George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Imo State Deputy Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Austin Uchegbu, has called on Christian Youths in the South East to defend themselves and Christianity in the face of unrelenting attacks on communities in the zone by marauding Fulani herdsmen.
This is even as he advised the youths to embrace self-defence to save their communities and the church from the marauders, noting that self-defence is enshrined in the constitution.
He also urged the leadership of the various communities across the South East to form vigilance groups as a bulwark against impending attack by Fulani herdsmen.
The cleric stated these on Thursday when the newly-elected South East youth leaders of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) paid him a courtesy visit at the CAN state Secretariat, Owerri.
He said: “In the midst of the prevailing calamities and unwavering threats to the Christian faith in South East, I believe that presidents-general of various town unions in the South East should prepare their community youths to begin to prepare to face the current realities in the country today.
“It’s obvious that war is drumming up in this country and it’s clear that it’s a religious war. I don’t think that any reasonable person should shy away from it.
“Looking at the way the Federal government is handling the matter, we have no choice but to prepare for self- defense. It is constitutional and our rights,” Rev. Uchegbu said.
He said although the last statement of Jesus Christ was that his disciples should not go out with any sword, “but I’m telling you now to sell what you have and buy a sword.
“Gone are the days when the scripture asked you to present the other cheek when you are slapped in one cheek. That scripture didn’t tell us not to defend ourselves.”
Rev. Uchegbu, who is the treasurer of the South East PFN, urged the youth leaders to, as a matter of necessity, look into how to prepare Christian youths, change their mindset and get them ready to defend the faith.
“If there’s no reason why the faith should be defended, I don’t know why something like the knights should come up in the church. The knights as we know are the defenders of the faith.
“So, my desire for you, PFN youths in South East is that not only that you will be strong, you must also be ready to take the responsibility of the defense of the Christianity in the region,” he said.
The CAN chief expressed optimism that the new leadership of South East PFN youth leaders would perform and do a great job for God, the church and the nation.
He charged the youth leaders to always be selfless and seek ways of uniting the Pentecostal and Christian youth bodies and ensure full reconciliation where necessary.
He reminded them that the task ahead of them was enormous and as such, they should be ready to make personal sacrifices and not to expect immediate earthly reward
“One of the things I’ve realised in the service of the church is that it’s not ordinary political posts that are easy to occupy because of the pecuniary benefits. This one has a lot of burdens. It will take your time, skills, money, energy and so on. That’s why many people run away from taking church or Christian responsibilities. The only rewarder is God.
Earlier, the youth leader of the South East PFN, Bishop Ezekiel Nwachukwu said they were in the state to meet the elders of the Christian body and to tap from their wisdom and fatherly support.
He said the essence of their visit was to inform the CAN leadership about their inauguration and conference coming up on November 15, 2019, and solicited their support.