News outlets in my native country of Nigeria were replete with the gory story of how a young lady by name Bamishile was brutally murdered with her remains mutilated by a gang of young men who sought parts of her body for money rituals. The CCTV in the BRT bus(as they are called in Lagos, Nigeria) captured part of the saga while earlier video recordings made by the suspicious young lady herself corroborated the evidence. Were it not for the body of evidences, there would have been no one accused of the heinous crime in what had become a thing of regular occurrence in Nigeria.
One of the regular testimonies in Nigerian churches today is that of escape from kidnappers. Some of the criminals do it for ransom while others do it for ritual purposes in order to get rich. While the development is not totally new to Nigeria, the preponderance of it is unprecedented. Grinding poverty on the one hand and greed on the other have combined together to create an atmosphere for the demons of mammon and murder to work in cohort with poverty to destroy innocent lives in the craze to acquire wealth. Most of todays ritual killers sell their victims remains to fraudsters who are not content with the ability to use their intelligence for evil purposes alone but seek supernatural prowess to accentuate their capacities to acquire wealth.
My heart bleeds and aches terribly at the development and I wonder if there are any solutions. Again, challenges like this are of such gargantuan proportion that only a nation wide effort can truly nib them in the bud. However, to do nothing is not an alternative either. My resolve therefore is to encourage everyone to do the little they can and every church named in the name of the Lord Jesus to contribute her quota. If only every church will do something, the aggregate of all our efforts will solve many of the problems.
Firstly, I believe preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ remains the principal solution. A changed heart lacks the capacity to take another life. The more transformation we see to the souls of men, the less of violent crimes we will see.
That aside, the importance of focus on the Revelation of Jesus, leading to a transformational effect on people is crucial. If only focus on health and wealth can become secondary and emphasis on Love and Christlikeness made primary in our preaching, we will see better quality Christian living. The horrendous stories of negative lifestyles of believers questions the validity of the Christian message and yet, a look at the scriptures shows that wherever the true gospel of Christ was preached, multitudes were transformed into better characters. We preachers need to reevaluate our messages. The justifying and sanctifying impact of salvation through Christ Jesus was characteristic of those who were illuminated in Acts of the Apostles.
What in the world will make a person take the life of another if not for hopelessness? A lack of hope that he can prosper legitimately is what will drive a young man to such heinous crime. The inability to see the future leads to desperation. Let every family raise their children with hope. Let loved ones rally round struggling family members and friends with hope of better days to come. Let us encourage one another and strengthen one another in challenging times. This sense of hope needs to be a part of the communication of God’s Word on our pulpits too. People need to believe in God and believe in their potentials to prosper financially and materially.
Lest I sound contradictory, let me make it clear that I am not the one to proclaim poverty which I believe is of the devil. However, it is my belief that money has been placed on a pedestal in the world that is far above it’s true worth. Let all people of means not join the celebrities and fraudsters of this world in the public display of obscene wealth and opulence. The idea that it is a reflection of the goodness of God and a testimony of His power is not right, after all evil men possess the same material things. Let those who own them, use them humbly without publicity and let those who do not have learn to be content with what they have(1 Timothy 6.8-10). Let the rich remember the poor. If they will share what they have with generosity, it will alleviate the plight of the poor and reduce their desperation for survival. Putting efforts into empowering them through education, vocational training, skill acquisition and business finance will help in no little way.
Finally, let there be emphasis on the value of human life. The way government treats the average citizen has led to a general belief that life is not so sacred after all. Police brutality in particular has contributed to the poor state of value for human life. The degree of bloodletting in nigeria is excessive. I pray government, church and families will all make our contributions to stem the tide.