The 5th Primate of Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, The Most Revd Henry Ndukuba has described his one-year experience as primate as a pleasant one recalling however that he never expected he would become primate of the Church.
Ndukuba I still feel part of Gombe
Ndukuba who was Archbishop of Jos and Bishop of Gombe Diocese before he was elected Primate in March 2020, said he had thought he would spend the rest of his life in Gombe.
He made the disclosure during a one-year anniversary interview with Advent Cable Network Nigeria on March 25 monitored by Church Times Nigeria.
He said, “I thought I would spend the rest of my life in Gombe. I was too fond of Gombe that I wanted to be buried in Gombe. I already showed my wife where I would be buried because I didn’t want them to take my corpse away from the town when I die.
“I still feel part of Gombe. For us that is home. We love the people of Gombe. We still feel connected and part of that place. Coming to Abuja is like coming to a new ground. There is no classroom where you are taught. Direction comes from the God who called us. One thing that we have realised within the last one year is that we need to learn, hear and ask questions.”
He said his one year as primate has been a wonderful experience depending on God for guidance and direction.
“It has been a wonderful experience. It is a road we have never passed through. So, the need to depend on God is imperative. We want to thank God for the bishops and archbishops who have been so supportive. We feel the prayers of all. We want to thank God for God’s people for praying and standing with us in the last one year.”
Anglican Primate office:
While noting that the position of the primate is not for a man with a young family, he said, “The higher you go, the hotter it becomes. The position takes all your time and you must always be prepared.”
He said he and his family have become strengthened in prayers and worship recalling that his election was like a dream.”
He recalled that his election was just at the inception of the coronavirus pandemic saying however that “The covid-19 opened a new vision frontier. It helped the pastors to open platforms to meet in prayers.”
Ndukuba noted that the Church is still contending with the hardship imposed by covid-19 adding however that “God is faithful he is still meeting our needs. He is always there to help us. He will continue to help us.”
He pleaded with members to be patient with one another saying the church has taken a position concerning dispute resolution not to go to secular court.
Dispute resolution and welfare in Anglican Church
“That position concerning the resolution of dispute is biblical and practical, and necessary. We are first of all believers and members of this church. We can’t be going to court before unbelievers to adjudicate our cases.
“We are pleading with every member of this church to be patient with one another.
No matter how grieved we are we must be patient with ourselves. We can’t go to court and come back as friends.”
He said also that there is a constitutional provision for the welfare of members of the church. “the constitutional provision is that every parish is bound to make provision to take care of members and the clergy. That is what Jesus asked us to do and what the early church did. During the pandemic, we did so much not only to help the affected people but also to support our members. We have asked all churches to establish food banks. We have also seen that a phone call, prayer and visit can be a way of ministering to others. Healing the sick has to do with meeting the needs of the people. We can’t afford to fail.”
He said further that the church will embark on an aggressive missions’ drive in the coming days stating that God will use the Church of Nigeria in the end-time revival.
Missions, a priority
On future activities of the church, he said, “The week after Easter we will be with young people of the Anglican Church and other churches at the University of Nigeria Nnsuka. We hope to mobilise the universal church for the world mission. I believe the youth have a special role to play in the world mission. We are giving attention to mission, evangelism and discipleship”
He recalled that the second Primate of the Church, the Late Most Revd Joseph Adetiloye started the mission drive by creating missionary dioceses which opened up Nigeria to the gospel making it possible for every inch of Nigeria to be under a diocese.
“Since Papa Adetiloye began the mission drive the church has grown in the area of coverage and numerically too. The main concern now is the need to disciple people and establish them in faith
“Many come out to give their lives to Christ but are not discipled. Many are professing Christ without character. We must preach and live by what we preach. We must become instruments in bringing people to the Lord,” he stated.
He said the vision of the church is to prepare young people to occupy the seven mountains of influence including Arts and Entertainment, family, media, sports, education, religion and government. “if the church of Nigeria raises about 1000 young men for missions, can you imagine what will happen? He asked rhetorically.
Lay people according to him should be encouraged to go into missions noting the Hausa mission which started in Wusasa was ignited by Water Miller a British medical doctor who lived and died in Nigeria.
“He did not marry. He influenced a lot of people including General Yakubu Gowon and a host of others in the north.
“The greatest thing God has given us are people. The Anglican Church believes in the transforming power of God in the lives of the individual and the community. We believe our lives and minds are transformed to influence wherever we are. The early missionaries were instrumental to changing the society like stopping the killing of twins.”
Ndukuba believes if the Church fails in missions, it has failed completely saying, if emphasis, is placed on missions, “God will perfect other areas of our lives”
While underscoring the importance of funds in driving missions, he said if the church puts its priority right “God will move the hearts of people to give. When I see unbelievers spend money on things that bring destruction I lament. That is why we need to sow into the lives of people, not structure because the structures will burn. I am encouraging us to key into heavenly vision. I am glad when the devil is put to shame. I am glad when I see people living out their purpose.”
Ajayi Crowther drew the map of Nigeria
He recalled the great role played by Bishop Ajayi Crowther in missions and in many aspects of Nigerian life noting that he was the one who drew the map of Nigeria.
His words, “There are many unsung heroes that should be discovered and celebrated. There were people like Crowther, Samuel Johnson and a host of others. But Ajayi Crowther stood out not only for the gospel but for commerce, education, governance etc. in fact he drew the map of Nigeria.
“We felt we needed to build back where God raised him at Osogun in Oyo State. We went and dedicated the structures that were put up in that town. We have already made a pronouncement that it will not be only a mission centre but the place will be the missions’ institution of the Church of Nigeria. We have reconstituted the Church of Nigeria missions board and put in place a management committee. Mission enterprise will be guided and developed by the missions’ board.
“We are going to build more structures there. The Bishop Ajayi Crowther centre is a church of Nigeria project not for the diocese of Ajayi Crowther.”
He said buildings are being put up in the centre for the purpose of institutionalising missions and evangelism. He also hinted that the Church is also reviewing the curriculum of its Bible institutions so that pastors could get the best of training noting that foreign Bible colleges can no longer be trusted.
Story by Gbenga Osinaike