My Dear Christian Brother

My Dear Christian Brother,

I’m compelled, after our fortuitous meeting in which you raised some touchy but profound issues about our Christian faith, to address this letter to you. The issues are tetchy and germane not only because you dared to raise them but because some of our Christian brothers, for either lack of knowledge or for some other inexplicable reasons, have decided to live by them as the truth.

Let me confess here and now that in the estimation of some, being neither a priest nor a pastor of a church, I am the least qualified to speak on these issues. I even stand the risk of being given a label because my views may not be in tandem with the accepted norm. But what did the Bible say? We are kings and priests! If you had been patient enough to listen to my own side of the story that day, this letter would therefore have been unnecessary. But I pray for divine guidance to muddle through.

You remember our delving into that issue was—let me use the word—gratuitously serendipitous. You had come for a briefing, and I for a personal issue, when we met and one thing led to another. We were discussing something that was quite unrelated to religion when you barged in, and, in a manner that belied the ignorance, explained why you would not attend Reinhard Bonnke’s Crusade that was holding at Afikpo then.

You said with extreme contempt that some people had included your name in the publicity subcommittee for that event without seeking your consent. But your angst did not issue from there alone. You told me you would not like to be identified with the crusade and you gave reasons. You said you were a Knight in one of the churches, and that it was anathema for a Knight to attend a crusade not organized by his church. You explained further that if you dared to do otherwise you would incur the wrath of the church and face possible excommunication. Then I asked you out of bewilderment: “how do you perceive a church? Do you see it as a gathering of children of God who profess faith in Christ or as a social club where you go for recreation and other vain quest? Curiously enough, you did not answer. It is your silence that has necessitated this letter; it is this seemingly pervading misconception among many of us about what a church is that has forced me to write.

But what interested me so much in that brief encounter with you was that you explained to me with so much verve and vitality that you were not only a Knight of a church but also ‘a soldier of Christ’. That point was generously emphasized as you smacked your chest with utmost sincerity and pride.

A Soldier of Christ

A soldier of Christ, that’s what you say you are. This, then, is the issue. I do not know what you mean by this. But if I may ask; who is a soldier? My little understanding tells me that a soldier is one who devotes his life to the defense, service and protection of his country against external aggression. Because he is totally and irretrievably bound to the security of his country, a soldier does not pick and choose which war to fight. It is not a candy-coloured thing! He goes to all wars as far as the security of his country is endangered. He is ready at all times, anyhow, anywhere—when the bugle blows—to jump into the fray putting his life on the line without holding back, without thinking whether he will be sanctioned or not insofar as he believes his actions are in tandem with his professed vocation.

Then, my dear brother, if a carnal soldier can go such stretch for a reward that is here today and gone tomorrow, shouldn’t a ‘soldier of Christ’ do more than this, especially when the reward is greater? Shouldn’t ‘a soldier of Christ’ be more zealous for his Lord and faith when he has before him an imperishable crown? For God’s sake, for how long shall we continue to wallow in this Peter Syndrome? But even Peter at a time caught the fire! That was why he delivered the first sermon when the first church came into being on the day of Pentecost. For how long shall we continue to be afflicted, like the one-eyed Samson, with this spirit of ignorance and deceit?

A soldier of Christ is one who is ready to lay down his life in the service of God. But then, Christ did not call us to violence, or else, by His conduct when He was about to be glorified at the Golgotha, He would not have told the Roman authorities after surveying the Roman soldiers and their military might during the inquisition: I will not follow this way; my way is the way of peace.

A knight is a defender of the faith. But is that faith worth defending when we neither live it nor believe it? Is it not treachery? As uncommitted Christians, our lives are encrusted in hypocrisy, our churches are overflowing with money changers as in the days of Christ, and I am afraid that even Pharisees may enter the Kingdom of God before us! But God have mercy.

Paul: An Exemplary Soldier of Christ

I am of the view that a real soldier of Christ should not be too conscious about denominations. Being a Catholic, you are conscious of your denomination, that’s why you object to attending other churches or sharing in their activities and programmes no matter how evangelistic. We are not going to go to heaven on the strength of the church we belong to but on the total bent of our life and the unmerited grace of God. For a real soldier of Christ, the Bible—that sacred book—is his compass in his lonely but marathon journey. Paul caught the vision after his conversion and zoomed off, he never looked back again. His divine encounter with Jesus on his .murderous mission to Damascus was the transforming power. He took the Gospel to all corners and crannies of Asia and Europe. It was his consuming passion till death. He preached both to the learned and the unlearned, to the philosophers and men of vast intellectual reach. He preached to Jews and Gentiles, to kings and slaves.

He saw the agnostics and he reasoned with them. He saw the Greeks who are always searching for knowledge and he told them: Christ is made unto us wisdom, and to the Romans in their pant for justice he told them: Christ is made unto us righteousness. He met with the Jews who are always seeking for the best means to reach and please God and he told them: don’t search further, “Christ is made of God unto us sanctification”. And to the slaves in Corinth, and by implication to all humanity who are yearning for immortality, Paul assured: “Christ is made unto us redemption”. He will redeem us from the curse of death. He is the AII-in-One solution! There is no need He could not satisfy! He is the “balm that makes the wounded whole”, the God whom philosophers call the Unmovable Mover! He is the God that holds the entire universe in the palm of His hands, the God who Spinoza and Hegel called the “Absolute Whole”1. That is the big Good News I would like my Knight friend, and by implication every Christian, to proclaim today.

Paul told us to be imitators of him as he is of Christ, because for him there was neither east nor west, neither north nor south. For him there was neither Catholic nor Presbyterian, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Redeemed, nor Deeper Life; and there was no Mountain of Fire and Miracles; and so the gospel must be preached to all irrespective of geographical or religious bound­aries. And so, if Paul had been alive today, I am absolutely convinced that he would not only have been chairman of the organizing committee for that Bonnke’s crusade in Afikpo, he would unarguably have shared the pulpit with the preacher himself. That is the kind of stuff a soldier of Christ is made of, and that is the kind of fight a soldier of Christ should elect to fight. He does not recoil from fear when the chips are down, nor will he seek refuge in atavistic man-made laws. He fights the “good fight”. He has every good reason to do so. He will fight because souls are’ in danger of perishing, he must preach because that is the Great Commission.

Imagine what would have happened if Paul had been intimidated by Peter when the former took the “crumbs that fell from the master’s table” to ‘unlikely quarters’? Imagine what would have been the fate of Christianity today if Paul, out of fear of personal danger had voted for the comfort zone, neglecting to fight with beasts and waves and principalities and powers as he did, to take the gospel to us the Gentiles?

In 2 Corinthians 11: 23-33, the apostle of grace and grit sums it up with earthy candour:

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—l am talking like a madman with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for ever, knows that l do not lie. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas guarded the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped his hands.

This is a big sacrifice, Paul held tenaciously to his belief in spite of the odds. Remember what Christ said: “he who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will save it”. Paul did not go on spiritual furlough when it mattered most; neither did he fear the sanctions or opinions of men. He was not held hostage by his faith; he caught vision of the big apple and went straight for it with chutzpah. He was determined to lose his life here for the sake of Christ that he may save it later. What was before him was far greater than all the golden beaches of Hawaii and all the fineries and fripperies life could offer. He was an exemplary soldier of Christ, and I urge you to emulate him.

The Urgent Task before Christians

You said that a Knight is a soldier of Christ. I agree, but you may be asking the sort of war a Knight should be fighting this time around when there is virtually no more physical threat to Christianity, at least in the Southern part of Nigeria. And I answer, if there was ever a time the service of a Knight was urgently needed, it is now. The threat to Christianity is more spiritual now than physical. Some philosophers and scientists in the mould of Friedrich Nietzsche are going about today saying that God is dead. Many professional ‘servants of God’, as if to lend credence to this, have become more carnal than spiritual, existing in name. Like Samson, the Spirit of the Lord has long left them without knowing it; they are operating with their strength and for their stomach.

Indeed, more bizarre things are happening today. For instance, the other day in India, a man was wedded to a dog. This is not all; gay bishops and pastors have taken over the pulpit in America and Europe saying that God’s first institution—the family and marriage which involves the union of a man and a woman is no longer tenable. And at a time like this when the faithful are reeling in paroxysm and yet to recover from these serial assaults on their faith, President Obama who confesses to being a Christian, comes along with his message of pro-choice, which is a euphemism for permissiveness. That is to say, everything is permissible including the choice for a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

Scientists in Europe are coming together for what I may describe as one final push against God. After they succeeded in a man giving birth, they are uniting through their latest and biggest experiment on particle physics, to investigate how the world began with the view to disprove God as the Creator. They are building an awesome telescope—what they call the Large Hadron Collider—that has the “capacity to magnify properties of objects by about 500 times what is possible today”.

Frank Wilczek, a 2004 Noble Laureate, Calls it “our own answer to the Pyramids”. Steven Weinberg, also a Nobel Laureate, concludes that when the experiment takes off “there will be less room for religion.” Newsweek Magazine of September 15, 2008 calls it the biggest experiment ever and described it thus:

“The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator—a monster size circular underground tunnel, 4.3 kilometers in radius. It is a worldwide collaboration of thousands of scientists, engineers and students; has cost $8 billion including significant pieces of national budgets. The aim is to find scientific explanation of the origin of the universe, what scientists call a theory of Supper symmetry.“

Weinberg, one of the collaborators, who says he does not believe in God, boasts of the experiment:

“As science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations. The more we learn about the universe, the fewer signs we see of an intelligent designer. Isaac Newton thought that an explanation of how the sun shone would have to be made in terms of the action of God. Now we know that the sun shines because of the heat produced by the conversion of hydrogen into helium in its core”.

He concluded:

“People who expect to find evidence of divine action in nature, in the origin of the universe or in the laws that govern matter are probably going to be disappointed. I don’t believe in God”.

But sadly enough, Weinberg did not tell us the power behind the heat, the hydrogen and the helium. It is a pity that Weinberg does not believe in God, but his hope to explain away the existence of God in scientific terms exposes his limited understanding of the nature of God.

Maybe, scientists hope one day that as they search along they would stumble unto one big being huddled somewhere whom they could call God.

But even if Weinberg does not believe in God, I know there is God. When I sleep and wake up in the morning, I see God. When I cast my view and vision over the horizon, like my first time in an airplane, I see God. When I see how life is formed and see the birds and trees that swing to the rhythmic dance of the invisible winds, I see God. God is a spirit, and as the bible says, it is impossible for the carnally-minded to discern things of the spirit because they are in opposition one to another. Perhaps, Weinberg forgot, as Goethe said, that ‘nature is the living garment of God; or, as Einstein explained, that ‘science without religion is lame’. It’s a pity he is still trying to prove the existence of God in mathematical terms when everything around us is a living symbol of a Superior Intelligence!

As terrestrial beings, there are many things we can hardly understand about God, the least of which is trying to find Him by the aid of telescopic magnification! That point was made by Paul when he said that “here, we see dimly, but there, we shall see and understand fully”.

When Georges Lemaitre came up with his Big Bang Theory in 1927 to explain the origin of the universe, some in the scientific community concluded he had wrapped it up—the mystery of creation. But it did not take long before other scientists began to puncture holes in his theory. As the frontiers of knowledge increased, the theory was consigned to the dustbin. I have no doubt that this Large Hadron Collider experi­ment will also end in the same way.

My dear friend, when all these things are happening around us today, is there any other moment more urgent and opportune than now to proclaim the Word and retrieve it from the hands of these spiritual suicide bombers? The duty of a ‘Knight’ in this age of spiritual convolution and disorientation is to proclaim the unadulterated word of God in order to save as many as possible from the hands of hell.

What Christianity Is

For your information, Christianity is not a flash of epiphany. It is a continuous indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is not about ceremonials as some tend to conceive it. It is a way of life, a way of behaviour. It is about holiness and sanctification, about love, about eternity and the good life that Christ promised every serious believer as a reward hereafter. Let me tell you, I have a friend who was a pastor in one of the Pentecostal churches in the country. There was a day he came and we rendered some service to him on credit. He promised to pay back on a certain date. When I reminded him to honour his words as a pastor, he retorted: “there is no pastor when it comes to money”. He reneged, and it took him almost a year after the due date to redeem his debt after series of pleas.

You see, this my friend does not see Christianity as the totality of life, he does not see it as something all encompassing including money, something that is a way of behaviour including keeping promises. This is why our country is in the mess it is today. Much of the crime and corruption that go on in the country today are committed by people who share faith in God but deny Him by their deeds. They cannot take a stand for good even when their faith is on trial. My friend, the crucial point you must note in this our Christian journey is that what makes us Christian is not necessarily what we do in the church on Sundays as it is what we do outside the church on other days. We can no longer hide under the banner of Christianity to perpetrate evil. Indeed, a time has come for all of us that call ourselves Christians to flesh out our faith, and that time is now! And we cannot do this on our own, we need the power of the Holy Spirit to do so; that point was implied when Jesus told His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost when the power of God descended on them that enabled them to do all that they did.

What is a Church?

This then brings me to the question I asked you that day: What is a church? I am asking this again because you spoke with judgmental disdain about other churches and seemed so much tied to your denomination that you cannot worship elsewhere with other children of God. Even when you did not answer my question, I perceived that you see the church as a social club where you go for recreation and other social events. You are not alone on this highway; many other travellers are on the same lane with you. But that is a fallacious creed, a mistaken belief which has bred so much division and contempt in the body of Christ.

A church actually is not a building. It is you and me. It is a body of Christian believers or a gathering of people who share the .same Christian belief and anchor their faith in God through Jesus Christ, irrespective of tribe and tongue. “That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless”(Eph 5:27).

Being a member of the Body of Christ does not necessarily mean being a member of a denomination. It is those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ (Rom 5:1), they are saved not by their works but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8).The word church is derived from the Greek word ekklesia which was used to refer to “the general assembly of the Jewish people when they gather together for a religious purpose”. The Nicene Creed spelt out four characteristics to mark the true church: it is one, it is holy, it is catholic and finally it is apostolic.

But these are human characterizations! That was what St Augustine noted when he said that the real church is an invisible entity “known only to God”. In erroneously justifying denominationalism, Martin Luther amplified this and said that the real church has their members scattered among the various Christian bodies.

My brother, there are so many conflicting teachings in the church today, that is why many who do not follow the Bible have become confused. Many have left the essence of Christianity which is Christ to pursue shadows, and at a point like this it is difficult to keep track of one’s denomination. Today one is in church A, tomorrow he is in church B looking for miracles, And when he could not get it there he relocates to another where he hopes to get it “by fire by force”. Since the world entered the church from the first century, the church has become endangered specie, a malleable institution, and an easy prey where merchants perch as pastors and priests. You remember Paul’s encounter with Simon the sorcerer; many Simons have multiplied today and are holding the church by the jugular.

Today, success in the ministry is no longer denominated in the number of sincere converts but in the number of miracles a pastor performs, the number of choice cars he owns, the type of house he lives in and the number of overseas trips he makes in a year. The church is no longer seen as a gathering of people called out to serve God but as a bazaar for all manner of things and all manner of people. We choose the church to belong to today for many reasons apart from spiritual fulfillment. We choose a church because the pastor there makes miracles. We go to a particular church because the pastor or priest has the gift of the garb, because the bent of his sermon suits our lifestyle. We tend to equate spirituality and Christianity with money!

But should all these be the reasons for going to church? We should go to church basically to worship God, to have a divine encounter with that God that is self-existing. We should go to church for spiritual reunion, refreshment and upliftment. We should go to church because God wants a fellowship with us; after all, we are created in His image.

Although you belong to a church, I can sense that you need to receive Christ into your life. You are in the church but you are not of the church. You belong to an organization in the church but you are terribly lost in a crowd. I can see from the way you talk that you are still mired in the erroneous belief that the moment you belong to a church or an organization within the church your salvation is assured. Let me reveal this secret to you; they are many in the church who have already made their beds in hell. Many of these are those who flock to church hoping to be blessed materially.

But Christianity is not about materialism as many pastors are wont to preach (Ps 49:6, 17; Ecclesiastes 5:15, 19; 1Tim 6:7). If it is, why did Christ tell His disciples to go and sell their belongings and come and follow Him? It is because serving God needs total commitment and concentration. It is because Christ was calling them to a higher ideal, something more than money. Prosperity is good; I also pray to be blessed for one reason: it will keep me comfortable while here. But it is not a means for an exchange for the eternal blessedness to which we fall heir when we run the race faithfully to the end. As we crave for material prosperity, we should also seek spiritual prosperity as well, that point was underscored in the Bible when God stated that His desire was for us to prosper even as our soul prospers.

Psychologists tell us the human personality is like a man pulling two horses each heading to different directions. At a point he becomes confused and loses focus. That was how I was, and maybe that is still how you are who read this, after many years as a ‘soldier of Christ’. You are still torn between God and Mammon, between false preachers and Jesuspreneurs. That is the confusion someone who has not fully surrendered to God faces.

My dear friend, its time you reappraised your relationship with God; its time to invest in real riches that will not attract kidnappers, wealth that neither rusts nor melts down.

I don’t know if you noticed this. Shortly after the Nigerian war, in the late 70s and early 80s, there was a renascent and resurgent proliferation of social clubs in the Eastern Region and people flocked in droves to join as members. They were looking for a place they could have some comfort and social fulfillment. Since the creation of man this has been one common longing! But the greatest attraction was the royal treatment given to members upon death. Now, the churches have taken over this services and this has made membership of social clubs less attractive. Our churches have swelled because, like many professed Christians, they liken it to a social club. New ones are opening shops every day. But this has neither resulted in an explosion of faith nor in an increase in spirituality. Rather, kidnappers are laying siege everyday, every one is afraid of the other. And as if to worsen the situation, our children are on the binge. Our girls have gone full steam in quest for modernity. The same girls who fill the pews on Sundays and send the congregation wild with their sonorous songs and dance steps are the same who rip open their blouses and pop out their breasts along our streets to bewitch the lily-livered. Martin Luther King Jnr. said that “such members have more religion in their hands and feet than in their hearts and soul”. Indeed, Christ may have had this in mind when He told His disciples to allow the crops and the tares to grow together.

Should a Christian Worship only in his Church?

In the course of our discussion, you asked of my denomination or where I worship. That is the problem we have today. It started in the early church which prompted Apostle Paul to rage:

“Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I am of Paul, and I of Apollo’s, and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptised in the name of Paul?

The question should not be where I worship; the question should be whether I worship right, with redeemed children of God; although where one worships may influence his spiritual bent. The question should be whom or what I worship.

To answer your question, I worship with Children of God in the House of God. I don’t know if that satisfies you. By the unmerited grace of God, I consider myself a member of that royal ecclesiae. I belong to Christ, I belong to God, I am a member of the family of Go—the Body of Christ—and I worship wherever Children of God gather for that purpose. I don’t want to use the word born again because of its abuse and unpalatable connotation now, but any one that professes Christ and is really dead to sin and alive to righteousness is a child of God and a member of God’s family. He may belong to church A or church B, but I have no spiritual scruples coming together with him or her to offer fervent prayers and praises to God anywhere. I am not denominational and that is the point I want you to understand. Although I worship with a Pentecostal church, my membership of that denomination does not preclude worshipping with other brethren. That is why I feel free in any place I hear shouts of Hallelujah and Praise the Lord, although I admit that these days occultists also shout the same and some pastors pervert the word! I see worship as a divine experience where believers in Christ of every denomination come together to affirm their oneness under God through praise and prayer.

Sadly enough, there is something worrisome that is happening today among many believers, I have seen it on many occasions. A catholic does not attend a Presbyterian church; neither does a Presbyterian attend catholic. In many occasions even among Pentecostals, this seed of discrimination is deeply rooted. A member of, say, Deeper Life Church, does not worship in another church outside his own. He would invite you to their crusade but when you invite him to yours he feels his religion is superior to yours and an affront to mix with ‘infidels’. The story is the same in all our churches, and it is a pity that we have left Christ the Corner Stone to build on straws. And I ask as Paul did, was Catholic or Presbyterian or Deeper Life or Redeemed crucified for us? Were we baptised in the name of these churches? Some may justify it and quote copiously from the Bible, but I know that discrimination on the basis of denomination is a negation of Christ-like purity.

You remember the remark of the Samaritan woman to Jesus: “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain (mount Gerizim) and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship”. Do you remember what Jesus told her? “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father”. He went further to emphasize; “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”. It is not the church one attends that makes him a Christian. Do you know that Satan also goes to church? Check this up in Job 1:6.

I am not implying that belonging to a denomination is bad, or that not going to church is good, after all “iron sharpeneth iron”. We must go to church because we need the testimonies of each other to lift our faith. We must belong to a church to help build up the Body of Christ . We must belong to a church for a divine encounter with God. But remember that membership of a church is not an express ticket to heaven, nor does it justify us. It is one’s relationship with Christ that determines whether one is His or not. It is not whether I have said my rosary today or read my Bible. It is what I do with what that rosary represents and what that Bible teaches. The Christian faith is of most effect in action; that is why the Bible says that faith without works is dead. It is not what we say in public but what we do in private outside the intruding and prying eyes of others that determines our character. But unfortunately we have become all hypocrites. We are lethargic in things of God as we incinerate our faith in an orgy of worldliness.

Denominationalism has wrecked much havoc in the body of Christ today, making it difficult for us to flesh out the essence of our belief. Let me tell you a pathetic story. My friend told me the trauma his landlady passed through when the daughter wedded some time ago. She was a prominent member of a prominent church in Abakaliki, and she was looking forward to this event with every enthusiasm as is characteristic of mothers in her social class. But when the day came, behold, like the Biblical banquet, the invitees—mostly her church members and priests—were nowhere to be found. Unbeknown to her, the church had sent a letter to its parish at the town of the event for members to stay away from the ceremony. Do you know her offence? She dared to allow her daughter to get married to a member of another church!

How can such be happening in the body of Christ and we pretend all is well? How can the church reclaim its pride and glory as the salt of the earth and the thermometer for measuring spiritual pulse when we have been anaesthetized and dead to things of God? We have to review our relationship with God. We have to begin to think of things eternal, not of things telluric. We must reclaim our fading and lost love for God now that the “Son is shining” before darkness comes.

My friend, I am sorry I have written such a long letter. It is because of the issues you raised which I considered a matter of life and death. In the light of these points, I want you to reconsider your views about church, about Christianity and about life itself. I want you to reconsider your relationship with God. I want you to understand the essence of our being here, that we are in transition. As pilgrims “travelling to a far country”, God has made it in such a way that we shall one day return from our “journey” and meet with that historical Jesus—the God of salvation, the God of the Universe—who shall call us to account for every thing we did or failed to do here.

Shakespeare said that life is like a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. I agree. But he also forgot that life could signify something if we through here could listen to the ‘tale’ told by the Master and do them. It is a great tragedy to pass through life without knowing Him experientially. That, perhaps, may be why the philosopher Schopenhauer said that life is an endless pain with a painful end.

But I want you to disprove him, to end it with a joyful end. You can only do so when you seek the Lord wherever He may be found. Look for Him now when it is not too late. He is not afar off when you draw near to Him, holding back nothing.

My friend, don’t cling to church, cling to Christ. When you cling to Christ you cling to church also.

You know, there are some opportunities we may miss in life which we cannot get back—like the period of our youth; and there are some which we may miss and still hope for another—like a juicy contract. The life we live now is like our youth; once it is spent it’s gone irredeemably, irretrievably, irreparably. It’s the only opportunity we have to get a hand on God. Life does not have a return match; we better get enlisted in this match for God before it snaps.

I feel like ending this letter to you, my dear Christian friend, by quoting St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage:

“This is a cheerful world as I see it from my garden under the shadows of my vines. But if I were to ascend some high mountain and look out over the wide lands, you know what I will see: brigands on the highways, pirates on the sea, armies fighting, cities burning, in the amphitheatres men murdered to please applauding crowds. It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians—and I am one of them”.

My dear Christian brother, are you one of them? Think upon these.

Sincerely in His service,

Larry Oyims

Higher Ground, Ozizza, Afikpo

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