Providing solutions to communal needs should drive every Christian’s involvement in civic engagements, Dr. Thomas Wilson-Ikubese has said.
Dr. Ikubese, who is the CEO of Sckye Group, made the statement in a paper presented to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, at the Association’s Political summit held at St. David’s Cathedral, Akure on the 10th of September, 2020.
In the paper titled, Christian Involvement in civic engagements, the ex presidential Aspirant said that Christians must, at all times, bear in mind that the purpose of getting involved in politics is to RENDER SERVICE to better society and not as a conduit to illicitly amass wealth.
He urged Christians to be witnesses and ambassadors for Jesus while engaging in civic duties.
Dr. Ikubese also reminded Christians that winning souls for Christ is not only by praying but that community involvement is a subtle form of evangelism.
The paper reads thus:
“A PAPER PRESENTED TO THE CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA DURING THE OCCASION OF POLITICAL SUMMIT ON 10TH SEPTEMBER, 2020 AT ST. DAVID’S CATHEDRAL, AKURE ONDO STATE, NIGERIA.
DR THOMAS-WILSON IKUBESE (MBBS, FAGP, DFM)
- CEO Sckye Group
- Former Presidential Aspirant
I have compressed this presentation as much as possible, because I was asked to speak for just ten minutes!
For the purpose of this presentation, I will like to discuss civil engagements under two categories.
- Community Involvement
- Political Involvement
Community involvement relates to relationship with people affiliated with the local schools, chambers of commerce, departments of public safety, security agencies, the prisons, other agencies in one’s community and individuals.
These agencies are vehicles through which the Kingdom of God can be expanded.
Civic engagement can take many forms—from individual volunteerism, community engagement efforts, organizational involvement and government work such as electoral participation.
Our civic engagement should be fueled by the desire to be a witness for Jesus and ambassador for him in these circles while influencing people for righteousness.
How do you as a christian make impact in civic engagement?
Simple. You just need to show up and become CONSISTENT in providing solutions to communal needs.
If we have three to five people of faith in each neighborhood of a city who are consistently involved in civic engagement in their neighborhood and they know each other, they will have more influence to shape and bless the people than any megachurch with tens of thousands of docile members.
Showing up once is not so hard. It is showing up for months and years that creates the social capital for real change.
It is not uncommon to see churches visit orphanages, prisons and destitutes once a year during their harvests/anniversaries with gifts.
These visitations ought to be a regular feature in the church calendar and not just once in a year.
In fact, every church should have a Civic Engagement unit or Standing Committee that will regularly oversee this vital aspect of Christendom.
In deed, a percentage of the funds generated by the church should be aportioned to reaching the less privileged and community development on a monthly or quarterly basis.
As this applies to the church, it should so apply to individual Christians, wherein a percentage of our earnings go to fulfil this all-important commmision.
When individual members come to this understanding, it becomes easy for the church to generate and appropriate this funds without much ado.
The act of civic engagement has a far reaching impact on individuals and society than a thousand gospel preached with a loud megaphone!
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, some churches drew the anger of the populace when they posted the account details of their churches and urged members to give offerings online.
People were of the opinion that these churches were insensitive to their plights as their businesses were down and they were largely not generating revenues because of the lockdown.
They expected the church to reach out to them and bless them from the tithes and offerings they had given over the years.
Good enough, some churches rose up to the occasion and blessed their members and non-members alike by giving out palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown.
I recall for instance, seeing posts made by Pastor G. O. Ayeleso on his social media platform, where on a couple of occasions he and members of his ministry visited the Oba Ile police station and donated hand sanitizers to the officers.
If tomorrow, he tells them that Jesus loves them, they will find it easier to relative with that love, compared to if he had come with just a Bible, tracts and a megaphone!
So, community involvement is a subtle form of evangelism, a veritable tool of winning souls unto the Kingdom of God.
This has to do with Christians joining political parties and being active thereof, going out to cast their ballots on election day, running for office to be voted for and speaking truths to Power irrespective of political affiliation.
While it is expedient for the laity to participate fully in political Involvement, I would suggest a very cautious relationship between the Clergy and politicians.
In other words, the Clergy should strive to promote peaceful elections by enabling freedom of choice among their followers.
Our Men and Women of God should encourage politicians to deliver good governance and avoid corruption, while avoiding open partisan politics. This would not only help in consolidating secularism in the country’s governance structure but would also allow citizens to exercise their democratic rights in a free and fair atmosphere.
Clerics should remember that their duty is to ensure there is order in politics, while being aware that words of God will be better preached when not manipulated to serve the interests of politicians.
While the Cleric is duty bound to encourage members of his flock to participate actively in politics, his own involvement must be guided.
While he is at liberty to have a candidate of his own choice, he must be careful not to use his pulpit to campaign for his choice candidate as his congregation includes persons across political divides.
And should his candidate win, the moment he or she is sworn into office, the allegiance of the Cleric should be to the State and not the individual.
By this, he/she should not shy away from speaking truth to Power, wherein he finds shortfalls in the administration.
Wherein the administration becomes recalcitrant to reproof, the Cleric should not hesitate to lead or join a civil protest in demand for good governance.
A few months ago at the formative stage of the Western Nigeria Security Network, popularly known as Amotekun, when the signals from the Federal Government were not encouraging, fuelling the suspicion that the Buhari administration might clamp down on the outfit, a protest march was organised across all the south west states, to drum support for the outfit
As a participant in that protest march from Democracy Park to Ondo State Governor’s Office, my spirit was elated when I looked back amidst the crowd and saw the incumbent State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Rev Dr John Ayo Oladapo right behind me, sweating it out in the long walk!
This is a good example of civic engagement in Christianity.
When the Clergy speaks truth to Power always, he will command the respect of the political class and that of his divergent congregation.
However, at all times, Christians should bear in mind that the purpose of getting involved in politics is to RENDER SERVICE to better society and not as a conduit to illicitly amass wealth.
The body of Christ will become the bride of the populace, if we are alive to community and political involvements as the citizens will see the light of Christ in us and glorify our Father who art in heaven.
Thank you for listening to me.”