The president of International Church Growth Institute, Dr. Francis Bola Akin John has appealed to church leaders to return back to the Bible and shun every temptation to take the laws into their hands urging them to be ready to die for their faith.
He made the appeal at a special breakfast programme with about 300 church leaders from all over the country.
The programme which held at the Growth Centre of the ministry located at Iyana Odo along Iba-LASU road on July 4 was designed to address the appropriate Christian response in times of persecutions and killings.
Preaching on the topic, “in times like this”, Dr. Akin John told the church leaders that despite the killings of Christians in the land, “God is still in control. God allows things to happen. God is the one who raises up and pulls down. He is a mysterious God. You cannot explain him by your human understanding. Sometimes God folds his hands and he allows the enemies to kill his own people.
Quoting Psalm 44v8-22 he said, “God allows things to happen to test our faith. In the Psalm we have just read, the Psalmist was crying to God for allegedly neglecting His people. But in that Psalm he was still affirming faith in God despite the fact they were being killed.”
He observed that “our reaction in times of violence will go a long way to test our faith in God. We are living in the times of violence. We are in the last days. These are times we may have to die for our faith. The Bible prophesied about this time.”
For Akin John, forming a Christian Army to fight alleged persecution will not solve the problem at hand noting that such action will be an excuse for government to deal with us. He noted also that the call for people to get their PVC as if that is the only tool they need to upstage a bad government is also misplaced.
“It is our civic responsibility to get our PVC and vote. People should not discountenance that. But supposing the elections does not take place or there is violence or our votes did not count. You can’t compare prayer with PVC. We should pray and also vote. It is ungodly to undermine prayers in the name of promoting civic responsibility. Christians should be encouraged to perform their civic responsibility but our responsibility to the kingdom is more important.”
According to him, “It is the prayers of the saints that can sustain this nation. The prayers that God should intervene in our polity and silence all wicked forces should be intensified. We have been in a more terrible situation than what we are experiencing and God brought us out without election. It was God who saw us through the June 12 crisis. Our votes did not count but the Lord prevailed at last. If we could survive the June 12 crisis I believe we will survive this present situation. The greatest weapon we have is prayers and not just prayers but praying right. This is the time to pray.”
Referring to Isaiah 52v6,7 he said, “ Any fool can pray but it takes people that know the Lord to intercede. The Bible says in the book of Isaiah that I have set watchmen which shall not hold their peace day or night. When God sets you as a watchman we need to live up that billing. We should not give him rest. Until Nigeria is saved, we should not stop praying. As a matter of fact prayer is supposed to be our oxygen. When Nigeria becomes better we should not stop praying.”
Stretching his submission further, the Church growth enthusiast also noted that the present situation calls for more dedication on the part of Christians. “We must be more devoted to the Lord and surrender our lives to him and draw nearer to him more than ever before. The life that you have surrendered you don’t need to fight for it. He that wants to save his life will lose it. We should not react out of fear. What are you defending if God does not defend you?” He queried.
He pleaded with Christians not to fall into the temptation of killing Muslims in retaliation noting that they are also the people of God because they are also from Abraham. “When Abraham slept with Hagai, Ishmael was born. God could not have killed the child. It is against his justice system.”
He also called on believers to speak against bad government and the wrong policies of government. “We can do quiet protest and take to the social media to express our concern about government policies but we should not take the laws into our hands. What makes evil to thrive is the silence of good people. We have been silent enough. Let us speak against wrong policies.”
On the involvement of the church in politics, he stated, “What we need from the church are missionary politicians. Christians not pastors should participate in politics. God can’t call you as a pastor and also call you as politicians. What will you achieve as a politicians that you can’t achieve as a pastor?”
For any believer to go into politics such believer should first be able to appreciate the challenges ahead. “The person must understand that Nigeria politics is politics of godfathers. It is steeped in human blood and sacrifice. Some politicians are urged to make human sacrifices so that when they are shut they won’t be hurt. Many politicians operate in the night. It is cultic.”
Since a genuine child of God can’t be involved in all these atrocities he said “any Christian that wants to go into politics should be certain of God’s call into politics. The environment has to be favourable for us to operate or we pray that God will equip men that will be able to stand all the temptations in politics.”
He said further, “We must shine as light. Church and government must be different. From ages, from scripture, from history whenever church becomes the friend of government the church will become weak. Church must not be enemy of government neither must it be the friend of government. When we get close to government, it will corrupt us”