President of Evangelical Church Wining All, ECWA, Rev. Jeremiah Gado, has warned that Christians who are being attacked and killed daily by Fulani herdsmen have a right to defend themselves if government will not stand up for them. In this interview with FRED EZEH in Abuja, the church leader tasked government on what should be done to maintain peace across the country.
What do you advise the Federal Government as it grapples with diverse problems?
What are they grappling with other than corruption, evil, lawlessness? We have been confronting evil long before Buhari came to power and we will continue to confront it long after Buhari is gone. However, we are with the government, the police and other security agents. No God fearing and genuine Jesus believer will commit murder or steal, rather he will try to be at peace with his fellow humans. The responsibility of the church is to help the government produce God fearing citizens, law-abiding citizens whose characters were moulded in line with Biblical principles. We encourage the government to also enforce the rule of law. It is disappointing that the government has risen against innocent Nigerians instead of those public officers who have corruptly enriched themselves with public funds. It is also disheartening that law-abiding Nigerians are being tormented and persecuted by the state actors. Regrettably, our worship centers are being attacked and destroyed in crisis areas in the north. Our young girls are being forced into false marriage. It is an indication that the government has failed to protect its citizens. Relevant laws are there, we have 1999 constitution, which is superior to all laws, but the enforcement is weak because of sentiments by those responsible for the enforcement.
What is your suggestion for sustainable peace among Nigerians of different faiths?
I must emphasize that only God can give Nigeria peace. But we must know that peace without justice is not possible. However, government has a responsibility to ensure peace by enforcing law and order, and ensuring that justice is given to all irrespective of political, religious and ethnic affiliation. The responsibility of the church is to commit the nation in the hand of God and properly educate the citizens on their responsibility. The government has to show seriousness by punishing those who do evil. Unfortunately, government, instead of punishing those who do evil, reward them with contracts, appointments and promotions, and those who are law-abiding are being subjugated and suppressed. As a church, we are doing our part by encouraging our members not to be violent, or retaliate because that was not in our character. I am calling on all Christians to desist from retaliation. That is not to say we have no right to defend ourselves. We have a God-given right to do so. If somebody comes to your house and attacks you, you have a right to defend yourself. If you are being attacked, you have the right to defend yourself, do not wait on government, because government cannot do everything for you. I urge community leaders to prepare in the event of being attacked, so they could defend their communities. Government need, to enforce the rule of law, because absence of that will result in chaos and crisis. There are many examples to support the claim that law enforcement agents turn their eyes away from evil. One of our 16-year-old girls was recently forced into Islamic marriage. That was against the constitution of Nigeria. I suggest that the law be enforced evenly.
What was the essence of the recent conference for ECWA Pastors?
It was about rejuvenating our pastors, increase their spirituality and equip them with stronger capacity to face the challenges of the church in Nigeria. We are ministers of God and it is expected of us to stay faithful to the primary responsibility God has given us, which was basically to deliver the gospel to the people and not to water down the gospel to please anyone but to be true to the word. That was why we chose “a generation that does not know God” as the theme for 2017 international pastors’ conference. It was taken from scriptural verse that said that “after Joshua died, there arose a generation that did not know God. They forgot about the God that brought them out of Egypt. “So, we have chose, the theme so we could encourage our Pastors to reach out to the new generation that comprises youths and children, not only the young people, but also the older people that are yet to receive Jesus Christ.
Yourself and the General Secretary agreed that orthodoxy was facing a great challenge handling the spiritual life of the new generation of believers. Is ECWA leadership not losing touch of the reality of this age?
No, I think what we are trying to say or what the General Secretary said, perhaps, was that the world is changing rapidly. Times has changed and cultures have evolved significantly but the basic gospel, the nature of man remains the same. Man is a sinner and the solution to sin is repentance. You cannot change the message of repentance. Repentance is repentance both now, 1,000 year sago and 1,000 years to come. Your nature and my nature will never change, but we are deceived into culture’s change. The way we dress has changed, the food we eat have also changed, our utterances have also changed. But deep down, man remains a human being. The gospel is constant, even though the world is changing. The challenge is how do you take something seen to be permanent and introduce it in a changing time, that is the challenge. That is why we are encouraging our pastors to be students of the Word, students of the Bible and then students of the world. We have to study the Word of God and then study the world so that we can deliver the Word in time.
President Donald Trump recently declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. What could be the implication of such decision to global peace?
To be able to answer that question, you have to be a student of history. You have to look into how Israel came out of Egypt and how God led them for 40 years through the wilderness into the promise land and how Jerusalem was established as their capital. Biblically, Jerusalem is the eternal capital of, not only Israel but of the world. Do you know that it is the eternal capital when Jesus eventually returns to earth? Consult the book of revelations, you will discover that Jerusalem is not only the capital of Israel. Unfortunately, Israel does not know God. They have run away from God and that was why you and I have been grafted in. In summary, Jerusalem is the capital of the world, it is the capital of Jesus Christ when He comes to establish His Kingdom on earth. For now, the Jews are laying claims to that, but anybody who is a Christian can lay claim to Jerusalem.
But there are those of them who don’t believe the Bible.
Does that change the Bible? Does that change the plans of God? The answer is no. I will encourage us to read the Bible with an open mind. Read history with an open mind, the Bible is relevant, the Bible is about you, about me, about what God is doing now and what God will do in the future. The Bible is not an archaic book. Do you know that the Bible is more current than tomorrow’s newspaper. Tomorrow’s newspaper will write about today and anything about today is past. But the Bible talks about the future, talks about the past and present. I encourage you to have an open mind and read the Bible as Christians. Christianity or the Bible is the Will of God for you and I, for everybody not just for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, not for Africans or Whitemen, it is the Will of God for all of humanity. If this country is attacked today by external forces, who will address Nigerians? President Muhammadu Buhari. If U.S. is attacked today by the enemies, who will address Americans? No one but President Donald Trump. When creation was attacked in Genesis, God spoke.