The chairman of the Lagos Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Stephen Adegbite has called on the Church to speak for the voiceless.
He made the call at the 50th anniversary of RURCON.
The event took place at the Golden Gate Restaurant, Ikoyi Lagos on Saturday, October 23.
RURCON is an independent Christian Development Education organisation that serves churches, Christian organisations, and communities in Africa.
Adegbite in his address said the place of the church in helping the vulnerable cannot be overemphasised.
He said, “it is the responsibility of the church to look after the poor. We must give hope to the hopeless. The church should live in peace with all men.
“The Church must be the voice of the voiceless. We must share the goodness of our saviour to all around us and declare the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Adegbite said the Lagos CAN had long decided to work along with RURCON to achieve the goal.
Goal of RURCON
The Acting Executive Director of RURCON, Mrs. Dinatu Ayinzat in her speech said the story of RURCON began with the establishment of faith and farm in the ’60s in Panyam, Mangu LGA of Plateau State.
She said the goal of RURCON has been to make the Church incorporate holistic development in their work so they could empower the poor and promote good governance.
Ayinzat said the work was pioneered by Peter Batchelor and Barnabas Dusu. adding that “in 1971, RURCON was established to focus on the whole of Africa.”
She highlighted the goals of RURCON to include ensuring food security by building capacity for small-scale farmers. RURCON also does economic empowerment in communities and empowering churches to effectively bridge the gap between knowing the word of God and doing it.
RURCON in the words of Ayinzat is also saddled with the responsibility of “building strategic capacity to monitor, prevent and manage conflicts. We are also to respond to conflicts and emergencies in local fragile communities in Nigeria.”
She noted that the next phase of RURCON’s activities will incorporate the Lagos churches.
The coming to Lagos of RURCON is according to her is divine. She said, “your churches are the reason we exist. Until we are invited and we feel welcome, we are unable to bring our skills and strength to the platform”
She assured that RURCON would continue to promote its wholistic development work, guided by godly values. “it shall achieve its vision of seeing African communities transformed as God intends” she said.
Church has a dual mandate
At the event, the trio of Dr. Otive Igbuzor, Mrs. Ruth Dul, and Mr. Alex Baba had a discussion session on how the church can effectively impact society.
Igbuzor is the founding director of Centre for Leadership Strategy Development. He is also Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. He at the session that the starting point for the Church is to realise it has a dual mandate.
According to him the church must understand that it has the mandate to transform both the community and the lives of people. He however said there is a need for a strcuture that could help the Church actualise these dual mandates.
He advised churches to create social arms that will help drive their developmental mandate.
Awards at the anniversary
The pioneer Executive Director of RURCON, Suleman Jakonda, and one-time Administrative Manager of RURCON, Rev Karimu Yale Damap were given post-humous awards at the event.
Also the current Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association and executive director of RURCON from 2003 to 2012, Andrew Gwaivangmin, and the immediate past ED of RURCON, Mr. Samuel Ishaya were honoured with awards at the event.
The 50th anniversary marked a milestone for RURCON as it begins a new phase of impacting Lagos churches.