The Anglican Diocese of Ikeduru, today celebrates its third anniversary.
The Bishop, Rt. Rev Emmanuel Maduwike, speaks to our editorial team, on some of the achievements of the diocese and bares his mind on some national issues.
How has it been in the last three years of your Episcopacy?
First of all, we want to thank God. The bible made it clear that when he calls, he will also equip. No where in the world would you say that the ministry would be rosy. It has difficult challenges and you know that Ikeduru is not purely an evangelical area because it is already saturated with denominations and churches. So, it requires serious job. You need to let people know the authentic word of God for salvation.
I have always said that neither Pentecostalism nor orthodoxy is synomous with Christianity. Wickedness is in the heart. Because of the proliferation of churches, Christianity is becoming a fashion.
And the more the churches, the more there is crime. It is not easy to let people know the sound doctrine. We are in the era of miracle and to tell people what it means to repent, what righteousness is all about, that all that glitters is not gold, is difficult. But all the same, we are trying.
For instance, my brother, Dr Chukwuezi, set up a clinic for people to get genuine treatment for their ailments. But you discover that people still prefer to go to the patent medicine dealer.
So people prefer where they would be told “your miracle is on the way”. They avoid where they would be told the truth. It is a challenge to the orthodox churches and Ikeduru is not exempted. However, we are moving on as a church.
Feelings on being elected as Bishop?
The enormous task came to my mind. But before my election as a Bishop, I had been a Chaplain to the late Archbishop Benjamin Nwankiti for nine years. Then, I saw the difficulties in the office of a bishop. He would always tell me that the office of the Bishop is a lonely office. You are left at the mercy of God and when people advise you, some do it to suit their own situation. It is an office that, when you are elected into it, if care is not taken, your best friend turns to become your worst enemy.
So, you need to constantly seek the face of God. Given the enormous powers attached to it, a bishop must be careful not to play God. Power belongs to God, not to man.
He is a priest brought out among other priests to lead them.
Indeed, I saw it as a call to service at a higher level. No doubt, every position to a higher level has responsibilities attached to it.
However, I called on God to give me the grace.
For me, I grew from being church teacher in 1978 and a priest in 1988, making it 34 years as a church worker. So, I did not come from somewhere else to occupy the seat, meaning that I had built a relationship with the people before my consecration as Bishop. No one can claim perfection, but the grace of God has been so sufficient. I thank God for the clergy and workers. They’ve been so loyal. I also enjoy the cooperation of the laity, and the entire people of Ikeduru.
It has been wonderful. When we came on board, we inherited a lot of moribund parastatals. But, at our first synod, a theme occurred to me “mending faces and fences”. I discovered that it was a message of reconciliation and it did a lot of magic. It brought the people of Ikeduru together. Again God revealed to me that He was going to fight the battle for me but categorically told me to avoid the sin of anger and unforgiving spirit. So, on my enthronement, I said it openly that I had forgiven everyone who may have wronged me. That has actually guided us.
Our people have continued to donate and this has helped our rebuilding of the parastatals. Apart from the first bus we bought, other vehicles have been donations from sons of Ikeduru. Some took up the responsibility to rebuild hostels in the schools handed over to us. Many of them are also building structures for the diocese. The hospital is in progress too, with two doctors and some nurses.
The Diocese recognises the immense contributions of the following persons: Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chief Uzoma Obiyo, HRH Eze Uche Egenti, Barr DeNwigwe (SAN), Hon Bethel Amadi, Barr Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN), Chief Osy Ukanacho, Sir C. Ajoku among others.
The people are very cooperative, but one thing is certain, most Ikeduru people live at Owerri. So, it is difficult to excise Ikeduru from Owerri.
I want to thank Christian Voice, especially the Editor, for the reasonable coverage they have given us and so, we can say that we have no immediate need to establish our own newspaper.
Indeed, I have contributed so much to the growth of Owerri Diocese and only a mad man seeks to destroy what he laboured to build. It may not be easy to detach Ikeduru people from Owerri.
Inspiration in coining the theme for 3rd anniversary of the diocese.
My first Synod theme was “Mending Faces and Fences”, second was “Unchanging God in Changing Times” signifying that no matter the situation, we are serving God that does not change. Our third theme was “where are you”. In other words, where do you fit in the life of the diocese, in this grace God has given. The fourth theme is “This God: Invincible and ever faithful”. But then the third anniversary theme is “Thus far has the Lord led us”. When Samuel and the Israelites fought a war and won, he laid 12 stones at a place and called the place Ebenezer.
It may not be possible for some diocese to do what we have done in these few years. We, as a three-year-old diocese, have been supporting other dioceses, e.g. the Kwoi Diocese. We sent them N200,000 recently.
We have 30 churches, 10 chapels, 56 clergymen and 100 other staff members, bringing the salary bill to N4million monthly. But we have been meeting up by the grace of God as well as handling other projects. The Women’s Ministries have fisheries and other projects they are handling, including nursery school. They also run the Faith and Caring Unit.
When I got married, my wife and I prayed to God to help us establish a way to help people and so when we came to this position, we saw that it was an opportunity to do it.
At Akabo Archdeaconry, we empowered women with N10,000 loan each. We have also built houses for three indigent widows, sponsoring orphans as well as giving them scholarship. Last Saturday, we had widows’ Forum where more than 1000 widows participated.
Every Saturday, Faith and Caring unit will visit one area and share items and money to people irrespective of denomination. Thanks to Chief Sir Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who affiliated it with the late Eudora Iwuanyanwu Foundation and has been giving the women ministries N1million every year. On our own, we cannot do these.
We are into building and raising the standard of our St. Christopher Hospital and the Bishop Coccin Church Centre, as well as our schools, in addition to acquiring landed properties for development in future. The fish ponds, hostels and others are yielding projects.
Proliferation of churches
It is supposed to be a blessing but these churches have become sources of quarrel and disunity in families. They do series of liberations. This jumping up and down does not signify Christianity.
Persecution of Christians in the North? Sometimes the devil can use such problems to push the church into fervent prayers for God to arise and let the enemies scatter. The church is a sleeping giant and such actions may be a wakeup call on the sleeping giant.
The battle belongs to God but sometimes they rise and fight, like it happened when Syrians were slaughtering the Jews on a Sabbath day.
President Jonathan knows what to do, but they might be pushing him to act so that the army will return to power. However, we must understand that the worst democracy is better than a benevolent military administration.
Foreign hands might be in the crisis. I may not ask Christians to revenge, but I do not ask them to be asleep for someone to come and kill them.
My advice is in the Bible. You find anything that can set you free in the Bible. Let Christians know the truth and followed it. The devil sees visions but has no solution. Faith determines healing. Unfortunately, many pastors are cashing in on the economic hardship to exploit the people.