By Franklyn ISONG
The State is called “Akwa ‘Abasi’ Ibom’. Meaning almighty God! The State is largely populated by Christians worshippers. Hardly a street, road or corner you won’t find more than 10 building of churches of different congregation.
The government is the major promoter and benefactor of churches in the State. In every State government function, there is a role designed for Christian religious leaders to perform.
At the beginning of every year, the government organises a Solemn Assembly through the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
At the end of every year, the government organises a Christmas Carol night, a one-night Christian carnival of sort, where churches within and outside the State are invited to participate. Same as Pastors and General Overseas (GOs) of churches within and outside Nigeria are imported into the State for the event.
On Saturday, 13th December, 2014, the State government broke the Guinness Book of World Record for being able to host 25,272 member-choral group, the largest ever in the world.
The government holds monthly prayer summit in government house where Pastors and GOs of churches are usually invited to participate.
With all these supports, and preferences shown to the churches in the State, one would expect the churches to reciprocate, by rising up to the occasion in this trying moment of the State. Please don’t come and tell me that the churches are praying for the COVID-19 to end! We are discussing a serious matter here. Who doesn’t pray? I believe in the power of prayers! Today is not for that topic. Okay!
The vulnerable in Akwa Ibom are dying of hunger and starvation on accounts of the total lockdown policy of the State government in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the State. Government’s palliatives to the vulnerable are insufficient.
This is where the Church should draw a line between prayer, fasting and taking action by feeding the poor in the society.
If the churches can, at least, provide palliatives support to their members in the State, it will go along way to ameliorate the suffering in the State. The burden will be reduced from government.
As it stands, every one looks up to government including the churches’ leadership and their members. The load is just too much for government to bear alone.
I have heard of some GOs of churches donating to the people of Lagos, Ogun and other States and those States’ governments in order to successfully fight the COVID-19. Even though some of these GOs also have the branches of their churches in Akwa Ibom. Nothing has so far been donated to the people of the State or members of their churches in the State.
Let our churches begin to reach out to their members individually and feed them as well as providing medicals for the sick amongst their folds in Akwa Ibom.
This call has become very necessary seeing that the churches in Akwa Ibom are just waiting for the pandemic to be over for them to start their services without thinking of how to contribute to end the pandemic.
I am using this piece to urge the fathers of faith, GOs, Church founders, Prelates, Archbishops, Bishops, Reverends, Apostles, Pastors and Evangelists within and outside Akwa Ibom whose churches are in the State to reach out to their members and take care of, at least, their daily feeding and medicals (for the sick) from the tithes, offerings and other financial sacrifices and supports they have been receiving from Akwa Ibom State government, government officials and private individuals.
It is about time this call is made. I think if Jesus Christ were to be around, this is what he would have done to the vulnerable in the society irrespective of religious belief.
Again, let the churches be involved in the fight against this deadly virus than sitting down, folding their hands and waiting for when it will be over for normalcy to return to the Churches.
- Franklyn Isong is a public affairs commentator and conscience of the society.