Reverend Theophilus OlaOlorun is the Pastor in-charge of Shalom Baptist Church, Akowonjo, Lagos. In this interview with DAPO AKINREFON, the cleric speaks on Boko Haram insurgence and other sundry issues. Excerpts:
Despite the declaration of state of emergency in some northern states, the Boko Haram sect continues its murderous attacks. Would you say the attacks are targeted?
The Boko Haram thing is a war directed at the Christian faith. The Nigerian state is under attack too. However, no matter how hard they try, they can’t prevail against the Church of Christ. I also believe that the insurgence is not just a political weapon to deal with the current leadership as some people are believed to be behind the murderous campaign. They are actually benefitting from it economically and politically.
How are the perceived sponsors benefitting from the campaign?
Economically, they gain blood money through the supply of weapons of destruction; while politically they wield influences across the land but this will come to an end very soon. The phenomenon did not start yesterday. Religious crisis has manifested in different forms and shades. In the 80s, there was the Maitatsine riot in parts of northern Nigeria. Shedding of innocent blood is not ordinary, it is satanic.
So, if Boko Haram continues to kill and destroy under whatever guise, they are fulfilling just one agenda, which is beyond economic or political gain. No true religion would ever encourage wanton destruction of properties. It might take some time; but Boko Haram would come to an end like other religious crises. The government should continue to ensure the safety of every Nigerian, no matter the cost.
There was also the issue of early child marriage that recently provoked controver-sy. Was it right for the National Assembly to table such matter?
Early child marriage is absurd. It has brought to the open the credential and mindset of those who are making laws in our country. Nigeria is not an Islamic nation. It is nauseating that in spite of other serious national issues begging for urgent attention, our lawmakers are gambling with the future of female children. It is another backward step our leaders are fumbling with.
This cannot be enforced anywhere except in places where backwardness is celebrated. It is nothing other than a return to the dark era where women are relegated to the background and treated like properties. When you force a child to go into marriage, you have automatically limited how far such a child could go. The potential in such a child is crippled such that she won’t be able to compete favourably with others in her world.
What is the Nigerian society gradually turning into?
The society is becoming more and more materialistic, chaotic and highly volatile. Good morals and values are no longer inculcated or imbibed. The spirit of neighbourliness is fast eroding. There’s the fear of what might happen the next moment. The upper class cannot move freely. They watch every movement around them with an eye of suspicion. The lower class is desperate, hungry and hopeless.
The survival of this group in the society is tough. They cannot send their children to higher institutions and those who managed to do so cannot secure good jobs after graduation. If this trend is not corrected, then, the society is heading for a showdown. The government has a lot to do in this regard. Nigerians are not asking for too much. If only the government would provide free and functional education, reduce the level of unemployment, attach importance to human dignity, and deal decisively with corruption, I believe things would take shape.
You recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of a daily devotional tagged Spiritual Diet. What impact has it made in the lives of those who use it?
The Spiritual Diet started in 2003 with the purpose of reaching the world with the Word of God. This is the focus and since then, we have been daily providing spiritual nourishment to thousands through Christian meditation and practice of Biblical prayers. Majorly, a Bible passage is selected for each day and there is a brief explanation on it.
The reader is guided through the instructions of the Bible to focus on God and to live a life of peace and harmony from the start of the day till end of that particular day. There are indications that Spiritual Diet is serving the purpose for which it was established 10 years ago. Our team ensures that before each edition goes out, we pray and dedicate the devotional to God. We also commit the audience to God so that they would be blessed as they go through it. The ministry has gone beyond the shores of Nigeria to other countries of the world. There are testimonies of victory of sin, grace to live by and the joy of receiving God’s Word.
I understand the devotional is distributed free to all who wish to have it, including free supplies to missionary universities in Nigeria. How is it sustained?
At the beginning, we thought of selling it and actually, we sold the first two editions. We started the free distribution with the third edition, November/December 2003, that was captioned, “The Gift of God.” Spiritual Diet is the only bi-monthly indigenous devotional that is distributed free. There are factors that determine where we distribute and the quantity we distribute.
We ask the Lord for guidance. We distribute to people and places where there are spiritual needs. We have concern for university students because they are the leaders of tomorrow. At the beginning, my wife and I started the production with our salaries. Later on, few individuals identified with us and the work continues till date to the glory of God. We are more determined to continue this work as long as God gives us life and strength; we are depending on the grace and resources that only God can supply.