The recent inferno in Onitsha, Nigeria is not something to be proud of as someone who spent 26 years of my life in it. Seeing that it was a preventable situation makes it all worse for me. I couldn’t hold the tears seeing people’s investments burn into ashes just because of the government’s lack of vision. A business hub like Onitsha should have not less than three, or to be fair, two fire fighting stations. I was supposed to pass through that route before I got the news. At first, I prayed it should be a rumour but it was true and I think this is the biggest fire incident in the city.
I have been reading a lot of writings concerning the inferno that happened in Onitsha where lives and properties were burnt up into ashes. People’s investments shattered and their hopes questioned. I have also been reading the sincere opinions of some Christians as to how this menace would have been curbed if we had prayed enough or if we were spiritually sensitive.
I truly respect everyone’s view and I know that at least, the discourse is helping us broaden our perspective. People raised several issues on this, many of these issues aren’t well thought out, some are speaking out of pain and emotions, some are speaking out of sympathy and I understand all of that. However, I want to particularly lend my voice in that which had to do with “Onitsha people being prayerless and without an Apostolic and Prophetic voice”; an issue raised by a very good friend and some other persons.
When some things happen, let us not be too quick to point fingers and conclude “it is because we never prayed enough”. Let’s ask ourselves” how would it have been prevented? How do we prevent this from happening?” It might seem to some as being too carnal when we try discouraging pointing fingers at Christians for not praying enough, it might seem as though we don’t encourage prayer or believe in God’s power to cause changes.
Well, God isn’t building our roads, God isn’t the one to provide us with a good healthcare system, emergency action units, fire fighting services and so on. No matter how we pray, these things won’t see the light of the day if a conscious effort is not made to put them in place. We see houses falling every day, we see flood happening here and there and we think prayer will stop it?
Certain things are results of man’s own inadequacies. A tanker fully loaded with motor spirit will not fall in hot weather without going up in flames.
There are physics and chemistry aspect of it. The frictions, pressure and heat will definitely cause a spark and an outbreak. In developed countries, in places where most of the citizens aren’t spiritual in the way we define spirituality, there could be fire outbreaks but such as what we saw in Onitsha would have been controlled to an extent; a very great extent.
This is because they don’t wait for fire before preparing for it, they stay prepared every day. They aren’t living in what some people call “being positive”. They aren’t being negative either by getting ready, knowing that any mistake could cause a fire! It is not a prayer point, it is not spiritual warfare, it is something that can be tackled by competency in the leadership and concerned agencies. Even if the fire outbreak doesn’t occur in years, they are always ready as though it will happen the next minute. Excuses like “the pumping machine were not working” is lame.
But consider Onitsha of all places, it is one of the places in Nigeria that should have working fire service stations. So, some things are just results of carelessness, poor planning and incompetence. It has nothing to do with being prayerful or prayerless. The driver would have been on speed, he never needed prayers to slow down but sense! The bad roads need no prayers to be worked on but a government that is sensitive! The bad vehicle that was dragged into the road needed maintenance and not prayers.
Even if we must attach a spiritual connotation to it, whatever happened was as a result of man’s inadequacies, if it is spiritual, it took advantage of someone’s carelessness, it would have been prevented or controlled. To me, it seems too quick to judge the spirituality of the people in Onitsha based on this incident or any other incidents that have occurred in the past.
Let’s not point fingers at Christians for not praying enough, for not acting enough or maybe for not being very consecrated enough. Let’s also not judge if we have “apostolic voice” or not based on preventable fire outbreaks. Going by what Christianity stands for, how we know that people are burning for God isn’t by being able to supernaturally make a speeding tanker driver drive carefully or an incompetent government become competent. We know a Christian who is burning for God by their willingness and passion for the spread the gospel. We know Apostles by the operations of their ministry as regards to mission, solely on reconciliation of man and God. The same way prayers will not cast our votes is the same way prayers will not fix what the government should fix.
When certain things happen, the question in my own thinking should be “what would have prevented this? How do we stop it from happening?” We live in a natural realm and we were commanded to take care of the earth. God will not fix our roads and build infrastructures. Noah didn’t pray an ark down, he built it. Let’s gather all believers in Onitsha and start praying for the potholes, it won’t repair on its own. God will not develop our fire service, prayers won’t do it either. Even after saying to Israelites “I will give you the land I promised to your fathers” they had to fight for it, they had to get ready for war. They wouldn’t have had it if they didn’t work for it.
If any spiritual persons claim that God expressly revealed something to him or her which triggered such a stand on the prayerlessness of people in Onitsha and Nigeria at large being the reason some things like fire outbreaks couldn’t have been prevented, I truly respect it. I wrote from common sense and I know that God’s word made room for that.
“Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.” – Proverbs 4:7
My heart goes out to all affected by the fire incident. I pray that as hard as it seems, as hopeless as it seems, this will be a major turning point for some of the victims. May they be strengthened to walk through this very trying times.
– Onyedikachukwu George Nnadozie
© 2019 | George’s Diary