Sunday, 14 October 2012
Whatever happened to our ‘bowels of mercy’!
“But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 1 John 3:17 KJV.
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering” Col 3:12 KJV.
Greater part of the year, 2012 has seen a lot of Christians being attacked, killed, dispossessed and displaced especially in the Northern Nigeria. The persecutions have not abated as on the 1st October, about 30 Christian students were murdered at Federal Polytechnic, Mubi as reported here.
A close look at the reports from the Anglican Diocese of Jos website shows the mayhem that has been meted on Christians by irate Muslims who want to Islamize them by all means. What disturbs my heart is not just that our brethren are being killed and displaced, but I do not seem to see a mobilization and concerted efforts from the ‘free’ churches to reach out to these Christians who are passing through difficult times. It seems as if Christian leaders behave like every other political leader who will just come out after every incident and condemn the ‘murderous attack’ and then ‘to your tents O, Israel’, we all go back to business as usual. We criticize efforts that are solely denominational both in nature and commitment, that is, efforts that concentrate only within the denominational boundaries, but even that is rare these days. Our self-centeredness is very obvious and manifest in our indifference and inaction.
Currently, floods are ravaging several parts of the country. Homes and properties are destroyed; people are missing and being displaced; churches and mission fields are closed down. What are the ‘free’ churches doing? What has happened to our bowels of mercies? “How dwelleth the love of God in (us)”?
I was in a church today and the best that was done was to pray for those who were affected by the floods to take heart and be consoled by God. Meanwhile an emphasis was made on people paying endowment fund which nobody has been able to explain what the purpose is. What is the endowment fund for? Is it going to be used for investment? Will they draw money from it to build hospitals or for evangelism and missions? Is it to be used to build something befitting for the General Overseer or fund accumulated for him to have easy access for his travels and so on? The questions can go on and on. However, no matter how noble the idea may be, the issue is that the church is insensitive to the plight of those suffering the effects of the current disaster – floods. Some members around where I was seated murmured asking why they were talking about endowment fund while nothing was being done about those whose lives have been changed forever. Some are sleeping in open classrooms while others are under trees.
For most of the victims, life will never remain the same for good. It reminded me of a brother whose life was changed forever when one of the markets in the city of Port Harcourt got burnt down about ten years ago. His church where he was very committed in service could not help him to stand back on his feet because the pastor was afraid not to set‘precedence’.
I believe that social work can be used as a means of evangelism. I believe that social concerns can be used by the church to show the world the heart of a loving God. I believe that social concerns can open up door ways for the salvation of souls. If these things are true, why is the church not taking this opportunity? There are many things churches can do:
1. Set up a committee who will work out modalities on how your church can be involved
2. Collect offerings like was done in 1 Cor.16:1-4; Acts 11:29-30 and send to the affected churches.
3. Concerned families can come together and contribute clothes, medicines and food stuffs and send to the affected areas.
4. Churches can send artisans to help in reconstructing some destroyed houses.
5. You can persuade your organizations to do something as part of cooperate social responsibility.
There are so many things we can do if we have God’s kind of heart. When we see the sufferings of our fellow men and look the other way like the Priest and Levite in Luke 10, or remain indifferent as most of us are doing today, one can really ask, “What happened to our bowels of mercies?”
In case you are having problems who to contact, call 08033160938 (Bishop Angar Nyanabo whose whole Diocese is submerged and he is squatting somewhere in Yanagoa) or 08036705262 (Rev. Can. Somiari whose missionary churches are affected in Bayelsa) or any other church leader you may know. Just do something! God bless you!