Archbishop Johan Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria gave an impassioned speech to the Christians of Nigeria. He noted that while recognizing the persecution that Christians suffer, Christians must accept it as part of their faith, pick up their cross, and start reaching out to convert Muslims instead of complaining about them:
The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan, has called on Christians to rise up and Christianise Nigeria instead of complaining that Muslims want to Islamise the nation.
Mr. Onaiyekan, a cardinal, made the call in his homily at a Mass to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at Our Lady of Perpertual Help Parish, Gwarinpa II on Sunday in Abuja.
“So, let nobody deceive you, I don’t think there is anybody who has plan to Islamise Nigeria, but even if they do, they have every right to do so.
“They have every right to do so provided they also know that I have the right to Christianise the whole of Nigeria.
“The answer is not in complaining and crying; stand up like a man and Christianise Nigeria,’’ the cardinal said.
He said that Christians had the mandate to preach Jesus Christ to everyone without being distracted with material things.
Mr. Onaiyekan urged Christians to defend their faith by preaching the gospel in words and deeds without compromising the message of the Cross.
He said that the disciples of Christ preached the crucified Christ, accepted persecution and that many even died for their faith.
“People complain that Christianity is being persecuted; they are saying that some people want to Islamise the nation. Just know that nobody can’t Islamise you unless you agree to be Islamised.
“For as long as you are not ready to stand up and carry the Cross, you are on the verge of losing your faith; if you don’t want to lose your promotion for Christ sake, you are also not worthy to be a Christian.
“Anybody who presents another programme different from the programme of Jesus Christ on the Cross will lose, you will drop; you will just drop like an overripe apple.”
According to him, Christians cannot achieve the feat by compromising their faith, it can only be achieved by carrying their cross and following Christ.
“You don’t Christianise the nation by standing up and looking for prosperity or material benefits.
“You Christianise a nation, if you are ready to stand up for the truth, preach the gospel, carry the Cross and follow the Lord Jesus.’’
Quoting from the Gospel of Mathew Chapter 10 verses 37 to 42, Mr. Onaiyekan said that anyone who loved his or her mother, father, children, husband more than Christ is not worthy of His kingdom.
He, however, said that the message of Cross is that of salvation, which was gradually being reduced to the message of prosperity, adding that it was natural to face suffering in the world.
The cardinal said that Christianity had survived over 2,000 years and the religion became more established even when the apostles faced persecution and were even killed.
“The apostles went through horrible suffering because of that, the Church took root when everybody thought it was the end of the story of Jesus, who died on the Cross.
“That is the mystery of Christianity, if it is not God’s own doing, Christianity would not have survived,” he said. (source)
Christians are indeed persecuted in Nigeria, but as the good archbishop points out persecution is not only to be expected as a Christian and that as a Christian, to follow Christ is to walk in the way of sorrows leading to the cross that will bring a man to life everlasting. Nobody denies the suffering of Christians. However, as he alludes to, being a Christian has nothing to do with the popular “prosperity gospel” preacher or form of “popular” Christianity.
Christ came to save all men, and He has entrusted Christians with the responsibility of executing His mission of salvation on Earth. Surely not all Muslims will listen, and some people will fight aggressively, but nobody can know about Christ unless told, for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the proclamation of the word of God.
Nobody truly becomes a Christian because it is enjoyable. They become it because it is true and the only way to salvation, for as Christ Himself said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father except through me.