By Chukwudi Ikpe
As Christians mark Ash Wednesday, the Anglican Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Chukwuma Oparah, Ph.D, JP has called on political and religious leaders in the country to show compassion to their followers.
The Bishop, who made the call in an exclusive interview with Christian Voice on Ash Wednesday, also called on leaders not to think about themselves alone, stressing that God has promoted and increased them so that they will increase others.
He noted that pensioners, less privileged, unemployed, physically challenged, beggars and others languished under harsh and uncaring leadership and condemned hypocrisy among the leading class.
The Prelate described Ash Wednesday as a tradition of the church which signifies the beginning of the Lenten season and stressed the need for Christians to set themselves apart in fasting and prayer, as Jesus did for 40 days.
According to him, serious fasting and prayer, attracts God’s attention to our situation.
“As a nation we need to pray for God to intervene in our situation. There is need to pray for ourselves, for one another and even for our enemies like the Boko Haram insurgents, killers, kidnappers, armed robbers and other evil doers, for God to turn their hearts. God knows the best way to combat the evils of the society”, Bishop Oparah said.
He enjoined all people of God to rise and join in the period of Lent to pray for the nation.
In his sermon during a Eucharistic service to mark this year’s Ash Wednesday at St. Mark’s the Evangelist Chapel Bishops court, Owerri, the Bishop’s Chaplain, Rev. Canon Jonah Nwebo called for true repentance among Christians.
He warned Christians against complaining but advised them to seek God’s intervention through prayer.
Also speaking, another Anglican cleric, Ven. Dr. Obinna Oke, called on Nigerians to use this ‘period of preparation’ to prepare themselves spiritually, in order to attract God’s security, stressing that insecurity in Nigeria does not surpass God’s grace.
According to Ven. Oke, who is the Archdeacon of Uzii Owerri Missionary Archdeaconry and Vicar of St. James Anglican Church Uzii Owerri, this year’s Lenten season while starts with Ash Wednesday is an opportunity for Nigeria to attract God’s protection from social insecurity through fasting and prayer.