ADVOCATES FOR FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY (AFD)
Paper delivered at Press Conference of Coalition of 63 Christian Groups, to Nigerian Christians, to commemorate 59th Independence Anniversary of Nigeria.
Press Conference was held on Monday 30th Sept., 2019 in Lagos.
THE NIGERIA CHURCH: TIME TO REASON TOGETHER
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1: 18
Advocates for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) is a coalition of sixty-three Christian groups and associations bonded with a burden for virile interventions in the governance and social concerns of Nigeria. Through this press conference, AFD wishes to draw attention to the state of the Church in Nigeria (sadly, a country of millions of Spirit-filled Christians) and the worrisome direction of the country.
As Nigeria commemorates its 59th Independence Anniversary, it is necessary to examine the contributions of the Church to the well-being of the country. Without doubt, Nigeria is not living to the expectations of its founding fathers, even though it has a thriving Christian community within it.
THE STATE OF THE NATION
Like many other Nigerians, AFD has been concerned about the state of the nation, about its ominous declines. Our hopeful persuasion, nonetheless, is that God will still redeem us. This is achievable if the Church would listen to Him and arise to do the needful.
This has not been the best of times for Nigeria, with terrors within and rejections without. Institutions of governance in the country are fast collapsing, and the Judiciary, supposedly ‘the hope of the common man,’ has become a hijacked mockery. It is no longer news that several towns and villages with Christian identities have been destroyed, looted, burnt down and taken over by people intent on redrawing the demographics of Nigeria through dispossession of ancestral homelands. We mourn with the countless individuals and families that have lost loved ones in strategic orgies of death and kidnappings unleashed upon the country by religious extremists and other adherents of the doctrine of hate.
Of particular concern to AFD is the fact that these afflictions have befallen a country with vibrant and overflowing churches. The sad implication is that our Christianity is neither salt nor light enough to the society. Lest it becomes irrelevant and impotent in resolving national crises, we are compelled to make the call of God in Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together.”
On 11th September, 2019, the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET) delivered a judgment that shocked every man and woman of good conscience in the country. It was a deliberate act of casting the truth to the ground and trampling it under feet. The group that expressed the greatest angst was the Christians. For many Christians, it was a travesty of justice and a mockery of the law. However, a more discerning introspection would suggest that Christians have no right to complain. If elections are rigged in the country, what about in the Church? There is credible evidence that election in the Church is marred by rigging through vote buying, flagrant violation of the Constitution of the Church, and a deliberate compromise of the process. If that is acceptable to the Church, what moral grounds have Christians to complain about electoral manipulations in national politics?
Should a Church that violates truth and righteousness expect truth and righteousness from non-Christians? Should Christians who condone and accommodate election rigging and corruption within their cathedrals complain about the same manipulation by non-Christians? Do Nigerian Christians have any right to complain about the evils afflicting the country in view of the evils and corruption that they condone and accommodate within their churches? The Lord has this to say, “Physician, heal thyself.”
WHY ARE WE HERE, AND WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
Sometime about 2011, God began to send messages to the Church in Nigeria through trusted vessels, warning of impending judgment because of the departure of the Church from His path into profligacy and doctrines of Mammon as well as other perversions of the faith and congregations enlarged proudly with mixed multitudes. A seven-year window was given to the Church to put its house in order, beginning from 2011. That period expired in 2018. It is therefore no coincidence that since 2018 the intensity of the persecution of the Church has significantly risen unabated. The worry now is that, unless the Church begins to retrace her steps, worse days lie ahead.
Many have wondered why God seems not to have intervened in His usual manner in the affairs of Nigeria. The explanation is simple: we are praying and asking for forgiveness, yet are continuing in our pernicious ways. The Bible is clear that whenever God would visit any land to bring about righteousness, His judgment begins with His own people, in His own House. Thus, the many threats and tyranny of the enemy are too small for Him to address, if the Church would act right.
In 1986, Pa S.G. Elton, an apostle of God sent into Nigeria, who ministered in the country for over 50 years, well-known to many of the leading ministers of God today, prophesied that:
Nigeria and Nigerians would be known for corruption worldwide, but that the tide would turn and Nigeria would also be known for righteousness worldwide“Many shall take hold of him that is a Nigerian saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
That zenith of corruption seemed to have been reached when the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, described Nigerians to the world as “fantastically corrupt.” We thus posit that if the Nigerian Church musters the courage to repent, God is set to turn Nigeria around in a magnificent way. Thus, it is our persuasion in AFD that the Church of Christ-like persons holds the key to resolving the multiple crises befalling the country. Let it be known, for every Pharaoh, there is Jehovah. That is the background against which we see the current status of our country.
If sinners were the only ones guilty of corruption and immorality, the Church would have stood a good position to intercede for the land. Unfortunately, there is abundant evidence that the Church itself is entangled in the same disgraceful iniquities.. Very well then did God say,
If MY PEOPLE, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from THEIR wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14)
In many nations of the world, Nigerians are reproached. Even African countries are rejecting Nigerians. In this situation, divine intervention is imperative. A lot of Christians are daily praying and fasting for God to intervene, yet Heaven seems reluctant to respond, meanwhile prophecies consistently point to God’s judgment on the land because of the sins of the Church. We are where Isaiah 59: 1-2 speaks of: “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save … But your iniquities have separated between you and your God.” According to a prophecy in 2016, Nigerian Christians are praying and fasting, but they are not repenting.
THE WAY FORWARD: RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTS A NATION
The Bible is replete with accounts of God’s people facing judgment due to unrighteousness and idolatry. However, each time they repented, God was ready to forgive. The keywords are REPENTANCE and TURNING AWAY FROM SIN. In 2 Chronicles 7: 14, God clearly indicates that whenever His people sin against Him, their land would be visited with judgment. We posit that if Nigerian Christians are truly desirous of social and political change in the country, their agitation should commence from within the Church. God is not going to enter the battlefield for a sinful and hypocritical people, no matter how loud or long they cry.
As a Church, we stand on the thresholds of history. We can be the generation that witnesses the raw acts of God in bringing deliverance to the nation. Thus, rather than lapse into despair, may we find the courage to arise and bring the power of God to bear upon our nation.
A CALL TO REPENTANCE
AFD is using this medium to call Christians in Nigeria NOT ONLY to REPENTANCE BUT also to GO ON to produce fruit meet for repentance, according to Matthew. 3:8. The handwriting on the wall is clear, and we should not wait to be smitten any further before we agree to put our house in order. God’s promise is: If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged (1 Cor. 11:31).
GOING FORWARD: RECOMMENDATIONS
👉 AFD is calling all leaders and peoples who name the name of Christ to earnestly begin to tune their minds to the need for national repentance. We are proposing that the details go beyond ‘repentance prayers’ to how the Church would conform to biblical standards. Many of our popular doctrines and structures would need re-evaluation.
👉 There should be a clarion call in the Church to reject doctrines that promote greed and covetousness, while discipleship should be promoted and practiced.
👉 There is urgent need for Christian leaders to close ranks. It is clear that unless this is done, the approaching ominous clouds will spare no one, whatever their connections. There is war at the gates, and a united front is required.
👉 Christians should be bold and honest to admit the evils that have been committed in the Church. “God is not mocked, whatsoever a man [family, church, country] soweth, that also shall it reap.” The Church cannot sow corruption in its apex body and expect to reap righteousness in the rest of country. Every wrong appointment in the Nigerian Church should be reversed and fresh appointments based on truth, justice and righteousness made. Then the Church would have had legal grounds to demand deliverance and divine intervention from those afflicting Christians and the country.
👉 There is need for a Conference of Christian leaders, to ‘reason together’ to urgently point the way forward for all Christians, based on an evaluation of the revealed will of God at this critical time. Christian denominations and groups should collaborate with the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) to quickly organize a conference to examine the phenomenon of ONE NATION, TWO SYSTEMS. The crisis of Nigeria is Constitutional, and only a united Christian stand can resolve it.
👉 In consonance with Isaiah 9: 6 that “the Government shall be upon His shoulder,” Christians should agree on a Christian political platform to promote democracy that would translate into justice, equality, and fairness in the country. Unless Christians organize themselves to provide Godly leadership for Nigeria, power shall always reside with those who abuse it to promote and protect sectional interests.
The time is short and the enemy is closing in, but we must not despair. For every Pharaoh, there is Jehovah. May the Lord give us men and women of courage and understanding, and may our hearts be tuned to follow the Lord all the way. May God bless Nigeria. Amen.
Signed on behalf of AFD by:
Prof. Kontein Trinya - The Preacher
Dr. Ibilola Amao - Christian Social Movement of Nigeria
Pastor Mary Emmanuel - Christian Social Movement of Nigeria
Pastor Obele Ibanga - The Preacher
Dr. Rotimi Gabriel - Ambassadors of God to Middle East
Dr. Olalekan Jesuleye - Church Arise
Pastor Femi Adebayo - Christian Unity Project
Rev. Tokunbo Salami - NEMA
Rev. Eric Ighalo - Changemakers Africa
Dr. Emmanuel Olatoye - Nigerian Christians in Diaspora, UK
Prof. Ugo C. Ugorji - Christian Social Movement of Nigeria
Barrister Emmanuel Ogebe, ESQ - Irrepressible Truth Nigeria
Rev. Eliashib Ime-James - Christian Rights Nigeria
Pastor Bosun Emmanuel - Christian Social Movement of Nigeria