Home Features A journey to Tarshish: Trajectory of the Church in Nigeria

A journey to Tarshish: Trajectory of the Church in Nigeria

by Church Times


By Osahon Uwagboe

Nigerian church

An illustration of Jonah on his way to Tarshish

Recently, I received a  prayer alert to intercede concerning the security situation in Nigeria. I was also urged to listen to a clip of an interview granted by one high profile military personnel. The interview perhaps was meant to inspire me to pray.

But I had my reservation. While  I appreciate the call for intercession which is one key responsibility of the Church of Jesus Christ to the nation, I believe we are missing out on some critical issues. That is why to a large extent it seems our prayers are not being answered.

Paul in 1 Tim.2:2 says I exhort, therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions be made for all men, for kings and those  in authority that we may live a quiet and  peaceable life in all Godliness and reverence

Notice that the result of such prayer would be that we would live peaceable lives in Godliness and reverence. But this is not the case with Nigeria. Despite the plethora of prayer centres in the country, we are still in a security mess. This goes to show that tackling the security situation in Nigeria goes beyond intercession.

We need prayers no doubt and more prayers. But if we are going to make progress in the country, there is a need for the Church to get herself together and do the right thing. It is obvious to everyone that Nigeria is currently besieged. The security situation is getting worse by the day. Some are insinuating there is a conspiracy in place to hand our nation to people who serve other powers.

President Mohammadu Buhari made an allusion to this in his October 1 2021 broadcast. He said the last 18 months-as it concerns the territorial integrity of this nation- have never been so challenging.

Church leaders on the way to Tarshish

But the truth remains that church leaders have abdicated their assignment, just the way Jonah in Bible times tried to run away from what God asked him to do. He was asked to go to Niniveh but instead took a boat to Tarshish (Jonah1:3). The consequence was that the boat was being rocked violently. In our own case, the Nigerian boat is being rocked by men of the underworld.

The attack on Nigeria Defense Academy (NDA) is a case in point. If an institution that is symbolic of the security of the nation’s territorial integrity was compromised, what is left?

We are no doubt in a serious mess. But the blame is not so much the secular leadership but the spiritual. The Church of Jesus Christ is being reduced to a lame duck. Light is being eroded and ultimately darkness has become king.

While on earth, Jesus said, “as long as I am in this world I am the light of the world” John9:5. And when He was to leave He conferred the same responsibility to His church. He said to the disciples,  “you are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world” Math.5:12-14.

Light will dispel darkness

Therefore, if the church is living up to her billing, darkness will not prevail. The reason darkness is prevailing is that we have all failed to shine the light. What we are dishing out on many of our pulpits is darkness as opposed to light. Our sermons are mostly on materialism, hyper-grace and things that don’t point people to the saviour.

Instead of conforming to the nature and character of Jesus Christ, we are busy conforming to the world. The consequence is the darkness enveloping our nation.

The book of . Jeremiah 23:11-32 gives a clear picture of what we are going through. What is left now is His mercy; God’s mercy is what is working now and this is of course because of a remnant that exists.

But for the prayers of the remnant perhaps we would have long been consumed. The prayer now should be that our God would enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage” (Ezra9:8)

The Bible enjoins us that “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

God is calling out to his people because many have followed the ways of their leaders, which is of course outside of God’s instruction like Jonah did.

What our prayers should be

Our prayers should be that God will give us a new leadership that would teach His people the accurate ways of God. We need to be reformed. There must be an entirely new order to break the derailment that has happened via this current church leadership.

We need men that will redirect the ship of the church and thereby impact the nation. Until the church admits it’s the cause of the violent rocking of the boat-via repentance-Nigeria’s situation will keep going bad.

There is a need to challenge our leaders to come clean in this matter like those travelling with Jonah did. Thus we the fellow travellers of the present Christian leadership in our nation should ask why things are going bad. We need to ask why the church is not making a meaningful impact. We need to ask ourselves why the Christ in us is helpless in the face of challenges.

Obviously, the problem is that the people who claim to be God’s people have gone far from God ” How could one chase a thousand, And two put ten thousand to flight unless their Rock had sold them, And the LORD had surrendered them?” Deut32:30.

This is not time for sentiment. We know our leaders no longer teach the word of God. There is a need to make them know this. Unfortunately, many of us love the deception “The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule by their own power, And My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” Jer..5:31.

We tell lies to ourselves and to our leaders. But if we do not wake up from this pool of sorcery we have plunged ourselves into, the outcome would be devastating. We may wonder at these observations but the truth is that our claim to spiritual power is questionable and is really making a mockery of the church. It seems the more we display our spirituality the more our problem.

Now, this is not God dealing with Pharoah. Some may argue that it took some time to get liberation for the children of Israel despite the plagues in Egypt. But the Nigeria scenario is different.

Our situation is caused because the walls protecting us have come down. Nigeria is not colonized neither are we in another land like the Israelites were in Egypt.

So what we are experiencing is a case of the walls of truth, of righteous teachings that have fallen down. The nature and character of Christ, evinced by meekness and humility are being exchanged for materialism.

The church is caught up in a rat race for worldly things, Church leaders are competing among themselves. Some even get offended when the press does not acknowledge their vanity.

Is this what the Lord called us to do? is it not rather that we go to Niniveh? Our Nineveh is herein symbolized by a world that is in need of urgent help. We need the message of repentance to avert the impending judgement coming upon the land.

And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations “Luke 24:26.

Nigerian church needs repentance

God is calling us to repentance. Teachings that have no bearing with Christ will make those who hear us twice the sons of hell. All these show that the current church leadership is exhibiting will not dispel darkness.

Light represents the nature, character and power of God. When light is present darkness will disappear. A case in point is the nation of Israel when in captivity in Babylon. God told them that their prayers for peace- in another nation-would bring about peace more for them.

In our case, the Church seems to be in another nation, the secular nation of Nigeria. Our prayers should bring about the much-needed resolution to the security crises bedevilling Nigeria. But we need to shine the light first. Our leaders and indeed many of us have failed God. Another power is obviously being used for the miracles many claim to be performing.

Let’s not wonder about this because Satan had some power that God gave before he fell. This power is what we see in use today: Simon the sorcerer in the Bible was thought to be the great power of God because of the signs they saw. People actually felt it was from God. They called him the great power of God because he performed some miracles but it turned out that he was false (Acts8:9-11)

This tells us that it’s not all supernatural occurrences that we should attribute to God. We must see the character nature that represents God in qualities of meekness and humility in the life of those who profess the good news.  Mathew 11:29 Jesus already warned that “false Christs and false prophets would arise and shew great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect “. Math.24:24

In sum, the remnant (those crying over the mess) must wake up to challenge the status quo as Martin Luther did in his time when he pinned 95 theses on the gates of the church at Wittenburg and brought about great reformation. It’s our turn!


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