Bishop Ndubuisi Obi is the Anglican Bishop of Nnewi Diocese. He spoke with ADAOBI CHUKWUJEKWU on the role of the church in the cornavirus era. Excerpts:
WHAT is the responsibility of the church in combating COVID-19?
The role of the church is more spiritual than the physical, so it cannot be quantified. It involves preaching the good news of the word of God, rendering of prayers, counseling and deliverance. The church goes further as the closest link to the poor masses by providing palliatives and other foodstuffs. The government is doing its own aspects as regards this area. But the church is more organised in bringing out food materials to the reach of the people that need it. As it concerns the diocese of Nnewi Anglican Communion, where I oversee, we give hope to the people, emotionally, socially, economically and most especially, spiritual support. Even when they are taken to the hospitals without hope, we pray against the pandemic for God to arrest it, so that people will start leaving their normal lives.
Specifically how effective has it been?
It has been very effective as the people are not complaining and by getting the positive feedback showing that the church is doing it the right way. We are observing social distancing, wearing of face masks, and washing of hands with running water as recommended by WHO, using soap and hand sanitiser. We encourage our members to abide by these instructions.
Any evidence of the impact; negative or positive?
The impact on the church has been very positive in social and spiritual aspects. One is prayer which is not seen and quantified. In financial aspect, those who could not pay-off their bills in the hospital and the less privileged are all being catered for. Hygienically, washing of hands and staying indoors that brought families bonding during the loskdown, while others felt that it is an encroachment to their fundamental human rights; especially those who earn their living from daily income, by hawking or displaying their goods for sale.
We thank the Anambra State Governor for the recent lifting of ban on church gatherings, markets and social gatherings (burials, parties and weddings) and strictly abiding by the rules of not more than 30 persons as stipulated, observing social distancing for now till further notice. While our schools are yet to be open, some are engaged in online studies for now.
From your own perspective, what lesson has COVID-19 thought or brought to the nation and the world at large?
For Nigeria, COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we have been living in a lie considering that those at Aso Rock that claim to have equipped and maintained most government infrastructure. The pandemic has exposed the health sector. This pandemic has also leveled everyone irrespective of being rich or poor. It has also exposed many people in the hierarchy. The pandemic has also challenged us that we need to build and equip our hospitals and many isolation centres and that the government should stop paying lip service in the medical facilities.
Economically, this pandemic has given our nation a blow. Nigeria should no longer depend on mono-economy. The states should no longer be going to Abuja to get income, but to look inwards and enhance their ‘Internal Generated Revenue (IGR)’ to drive their economy. Anambra State notwithstanding, has been doing its own bit with the supervision of the state governor, Chief Willie Obiano (Akpokuedike) and his officials. My prayers is that God will really intervene and deliver our world from this COVID-19 pandemic and give us our normal lives back. If not for God’s intervention, it could bring down the entire world.
People should now know that there is a supreme being in heaven as God who we are to reference and worship. We should not allow technology to take the place of God. Technology should not be exalted above God of the universe; man should not be controlled and addicted to technology by given much attention to it. God is a jealous God. He will react as he did in the land of Egypt in Exodus chapter 20, verse 1-5.
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