By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked church leaders to join forces with government and health workers to stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, the Chairman of the association, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said the church should not be ignorant of the global pandemic.
He said the challenge of coronavirus is now a global pandemic and many countries across the world have recorded cases of the virus.
He said: “The church in Nigeria, therefore, should not be ignorant of this global pandemic.”
According to him, the church can “help to reduce the spread of the virus by suspending our large gathering activities for the meantime”.
Hayab said: “The church, as a school of faith, which is known for having large gatherings for church services, wedding, burial, prayer meetings, crusades and revival services must endeavour to join forces with government and health workers to stop the spread of this virus.”
He said the role of the church is not just to pray, but to also take concrete steps to ensure the wellbeing of its flocks and the country at large.
“Accordingly, CAN, Kaduna State, therefore, wishes to appeal to all pastors and church leaders to read through official guidelines and information about the virus and enlighten their members,” he said.
He urged the church to disregard unverified and misleading social media information about the disease.
“Let us make use of information available from the Ministry of Health and other recognised government agencies” the statement said.
Hayab said CAN believes in the efficacy of prayers, stressing however that Christians should make use of the pulpit to say only what is medically correct.
“It will not be proper for a pastor to tell his members to come for prayers and special anointing only, without doing what is needful, such as the washing of hands regularly, keeping required distance to avoid contacts that may lead to being infected by the virus.
“We can also help to reduce the spread of the virus by suspending our large gathering activities for the meantime.
“Pastors can use unit leaders to reach out to members and also the cell groups’ prayer teams to enlighten members about the virus. By so doing, we could reach out to more members without large gatherings.
“Again, all churches should provide hand sanitizers at the entrance of the church so that those coming for service clean their hands before going into the church.
“CAN will be happy to have health workers to come to church premises with genuine equipment to test worshippers.
“If possible, let us minimise handshakes and hugs to help fight the spread of the virus.
“While we pray that God will reward our efforts by bringing a quick solution to this global health challenge, we call on churches to shorten the duration of services by holding brief services, unless necessary.
“CAN will work with government and their health agencies to educate and mobilize faithful in fighting this virus, believing that with the right information and proper guidance from all leaders and stakeholders, we can fight and stop the spread of this virus.
“Finally, CAN is calling on our President (Muhammadu Buhari) not to allow anyone to play politics with this serious challenge.
“The federal government should assemble qualified experts to develop simple messages for transmission and distribution at places of worship, motor parks, airports, schools and in every gathering,” he said.