(BY NGOZI ADIGHIBE)
“Good soldiers don’t sleep anyhow; if you are a strong soldier, you sleep less and are on routine duties, because if you sleep much, the enemy will finish you.”
These are the words of the Rt. Rev. Johnson Ekwe, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niger West at the monthly power night vigil programme of the Diocese of Abuja Anglican Communion for the month of September, held at the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Life Camp, Abuja. Speaking on the theme, “The good soldier of Christ,” the Bishop highlighted the qualities of a good soldier in the army, explaining that one can use the physical analogy of a soldier to explain what it means to be a soldier of Christ. He pointed out that each letter of the word, ‘soldier’ defines what a true soldier should be. He said a soldier must be Smart, Obedient, Loyal, Discipline, Intelligent (have Integrity), Enduring, and Respectful; adding that a Christian is a soldier who is discipline- plays according to the rules to win the price and hardworking just like a farmer.
According to the Bishop of Niger West diocese, the devil uses three things- sin, laziness and ignorance to get Christians. He noted that the problem of the Church today is that there are a lot of ignorant people who are unteachable and untrainable; people who think they know, when in actual fact they do not know. He termed it unfortunate that some of these ignorant people are men of God who ought to be in charge of the flock and teach others the right way. Highlighting the characteristics of a good soldier, Bishop Ekwe said that soldiers don’t do things their own way, they obey their commander-in-chief and focus only on what he says.
Quoting from the scriptures, the guest preacher said that the first soldier in the whole universe is God and according to him that is why He is referred to as the God of Hosts. He emphasized that Christians should be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; explaining that when one is serious with God, He also will be serious with that person. He said some Christians are so lazy that they don’t study the Bible or pray as they ought; adding that to gain eternal life, one must be like a soldier and a soldier is known for being strong and astute.
Using proverbs, wise sayings and personal experiences, Bishop Ekwe who was a Chaplain in the army explained what it entails to be a soldier and the lessons one learns from being a part of the army. He said that the army teaches one to let go of arrogance, respect seniors and helps one gain stamina and the ability to endure any form of hardship. He however expressed sadness that there are more miracle seekers than people who want to be soldiers of Christ in the Church. Hence, he urged those present to be strong in the Lord and endure to the end; adding that only those who endure to the end shall be honoured.
The Rt. Rev. Ekwe stated that there is a process of pruning and grooming that cannot be evaded whenever God has an assignment for anyone. According to him, this is because God is more interested in what one would become at the end rather than immediate comfort. The Bishop explained that if a person recognizes where God is taking one to, such a person will strive to fit that position or role even before getting to that point. He therefore charged Christians to be strong in the Lord, irrespective of what they may be passing through, so as to reap the reward at the end. The preacher called on Christians in Nigeria to be as harmless as doves and as wise as serpents, refusing to cave in until righteousness is enthroned in the nation. Bishop Ekwe ended his message with a series of warfare prayers, and declarations for individuals, the Church and the nation.