The Church and the State in God’s Own State.

There is no doubt that the Christian Religion and its acceptance is growing at an astronomical rate in Nigeria. Anybody in doubt should read some of the surveys of the growth of churches in Abia in particular and Nigeria in general. Good examples are the new names and their churches which have tilted favorably towards the Pentecostals who unknowingly but based on their activities and results, have frightened the orthodox into modernizing and beefing up operations to achieve charismatic levels.

Despite the above alleged encroachment, the orthodox churches are recovering as most decampees are back, evident from the speed with which the orthodox are rebuilding and expanding their cathedrals and worship centers.

The Pentecostals with prosperity preachings and faith healings have their folds tripling with new branches in tow. Take for instance Oyedepo and his Winners experience-AKA, Living World, which became popular in Lagos but has temples in all the cities and suburban in the South-South, South-East and South-West geographical regions. The Winners Chapel example is the same for Pastor Enenche's Dunamis, Enock Adeboye and his Redeemed Christian Church of God, Oyakilome of Christ Embassy, Patrick Awuzie of Zoe Ministry, Daniel kayode olukoye of Mountain of fire, Fiery Emmanuel Ede of Catholic Prayer Ministry of the Holy Spirit, Victor Onukaogu rechristened Hezekiah of Living Christ Mission Outreach. We may not forget in a hurry Ejike Mbaka's rejuvenation of souls in Enugu, Mike Okonkwo of Redeemed Evangelical Mission, Uma Ukpai of Evangelical Association, wondrous T B Joshua of Synagogue Church of all Nations, and trail blazer William Kumuyi of Deeper Life. In the same vein, Rev Badejo of Foursquare Mission, Matthew Ashimolowo and his Kingsway International Church Center, (KICC), and Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Assembly, have their flocks highly satisfied.

Our women have not been mere bystanders with Helen Ukpabio and her Liberty Gospel Church. Margaret Idahosa of Church of God Mission, Mrs Akaniro of Faith Chapel, Umuahia and Sister Sarah of Family Worship Center, Abuja, have picked up the holy gauntlet for their late spouses who died in active service. Other notables are Zion Heritage, Behold he Cometh, and the Dominion City. These are no surprises as it was foretold in the Bible as the mustard seed that grew up and overshadowed other trees. Luke 13 verse 19.

Abia is not immune to these friendly onslaughts and incursions. In Abia, the leadership of Governor T.A. Orji himself, an offspring of one of the early people who supported the growth of the Pentecostal churches is aware and therefore staunchly supportive of the present day religion renaissance.

For a man who holds faith sacred and believes one hundred percent in the efficacy of prayers, he has not relented in supporting the churches wherever and whenever in Abia and beyond. Most importantly, he abolished and banished idolatry which nearly became a department in Abia State Government. The many episodes of Okija and victims are still fresh in our minds.

Ochendo unabashedly acknowledges that he could not have been in office if not for the prayers of the saints. He makes it mandatory to worship in different churches every Sunday as duty calls allow. In all these visitations, be it worship, weddings, burials, foundation laying ceremonies, dedication or thanksgiving, when given the opportunity to the podium to address the congregation, he has not disappointed any in his speeches and soul-lifting gifts.

If you will permit my immodesty, It is on record that he has rebuilt some churches and completed new ones for example- Rev Father Uka's St Acquina's Catholic Church at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, the Church of Christ at Bende Road Umuahia. Also in the list are the Catholic Church at Mgboko Nta, Isiala Ngwa South LGA, Rev Onyemachi's Prayer Network at Okwuta Ibeku. These other ones have equally received mouth-watering donations- St Anthony's Amaekpu Ohafia, St Lukes Anglican Church Amakama, The Presbyterian Church at Abiriba Street Umuahia, the ageless St Stephens Anglican Church at Umuahia, Arochukwu and CKC ABA. The Methodist Churches on many occasions and many others too numerous to list have been transformed by mere encounters with Abia Governor.

He maintains a staunch non-denominational stance as he moves from Methodist Church, Anglican to Catholic. This is equally true of Lord's Chosen, Dunamis and all.

The claims above are supported by the fact that across denominational

Lines and mostly in recognition of his ecclesiastical efforts, the Methodist Church in Abia benighted Sir T A Orji and Lady Mercy Odochi Orji.

During the electioneering campaigns, he honoured many invitations for prayers from many churches in Abia and these yielded results. In Aba alone, he declared open a synod, addressed catholic faithful and attended the events of a private school where he was later taken to an upper room and immersed in prayers. Since he came aboard as the Executive Governor of the state, he has sponsored pilgrims to the Holy Land annually. In a rare show of liberation and support for the freedom of worship as enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, he has extended a hand of faith to the Muslims in pilgrimages and continuously exhorts them on religious probity during their holy days like Eidel Malud and Eidel Fitiri.

The energetic, merciful and passionate wife of the governor, the Deborah of our time, Chief Mrs Mercy Odochi Orji, stringently supports a prayer group, the Abia Prayer Network, who meet every Wednesday at the auditorium. This started in a small room dating from the days of His Excellency as the Chief of Staff.

Upon these entire Largess, some of our respected clergies forget the biblical injunction- that of supporting and praying for those in authority, and probably, in acting the scripts of the hideous ones among us, become clerical jurists and render falsehood on the pulpit, running down the Government unjustifiably. This is illegal and unjust in the eyes of man and God. Rather than using blackmail and cajolery, there are acceptable ways to utter discontent if there is any, after all, to err is human. The Governor is open and accessible, rather than grumble in squalor, these people should seek audience with the Governor or dialogue with other officers like the Chief of Staff, SSG, Commissioners and the numerous aides to His Excellency, especially on Christian religion, and religious matters like Sir Cletus Onyejiekwe. It is not fair that those who should be praying for the state and bless Abia, sit back desecrating and derogating.

The Governor is human and cannot get to all churches, but he has been free with appointments from Wards, Local Government Areas to the state level. There is hardly a church without a councilor, Local Government Chairman, Special Assistant, Senior Special Assistant, Advisers, Commissioner or board member. The Permanent Secretaries and Directors though not political appointees do channel opinions and counsels to the appropriate Quarters.

There are ample testimonies that the Governor attends up to three churches or church events weekly. Being human and cannot be in two places at the same time, he dispatches his aides.

Upon the foregoing, the churches have not had it better than it is presently. Let us jointly pray to God to sustain the success made so far and progress further in unity and faith. Let us earnestly pray for easy access to wisdom for our various leaders at all levels so that we can sustain the achievements so far made and increase in leaps and bounds in all things. Let us count our blessings, name them one by one, certainly it will surprise us what the lord has done.

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Articles by Eddie Onuzuruike