Gunmen have killed an unknown number of church worshippers in Ondo state, south-west Nigeria. President Muhammadu Buhari said “only fiends from the nether region” could have done this “dastardly act”.
The armed men entered St Francis Catholic church in the town of Owo and fired at the congregation during a service to mark the holiday of Pentecost, witnesses said. Nigeria has experienced an upsurge in violence in recent months. Kidnappings and attacks have been reported across the vast country.
The Ondo Catholic Church Massacre Is Pure Devilish Wickedness And Evil
The Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) and the entire TEKAN-ECWA Bloc of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) received with great shock, pain and sorrow, the sad news of the gruesome attack on St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state by bandits leading to the deaths of over 50 innocent Christian worshippers including children. In consonance with what our Esteemed National President of CAN has said, we do assert that this is nothing but pure wickedness and evil as there could be no justifiable reason for this brazen and dastardly attack.
According to the ECWA President, Rev. (Dr.) Stephen Baba Panya and Head of TEKAN block of CAN in a statement in Jos made available to Doxa, “This attack is clearly a well calculated assault on the peace-loving people of the Owo Kingdom and the entire Christendom in Nigeria. It is barbaric, vile, wicked and satanic, and a deliberate action to wipe out Christianity in the country.” According to them, “The attack was carried out on Pentecost Sunday, the generally acknowledged ‘birthday’ of the Church, clearly shows it is a continuation of the relentless but futile effort of the devil and his agents to exterminate the Church in Nigeria. We, therefore, join all people of good conscience in Nigeria and around the world, to condemn this dastardly attack on innocent citizens in its entirety and in the strongest terms.”
Rev. Panya and the TEKAN-ECWA Bloc of CAN said, “I convey my deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the Catholic Church and the Christendom in Nigeria. It is a cross we all are jointly bearing. We pray for comfort of the Holy Spirit, and the healing and restoration of all the injured and the Church of God in Nigeria.”
The greatest honor that can be done to the victims of this attack is to get to the root of the matter and bring the perpetrators to justice no matter who they are and where they come from. ECWA is worried at the increasing spate of hostility against the Church in Nigeria without the government taking drastic and adequate measures to forestall such acts.
We also need to draw attention to another unfortunate trend that is gradually emerging and rapidly taking root as the new normal in our nation. This is the killing of people on alleged blasphemy being promoted and perpetrated by Islamic extremists. We recall the gruesome murder of Deborah Samuel Yakubu, a young Christian girl in Sokoto, and more recently, in Abuja, the murder of Odaru, a young Muslim vigilante from Nasarawa state for alleged blasphemy.
They emphasize, “We believe that people who perpetrate this kind of evil will continue to be emboldened to do more havoc when there are no visible and deterrent repercussions for their actions. We also recall the recent killing of Harira Jibril and her four children in Anambra state for reasons that are not yet very clear. All these and many other killings, banditry, kidnappings, and criminalities across the country are clear pointers to the existential fact that Nigeria is fastly becoming a totally failed state, and heading towards anarchy and disintegration.” What is really keeping Nigeria today is nothing but the grace and mercies of God, and we must not take this for granted as a nation.
As a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, every effort must be made not to destabilize our nation’s critical fault lines. Nigeria should learn from the bitter experience of countries such as Somalia, which is known as the most homogenous nation in terms of religion, ethnicity, language and culture. However, due to clannish war, it has not known peace since 1991.
While calling on Christians to remain calm, watchful and fervent in prayer, we urge government as a matter of urgency, to act decisively to arrest and make perpetrators of all these evil acts to face the full wraith of the law. Ecclesiastes 8:11-12 says, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.”
Clearly, there is the need to overhaul the security architecture, and put in place a security system that is technology-driven, proactive, comprehensive and decisive.
According to them, “What Nigerians need at this time is peace, love, unity, hope and access to the basic necessities of life and not death, sorrow, pain and hopelessness.”
For all Believers in Christ Jesus, as we play our part in checking wickedness and evil and the restoration of peace in our dear nation, we must not despair; for as Colossians 1:27 states, Christ in us is the hope of glory and our hope transcends this earth, even death is a means of its realization in a glorious eternity in heaven.
May God have mercy upon us and intervene in the polity and governance of our dear nation and restore peace, for His name’s sake and His unfailing love for those who truly love and fear Him in Jesus’ name.
Rev. (Dr.) Stephen Baba Panya was born in April 1963, to the family of late Rev. (Dr.) Panya Baba, himself a former Director of Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS) and later one time ECWA President. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK), and studied accounting. He is a Chattered Accountant and former Banker turned Missionary; a man with a heart burning passionately for Missions and Revival.
He obtained his Association of Accounting Technician (AAT), London in December 1982 and Obtained the Best Prize at Level 1 Worldwide. He also obtained his Association of Chattered Certified Accountants (ACCA), London in June 1987. And the Association of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ACA), Nigeria, in 1990.
He is a called missionary who breathes Missions, speaks Missions, lives Missions, and can sacrifice anything for Missions. His life depicts the words of C.T. Studd that, “If Jesus Christ is God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” He is a visionary leader whose heart’s desire is to see the mighty supernatural move of God in ECWA and the Church of Jesus Christ at large for the salvation of souls, the setting of the captives free from bondage to sinful flesh and the devil, resulting in transformation of lives, the healing of the sick and the diverse blessing of God’s people, the church, for the mighty glory of God.
Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle is the current Christian Association of Nigerian (CAN) President. The organization is made up of five blocs and they are: 1. Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) 2. Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) 3. Christian Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (CPFN) /Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) 4. Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC) 5. (TEKAN and ECWA Fellowship) CAN has Women and Youth Wings, a National Executive Council consisting of 110 members (which elects the President), and a General Assembly of 304 members (which ratifies the President’s election).