Nigerian Archbishop Believes Best Way to Counter Persecution is Evangelism
Ruth Gledhill/TN : Jul 8, 2007
The Times U.K.
"All we are saying is, do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong. If the Bible says it is an aberration, it is an aberration. Do not do it. The missionaries brought the word of God here and showed us the way of life. We have seen the way of life and we rejoice in it."
In a Times U.K. article written by Ruth Gledhill, Gledhill says that Peter Akinola, Archbishop of Nigeria, is "the most powerful leader in the Anglican Church. While [Anglican] churches are closing in the US and Britain, he cannot open them fast enough. If things continue as they are, his could well be the future face of worldwide Anglicanism."
According to Gledhill, Dr Akinola is attempting to preach a gospel back to England that was brought to his country by English missionaries in the mid-19th century. More importantly, she says, "he is in the front line of relations between Christianity and Islam. The relationship with Islam is central to his ministry and he has found a way to counter Islam without violence: it is called evangelism." He believes that making the church grow, and grow in the strength of the Holy Spirit, is the best, most positive way to counter persecution.
In the article, Gledhill goes on to describe her meeting with the "enigmatic" Archbishop, noting that his bare feet and simple attire couldn't have made a greater contrast with his U.K. contemporary, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
"I have been so demonized by the Western media," says Dr Akinola, referring to the issue of ordaining homosexual priests and marrying gays, of which he is opposed. "I tell people when they talk about this, Christ had it so much worse. If this is the price I have to pay for leading the Church at this time, so be it. They can punch me here, punch me there, but in the midst of all that are people who say Akinola is the right thing."
Akinola had a remarkable life and a remarkable conversion. Says Gledhill: "With his own business and a Vespa scooter in the 1960s, he was indeed heading for a life of prosperity when he was called to give it all up and follow Christ into the seminary. But he almost had no adult life at all. As a young man, he told me, he narrowly escaped being a victim of a ritual sacrifice. His body parts were to be made into 'concoctions and sold," he said. Later, notes Gledhill, when his father died and he was sent to live with relatives, he again was threatened to be ritually sacrificed. "God is gracious," he said. "But let me just say I had premonitions. I saw a very clear vision of what was going to happen. The following day, things began to happen the way I saw them. It was not a dream, it was a real vision. It was a serious matter. Frightening. Overwhelming. But I came out of the house to go to where I was supposed to be sacrificed and I saw this figure far away at the other end of the road, beckoning me to come. In white. I ran and ran and ran. The faster I ran, the further distance between me and the figure. I never found it. I believe very strongly that the Lord was taking me away from that dungeon."
The article also states that Dr Akinola does not deny that homosexuals exist in Africa. "All we are saying is, do not celebrate what the Bible says is wrong. If the Bible says it is an aberration, it is an aberration. Do not do it. The missionaries brought the word of God here and showed us the way of life. We have seen the way of life and we rejoice in it. Now you are telling me this way of life is not right. I have to do something else. Keep it for yourself. I do not want it."