The Christian Association of Nigeria has asked Nigerians to continue to observe the social distancing regulation and avoid large gatherings, saying the church has never faced such heat as the coronavirus pandemic.
The CAN President, Dr Samson Ayokunle, stated this in his message on Palm Sunday, noting that the Christian faith was being challenged “today not only by sicknesses and other life issues but equally by those who persecute the church.”
The CAN president added that the world powers, where Nigerians could have sought medical help, were themselves overwhelmed.
He said, “At a time like this when coronavirus pandemic is doing havoc worldwide, the hearts of many people are failing them especially in the Western world where it has done more havoc than elsewhere. What has contributed more to the fear is the fact that the Western world, which we had depended upon for quick solution, appeared to be brought down to their knees for help wherever it could come from.
“The medical personnel are overwhelmed while they themselves have fallen victims of the attack of this rude virus. Even medical personnel from Nigeria are being wooed by the American government with immediate visa at their embassy if they wish to come and work. We appear to be a bit luckier in Africa because it has not been able to kill as many people as it did in the West.
“At a time like this, I want to encourage you to be strong in the Lord and stand firm against the wiles of the devil. How can we then keep strong spiritually and physically at a time like this?
“As an individual, desist from staying in big gatherings. There is time for everything, a time to embrace and a time to cease from embracing. Such a time to cease from embracing is now. If you have feelings of being sick, contact your doctor who will guide you appropriately on the steps to take.
“Our faith is being challenged today not only by sicknesses and other life issues but equally by those who persecute the church. The church has never faced the type of heat we are facing now in Nigeria before. Non-availability or inadequacies of many basic life amenities, poverty, sicknesses and sudden death of close relatives, and all are challenging our faith. We are enjoined not to be carried away be these troubles but to accelerate our faith.”
Meanwhile, both Anglican and Catholic churches in Anambra State on Sunday held the Palm Sunday celebrations online.
In his sermon, the Archbishop, Province of the Niger and Bishop Awka Anglican Diocese, Anambra State, Most Reverend Alexander Ibezim, asked Christians to keep on to their faith in God despite the tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic.
He called on Christians to pray ceaselessly during the Holy Week for God to have mercy and save mankind from the ravaging virus.
The service was aired live on radio and television stations in line with the Anambra State Government’s directive of limited gathering of people during church services.
While lamenting that Nigeria and other parts of the world were bleeding from the pains of coronavirus, the bishop assured that God would intervene for good.
He said, “What you need to do now as Christians is to cry unto God for forgiveness of sins.
“He will heal our infirmities; He will restore our health; the Lord is compassionate.”
Similarly, the Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, said the best time for the church to assist the poor was at a time like this.
He directed parishes in the diocese to provide for indigent people in the area to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown.
Ezeokafor gave the directive while delivering a homily to mark the Palm Sunday Mass held at Holy Family Spiritual Year, Okpuno in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
He said the church should not allow people’s faith in God to wane because of the pandemic.
The bishop announced that the Diocese would unveil stimulus packages for the poor in society, noting that all charity organs of the church should be ready for charity.