As Nigerians Christians writhe in the throes of persecution by Islamic fundamentalists, many church leaders believe it is time the faithful rose up to defend themselves and their faith.
But a Nigerian pastor has expressed a contrary view.
He believes the fate of any Christ follower on earth is death—and so there’s no precept in the Bible that mandates believers to strike back.
“Jesus said they will persecute you, kill you, and He said we should not fear death,” said Pastor Samson Albert Arojah of the St Peters Cherubim and Seraphim Band in the Ketu Area of Lagos.
But in the lead-up to the 2019 election, fear and anxiety amongst the over 80 million followers of Christ in Nigeria rocketed up.
He blames the Christian leaders and elders for this.
According to him, these leaders have skipped preaching tolerance and longsuffering, adding the world is not the abode of Christians.
Last June, the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum said Christianity may cease to exist in Nigeria by 2043 if the Christians fail to rise up and hold their ground.
In Plateau alone, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network, no fewer than 6000 Christians were murdered by Fulani herdsmen, a Muslim tribe the locals say is intent on wiping out the Christians in the north.
Many of Christ’s followers across the nation were then moved to push back as much as they can—including voting out the government they believed refuse to secure them from Boko Haram and violent Fulani herdsmen in 2019.
The religious rhetoric got so threatening the US and the international community had to make religious leaders in Nigeria sign a peace pact—like the National Peace Committee made presidential candidates did—before the Feb 23 election.
In a country almost equally dominated by the followers of the world’s two major religions, there is a lot, many believe, leaders can do to take advantage of the bodies of adherents. Either in war or peace.
‘Our church leaders have polluted everything—for their gins,” the man of God told the National Daily.
“They sell lies to the congregation, thereby destroying the peace of the nation.”
He was referring to church leaders that believe and preach there is an enemy, and must be destroyed, cursed.
“Anybody that claims to be a man of God, and curses people might not be called by God at all, or might have lost his calling. Or he calls himself,” he said.
“The authority and power a true man of God carries doesn’t make him curse people, or pray for their destruction—for any reason whatsoever.”
Arojah doesn’t even believe it makes any sense cursing spirits—as some Christians explain away the reason they curse in prayers. According to him, Jesus didn’t even try it—as much as he was the Son of God.
“Because spirits can’t die, Jesus would rather command them to go and inhabit something else whenever he cast them out of the people.”
So when men of God curse and pray their enemies die, they, he said, should understand they are laying a foundation which is different from Christ’s.
“When they were crucifying him, at the point of death, Jesus never revenged. He’d rather utter seven statements, none of them being: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,” he said, explaining Jesus’ priesthood and sacrificial offering rolled together at crucifixion.
The pastor then urged Christian leaders to consider the kind of foundation they are laying, because Nigerians will remember them for it.