Jeremiah Akinsola, a Baptist Minister from Nigeria, says that the conflict between the Christian Church and Islam in his country can be seated at the door of the church where they have focused on inwardness rather than being a light in their community.
In an interview he gave to the Australian Missionary News IPTV while at the Baptist World Congress in Hawaii, he explained that Nigeria is the largest country in West Africa with a population of 184 million.
There are three major separate tribal groups with six administration zones (like States).
Crude oil is the major industry. The country celebrated 50 years of independence from Britain this year (2010).
Jeremiah has been a Baptist Minister for 20 years. For the first 14 years he was involved in pastoral ministry, and now for the past six years he has been serving with the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
His major role here is with the Education Department and a lot of his time is given over to writing and training others for ministry.
The role of a Pastor in Nigeria is very challenging, there is a new dawn appearing for Nigeria in evangelism and Christian growth.
Baptist work in Nigeria commenced in 1850 by missionary Thomas Brown, and has always been influenced by Southern Baptists from the USA. The Nigerian Baptist Convention gained its independence from the Southern Baptist movement only in the year 2000.
There are 10,000 Baptist churches in Nigeria and six million baptised believers, and of course, many more adherents and children in congregations.
Jeremiah firmly believes that much of the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria could have been avoided if the Christian churches had gone out there and shared the message of Jesus Christ, rather than retreating in towards themselves.
“The emphasis must be taking the light of Jesus to a dark world,” comments Jeremiah Akinsola. “This is a new season and it’s there for the taking.”