*VP congratulates new President of Baptist Convention, Revd. Akanji
*Describes him as an “effective bridge builder between faiths and ethnicities”
Nigeria will eventually rise from its security and socio-economic challenges into the glorious light of dawn that would herald greater things for the country and its citizens, because the Spirit of God is in the land, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Sunday during a Send Forth Service for Revd. Dr. Israel Adelani Akanji, who until recently, served as Senior Pastor and Minister in Charge of the First Baptist Church, Garki, Abuja, for 22 years. Revd. Akanji is now the new President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention.
He spoke in a short remark he gave at the service which was also attended by the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Revd. Olasupo Ayokunle and the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora, among other dignitaries and Christian leaders.
Quoting from the first chapter in the Biblical Book of Genesis, the Vice President related events surrounding the creation of the heaven and earth to the nation’s present challenges and the lives of great individuals.
Prof. Osinbajo stated that “indeed, the lives of great men and women, even as the lives of nations teach important lessons.”
He noted that, “in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. The beginning was bleak, confused, without form, empty.
“This is the way of the lives of some of the greatest men and women and also nations. There might be confusion, grief, trouble, darkness and fear. But even in that confusion, the Bible tells us that the Spirit of the Lord was hovering over the face of the deep. God was in the darkness, He did not run away, He is not asleep.
“So, it is with our nation. Today, some things may seem bleak and grave, with insecurity, economic difficulties, but even in the midst of these problems, the Spirit of God is in this land, it is here, hovering over this nation.”
He continued: “so, what happens next in verse three? We are told that suddenly God spoke, ‘let there be light…and there was light.’ The darkness came to an end, the fear, insecurity came to an end. So, it shall be for you and our nation. In the next verse, scripture says, God saw the light that it was good….so it shall be for you and our nation. The light will come and it shall be good, very good.”
The Vice President also commended the attributes of the new President of the Baptist Convention, describing Revd. Akanji as a humble and credible leader who “has continued to forge pathways for peace and unity as an effective bridge builder between faiths and ethnicities, realizing that Christ died for all men, and that our gospel is the gospel of peace.”
While congratulating the cleric on his inauguration as President of the Baptist Convention, the Vice President noted that Akanji has also served the Body of Christ in Nigeria as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman of Federal Capital Territory, and is still serving as the CAN North Central Zone’s leader.
“Revd. Dr. Israel Akanji now proceeds by the grace of God to the exalted office of the President of the Baptist Convention: the highest office of the Baptist denomination in Nigeria. In this long and arduous journey, Revd. Akanji has had by his side, his dear friend, partner and darling wife, Mrs Victoria Akanji, Mama Sunshine. She has been an effective part of the great works that God has done in her husband’s ministry,” the VP said.
According to him, Revd. Akanji’s “practical demonstration of the gospel of the love of Christ is his recipe for conflict resolution.”
He added, “in those 22 years (serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church Garki) this humble, humorous General of God has also become a foremost, credible and articulate ambassador of the Christian faith in Nigeria.
Noting Revd. Akanji’s “determination to forge pathways for peace and unity, the VP observed that his (Dr. Akanji’s) doctorate thesis was on “Theology of Conflict Transformation in Contemporary Nigerian Society.
“I took the trouble to read portions of it to better understand his thoughts. He proposed a new approach which challenges the religious institutions, particularly the Church, through its pastoral ministry, to become actively involved in the transformation of conflict in the nation through a practical theology, a theology of hospitality.”
In the same vein, the Vice President congratulated Akanji on the occasion of his 60th Birthday coming up on Monday August 16. He wished him more strength, wisdom and favour and asked for God’s blessing on all Nigerians.