, we have failed and the sign of a living Church is not only the one that preaches and teaches. It is also the one that the Lord is daily adding unto those who are being saved.
We cannot but be what God has called us to be. So, when a mission comes to be the front burner of the Church: every local church, every pastor, every village, and every Bishop keys into the priority of God. As we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness, every other thing will follow. Once we focus on things that are in accordance with what Jesus has asked us to do, the Lord will have us become who we ought to be and do what we ought to do.
We have been spreading out through the creation of missionary dioceses. Now is time for us to be rooted and built up in Christ and His Word. That is why discipleship is very vital. We want all of us to be so focused on the mission and the purpose, such as to help build one another in faith and in the world and to also build our families.
The fathers are the doors to every household. When the father is not in Christ, doesn’t fear God, or even care about spiritual things, you will find out that it is like a room or a house whose main door has broken and that is why the family is in trouble. That is why society is in trouble. Society is a reflection of the family, while the church is a reflection of the families that make it up. So, when men are who they should be, covenant connectors, fathers of faith, men that stand with God, men to whom God revealed His purpose, men who pass on to their generations, the blessings, and the curses. When men stand and fathers take their place and focus on the things of God, I am believing God that this nation will change. Just as the youths are being mobilised to take on the seven mountains of influence, we are believing God that our men will also rise.
The Anglican Church will play a key role in this nation, politically, socially, and otherwise. We have done it before. It is the same God, and that God will move in a very fresh way if we allow Him. But even if we don’t, God will still do what He says He will do. When a family is connected to what God is doing, not only shall we continue to pray, we will see men and young people who will volunteer to say: “Look, I believe that the Lord is calling me to make a change in my generation in such a place.” It has been prophesied that the End Time move of God is coming and the Church of Nigeria will play a key role in it, and this is the time. We shouldn’t miss these 10 years. It is not just going to end in planting new churches, increasing in numbers, and building new churches, but we need to also impact this our world and prepare it for the Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the things that will cost so much in the church is mission. Not only will it take your time in preparation, but also resources for a result. Money is needed to push the work of mission, put missionaries where they will be, take care of them, translate and print the Word of God, produce worship and discipleship materials. The Church of Nigeria can sponsor the translation of Bible in some languages and raise a people, as well as bring leaders from outside Nigeria and Africa to be trained in Nigeria and then sent back. We also need to support our numerous missionary dioceses. If you give each of them N2m every year, they will be happy or relieved. There are some of them whose Bishops are not earning up to ₦50,000. There are many of them that don’t even have regular salaries. Yet, some of us are swimming in money.
If we do what God wants us to do and focus on things that matter with God, the Lord will so move people’s hearts, as the rich among us are taught to give to God’s Work, just like Paul says. I see unbelievers spending their money on things that bring destruction and some of us spend our money in sponsoring parties, groups, and politicians. Some of those investments are wasted. Why not sow into the kingdom? Why not sow to educate somebody? Why not sow to build up the church? I’m not talking of structures, because those structures may get damaged. Why not sow into the lives of others?
I’m glad when I see the enemy put to shame when a man under pressure is set free when somebody is living out his purpose. We need to synergise our resources, put them together, synergise our intellect, abilities, and giftings. We should come together with this one purpose, to move God’s work.
What is your take on government taking over missionary schools and the current issue of dressings?
If I understand you well, I think you are making reference to what is happening in Kwara State, where government and the Church are at loggerheads regarding the dress code or the uniforms that must be worn to school. Actually, it is like the tip of the iceberg, because it is the reality of the moment. It is the manifestation of what Nigeria is becoming, whether you like it or not. What is happening in the flow of agendas of the past 60/61 years ago. But the question is: Do we as Christians in Nigeria have any agenda whatsoever that is stretching into the next 50 years? The issue of fire brigade action cannot help us. Thank God that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) challenged the issue of curriculum for our nursery, primary and secondary schools and source opportunities. The issue of dressing is something that is also being thrown in and we will not take it lightly. We will not succumb to it.
The diversity within this nation must be recognised: cultural diversity, religious diversity, diversity in every way. It is not a curse. It is a blessing. And God allowed us to be who we are in Nigeria. But the problem comes when policy-makers, leaders, political leaders, in particular, don’t recognise this. I remember when they were implementing Sharia, President Obasanjo said this was a political Sharia, because it was not from the religious leaders. It was emanating from politicians in order to show people that they were Muslim enough and were pursuing the agenda. They want to return to pre-colonial days. I wish them well. But the way Nigeria is today, we must acknowledge that we are not alone. We must respect the rights of others. Some have rather displayed impunity in relating with others, in policymaking and implementation. This is what creates chaos, not necessarily society. There are people, politicians, who benefit from the confusion. So, the problem of Nigeria is not a problem of the ordinary man, the common man in the street. It is the problem created by the political class. I want to commend the Christian leaders and churches that have stood up to express their views. We should not back down.
Will this stop us from establishing schools? No. Nigeria is a free nation. It is an independent Federal Government. People are calling for restructuring. It is this attitude that is also fueling the demand for restructuring because those in authority think they can do and undo. We will encourage churches, denominations, to establish more schools, and make sure we make them real Christian institutions, where God is honoured, where Bible is taught, and where people are given the best of education, as well as produce people who will stand to build up this nation.
TO BE CONTINUED
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