A VOICE OF REASON 1 – from Jos, Nigeria
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From Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi
In the wake of this crisis a lot has been going through my mind, and while there is a need to get the facts right, there is a bigger need of settling relationships with God and with one another.
Sunday morning worship was good throughout the city of Jos. Some of the churches were very full, some were scanty, some were not open at all. My little drive around showed that peaceful life and peaceful co-existence in Jos is not only possible, but it is a gift of God, in spite of the international media’s presentation of a near catastrophic and a near impossible situation between Christians and Muslims. I personally saw Christians and Muslims walking around in the streets in search of what to buy and how to survive. I believe with my whole heart that there is an alternative to all the confusion. There is an alternative to the one sided reporting of the media, which makes it look as though there is an all out religious war with the Muslims going all the way out for Christians or the Christians going after any Muslim to kill him. This is simply not true.
In many parts of Jos, and indeed of Plateau State, in spite of the misinformation, rumour and media reports, there are communities that have met together as Christians and Muslims and have chosen to seek understanding, mutual respect and community life together. The international media failed WOEFULLY in not reporting such laudable ventures within the city.
Sadly the media choose instead to report various negative aspects which in themselves are not totally correct and which require further consideration. For example, with reference to the numbers of persons killed:
a. If all the corpses in Jos were taken to the mortuary and families allowed to go and identify their corpses, a lot more would have been revealed about the identities of the dead, their nationalities and addresses.
b. Who identified the corpses to certify that these are Muslim corpses in the mosque? Where were they taken from?
c. What is the aim of taking corpses to the mosque and displaying them to the world? Suppose Christians took corpses to the church and displayed them to the world, what would be the outcome?
The church needs to think through these issues and pray for the spread of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ which alone is able to save, deliver and transform lives and communities so that they prosper on the Jos Plateau.
I further want to reason that with the worship services of yesterday, there is a huge cry across the churches about missing persons. There is a further cry of “Foul” in the arrests of young Christian men whom people believe will be implicated innocently, with false charges, in an attempt to present a so-called balanced perspective – forgetting that the media report was not balanced. It might also be instructive to be reminded that on Sunday 17th January people were worshipping in churches, and even according to the police report Christians were attacked in a totally unprovoked manner.
This is where I make a passionate plea for prayers for God to supernaturally release the Spirit of forgiveness, endurance and perseverance for the sake of the gospel. The provocation and persecution is no excuse for revenge or vengeance or retaliation. God in his sovereignty has always executed judgement and justice for the persecuted. In the book of Esther, in Acts 5 & 12, and in Revelation we see a few of the many sovereign acts of God on behalf of those who put their trust in him.
I also want to reason that all over the world, the method of settling issues by the barrel of the gun is becoming more and more unacceptable and unpopular. This is so because after the gun shots, people still have to sit down and discuss. I am amazed at those who are frantically and doggedly trying to make a defence for the use of violence and sophisticated weapons, and who are manipulating security situations and security forces to aggravate the spillage of human blood. Was it impossible for the builder of his house to have settled matters between the young people who were fighting on his side and the Christian worshippers? Does it not beat common sense to imagine that such a matter would result in fake soldiers, foreign fighters, sophisticated weapons and so on? Would it not have been wiser and more humanitarian if those weapons had never been bought, but instead the amount of money spent on them had been invested in setting up little businesses for these young people to be gainfully and meaningfully employed? At the end of the day who has benefitted from all this carnage? No wonder:
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3)
I am hopeful, not because of what I see, but I am hopeful because God is sovereign. God is not a spectator; he is an active participant in history; he is the owner of history and in all historical books, God is seen to be a righteous God, always on the side of truth and justice.
The Lord be with you
+The Most Rev. Dr. Benjamin A. Kwashi
Archbishop of Jos