From Sylvanus Viashima, Jalingo
The Catholic Diocese of Jalingo has organised special prayer and enlightenment sessions in parts of Taraba state that are most prone to crisis to pray for peace and urge the people to live lives worthy of their calling as Christians.
The Catholic Bishop of the Diocese Bishop, Charles Hammawa, interacting with journalists, said that the prayers serve the dual purpose of crying to God for peace as well as talking to the people to make them see reasons to live together as one.
The bishop noted that ‘the crisis in the state, especially in the southern part of Taraba and Gembu that have resulted in the death of thousands and destructions to property, is unnecessary.
‘As a Church and the body of Christ, it is our duty to call on God for His intervention. But it is equally very important for us to talk to the people. Wukari and Takum have been terribly hit by the crisis just as Gembu in Sardauna local government area. And so we decided to organize these sessions in these three locations for a start,’ the bishop stated.
‘What we are doing is to also use the prayer sessions to talk to the people. It is not enough to just give sermons during Sunday and weekday Masses. Bringing the people together like this affords us the opportunity to really talk to them and appeal to them for a change of attitude.
‘We must begin to have more regards for the sanctity of life and desist from any tendencies to destroy life. As a Church, we are probably the worst hit by this crisis. Apart from losing thousands of our members in these areas, so many of our parishes have been attacked, looted and destroyed. You are aware that one of my Priests was also gruesomely murdered.
‘As we speak, there is the looming food crisis because people were displaced and could not carry out their farming activities. Even as we speak, we still have pockets of attacks here and there such that people are even afraid of going to their farms. So it is a major issue. Our message is clear, if you are a Christian, you must be able to live up to that title. You must be an ambassador of peace at all times.
‘This exercise of course is part of our work as Missionaries and we would continue to do it at all costs. Yes, it puts some of my Priests in line of fire but that is the sacrifice we are all willing to make as a Church. We must not relent. Angels don’t come from heaven to fight. It is the people themselves who sit down, plan and carry out these attacks and so we must begin to talk to them seriously for a change of heart. It is not enough to drag security to these places. What really matters is the attitude of the people and that is what we hope to influence positively at the end of the day.’
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