Ven. Chukwuemeka Nwaogu talks with the tone of the Clergyman that he is. He has been walking in that direction from his youth. Being the son of a priest, it seemed normal for him to become one
He tells you however that he had wanted to study law. But that was not to be as a divine hand pulled him towards the road his father had passed.
“The office of a priest is sacred, and no man takes this honour upon himself, but has to be called by God as Aaron was (Heb. 5:4).
He says the priesthood office is a calling. “You don’t become one because your parents are one. If you go that way the person will not do well. I wanted to read law but I don’t know how I changed my mind to study religion. But then when I was in secondary school, I used to follow my dad and showed interest in church projects. I did not know that God had a plan for me,” he told Church Times at the Anglican Church of The Messiah, Okota, Lagos where he serves as both the Vicar and Archdeacon.
Despite being born into the family of a priest, he said he had to also make a definite decision to follow Jesus during his undergraduate days at the University of Ibadan. That is where it dawned on him that he had been called to the privileged office of a priest.
He recalled, “When I entered UI, I followed a friend to a fellowship and the guest minister made an altar call. I have never seen the man before. He said some people were yet undecided to surrender their lives to Christ. Until I came out, he did not stop insisting that one person was yet to surrender. As soon as I came out, he hugged me and said to me that God had revealed to him that I would be a pastor. While praying for all of us, he came to where I was kneeling, placed his hands on my head and concluded his prayers. It then became obvious to me that God was calling me to the ministry.”
Before then, Ven. Nwaogu had always been active in church as a choir member and had shown keen interest on how Service is conducted in the Anglican Church by understudying his father who was also a priest in the Anglican Church.
Ordination and Service
Ven. Nwaogu was ordained in 1998 after graduating from Trinity College, Umuahia, Abia State. He reasoned that there is a great difference between religion and theology. While the former has a secular undertone, the latter is about the study of the nature of God, and man’s relationship to God.
But being a priest according to him comes with its own bag of challenges. Therefore, a priest has to be patient, prayerful, loving, accommodating, truthful, etc. There are times you will put up a programme and few people will show up. That, however, does not mean you won’t organize another programme. What that tells you is that you have to be more prayerful and re-examine your publicity method.
Raising funds and getting people to respond
Ven. Nwaogu says it is biblical. Quoting 1Cor. 16:1 – 3, he said “Paul raised money to help God’s people in Judea. Here in Anglican Church of the Messiah, Okota we raise fund to meet up with the needs of the Church. When I resumed here in 2015, (Anglican Church of the Messiah, Okota, Lagos) some parts of the compound were swamp. But the Lord helped us to raise fund to sandfill those areas. All the buildings in the compound were built through the efforts of God’s people that came out during various fund raising to support God’s work. May God bless them abundantly. For people to respond positively during fund raising, there has to be proper teaching on giving, rendering account on how earlier monies raised was spent and making sure that monies are used for the purpose they were raised.
The Covid-19 Experience
We had Services online. Messages were sent to our members through WhatsApp. But it dawned on us that all fingers are not equal. There are members who do not have Android phones and those that are not ICT compliant. So, we had to be meticulous in our use of the internet and also try to reach people who are not internet savvy. In doing so, safety measures like use of nose mask and physical distancing were observed.
Since most of our members are traders and business people, we did not ask for offering or tithe throughout that period because they too were going through financial strains. So, all we were doing was to send messages of encouragement to them. We were building up their faith in the Lord. We also tried to offer assistance to some of our members by giving out palliatives. Covid-19 made us to be closer to God. Safety measures on hygiene were taken seriously. Now we wash our hands regularly.
We are mobile altars
I always tell people we are mobile altars. There are times they don’t have to come to Church before sharing the word. We need to move out and shine as light and also share the word of God with people. We map out programmes to enhance members’ spiritual growth. House fellowship is important. We need to take evangelism to the grassroots. Prayer is also very important. We also work towards increasing membership of the Church. Going out on missions to attract new members and make them Christ’s disciples are the basic things we do. We have what we call Food Bank. People come from all our neighbourhood to benefit from the Church’s feeding programme. We believe the Church should be a community Church.
Need to still evangelize Lagos
Despite the preponderance of Churches in Lagos, there are people who are yet to make a decision about Christ. There is a difference between responding to the gospel and hearing the gospel. Until people respond to the gospel by accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour, we can’t say we have succeeded. But then our time is different from God’s time so the most important thing is for the Church to play her role, by sharing the gospel of salvation. God knows how to cause His word preached to have an impact on people.
Emulating other Denominations
Anglican Church is orthodox, modern and Pentecostal. Some Pentecostal Churches have copied from us. Some of them are using our hymns and canticles to boost their spirituality. In the same vein, I don’t think it is wrong if we copy what they are doing that is biblical to enhance our spiritual growth.
Nwaogu: The issue of Infant Baptism:
The Anglican Church is Bible-based. Infant baptism is deeply rooted in the Bible. The following biblical passages where household baptism was observed support infant baptism (In Cornelius house – Acts 10, Jailer’s house – Acts 16:29 – 34, Lydia – Acts 16”14 – 15). God’s salvation is for both the adults and infants, hence we baptize infants.
On the rite of Confirmation
The confirmation rite as observed by the Anglican Church is Biblical. In ministering confirmation, Anglican Church follows the example of the Apostles of Christ, who laid hands on believers to receive the Holy Spirit which enhanced the manifestation of their gifts (Acts 19:1 – 6). We believe that through the laying of hands of the Bishop on believers at confirmation, the believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which not only triggers the manifestation of God’s gift deposited in them but also assists in their Christian life growth.
My home and my style
I have a peaceful and supportive family. The children are active in the Sunday School and Girls Guild, while my wife leads the women arm of the Church. My family members always pray for me.
On my style, I operate the servant leadership style. And as a priest, I live a life of service. I sometimes join the sexton of the Church to do some of the Church work as long as I have the time. It does not remove anything from me. So, I try to lead by showing the example. All those who work with me have no excuse but to fall in line. I also ensure team work/ministry in my leadership.