BOKO HARAM: They may destroy our structures but not our faith.Our Faith is active and alive…..in persecution we are purified.
This was the statement on the lips of the bishop, Most Rev.Oliver Dashe and the internally displaced persons who had just returned to their communities.
The Chief shepherd of the diocese took what he calls a consolation tour to some of the communities that have been recaptured by our prayers and the gallant effort of the joint task force of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, with the Nigerian military.
The director social communications who was on the entourage of the bishop reported that the visited communities were; Kala’a, BAHULI, Mishara, Betso, Muchalla, and Mubi; all in Mubi North / South LGA of Adamawa state and Uba LGA in Borno state.
The bishop and priests encouraged the returnees in the Mass of Reconciliation and Reparation to remain steadfast despite the calamities that have befallen them. They must learn to forgive as Christ himself present in the Most Holy Sacrament had already forgiven the radical elements for their sacrileges, profanation and hate. The priests and bishop were in the confessional for over three hours in some communities visited.
In his homily, Monsg. Dashe, encouraged the people just returning home after months of seeking refuge in other parts of Nigeria to remain steadfast in their faith. He charged them not to allow themselves to be misled with the idea of VENGEANCE. It is obvious that at times like this when a lot of damages had been done and from a visual estimate there is apparently no standing church in Mubi and the surrounding communities, people would seek vengeance. The bishop encouraged; vengeance is for the Lord… anyone who resorts to violent revenge is practically in the same bowl with the devil. Seeking out vengeance would only lead to a chain reaction or a vicious cycle of war. He encouraged the people to remember the core values of our Christian faith, to love even our enemies and those who persecute us. For in love we are saved…. He thanked them for the high sense of commitment in the faith. He told them he was never afraid, some day we shall be victorious.
In their difficulty, they have lost their members; a good number of their members are still displaced. Parents are yet to connect with their children and wives. Majority have just returned from the Cameroonian borders. They faced a lot of challenges and difficulties, some of them are yet to locate their loved ones. They had their houses heavily looted; their churches were completely burnt down. The returnees are gradually clearing the tables and searching out new ways to make ends meet. Life is pragmatically no longer the same as some persons pointed out; on our return we are beginning life anew.
The community of Mishara in Uba Local government area was agog upon seeing the bishop and the four priests on his entourage. Although, the security network in this community was still tight, there were no vehicular movement, everyone was expected to move on foot. The people who returned had no option, because life was very difficult outside. On returning home, they were not to open their shops, no schools or medical facilities. But they had to return; because home is always home and they were eager to go count their losses. Their homes were terribly looted, their churches and rectories were razed down and their aged parents killed as they refused to recant their faith. In all these the bishop said they should keep their faith high. The rosary is the major weapon we have in this trying moment.
The bishop told them, for healing to occur they have to forgive the past and look to the future with great hope and confidence. He knows clearly that they have lost their members and loved ones. Some are still displaced; he prayed that in no time they shall be reunited. He told them not to border about the destructions done, particularly on ecclesiastical structures, they belong to God and he alone knows how to reconstruct his house.
The prelate knows full well that at this moment of trial people would ask some existential questions; regarding the existence of God, while all these killings and destructions are ongoing, he charged them to remain focused because God would work out wonders in our life as a church. There should be no draw backs in our faith journey.
For the bishop, The Lord in his abundant knowledge might have allowed this great persecution to befall us in order that he might teach us some great lessons. In this post-war times, we should come closer to God. Our lives should be purified and God must be our point of attraction. We must take church activities seriously. Since the Boko Haram violent saga was meant to purify our faith.
As we count our losses, we also count our blessings…thanks to Boko Haram for adding more MARTYRS in the Canon of the Saints of the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri in heaven…..
Rev. Gideon Obasogie
Director Social Communications
Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri