Heightened insecurity: What churches are doing to ward off evil
• ‘It‘s Abomination To Carry Arms Into House Of God’
• ‘We Need Licensed Trained Security Personnel Who Will Bear Arms’
• ‘Church Leaders And Preachers Should Preach Christ Above Money’
AS insecurity envelops every sector, it has become commonplace for evil perpetrators to invade and unleash violence on worshippers and churches. Heinous crimes such as murder, robbery and kidnapping now take place freely in God’s House. What are churches doing to step up security measures to forestall unwanted guests from invading the House of God? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘It’s Height Of Depravity To
Attack A Church’
(Most Rev. Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja Diocese/Archbishop of Lokoja Province, Kogi State, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion)
You have asked two very important questions about a very disturbing situation presently in our country. The first is what church leaders should do to protect their members from being killed, kidnapped or murdered, while worshipping their Creator. That we have this situation at all, a situation, where some people see worship centres as places of attack, is a direct assault on God. The consequences are grave, even if not immediate – except the perpetrators repent. The place of worship is often called “sanctuary.” It is a consecrated place, set apart for the worship of God. It is a place, where people who feel wearied by life burdens, can resort to and find peace and safety. To desecrate and violate such a meeting point between man and his Creator is the height of depravity. This also includes stealing of church equipment, instruments, or furniture. The invitation of the Lord Jesus welcomes all to His presence: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). So, the first concern of church leaders should be about the spiritual condition of moral bankruptcy that makes some humans, made in the image of God, to degenerate to such a low level. It is a problem of the heart that is filled with sin, and in need of God’s salvation and light to make them alive. As we read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (desperately wicked.)” This is why the ultimate solution is preaching of the gospel that changes lives and gives people new hearts and a new relationship with God.
Your second question relates to the measures that should be taken to forestall unwanted guests invading the place of worship. That too is very difficult. A church is like a hospital, where both medical personnel, who are not necessarily sick, as well as people who are sick can be found in great numbers. Certainly, it has become absolutely necessary to provide security for places of worship that have become so vulnerable, for the sake of genuine worshippers. Yet, we must be equally concerned that over time, the Church itself has become, in some cases, not just a place where people seek positive spiritual encounter and refreshment, but also a place where all kinds of other interests are exhibited, such as the flaunting of wealth, including those from dubious sources and making business contacts, among others. In some cases, the worship of God is secondary to the worship of man and personal benefits, and churches have become more like what made the Lord Jesus to chase away money changers, who had made the house of prayer become like a den of robbers. Church leaders must be wary of the expensive projects, gadgets, and furniture we invest in, which are mere luxuries, while such funds can make a huge difference in other kingdom-related or mission projects.
That said, in the face of terror, churches should invest in cameras (CCTV), and get basic security training for some members. Those in security groups should also note unfamiliar faces. Indeed, it might be good to identify newcomers earlier at the entrance, especially those newcomers not coming in company of regular members. Members who live questionable lives or have unexplained wealth should be given more attention to know just what they do. The Church should identify such characters, lest they attract dangerous characters that have no respect for the Church’s sacred precinct. Churches should not only have ushers, but vigilante groups as well. In all this, the government has a great role to play, especially the police and related agencies, in ensuring the safety of lives in places of worship. If they are stationed in churches as service to the citizens, it will help a lot.
‘Beef Up Security In Worship Places’
(Archbishop Joseph Ojo, Presiding Bishop, Calvary Kingdom Church Int’l Inc., Badagry, Lagos)
ONE is getting concerned with the increasing report of attacks in the House of God in Nigeria. To begin with, I think the end of this world is closer than anyone can imagine. Matthew 24:6-8, 15-16 – And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:15-16 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stands in the holy place where it ought not (whoso readeth, let him understand). Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. See Mark 13:14.
Now the key words here are “Abomination of desolation” and “Where it ought not.” For God’s sake, it is an abomination to enter the House of God (the Giver of life) to take life. It is an abomination to carry arms into the House of God to settle any issue no matter the offence. People should have a change of heart, a change of attitude and a change of orientation. This is Nigeria and not America or Europe.
Where have morals gone? For God’s sake, what brought our country to this kind of mess? Anyhow, the government of the day should do all it can to prosecute culprits and their sponsors. Also, police presence and that of other security personnel should be beefed up in worship places. The police ought to do better in these times. It is the duty of the government to protect citizens, and worshippers in churches and mosques are citizens of this country. The Federal and state governments, as well as the Inspector General of police should do the needful.
Also, church leaders and preachers should preach Christ above money and not vice versa. The display of wealth and affluence should be discouraged. Members should not be encouraged to do dubious businesses. Worshippers should be taught to live within their means, as opposed to the gospel of naira and dollars. Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1Tim 6:6.
‘We Need More Vigilance, Security In Churches’
(Pastor Ezekiel Joel, General Overseer, Full Salvation Believers’ Assembly Int’l, Nnewi, Anambra State)
THE issue of “heightened insecurity” has become worrisome, to say the least, and not only with regard to the most horrendous and much-publicised events at the Catholic Church in Ozubulu, Anambra State, but nationwide. It’s actually unthinkable to hear or see the unfortunate dimensions, which man’s inhumanity has taken. In the recent past, what dominated the public space was news of insurgents or Boko Haram militants attacking schools, churches, and a few mosques. As disheartening as this was, there were pockets of disturbing stories of armed robbers and gunmen, who were either hired assassins or kidnappers taking their nefarious and devilish activities to the threshold of the Church.
Quite naturally, such times usher in all manner of blasphemously criminal activities that were once unheard of. Unfortunately, the moral decay that has been festering like a wound, and which has defied medication, has begun to eat up the fabrics of our society. Of course, government, families, and the Church should be held responsible for this rot and untoward scenario. If moral values and respect for the life of fellow human beings were being inculcated in children and youths, we would not have found ourselves in this sorry pass. Sadly, the way people glorify wealth, especially those whose sources are patently questionable, and those who flaunt such ill-gotten wealth are celebrated or adulated and given positions of prominence in the larger society and some churches, leaves much to be desired. The way to address the situation is not to seek only to fix the symptoms, but to fix the causative factors.
It’s good to emphasise vigilance in all places of worship, by both members and the clergy. The need for well-trained security personnel, who are licensed by relevant government agencies to bear arms, to man the gates of churches cannot be over-emphasised. It will not be out of place to install functional CCTV cameras or other effective monitoring security gadgets, which will assist law enforcement agents in surveillance and investigations, whenever the need arises. Strategic and Spirit-inspired prayers must be stepped up in all places of worship, in the light of Psalms 127:1, 2.
However, the core factors, which must be addressed, are: let the church and family join hands to restore godly fear and family values in everyone under our sphere of influence; let our churches/society begin to de-emphasise wealth as the yardstick of conferring honour or positions of relevance on people; let people of questionable character or whose sources of wealth is suspect or bizarre be ostracised both by the church and the larger society; let both the church/community/government desist from receiving financial favours from people, who are known to have illicit wealth. Methinks there’s going to be safety and security in the places of worship, if all of these are done, God being our Helper.
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