The usual response from an ordinary person to trials is often, “Why me, Lord”? This could be considered normal when the trial becomes a life altering situation.
But last Sunday August 18, Disciples of Christ in the Lagos church learned a new attitude to adopt in dire circumstances.
The lessons came from no other than Onyechi Nitchie Oguagha, Evangelist from ICOC New York, and former Lead Evangelist of the Nigerian Church, who is struggling with prostate cancer.
Ebullient, though not as forceful as his pre-cancer days, Nitchie preached a message titled, “Why Not Me”? , to a packed house at the Surulere Facility.
He shared extensively about his battle with cancer and the lessons he had learned, and urged disciples to see Troubles as an opportunity for growth. He quoted several Scriptures, including James 1:2; Job 1 and Romans 8, and called the congregation to give thanks, rather than complain when faced with adversity.
He enjoined the Church to accept people as they are: “Never again in this Church should anyone make a woman feel bad because she has no children; or anyone feel bad because they are single,” he said. He said people should not feel bad or inferior because they do not have the material things others have either.
The points in his sermon were “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”, Count your Blessings, not your Problems and Don’t Waste your sufferings.
Citing Job’s example, as well as Jesus’ attitude at the cross, pleading for forgiveness for his killers, Mr. Oguagha called for a mind shift in our thinking processes about pain and forgiveness, stating that serious refining by God was needed for us to have certain spiritual experiences. He said the hardships we may face do not signify sin, but are part of God’s refining. “We cannot fully learn about God without pain”. He explained.
He also warned disciples not to complain like people in the world, but to celebrate God’s goodness and be thankful even in hardship.
On his second point, perspective, he said was the most important thing to have while in pain. Everything in life, he said, doesn’t have to feel good. And as such he called the audience to control their thoughts and rejoice, rather than give in or give up or complain in the face of challenges or lack.
Don’t waste your sufferings, his last point for the day, was based on Job 2:10 and 1 Corinthians 10. Under this point, disciples were encouraged to learn the lessons from their trials and understand that God allows pain and can use the sufferer as a good example to others. When faced with pain or trials he said, people could re-write their destinies by standing strong in the Lord, rather than fall into self pity or seek sympathy from others.
Though still battling cancer despite major surgery and therapy, Nitchie urged, People in the audience who were ill to find ways to bless others. For Nitchie problems strip away all the non-essentials and lead to deeper focus on God.
Prior to Nitchie’s sermon, Michael Bolajoko of Ojo Apapa Region shared the communion message on a thankful heart drawing from Jesus Example of thanks at the last supper even with the specter of crucifixion before him. Kofo Macauley of Island Region delivered the poor offering talk, and shared from Luke 16:19-26, about being alert to the needs of others in our community.
As with every joint service the atmosphere was charged with excitement as Disciples of Christ enjoyed their reunion.