FROM THE PREACHER"S LENSES
|Wednesday, February 17, 2021|
here are records of many terrible storms in history and up to date. But there was one that the people in the storm acted wisely and their lives were saved.
We are in a terrible storm in Nigeria. Terrible winds are blowing, storm is raging. It has never been so bad. I first preached this sermon in 2016. Worst storms have been blowing since then.
So the topic of my sermon again is "The big Storm and the way out"
But let us first commit this hour into the Lord's hands.
"The big Storm and the way out"
There is a story of a deadly storm found in a book in the Old Testament of the Bible. It is the book of Jonah. The storm surrounds Jonah himself who was the writer.
Jonah was a prophet of God who God asked to go and pronounce judgement on a city called Nineveh. The sins and the iniquities of the sins of the people of Nineveh have reached the heavens and God could no longer tolerate it. God therefore would destroy the people in a matter of 40 days except there was instant repentance. So God sent his prophet, Jonah to go and warn them.
For political reasons however, Jonah was happy with the plan of God to destroy Nineveh because Jonah's country and Nineveh were enemies. So Jonah decided not to go and pronounce God's warnings to Nineveh so that they will not repent thus, escape God's judgement.
Rather than taking the ship, which was to take him to Nineveh, Prophet Jonah took a ship that went in the opposite direction. He took a ship that was going to Tarshish. This was the cause of the storm.
Let me give you a brief history of Nineveh.
Nineveh is not a fiction. It was a city that we know how it came to being. It can still be located till today. It was an ancient prosperous city.
Nineveh was an old historical big city. Evidences abound today that confirm that a city called Nineveh once existed. The site of the then Nineveh is not too far from Mosul, a city in today's Iraq.
Jonah thought he had successfully run away from God while in a ship going to Tarshish. He was so sure to the extent that he went to sleep, relaxed, in the lowest deck of the ship.
The Bible said "Then the Lord sent a powerful wind upon the sea, and there was such a big storm that the ship was about to break up. 5 The sailors became afraid, and every man cried to his god. They threw the things that were in the ship into the sea so that it would not be so heavy. But Jonah had gone to sleep in the lowest deck of the ship with no idea of the storm, under the illusion that God had lost sight of him.
The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god. It may be that your god will care about us, and we will not die."(Jonah 1:6)
The storm is raging, American dollar decides the economy of the world. One American dollar today is exchanged for over N400.00 as opposed to a time past when one Naira was almost double the dollar. This is a terrible storm. The naira has depreciated to 1/800 of its value in 1983. Our weak currency has increased our poverty.
The ship of Nigeria is going through turbulence; a wife and her husband are jobless, the wife provides meal and the husband does not question the source of the money she used to prepare the meal.
The storm is high; young girls are leaving home for the University out of town, the mothers have nothing to give to their daughters except to plead with the daughters to leave behind whatever much they can still afford.
So who will behave wisely like the passengers in Jonah's ship and join in a joint cry with one voice to his God for rescue?
The ship of Nigeria is rocking; University graduates return home to be fed by the poor parents who struggled to educate them unlike in the past when university students got three or more jobs before they even finished writing their final examinations. The few who get job are paid ridiculously.
Oko Nigeria un ri, ojoojumo ni a un ka ninu iwe irohin, awon ti iji ti bi s'otun, bi s'osi, ti aiye ti su won, ti won si gbe emi ara won mi. Bee awon omo Nigeria kan si un gbe igbe aiye afe, ti won o mo iye ila ti owo ko.
The ship of Nigeria is capsizing; sins have become rampart, difficulties of life are making citizens to compromise with sin. Therefore, the road to hell is full of Nigerians.
The ship of Nigeria is experiencing terrible tempest.
Daily in the newspapers, it is a story of one person killing the other.
In order to divert our attention from reality, Politicians have used the money they stole to institute tribal killings and religious feuds.
The storm is raging, everyday, one reads the story of one ethnic group killing another ethnic group.
The ship of Nigeria is experiencing terrible tempest, everyday in the newspapers, it is a story of some armed men entering a village and killing the entire villagers.
Terrible storm is raging in Nigeria, travelling has become a panicky affair due to the menace of armed robbers and bandits and other armed men who kidnap people for ransom, rape their women victims and even sometimes kill them afterwards.
The ship of Nigeria is experiencing terrible tempest, everyday in the newspapers, it is stories of some religious bigots kidnapping people in their homes or on the highway, asking them to denounce their faith and proclaim their own and where they refuse, butcher them like animals in the most wicked way.
It is a bad tempest in Nigeria, carcass of human bodies are found in the jungle, dismembered for ritual, for money making purposes.
The ship of Nigeria is experiencing terrible tempest, we read stories of human beings dumped in soak away after removing the body parts, which they need for ritual purposes.
The storm is bad, we have read a story of a mother and her elder son, conspire together and killed the younger son for money rituals.
It is a bad storm, we read stories of children killing their parents for money ritual.
The storm is terrible, we read stories of young men stealing menstrual pad of young women or their pants for ritual to making money.
Not too long ago, we read the story of a man in Ibadan arrested for eating bread, using human waste (excreta) as butter. I have previously heard that yahoo boys do it as ritual to escape arrest by police.
The storm is heavy, one cannot trust anyone with money. The way people defraud themselves is unbelievable.
Yahoo boys tamper with bank accounts of innocent citizens with all ease.
The storm is bad, the stories of young Nigerian women, in the foreign countries where they are trafficked for prostitution are pathetic. We have watched a video, where one was laid down, asked to open her mouth while her master defecated into her mouth.
It is a bad storm, people die very cheaply like chickens due to no fund to procure simple medications needed for their ailment?
Our people die of ailments that ordinarily should not keep one in the hospital for more than few hours if at all he/she is put on admission in the first place.
Is this not the time to put the little differences we have in our religions and everyone to cry to his/her god in unison so that the good old days of Nigeria can return?
The traffic of Nigerians to hell is heavy, why then should we find it difficult to collectively wage war to whatever enemy, which its only plan is to lead us to hell?
I first preached this sermon in 2016. None of these have been resolved except that it has worsened.
The newspapers and social media are awash with kidnappings, banditry, killing, raping, destruction of crops and farm lands. Kidnappers force their victims into the thick forest and their relations negotiate with the kidnappers what amount of money to pay for the release of their relations. And in some instances even after the ransom has been paid, the victims are still murdered. Women, including married ones are kidnapped, taken into the jungles and raped in the presence of their husbands and fathers. And a particular tribe has been fingered to be committing these atrocities against other tribes. The same tribe lead their herds into farm lands, which belong to other people to consume their crops, and when challenged, they behead the challengers. Except something urgent is done, we are at the precipice of another civil war.
I have some good news however for all people who are suffering and others who live in fear and all good people of Nigeria. There is hope if we shall behave wisely exactly as the people in the storm which I have been narrating, did, which saved their lives.
In the sermon of 2016, I raised the concern about how the looting of government fund has led to escalation of poverty by the majority of Nigerians.
Today, we have the least expected group of Nigerians, wielding very sophisticated weapons, committing the atrocities, which I just mentioned.
They are illiterates, who in the past, only roam about the posturer land with stick on their shoulders, leading their herds to eat grass.
Occasionally, the herds strayed into the farm lands and the shepherds would apologize to the farmers without molesting farmers.
Today, the Shepherds lead their herds into the farms to feed on the crops and should the farmers challenge them for making their herds to devastate their crops, the Shepherds murder the farmers and rape their wives, as the stories go.
It appears to me that a tribe is determined to occupy Nigeria by means of force.
I want to believe that some of the people who are looting our treasury are the same who are behind the atrocities of the Shepherds or where could the illiterate Shepherds get the money to buy the sophisticated weapons, which they are carrying?
How could they have got the courage and the audacity to be committing the kidnappings, raping and destruction of farm lands?
I want to believe that they are on errands by some of the same people who pauperize the citizens.
I have once read in the social media, people who witness helicopters drop weapons and provisions for the errand boys in the forest.
Let me say this by the Spirit of God that this problem must be tread softly.
The communities that are being harassed and killed by the Shepherds must ask God to give them the grace to tread softly.
Those of us who are old enough and witnessed the civil war of 1967-1970, will not want to witness any further war.
I did not live in the war zone at the time, but I read in the newspapers about the killings, suffering, hunger and thirst of the people that were affected.
I met them in Lagos after the war.
The story of the suffering and disruption of life chills anyone.
While we pray, may I counsel that people of the Taraba, Plateau, Benue, SW, SE, SS etc stop eating cow meat and cheese (naama and warankasi ) for now. With determination we can do it. I have done it personally.
What shall we do?
What did the people in the ship of Jonah do?
Every man cried to his god in unison. The Captain of the ship pleaded to everyone on board to call on their God.
It is time fellow Nigerians, that we put our religious differences apart and gather before God at an Inter-Religious Solemn Assembly for everyone of us, in millions, to cry to his god for mercy, for deliverance from suffering and with a prayer to God to give us the power to be obedient to His counsel and a heart to live a godly life so that our frustration and poverty can disappear.
In the storm of Jonah, everyone cried to his god. This is an indication that they were of different religions; yet they had no hesitation to agree; everyone called on his god.
They were drowning, death was starring at them. Their immediate need was for the arrow of death directed at them to change its course. After they have thrown all their luggage into the seas in order to make the ship light, the situation was not helped, the storm continued its rage, the ship was sinking. They quickly became wise to think of the next appropriate thing to do; everyone called on his god and solution came promptly. The storm became calm.
Someone can say but we pray in our individual homes and local Churches and Mosques. Yes, but it cannot be as effective as a collective one.
We have never done it once. Let us try it.
Why should we in Nigeria allow, to affect us or why kill ourselves about some animosities that is occurring far away from us among some nations of the world about a history of their past, which has nothing to do with us?
I once read a notice on a wall, which reads thus "If you are not of this particular faith, keep away from this area" For God sake, what is the reason and for what purpose and what does whoever puts up the notice stands to gain by hating people of faith different from his? His only gain is the poverty in which we are, meanwhile including him.
What do we stand to gain by making enemies among ourselves because we do not belong to the same religion, particularly at a time when we need to work together to work against a common enemy, which does not discriminate between any religion?
The people in Jonah's tempest cooperated with themselves. Every one of them called on their god to save them and they found a solution, the storm calmed and they were all saved.
I am preaching on the topic "The big Storm and the Road Map to Survival.
Many high profile clerics in the major religions will be disappointed and be ashamed when at the close of age, they find themselves not to have made heaven but hell. Why? Because they have made religion to becloud their sense of judgment while on earth. They have concentrated on things that are unprofitable, things that do not help anyone to the Kingdom of God. They did not take the appropriate steps, which they ought to take that could have made their followers, their congregation, their sheep, live a godly life.
Jesus rebuked the Religious leaders of His days. Hear Him as recorded by the Gospel writer, Matthew in chapter 23 vs 13.
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people's faces. You won't go in yourselves, and you don't let others enter either"
While poverty has stricken the congregation to sub-human and the sheep were drifting into sins and going the way of hell, the very high clerics are yet to approve the wisdom, which the people in Jonah's storm used, where everyone called on their gods in unison for salvation and answer was received promptly and the storm was calmed.
I want to assure everyone that the intention in the hearts of every one of us in the Inter-Religious forum to make Nigeria great, is sincere. No one of us has a political ambition. The Moslems among us have not used any dirty trick to convert those of us who are Christians. Likewise have the Christians made efforts to convert the Moslems. We have a common goal, which is to put the enemy of our soul, which we have identified as poverty behind us so that we can focus on how to get to heaven.
I once lived in the headquarters of the Moslem world for 17 years and a half. I entered the country as a Christian and exited as a Christian. Of course big Islamic Clerics and co-workers witnessed to me uncountable number of times. Our discussions were always cordial as I too explained to them why I am a Christian and will like to remain as such. This did not sour our relationship a hoot. We still communicate over 10 years after I exited their country.
They use the expertise of candidates to hire, irrespective of religion and there was no discrimination of salary due to affiliation of any religion.
Does anyone even know that the suggestion to have a collaborative effort of Moslems and Christians to work on the rehabilitation of our country is from a young Moslem cleric? Anyone who was present at a Town Hall meeting, which I called at Circular Hotel, Ilorin on May 18 2013 will remember him.
This is an indication that God can use anyone to work out His plans for His people. For such a heavy duty job, one will expect that it would have come from a familiar, house hold, popular, adored Cleric in Islam or Christianity. But if we go back into history, we will find out that God has always used the lowly in the society to achieve great things.
This sermon is an appeal that the time is ripe for a joint prayer by people of all faiths, particularly Christians and Moslems to cry to God to help us calm the storm, which is rocking and sinking our boat.
Let us pray.