It is no longer news that as a country we are facing unprecedented times of hardship. There are many reasons that can be given for it but that’s not the objective of this article. However, I would say two things. Firstly, we must bear the hardship of a famine season because we misused the time of abundance. Secondly, this time of famine is a challenge to us to change our ways and it provides our best opportunity to do that.
The objective of this article is an urgent call on the church to play a leading role in this time of famine. Our 56th Independence Day is around the corner (Saturday, 1st October, 2016) and this is a clarion call to churches to use this Day to refocus on nation-building.
Why is there a need to refocus?
It is because the Church, despite being the biggest influencer in our country, has not played a key role in nation-building and today, the country is collapsing and we all are greatly affected. I am fully persuaded that this famine is a wakeup call from God to His church so that His purpose for Nigeria will be worked on diligently and the abundant harvest will abound for His glory.
What must the church urgently do?
Pray & Fast: As a nation, we have fallen short on all levels. We have killed; maimed; stolen from the less privileged; shut our eyes and ears to the suffering in the land while we pursue our personal agenda; etc. In summary, despite a sense of church growth, there is so much sin in the land and we are now in the state Israel and Judah were in before going on exile.
As the Church, we are reminded in God’s word to us: “If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
We are in this crisis because the Church has failed to humble herself despite consistent warnings. There is an urgent need to step down celebrations and all other signs of ‘all is well’.
This Independence Day is an opportunity for the Church to gather her members, humble ourselves in a fast, seek God’s face in repentance so that He may forgive our sins (personal and national) and He may send us into the marketplace with the wisdom, knowledge and power to ‘heal’ the land.
This is critical starting point and it is urgent.
Messaging: As we seek God’s face this Independence Day, we the Church will recognize that our messaging must change. Most Nigerians (including members) are fast losing hope and without hope, there is no way we can build our nation. The Church, through her messaging, urgently needs to build hope in her members and among citizens.
The Church must also utilize her messaging to rebuild our lost values that have created our current state of lawlessness. Without the right core values, any developmental effort will be short term.
Most citizens have a fixed mindset due to our upbringing; it is time the Church causes a shift from a fixed to a growth mindset, through her messaging. Nigeria can no longer afford to remain an oil rent economy. For true development that will cater for her growing population, Nigeria needs more citizens with a growth mindset because they are the ones to create a productive economy.
The church, through her messaging, can help promote the focus on locally produced goods.
It takes a new way of thinking and a new way of acting to produce a new Nigeria. The church, through her messaging, can make this happen.
Training: During our many years of lawlessness caused by our oil rent economy, many of us have lived way above our means. The Church urgently needs to engage experts to teach members effective money management which will factor in good planning, cost savings, simplified lifestyle, discipline, etc. The Church does need to go back to her core teaching so that members are trained to serve God and not money.
In conjunction with relevant experts and government agencies, the Church can organized training for members on the various untapped opportunities and how best to harness them.
Projects: The Church (particularly the large ones) can take the lead in executing projects. The Church has the influence (money, contacts, manpower and credibility) which she must utilize to launch projects that will be a key model to members and citizens. It will also help to alleviate some of our urgent challenges.
For example, if one of the large congregation or denomination built a 1-2 million tonnes rice farm within 12 months, they will contribute significantly to the reduction in rice importation. Foreign exchange savings; affordable rice prices; employment for Nigerians; investment opportunities for Nigerians are some of the benefits that will accrue.
Besides agriculture, the Church can set up local manufacturing plants (some are doing this on a lower scale), undertake social housing schemes, provide short term loans to members, etc.
It is no longer enough to just equip members and run educational institutions; the Church must undertake key projects that will address some of our challenges and also generate income for her, which can then be used to support her social work.
The Church is the watchman of our country and when things are out of hand, it is the watchman that calls the nation to attention and to repentance. It is also their role to lead in turning the country back towards development, God’s way.
This urgent call is to the Church leadership to rise up to her core assignment as it concerns the nation in which it inhabits. This is also a call to her members to demand action from her leadership.
Will the Church respond appropriately to this clarion call?