Musings From Abroad: Nigeria and Faith

I travelled to Nigeria this year. I noticed and learned many things, some of which I will share on my page in a series. This one, as the title suggests, is about the faith of the Nigerian people. I’m not referring to one particular religion, but the exercise of faith and belief in God.

On the Sunday of my trip, I went to church with my cousin and his wife. I didn’t realize what I had just signed up for. He informed me that they attend the first service, which was at 6 a.m. In order to get there early, they leave for church at 4:30 a.m. That meant I’d have to be up between 3:30 and 4 a.m . . . on a Sunday! As much as I wanted to enjoy my sleep, I wanted to experience this service and this church (which will remain unnamed) that my cousin raved so much about, so I decided to go along with them.

To my utter surprise, as we drove to church there were scores of people taking danfos (buses) or taxis or okadas (motorcycles) to church at that same time. Meaning they woke up at the same time I did or even earlier! Were it not dark out, you would have thought this was regular mid-day Lagos traffic! I asked my cousin where all these people were going (and when on Earth do Lagosians sleep?!?). He said to church, and most likely to the same service we were heading to. I was beside myself!

When we got to the church finding parking was not a piece of cake! And there were droves of people already in the sanctuary. The sanctuary was filled with people ready to worship and praise and meet with God. I knew Africans had a passion for God, but this surpassed anything I had seen before. All I could think of was how lazy American Christians are. I was absolutely convinced that Africa had the heartbeat of God. How could they not? Look how dedicated they are in waking up and going to worship God on a Sunday. But it’s like that as well for mid-week services. Throngs of people rush from work straight to church.

The Sunday service ended and we exited, only to greeted by a flood of people trooping in for the second service. I was told it was like that for each of the three or four services the church holds. I spent the week reflecting on my Sunday experience and three thoughts came to mind.

  1. I wondered why Nigerians are so desperate for God in comparison to Americans. I thought whether it was the prosperity of America that made America so confident in itself that it gradually, but steadily, weaned itself off of its need for God. Are Nigerians dependent on God because of the condition the country is in? If so, is it then good to have a healthy dose of problems in order to depend on God? If that is in fact the case, then power does corrupt and the love of money is indeed the root of all evil. I saw in America a sense of self-sufficiency that makes it to think it does not need to retain the moral principles, ethics, and standards that it once held to and that many other nations of the world still hold on to. Perhaps giving new meaning to, “do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set”?? A person should never forget the person who set them in a place of honor.
    Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. If a person thinks they are self-sufficient, they will not see a need to have a covering of protection and will remain unguarded. A covering of protection is not only a watchman or guard, but a covering can also be morals, principles, and standards that one lives by to protect itself from the consequences that come from living carelessly and frivolously like everyone else. Living a life set apart in morality is a covering that one chooses to clothe themselves with. So maybe self-sufficiency is a curse in blessing’s clothing.
    When a person thinks they are self-sufficient, they think they have outgrown any need to turn to those who have helped and guided them. It can be a dangerous thing. Everyone should have someone that they can look up to and depend on for correction, guidance, and protection. The world looks to America for leadership and as the standard bearer, but who does America look up to?
  2. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen as His own inheritance. As much as I love and believe in this verse, I do not understand why a country so passionate about God can still be in the sorry state that it is in. (I really couldn’t think of a nicer word. More discussion on this soon.) It boggles my mind that with all the talk of God and all the gospel music blaring everywhere and all the mosques crying aloud at 5 a.m. and all the church services going on in a single week, corruption and poverty still abound heavily in Nigeria.
    For starters, shouldn’t our devotion and service to God mean that the good fight is being won? And exactly who are we fighting anyway? Are we humans not the cause of other humans’ pain and suffering? Is it not the humans that work at NEPA that are taking electricity from other humans’ homes? Is it not the humans in government that are depriving the humans they were “elected to serve” (not elected to steal from!)? Is it not the human civil engineers that should be fixing the roads for other humans to safely pass on that are eating money (meaning to embezzle money)? Is it not a human or group of humans that are firing humans, or kicking humans out of their homes, or laying waste to human property? Is it not humans that are committing highway robbery (literally) or committing armed robbery in other humans’ homes? Just as we can be the answer to someone’s prayer, we also can be the cause of someone’s misery.
    My point is, with all the passion Nigerians have for God, they are still not changed. Of what use is all our services or instituting prayer in schools (which I think is awesome) if we still bribe one another or push and shove one another or hoodwink one another? I specifically remember screaming out loud on the drive home after attending that church service in Nigeria (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way), ‘Can we all just act like we all just came out of church?!! Please!?’
    Our passion for God should not just be infatuation; it should cause us to change the way we behave and interact with one another. And no, I do not believe that’s just how Nigerians are and we can’t change! We just don’t want to change! Let us show our devotion to God by the way we interact with each other in business, in politics, in civil affairs, and in everything else. I understand the economy is tough for Nigerians, but hoodwinking people and depriving people of electricity is not what will help the economy. It clearly hasn’t proven helpful thus far!
  3. In the same vein, with all the supplications and prayers being made, why is it that Nigeria isn’t better by now??? Yes, humans be nice to humans, but our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but (it is) against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly [supernatural] places. I would think that a country so devoted to God would band together in prayer for the good of the nation, for the overthrow of the spirits of corruption, poverty, and greed, for the crowning of diligent, trustworthy, capable leaders, for the progress of its nation, and for wisdom to see how to capitalize within its own borders on its natural resources.
    I am not blaming Nigerians. Not at all. As humans, we are accustomed to seeking out our daily needs. So, we depend on God for our individual daily bread, while neglecting the need of the nation as a whole. I believe that if Nigerians could look beyond their own families and join together in prayer for the nation, Nigeria will move forward faster than it is now.
    Nigerians may be devoted to God, but maybe we too are not entirely free from fault. Maybe we’re devoted for the wrong reasons: our own individual daily bread. I believe God desires us to be devoted to Him for more than just our instinct to survive in the evolutionary sense. God wants us to desire Him because we realize without Him we are nothing and we are nothing like Him. If My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land. This a promise. Let’s act on it and see what God can do!

4 thoughts on “Musings From Abroad: Nigeria and Faith

  1. I think you are asking the right questions. Questions about the church that can be useful in helping us discover how we’ve all collectively contributed to the ineffectiveness of the church in our societies and the world at large. One thing I am certain about, from my own personal observation, is that we have deviated from the original and result oriented traditions applied in the days of Acts. Now, we are more about ourselves and what we think following Jesus should look like. As an example, the feverish need for grandiose multi billion naira structures for worship points to how much we have supplanted God’s desires with ours. Without such unnecessary spending, the early church touched more lives and increased far more exponentially than we do now. So perhaps, it might be that the reason we aren’t having so much impact in our lives and the world around us is because we are lost. And just a thought, what is really the motivation that makes us attend church the way we do in Nigeria?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true. I think as with everything else, when we deviate from the instruction guide, we will either mess up the product or take longer to get to the finished product as it should be. I guess what we are seeing in our churches is misuse and/or an abandonment of the instruction manual.


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