Originally published in the Nigerian Tribune
The Bishop of Gusau Anglican Diocese, Zamfara State, the Right Reverend John Danbinta, has said that Christians in the northern part of the country live in daily fear of being killed through the brute force of anti-Christian elements.
Bishop Danbinta spoke on Thursday in a sermon at the opening of the first session of the 10th Synod of Remo Anglican Diocese. It is being hosted and sponsored solely by the matriarch of the Awolowo dynasty, Chief (Mrs) HID Awolowo, and held at Our Saviour’s Church, Ikenne Remo, Ogun State. The cleric disclosed that it was becoming increasingly difficult for Christians to openly carry the Bible in some areas in the North.
Although he did not mention such places, the Kaduna-born bishop said he had had nasty experiences of hostility against adherents of the Christian faith in Kano and Zamfara states, where he is currently a bishop.
“Those of you who are Christians in the South here do not know what it really means to be Christians. In the North, we live daily preparing to be killed for the sake of Jesus Christ. And we suffer a lot for Christ sake. When we are in church, we wonder whether we will be able to finish a service without our church being burnt down. In the midst of all these, we still go to church,” he said.
Stating his experience in the post-election violence in which scores were killed, he said, “I was called around 1.30 a.m that one of our churches and its vicarage had been burnt and priest nearly killed. This was while the crisis was raging. I phoned one of my priests who told me he could not take the risk to go out and the hospital officials insisted some payment must be made before they could treat the priest, who was in coma.
“I had to go out with my wife to the hospital, leaving our 12-year-old son at home. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, a neighbour of ours came in and told us how he had escaped being killed. I had to call the divisional police officer, who provided security for us and my son,” he said.
Danbinta, who noted that casualties of such violence were not killed because of political party affiliation, but as a result of the faith they professed, described the post-election crisis as “inexplicable madness.”
In the homily based on the theme of the synod, The Cost of Discipleship: If anyone wants to follow me, the cleric charged the congregation on absolute abstinence from all ungodly conducts, to be qualified as true disciples of Christ. He decried the modern trend in which sermons were tailored to suit the wishes of the flocks by the shepherds, describing it as a deviation from what Christ taught. He admonished clerics to preach the gospel undiluted and without minding who was touched by their messages.
The Bible reading of the holy communion service was read by Ambassador Dr (Mrs) Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu. At the well-attended service, prayers were held for the family of the host, while the history made by Chief (Mrs) Awolowo as the first individual to sponsor the synod was commended.
Meanwhile, former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, is expected to chair the formal opening session and presentation of the bishop’s presidential address today, while the governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga Daniel, will be the chief launcher at the ceremony. A former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General T. Y. Danjuma and dignitaries from all walks of life will also grace the four-day occasion. The event will also feature the delivery of addresses to the synod by Chief (Mrs) Awolowo and Governor Daniel today.
Over 250 delegates from all the churches in the diocese will be in attendance at the synod, while it will be rounded off with a thanksgiving service at the church on Sunday, by 10am.