Since the start of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, the Emmanuel Chapel has continued to exercise its art of giving, with its most recent gesture being the donation of medical and other supplies to the Armed Forces and some states of the federation. Davidson Iriekpen writes
As COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll on Nigeria with its debilitating effects seen in all facets of life, a lot of corporate, non-governmental organisations, individuals and churches have been stepping forward to see how that could help the federal government and its agencies, as well as the state governments to stem the tide of the scourge.
One of such organisations providing support is Emmanuel Chapel in Banana Island, Lagos. The church, since the beginning of the pandemic has not relented helping alleviate the sufferings of the masses, as well as help the governments to contain the spread of the deadly virus
Last week in Lagos, the church took its art of reaching out to a different level when it donated 105 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Armed Force. The items, which included face-hood, surgical masks, pairs of gloves, pairs of head covers, two pairs of shoe covers, among others, were meant to augment the collective efforts in the country against the pandemic
Handing the supplies to the Commander, Central Medical Stores, Nigerian Army, Col. Sylvester Anyogo, the Chaplain of the church, Prof. Konyin Ajayi, said the church chose the Armed Forces because they are important in the affairs of the country from the creation, and served the citizens in very many ways. He added that the military consists of people who have sacrificed all they have to keep Nigerians safe, secure and to ensure that the economy remains prosperous.
Ajayi, who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), noted that not only have men of the Armed Forces helped in no small measure to ensure that the country is united, they have also contributed immensely in tackling the unseen war caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by rising to do what they do best because they are ones that fight all the wars. He further expressed gratitude to them for all they have done for the country.
He said: “We believe that the Armed Forces are very important in the affairs of our nation from the creation of the nation, and they have served us in very many ways.
“These are people that have sacrificed all they have to keep us safe, secure and to ensure that our economy remains prosperous. They ensure that our nation is united but more importantly, with this unseen war that we face in the nation. They have risen to do what they do best because they are the ones that fight all our wars.
“We know that they have contributed medical facilities for our use. Their research corps has invented a respirator and they have a taskforce that is also committed to fighting COVID-19, headed by Major General Irabor. So I will be presenting to the Chief of Defence Staff through Col. Anyaogu who is the Acting Commander, Central Medical Stores,105 units of this, for use by the military corps.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to your sacrifice to the nation. We believe that we must continue to serve this country because this is what we are there to do. And to do this irrespective of race or creed or religion or state or tribe, we are one people, we are one nation, and nobody represents that better than the Armed Forces,” he said.
This was not all. At the presentation, packs of food items that can feed over 6,000 homes were donated to Kano, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, and Lagos states for distribution to ease their suffering. While each of the states got 1,000 packs, Lagos got 2,000 packs. Each pack of food can feed a family of six for five to seven days.
Also, Emmanuel Chapel used the connectional system of the Methodist Church to reach poor people in the densely populated areas of Lagos. Through the diocese of Methodist Church in Agege, Mushin, Badagry and others, thousands of distributions were made to homes to cushion the effect of the restriction of movements during the pandemic.
At the event, Prof. Ajayi revealed that this was not the first time Emmanuel Chapel would embark on its goodwill donations. He noted that the beginning of the pandemic over 13 weeks ago when Lagos had only three respirators, it gave the state six respirators. Other items which were received by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu himself included four beds, gloves and masks.
The neighbouring Ogun State was not left out as many hospital equipment and PPEs were donated for their use to tackle the pandemic.
Representatives of the states who received their items on behalf of their governments thanked Emmanuel Chapel for the gesture.
For instance, receiving the items on behalf of the Kano against COVID-19, the Chief Executive of Ultimate Gas, Auwalu Ilu, said he was particularly happy that the donations came from a church to the people of Kano. He added that the gesture would further demonstrate the level of the church’s religious tolerance.
“We are really delighted and happy that Emmanuel Chapel under the leadership of Prof. Ajayi, deemed it fit to give this contribution to Kano. And I am particularly happy being a donation that is coming from church to the people of Kano. This will further demonstrate the level of our religious tolerance and the fact that we are our brothers’ keeper. I’m so happy that the church in Lagos is giving this donation to the people of Kano for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of the people dealing with COVID-19,” he said.
Asked what was the spirit behind the donation, Prof. Ajayi said his church was basically doing what the Christian faith was all about, which is ensuring that people love their neighbours as themselves.
He said: “The spirit behind what Emmanuel Chapel is doing is what the Christian faith is all about which is about ensuring that you love your neighbour as yourself. Nigerians are suffering from the effects of COVID-19. There are millions of people that are hungry. There are millions of people that are in poverty. We cannot therefore as a church stand by and see our fellow human beings suffer irrespective of states where they come, the tribe to which they belong, the religion to which they subscribe.
“For us, they are human beings and the grace of God, as far as we know, is for all men. And therefore we have done this to demonstrate our love to our fellow men, to Nigerians like us that are suffering. Christ in His time did the same, and what God tells us all time is that we must care for the hungry, for the sick, for the widows, for the orphans, and this is exactly what intend to do with food for 6,000 homes.”
Ajayi prayed for the pandemic to end quickly, while also advising Nigerians to always ensure that they stay safe. He also asked the governments to come up with urgent plans that alleviate poverty.
“What we pray for is that this pandemic will end quickly, and that our government should come up with plans that will ensure that people do not suffer. People are dying, and some are suffering. And so it is important that we must use those things God has given us. He has given us wisdom and spirit of discernment.
“So our message to fellow Nigerians is that they should not assume the grace of God, they should take their destiny in their own hands. They should therefore be safe, they should observe all the public health rules that we are told about. So they should wear their masks, observe social distance and observe good hygiene conditions because it appears that we are beginning to rest on our oars as if there was nothing wrong,” he added.
An observer, Mr. Kennedy Osifo, said the donations by Emmanuel Chapel, particularly to Kano State, was highly commendable. He urged other churches to emulate the chapel for reaching out to the people in over 700 kilometres from Lagos.
“Kano State is over 700 kilometres from Lagos. How a church in Lagos would remember that the people in faraway Kano need food baffles me especially at a time when churches are still looking for a way to task their members during this pandemic. In fact, this gesture is exemplary.
“This is what churches should be doing. This is what Jesus Christ said we should all do. Not take, and take from people. I really commend Emmanuel Chapel. I am so delighted for this. God bless Emmanuel Chapel,” Osifo said.