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									                 “KAIROS” NIGERIA
    A Prayerful Call to Nigerian Christian Leaders

  Kairos (Gk - καιροσ): “God’s time – a moment of
grace and opportunity; a favourable time in which God
       issues a challenge to decisive action.”
                  “KAIROS” NIGERIA
    (A Prayerful Call to Nigerian Christian Leaders)

Dear Fellow Christian Leaders,

    We greet you in the precious name of our Lord Jesus
    We the undersigned are some of your compatriots who
have served the Lord in positions of leadership in front-line
ministries at home and abroad. Most of us are now in
retirement, and are serving in less prominent positions.
With the experience of decades of active ministry behind
us, we are privileged to reflect on the past in the wisdom of
the Holy Spirit, and to speak prophetically into the present
on behalf of future generations. We believe that Nigeria is
passing through a defining period in its history and that this
is a Kairos moment for the people of God - “a moment of
grace and opportunity, a favourable time in which God
issues a challenge to decisive action.” That is why we are
now addressing this message to you, the shepherds
appointed by God over his flock today, with every
assurance of our prayers that you might have all the
wisdom, grace and courage required in these troubled
times. You are the ones who are called and equipped to
accomplish the tasks most of us are no longer in a position
to tackle. In a similar way to what Mordecai said of Queen
Esther, who knows whether God has made you a leader
for such a time as this?

“No Third Cheek to Turn!”

    We can think back on the tragic incidents of 10 March,
1987 when Muslims went on their first spree of arson in
Zaria. They burnt down scores of churches. The police
looked the other way as panic-stricken men, women and
children fled for refuge to army barracks. There was no
shortage of Christian voices calling for a counter attack, for
which they had a good stock of capable and eager
volunteers. Without any hesitation, the leaders opted for a
different course of action. The following Sunday, Christians
turned out in full force to worship on the ashes of their
churches. That response touched the hearts of many
Muslims. The angels in heaven are still celebrating the
conversion of those who came to accept the faith of the
Lord Jesus Christ as a result.
    On the other hand, there were the hardliners who
mistook the quiet dignity of the Christians for weakness
and concluded that they could destroy lives and property
with impunity. They did it again in other towns and cities.
And again. And again. One of the leaders of the Christian
Association of Nigeria, (CAN), was then interviewed on the
BBC. He said that we Christians follow what Jesus taught
us: we turn the other cheek. That other cheek has been
slapped, and we do not have a third cheek to turn. “The
next time the Muslims attack, we shall hit back and hit very
hard.” The Interviewer asked if this was a threat. His
answer: “It is not a threat. It is a promise.”

Enough is enough!

   The next time the Muslims attacked, it was estimated
that they killed 700 Christians. It was also reported that
many more Muslims, by far, were killed. Possibly most of

them were the children from Quranic schools who are
usually sent out on the streets with begging bowls. How
does one compare them with students of the Baptist
Seminary who were slaughtered en masse in Kaduna? But
the life of every single one of them is equally precious in
the eyes of God. That was a first: Christians killing
    We believe in the principle of self defence. More than
that, it would be a sin not to defend our family if attacked.
The trouble is the slippery slope that extends the boundary
to retaliation and then to revenge killings.
    Did you hear of the road block set up by some people
at the height of one of the crises in Jos? It was modelled
on what the Muslims did. Only the questions were different.
You were asked if you were a Christian or a Muslim.
Realising that the road block was not mounted by Muslims,
the obvious answer is, “Christian!” Then they asked:
“Protestant or Catholic?” If you said you were a Protestant
they asked you to recite John 3:16, or to say the Lord’s
Prayer. If you said you were a Catholic, they asked you to
repeat the “Hail Mary.” If you failed the test you were
hacked to death. Exactly like the Muslims did to those who
failed their test!
    We did not hear of any conversions as a result, did
    Then there was the havoc resulting from cartoons of the
Muslim prophet drawn by irreverent journalists in faraway
Denmark. They had done the same times without number
against Christians and the Lord Jesus Christ, but they
thought it was time to try it on Muslims. Nobody told them
the saying of the elders: “You do not test the depth of a
river with both feet!” Protests were reported from around
the world, some peaceful, some violent. Nigeria was the
one and only country where human lives were involved.

The Police say that thirty Churches were burned and
thirteen Christians killed. What’s new?
    Here is what is new. Bodies of victims were loaded unto
trucks and driven all the way to Onitsha, which triggered an
orgy of slaughter. The boot was now on the other foot. It
was innocent Muslims running helter-skelter and seeking
refuge in army barracks; innocent Muslims at the mercy of
a murderous mob of rampaging Christian youth.
    What wrong did those Muslims do to get them killed?
They were Muslims. That was all, and it was enough. And
who did the killing? Christians. Fellow Christian leaders, is
it safe to hide behind any patronizing justification that those
were not true Christians? If we did, we would have to agree
that the other lot were not true Muslims either! It is true that
there are some Christians who have been given extra-
ordinary grace to forgive the worst atrocities of their
attackers. But are we sure that the ones who carry out
retaliatory killings were not in Church the Sunday before
and the Sunday after? That none of them was a member of
our own particular Church denomination? That none of
them sings in the Choir, serves as an Usher or even as an
Elder? That none of them testifies to being born again, to
being baptized in the Holy Spirit? Can we really, really be
    Even if we were sure, it is irrelevant. The headline
cannot be contested: “Christians killing Muslims.” After all,
the President of CAN had warned the nation and the world:
“Muslims do not have a monopoly on violence.” It was a
statement of fact; although some sections of the foreign
media seized upon it as incitement to violence. If the
situation ever arises when Christians get organized to kill
Muslims in earnest in Nigeria, it will make Rwanda’s
troubles look like a Sunday School picnic. May it never be
put to the test that whatever the Christians in Nigeria set

their mind to do they can do much more successfully than
Muslims! In an all-out religious war, they just might
succeed in exacting not merely a tooth for a tooth but an
eye for a tooth!

“To Win Them or to Kill Them?”

    We must not oversimplify the situation. Tribal issues
often complicate these matters, and sometimes, as in
Yelwa, age-old land disputes. There are also the highly
placed political thugs and the common market hooligans.
What has religion got to do with the burning of shops
belonging to non-indigenes of any State? And we know
that Muslims from the South sometimes share the fate of
Christians in the North and that northern Christians are
sometimes labelled with the wrong identity in the South.
What we cannot escape or deny, sadly, is the fact that the
core component and chief focus of all the violence, more
often than not, is religion.
    Christians killing Muslims is most certainly not the way
of the Cross! Only we, Christian leaders, can prevent it.
And the time to stop it is not when it begins to happen.
According to the proverb, “You do not make shields on the
battle field.” The time to stop it is NOW.
    We all share the feeling at the human level: “Nigeria
belongs to all of us, and there is no reason why Christians
should ever be treated as second class citizens. The
authorities consistently fail to protect us, but we are well
able to take care of ourselves. “Fire for Fire” is the one
policy that gets the attention of these murderers. If that is
the only language they understand, then, so be it!”
    Is this not precisely what calls for Bible-based and
Christ-centred leadership from us? “Fire for Fire” is not a
quotation from the Bible. “An eye for an eye” was what the

Law of Moses taught, but we are New Testament
Christians. Should we not rather cast our vote with the
Jesus Christ of the Gospels? Have we really tried Him and
found Him wanting? If that is so, why do we still continue to
be Christians? The real question is whether we think Jesus
Christ wants us to win them or to kill them!
    What is the alternative? Should we simply lay our necks
down to be slaughtered like cattle and do nothing? Is that
what Jesus Christ would want? These are fair questions.
No, the answer is not that we do nothing. We must do what
will earn the approval of Jesus and also be effective in
demonstrating that we do NOT accept ANY act of violence
against ANY Christian in ANY part of the country. Others
have done it in other lands, and it works. It is called, “Non-
violent resistance.”
    That was the weapon that Mahatma Ghandi used
against the imperial might of the British. Martin Luther King
used it successfully against white supremacists in America.
Desmond Tutu is one of the most recent examples, right
here in Africa. Can God’s people not do the same in
    The head of CAN called for 28 and 29 March 2005 to
be observed as days of mourning by Christians all over the
country. His message stated, inter alia:
      “We call on the faithful, who call upon the name of the
    LORD Jesus the Christ, Christians of all denominations,
    of all ages – young, old, men, women, clergy, lay, to
    observe a two–day National Mourning for the fallen
    brethren throughout the country on March 27/28.
      “During this period of mourning no Christian shall go
    to work, no shop, market, nor office is to be opened. In
    other words there shall be no business transactions.
      “This is no holiday – but a time to mourn, weep,
    repent, and to pray for our country…”

    What happened as a result? Nothing. Absolutely
nothing! Why? Well, obviously, that kind of approach can
work in other countries but certainly not in Nigeria. Are we
sure it cannot?
    Ask our brothers and sisters in Niger State. There was
one occasion when they did exactly that. They heeded the
call of the leaders of CAN. Only those Christians in
essential services, such as Hospital personnel, the Police
and the Army, turned up for work. Christians of all
confessions throughout the State responded as one man.
Minna woke up to a Ghost City where nothing worked.
Taxis and Okadas, Bakeries and Street hawkers, Petrol
Stations, Mechanics and Spare parts stores, the Civil
Service, you name it. Everything was paralysed. You bet
the State government paid attention for once!
    That was only a local and temporary effort. But imagine
if it was national; and carried out consistently, and
repeated every single time another Christian is murdered
anywhere in the country. We may even want to do it only in
ALL State capitals. We have one advantage over Mahatma
Ghandi. CNN will tell the story. The whole world will take
    This is only one non-violent course of action we may or
may not choose to take. There are other options and
numerous possibilities. When we put our heads together,
the Holy Spirit can and will inspire us with just the right
ideas to fit the occasion.
    There are two main objectives. First is to make it clear
to all and sundry that every Christian belongs to a large,
caring and disciplined family of 60+ million members in
Nigeria. Second, the Federal and all State governments,
with or without Sharia Law, should know that they cannot
play political football with the life of any one of us, man or
woman, young or old. They should therefore face up to

their responsibility to protect the lives and property of ALL
citizens. They should bring the real culprits of violence to
justice and not merely set up endless committees and
fruitless commissions of enquiry.
     But Ghandi and his people did not achieve their
objective after only one night in jail! As for Martin Luther
King, it was at the cost of his life. Are we ready to pay the
price as Christians in Nigeria? We are already paying a
heavy price. How many of our number have already been
butchered? Whose wife or husband, whose son or
daughter, or whose father or mother, will be next? And yet,
so far, what do we have to show for all our sacrifice of
human lives?
     This time, it will be different. For one thing, we shall act
according to the way of Jesus instead of our own way. We
shall also concentrate our prayers in a manner that will
touch the throne of God to act on behalf of His people. He
can be trusted to keep His promise. He will do exceeding
abundantly above what we can ask or think. Who knows if
God is waiting for just such an opportunity to catch our
attention and turn the nation around?

Dangerous Mission

    Our God delights in using our human weakness to
demonstrate His wonderful strength! Weak as we are,
when the army of Jesus Christ is on the march, no power
in this world can stop it. As our people say, “Jungle vines
that seek to arrest the march of the elephant will join him
on his journey!” Gideon’s troops only numbered 300,
armed with pots and torches and trumpets, but God turned
the swords of their enemies against one another. Joshua
obeyed the Lord’s seemingly foolish instructions, and the
walls of Jericho fell down.

     This is not to minimise the risk or shut our eyes to the
dangers of our mission. We must count the cost. In every
battle, people get hurt; and even non-violent people can
lose their lives or livelihood. But this we know for sure: we
are called to fight using only the weapons of the Holy Sprit.
That way we cannot lose. Any other way we cannot win.
     The one real problem is among the people of God.
Achan was more interested in himself than in the battle on
hand. He brought a temporary setback to Joshua’s army
but brought permanent destruction on himself and his
family. Our prayer is that none among us will choose to
play the role of Achan.
     It is not only fanatical Muslims that need turning around.
So do Christians too.
     We have much cause for praise in Nigeria. Churches of
all denominations continue to grow and to prosper in all
parts of the country. Nigerian Christian leaders and
missionaries continue to make a significant contribution
and impact on the international church scene. Those who
first brought the gospel to us eagerly welcome our input in
their countries today. But there are serious problems we
cannot ignore.
     It has been said, and with some justification, that the
Church in Africa is one mile wide and one inch deep. Who
can deny that there is much truth in the assessment that
for Nigerians, the family comes first, then money, then the
tribe, and finally, religion. We rightly lament the way a
nation like England has abandoned its Christian heritage.
But the word of an average English atheist is more to be
trusted than the word of the average Nigerian pastor! Why
then do we continue to congratulate ourselves as
Christians while the angels in heaven are mourning our
sorry state? Is it not the case that we have a name for
being alive but really we are dead?

Sign up for Jesus!

    Hence we have to begin by putting our house in order
through genuine repentance. The Psalmist says that if he
harboured sin in his heart, the Lord would not listen to his
prayers; and St Paul warns us that we cannot continue in
sin and expect the grace of God to increase. Of what use
are we to God and to man in our overcrowded churches
when our loud Hallelujahs do not affect the principles we
bring to our daily lives and normal jobs? Many of our
Christian leaders have much to say in their prophetic role
to set the agenda for integrity in National Elections and
civic life. But words are not enough. What is required from
each one of us is active participation in the battle against
evil, using weapons that are mighty through God to
demolish satanic strongholds. Every single one of us must
be actively engaged. As someone puts it, the hottest part
of hell is reserved for those who, in a moral emergency,
maintain their neutrality.
    The Kairos moment is a moment of opportunity, but
also of great danger. To miss the moment could result in
condemning future generations to the horrors which God
calls upon us to avert today.
    Thank God for each leader who is already in the thick of
the battle. We rejoice in all the different approaches of
faithful men and women to tackle this multi-facetted
problem. For some it is through the ministry of dedicated
prayers. Some are actively involved in top level dialogue.
Others engage actively in the political process. It is like the
time of Elijah. He boldly confronted the wayward King and
his horrible wife while Obadiah was rendering faithful
service to them; and other prophets went into hiding! God
used Obadiah to encourage those in hiding and used those

in hiding to encourage Elijah. In their different ways they
were all serving God, and so are we. They did not attack
one another and God did not condemn any of them. We
must not attack or condemn one another.
    We praise God in particular for leaders who are
teaching their people the biblical response to persecution
and violence. We take note of the heartfelt confessions of
our brothers and sisters from the North during the last
Worldwide Day of Prayer.
    It is in the same spirit that we pledge ourselves to the
following course of action and we invite you to lead God’s
people under your charge to do the same. We apologise to
the many leaders who would have willingly joined their
signatures with ours if only we had been able to contact
them. All they need to do is to add their name to the list
and work through these proposals together with their
people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Our Prayerful Call

    Our prayerful call to the leaders of God’s people
throughout the country is to join hands with us and with
one another in the following:

   1. We reaffirm our commitment to the Lord Jesus
      Christ and to his teaching as the infallible guide to
      all our conduct.
   2. Both individually and as part of His Church, we
      confess and repent of our contribution to the bad
      image of the country as a result of our failure to live
      according to our high calling in Him. We now pledge
      ourselves to challenge all forms of evil and
      corruption in our own lives, in the lives of fellow
      Christians, and in the Church of God.

   3. We acknowledge the fact that the majority of
      Muslims are peace loving fellow citizens. We
      confess, however, that we have no power of our
      own to resist the temptation to repay evil for evil in
      light of unending provocation and attacks from the
      militant minority. We therefore commit ourselves to
      prayer and fasting for God’s strength to love them
      and to respond to them only in the power of the Holy
   4. We are mindful of the collective strength of the
      Church in our country. We shall join hands with the
      leaders of all local churches, denominations and
      para-church agencies to work out God’s way
      forward for us and for our nation in this regard.
   5. We call on Christian leaders to put this crucial
      matter on the agenda of their local Churches and of
      the different denominational synods, conferences
      and all other relevant organs.
  6. We call on the leadership of the Christian
      Association     of    Nigeria,   (CAN),      and   all
      denominational leaders, to work together to
      develop effective strategies for implementation
      nationally, and also to guide the churches at every
  May God’s richest blessings rest on you and on His
Church, and on our beloved country.

December 2006


1. Rev Dr Tokunbo Adeyemo,
    Retired General Secretary, Association of Evangelicals in Africa
    and Former Chairman of World Evangelical Fellowship

2. Mr Reuben Ariko
    Retired General Secretary, Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS)

3.   Mr Inuwa Bahago
     Retired Senior Civil Servant, Kaduna State;
     Hon National President, Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS)

4.   Revd Daniel Bitrus
     Former General Secretary, Bible Society of Nigeria;
     Former Regional Secretary, United Bible Society for Africa

5. Rev. Mipo Dadang
     General Secretary, Evangelical Churches of West Africa (ECWA)

6. Mr Kola Ejiwunmi,
    Retired General Secretary, Nigeria Fellowship of Evangelical Students

7. Hon Justice Kayode Eso, CON
    Chancellor, Anglican Diocese of Ilesha

8. Rt. Rev Emmanuel Bolanle Gbonigi
     Retired Anglican Bishop of Akure

9. Revd Dr Musa Gotom,
    Retired Principal, Theological College of Northern Nigeria

10. Rev Dr Timothy Gyuse,
    Former Director, Great Commission of Nigeria

11. Prof. Joseph Abiodun Ilori
       President, the Nigerian Baptist Theological Seminary, Ogbomoso

12. Chief Brown Mene,
    Retired Top Management Staff
    Nigeria Security Printing & Minting Company of Nigeria

13. Rev Victor Musa
    Retired President of Evangelical Churches of West Africa, (ECWA)

14. Mr Emmanuel Oladipo
    Retired International Secretary of Scripture Union

15. Rt Revd Gideon Olajide,
    Retired Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Ibadan

16. The Most Revd Dr John Onaiyekan
     Archbishop, Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja

17. Dr Michael Onimole
    Chaplain, Federal University of Technology, Abuja

18. Mr Rich Onyeaso,
    National Chairman, Scripture Union of Nigeria

19. Gideon Para-Mallam
    Former National Director,
    Nigeria fellowship of Evangelical Students (NIFES)
    & Associate Regional Secretary, (West Africa)
             International Fellowship of Evangelical Students

20. Mr Obadiah Tebu,
    Retired Director,
    Federal Department of National Orientation, Abuja

21. The Very Revd Dr James Ukaegbu,
     Retired Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria

22. Rt Revd Nathaniel Yisa, OFR
    Retired Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Minna


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