Thursday, March 7, 2024
[email protected]
Harrisburg, PA, USA

or years, I have been preaching, through my writings, the concept of a stitch in time saves nine with regards to health of our people in Nigeria. I write on, I write on Facebook, and I write on WhatsApp. When I visit Nigeria, I do same orally. What’s in it for me? Nothing, except the satisfaction that I could, through the writing pulpit I have, influence the course of a life or two for the better.

Even though I am not a medical doctor, more than 15 years ago, when I first wrote a commentary on, about PSA as a test that could help diagnose prostate cancer ahead of time and give doctors the ability to make life-saving interventions, I was surprised that there were still Nigerian men who had never heard of PSA. A woman in Port Harcourt wrote me an email that made my eyes well up. She described how, for years, her husband, a well-read man that was gainfully employed in the oil company, suffered from symptoms they thought was something else for almost two years. The poor man was going from doctor to doctor in Nigeria. It was only when he was airlifted to London that doctors found out that he was suffering from prostate cancer and was at that time, in the last stages. She literally cried in her email and imagined that if her husband had known about PSA test then, may be his life would have been saved.

While I have mainly had positive feedback from my writings on matters of health, be it exercising, eating right or going for medical checkups, I have also come in contact with people who tell me that they don’t want to know about their health because “ what must be must be”. According to them, when the times comes, everyone must go. But while they question the importance of medical checkups, you find out that people like that spend an inordinate amount of time attending crusades, listening to and doing what their pastor says. They buy and drink holy water and paste the picture of their pastor on their cars as a spiritual shield. In other words, their pastor holds a certain sway over them and could influence their thoughts, words and deed.

While mulling all these, an idea I once read about which was propounded by a Ghanaian, came to my mind. Evangelism, as we know it, is the “spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness”. In other words, those crusades that Nigerians have become used to that attract thousands of followers is used to spread the gospel. What if it is not used solely for the spreading of the gospel to save one’s spirit? What if it is also used to save the physical being? Instead of offering only evangelism during a crusade, a medical dimension is added to it to make it “Medi-vangelism”? This is where the crusade starts with all the things of the holy spirit, singing, preaching, taking offerings and the likes. Then after a while, the medical part sets in. A qualified medical doctor is called in and given 30 minutes to talk about health? It could be about the need to go to checkups every year or a lesson about a certain organ in the body and how to keep it healthy or about physical fitness and so on. It will mean that at the end of the church or medivangelism session, people will learn about God- the spirit food and will also learn about health- the physical being.

Can you imagine if in a church of 1,000 people, half of the congregation starts going for yearly checkups because they heard that in the church? Can you imagine how things will drastically change, in the Nigerian society and Africa at large, if in a church of 1,000 people, 200 women that have never had mammograms start having it? Can you imagine how many lives will be saved, if in a church of 1000 people, 200 of them start getting colonoscopy as and when due. Colonoscopy detects polyps that ultimately lead to stomach cancer. If polyps are detected early and removed, chances of healthier life abounds.

Every week I watch a crusade that takes place in Onitsha, Anambra State Nigeria. When I see the allegiance the congregation pays the pastor, I am thinking, I wish he will be bringing qualified doctors every Sunday. When he is done preaching, the doctor would address a specific health issue. His congregation will most likely listen and adhere.

The Igbos have an adage that says, “umu nnunu mua ebena ebe efe, di nta amua atuna atu agba”. Meaning, if the birds learn not to perch when they fly, just to evade the hunter’s targeted bullets, then the hunter would learn not to aim before shooting. Every time I call Nigeria, there is always a heart rending and untimely death to hear about. In an environment where many of the deaths are because of ignorance, self-medication, evasion of yearly check ups, I think that a radical program as the one I just mentioned, Medivangelism, could help to start educating our people a lot more on how to take better care of themselves. And because they hear it from the pulpit of a pastor they trust, they are more likely to adhere.

Well, asi na ekwuna ekwu mee onu. I have said my piece.

Here I Stand!