BY DAYO ADESULU
The Bishop, Diocese of Nike (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. Dr Christian Onyeka Onyia has urged Nigerians to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and rededicate themselves to living in peace, oneness and love of God as Christians all over the world celebrate Easter.
In an Easter message, he made available to newsmen in Enugu, Bishop Onyia said that, despite rising insecurity in states across the federation, Nigerians should not lose trust in God, even as he advocated for peace to reign in the country as “peace and unity are the prerequisites to the progress and development of the entire country.”
Bishop Onyia also condemned rising cases of violence against women in different forms, advocating in the same breath that “no one should remain in an abusive marriage”. He said: “The feast of Easter lies at the heart of our Christian faith. At the start of our forty-day Lenten journey, through the mark of ashes in the Sign of the Cross, we were reminded that, as humans, we will die. Yes, everyone will die, sooner or later. Nevertheless, because of Christ’s resurrection, death no longer has any claim upon us. At the Easter celebrations, these ashes are washed away when we are “soaked” with the Easter water with which the elect are baptized! We know that God has the ultimate say. God’s Word for us is the same as His Word for Jesus Christ, who was crucified, died, laid in the tomb and resurrected. He lives; and therefore, we do. We live in Him!
“Jesus’ death and resurrection are why we know that there is an answer to the darkness and fragility of this world. There is hope and redemption. There is a light that cannot be overcome. We must therefore live for others by making many small daily sacrifices that support the poor and strangers within and in faraway places. While we enjoy the blessed promise that we will live forever with Him, those who wait, who long for our solidarity and support, must be cared for. Our faith in Christ, our hope in the fullness of life with Him and our love for one another must be deepened and enhanced.
“At this Easter, despite the mindless and indiscriminate attack on individuals, institutions, private, religious and other public facilities, I urge all Nigerians to rededicate themselves to living in peace and oneness with all. Jesus Christ proclaimed, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27, NRSV). Peace and unity are the prerequisites to the progress and development of the entire country. Ethnicities, religious beliefs or places of origin should not continue to divide our nation. As a nation, we must abhor religious and ethnic hate and division amongst ourselves.
“Violence against women in all its forms, be it physical, sexual, emotional or verbal, is never justified. It’s both a sin and a crime. No one should remain in an abusive marriage. Marriages are broken by violence and abuse rather than divorce. The marriage covenant is broken by an abuser through abusive behaviour. Christians, and indeed all, need to respond with compassion, solidarity and care for the suffering and the most vulnerable.
“Easter calls us to promote with renewed vigour the sanctity of human life with thankful and cheerful hearts. This is the time of forgiveness, too. However, forgiveness does not mean forgetting abuse or claiming that it has not happened. Forgiveness is not permission for the repetition of abuse. On the contrary, forgiveness means that the victim decides to let go of the experience, move on in life and no longer tolerate abuse of any kind.
“On Easter Sunday, I urge well-meaning Nigerians and governments at all levels to help our unemployed youth learn new skills and start their own businesses. To confront the growing insecurity in our country and enjoy the peace we all seek, our young people should be mentored and encouraged to succeed. So, it takes a great deal of sacrifice on the part of each and every one of us.
“In these unusual times we must find in our faith the power and determination to proclaim: He has risen. Let us live in the light that Jesus shows us as we endeavour to love as He has shown us. May you know the transforming power of the Risen Jesus, be filled with His light, be a light to others and be blessed with abundant faith, serenity and joy to the glory of God our Father. Amen. Happy Easter.”