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COVID-19 Challenges a Litmus Test of “quality of our Christian faith”: Nigerian Prelate

Bishop Stephen Mamza speaking at the Dedication of the Christian Association of Nigeria CAN Chapel in Adamawa State, Nigeria.

How we relate with the needy in society amid COVID-19 challenges can be a good litmus test of the extent to which we value our Christian faith, the Bishop of Nigeria’s Diocese of Yola said this week.

“The quality of our Christian faith will be shown in this difficult time that some of our neighbours go to bed hungry," Bishop Stephen Mamza said Wednesday, August 19 during the dedication of the Chapel of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa State. 

“We as Christians have been challenged by the difficulties brought by COVID-19 pandemic to be compassionate and charitable to the needs of our neighbours,” Bishop Mamza explained.

He highlighted some of the challenges faced by Nigerians amid COVID-19 saying, “Some have been thrown out by insensitive landlords for their inability to pay their rents; others have resolved to trekking long distances as transport has become unaffordable.” 

Referencing the Gospel of Matthew where Christ speaks about charity to strangers, the Nigerian Prelate underscored the faith practice of sharing with the needy saying, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.” 

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“There has never been a time in which the scene of the Last Judgment as portrayed in the citation above calls us to a renewal of the love of those in need,” Bishop Mamza who doubles as the Chairperson of CAN in Adamawa State further said.

According to the statistics by Action Against Hunger, more than one million children between the ages of six months and five years are acutely malnourished across the Boko Haram affected and Herdsmen ravaged areas. 

The statistics also show that one in five children with severe acute malnutrition and one in 15 children with moderate acute malnutrition are at risk of death if untreated.

The leadership of Action Against Hunger has also reported that civilians in the west African nation have limited access to assistance and food remains a major need in displacement settlements.

“Prolonged absence of food security, livelihoods, healthcare, education, clean water, and sanitation and hygiene facilities exacerbate risks. Protection concerns include rise in cases of domestic violence, forced and early marriages, trafficking, and sexual exploitation and abuse which serve as coping mechanisms to provide food for the family,” officials of Action Against Hunger have reported referencing Africa’s most populous nation. 

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During the August 20 event, Bishop Mamza emphasized the need for almsgiving.

“Nothing is so much God’s will as that which is for our neighbor’s good. Prayer proves our love of God; Fasting proves our love of self; Almsgiving proves our love of neighbors,” he said.

The 50-year-old Prelate urged Christians to continue praying to God “to bring an end to the scourge of this pandemic and alleviate the suffering that humanity is experiencing.”

He also called on both the Christians and Muslims to live in harmony saying, “without peace, there will be no development.”