BEING TEXT OF SPEECH BY PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE AT THE 50th ANNIVERSARY LECTURE OF THE SHEPHERDHILL BAPTIST CHURCH, OBANIKORO, LAGOS.
ON SATURDAY, JULY 13, 2019.
THEME: THE ROLE OF THE CONTEMPORARY CHURCH IN NATION-BUILDING: PESSIMISM, OPTIMISM OR ACTIVISM?
The Chairman, the Leadership and Membership of the Shepherdhill Baptist Church, Gentlemen of the Press, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, good day to you all…
I am honoured to be here with you today on the occasion of your 50th Anniversary. I rejoice with you on this significant milestone in your journey, and I trust God that you will finish strong as you continue to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling,” in Jesus Mighty name, Amen. I must also add that today marks for me a homecoming of sorts as it pleased God that my journey in the Christian faith would commence within the four walls of a Baptist Church.
Forty-five years ago, on September 24, 1974, I stepped into Yaba Baptist Church as a photographer at a friend’s baptismal service. That day changed my life forever as I was apprehended by an open vision as Rev. E. A. Alabi preached a message titled “Jesus, the Light of the World.” Incidentally, I had first seen that same vision of Jesus as the Light on April 10, 1964, as a ten-year-old Muslim boy, but I could not comprehend what I had seen.
However, that second encounter with our Lord at the Yaba Baptist Church ignited in me a quest to apprehend the reason why I was apprehended. Being here today is all the more meaningful because the reason I was apprehended is not far from the nation-building subject we are here to consider. In a nation and, indeed, a world whose cities are overrun by gross darkness manifest as insecurity, poverty, corruption, violence, terrorism, disease, disasters, blackouts and blowouts, no description of the Church is as relevant as the statement of Jesus to His disciples: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Heralded by such a profound proclamation, yet surrounded by social, economic and political upheavals that seem to stretch faith to its breaking point, should the dominant posture of the Church be pessimism, optimism or activism in these challenging times? How should the church relate to a seemingly endless barrage of contemporary difficulties?
In responding to these questions, let us first consider a definition of terms, after which we will seek to understand the unique role of the contemporary Church, and then we will conclude with biblical examples and a working template for nation-building.
DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
Pessimism is a psychological disposition as well as a philosophical school of thought. Cambridge Dictionary defines pessimism as: emphasizing or thinking of the bad part of a situation rather than the good part, or the feeling that bad things are more likely to happen than good things. [Emphases mine.]
On a broader cultural scale, the pessimistic mode of thinking: arises with the conviction that the culture of a nation, a civilization, or humanity itself is in a process of irreversible decline. [Emphasis mine.]
When pessimism is taken to the level of conviction, the pessimist not only believes the worst of things, but also concludes that the conditions of people, communities, nations, and the world at large, cannot be changed. This extreme form of pessimism has a philosophical root that challenges the concept of faith and even questions the meaning of life.
In defining optimism, permit me to refer to a fascinating dictionary, Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. As a preacher, this is one of my favourite reference materials because of its rich Christian heritage.
It may interest you to note that the original version of this Christian value-based dictionary does not contain the words “pessimism,” “pessimists,” or “pessimistic.” Might this imply that those who, under inspiration, wrote this historical lexicon, did not consider it an attribute of the Christian faith? Hold that thought as we examine optimism. The dictionary defines optimism as:
The opinion or doctrine that everything in nature is ordered for the best; or the order of things in the universe that is adapted to produce the most good.
This definition of optimism resonates with Romans 8:28:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
On a lighter note, hear the words of George Bernard Shaw in this regard: Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.
Evidently, perspective is the major dividing line between pessimism and optimism.
The word “activism” is derived from the word, “activist,” and “the root word of activist is the Latin actus, “a doing, a driving force, or an impulse.””
Activism is closely related to the word “active.” Noah Webster’s dictionary attributes the word “active” to something “that communicates action or motion, opposed to [passivity].”
Activism is, therefore, a disposition that refuses to be passive towards its environment. It is the tendency to act rather than whine in pessimism or fantasize in idle optimism.
Furthermore, Cambridge Dictionary gives insights into the operations and effects of activism. It is defined as: the use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one.
This definition reminds me of Jesus’ depiction of the Church as the light of the world; a visible, noticeable entity impacting the world. In line with this definition, other sources go further to list the operations and tools of activism. Hence, activism is: the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.
While “activism” tends to conjure images of street rallies and civil disobedience, it must be noted that contemporary activism extends beyond these narrow definitions to capture a broad range of actions that trigger impact.
The word “Church” is translated from the Greek word “ekklesia” which simply means “the called out ones.” In ancient Greece, the ekklesia was the political assembly of citizens. This alludes to a political undertone in the identity of the Church. It explains why words such as “leadership,” “ruler” or “government,” “kingdom,” “power,” “general assembly,” “ambassadors,” “nation,” and so on, are associated with the Church in the Bible.
In fact, all the three arms of government, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, are rooted in God: Isaiah the prophet said:
For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us.
Furthermore, Isaiah 9:6 refers to Jesus and tells us that “the government will be upon His shoulder;” the same scripture goes on to list all the attributes of that government, which represent the gold standard of good governance, or, better put, God-governance:
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. [Emphases mine.]
In addition, it is no coincidence that we use the appellation “ministers” for a cadre of political leaders; this is borrowed directly from Scripture: Romans 13:1-4 (NKJV):
1Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
From the foregoing, it is evident that the Kingdom we represent and governance are intertwined. As we consider the role of the Church in nation-building, permit me, in the next few minutes, to unveil to you the identity of the church as a nation; a model nation “called out” to be the Holy Nation.
The Church as the Holy Nation
In the beginning, when God created the universe, the three-dimensional rule of God – the good, acceptable and perfect will of God – was the prevailing world order. This world order was established on the foundations of righteousness, justice, faithfulness and truth. It was a world order characterized by love, peace and joy. This was so until Lucifer, the anointed cherub, revolted and led a counterculture based on wickedness, corruption, deception and falsehood. Lucifer and the conniving angels were then booted out of heaven and chaos replaced order in the universe.
However, God would not have a disorderly universe and would not let the devil have free rein. Therefore, He recreated the earth and made man in His image and likeness to have dominion on the earth and to execute the written judgement against the rebels.
God created the heavens and the earth as His two homes and neither of the homes is inferior to the other. To illustrate this point, I will draw an analogy from a period when members of my immediate family lived in both Atlanta, Georgia, USA and Lagos, Nigeria. Despite the disparity in the economies of the two cities where my family resided, there was nothing my family in America had that my family in Nigeria did not have, including electricity. I maintained the same standard of living, by God’s grace, in both countries.
In like manner, in creating the earth, God was looking for a second home that would, like heaven, be unadulterated by Satan’s counterculture. This second home would be occupied by God’s second family and would be under the custody and governance of man whom He made in His own image and likeness. In essence, the earth was a domain of the Kingdom of Heaven. Hence, God told Moses, “build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among my people.”
However, man’s dominion on earth as God’s regent would not go untested or uncontested. Satan would challenge man’s loyalty to God, and, by implication, his right to rule the earth. Unfortunately, man yielded and lost his dominion.
Nevertheless, God never relinquished His kingdom to the devil. Two thousand years after the fall of man, God began to build a nation that would represent His ideal on the earth. His strategy was to call one man, Abram, who became Abraham, and to give him an instruction and a promise:
Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation…
This promise was literally fulfilled in the nation of Israel, but, beyond the literal fulfilment, God was promising Abraham a special kind of nation, the holy nation: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light. [Emphases mine.]
God’s plan was that, through the holy nation, the Church, all the nations of the earth, including Israel, would be saved, changed and made great. All the nations are His inheritance; Israel was just His firstborn nation, not the only one. God was banking on the holy nation, the Church, the ecclesia, to restore all nations to His governance ideals. Therefore, nation-building is evidently encoded in the DNA of the Church.
To further underscore the nation-building role of the holy nation, when Jesus gave the Church its mandate after He had risen from the dead, He said:
…“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
In essence, Christ was commissioning the Church as a nation-building institution. He would build His Church and His Church would build the nations. Having established God’s original vision for the Church, let us now examine the contemporary Church.
The Contemporary Church
The word “contemporary” simply means “of the present time; modern.” While we understand that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” He employs a variety of strategies to reach every nation and generation in line with His eternal purpose for each one. In the same vein, the purpose of the Church as the institution through which He executes His divine nation-building agenda remains the same, but the methods of the Church have evolved over time. First, let us briefly identify key events in the history of the Church and then situate what the present moment requires from those of us who constitute the contemporary Church.
Various phases of development have seen the church transitioning between the three attitudinal attributes of pessimism, optimism and activism in relation to its mandate to build nations. From the fervent optimism of the Inaugural Church in the Upper Room, to the numerical explosion of the Growing Church, to the pessimism that laced the Persecuted Church and in turn planted the seeds of the Underground Church, and then the State Church, the initiative of the Roman Emperor, Constantine, where compromise resulted from the mixture of the written word of God with the traditions of men, to the activism of Reformational Church heralded by men such as Martin Luther the Reformer whose Ninety-five Theses signalled a new era in Christendom, we have arrived at the Church of “last hour,” the Apostolic Church, which the organisers of this programme have termed the “Contemporary Church.”
THE CHURCH AND NATION-BUILDING IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
Following the restoration of the word of God at the Reformation, the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit were progressively restored. The five-fold ministry dimensions were also restored, with different aspects of the mandate progressively restored through the years until the Church gradually returned to its apostolic mandate as God’s nation-building institution.
The Church has gone full circle in relation to its mandate as the holy nation. It began with optimistic fervour but would later be engulfed by pessimism under heavy persecution. Pessimism led to compromise and a loss of identity until restoration commenced through activism, placing Scripture once again at the centre and running on the operating system of the Holy Spirit and His diverse gifts and workings. Wherever the Church has rediscovered its identity and lived up to it, progress has been the outcome.
The Church of the 21st century exists in the context of unfavourable social, economic and political landscapes of nations, especially in sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria. We can all recite the litany of woes that characterize our national life – from the potholes we all deftly navigated on our way here today, to the unpredictable tyrant formerly known as NEPA; from the 13.5 million out-of-school children to our recent christening as the poverty capital of the world. 
Meanwhile, the Church, an institution saddled with the responsibility to shine as light in a dark world, is itself saddled with persecution, compromise, mixture, and corruption, doctrinal divides, scandalous allegations of rapists on rampage and perverts on pulpits, impractical optimism masquerading as faith and grace, and this excess baggage seems to have incapacitated the Church as it confronts a dying nation. Needless to say, a sick Church cannot bring healing to a dying nation.
However, when these negatives become the focus, the nation-builder could get drowned in a paralyzing flood of pessimism and get further incapacitated. To attain full recovery and to fulfil its nation-building mandate, the Church must draw inspiration from portraits of nation-builders, men and women of like passions, drawn from the quintessential book of nation-building, The Holy Bible. They emerged in difficult circumstances, fluctuating between the extremes of optimism and pessimism, as well as the occasional stints of activism, to redefine the trajectories of their times and climes. What they accomplished is no different from what we are now being asked to accomplish.
PORTRAITS OF NATION-BUILDERS: LESSONS FROM PEOPLE OF LIKE PASSIONS
Throughout the Bible, we see heroes of faith struggle to find a balance between the call of God and the prevailing realities of their time. We shall now consider a few of such heroes, all of them nation-builders in their own unique way.
We see this tension in the life of the Jewish beauty queen, Esther, who rose to the occasion and risked her life to save an entire race from genocide, uttering the timeless words, “if I perish, I perish;” we see the uncompromising, non-conformist stance of Daniel, slave boy turned high ranking government official, who placed God at the centre of his life and solved complex political challenges by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit even in the face of possible death; we see it also in the life of Nehemiah, cupbearer turned repairer of the walls, who was consumed with “sorrow of heart” but accessed the grace to rally a team of nation-builders, saying:
“You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.”
Nehemiah could as well have been speaking of our nation, Nigeria.
This interplay of pessimism, optimism and activism is also seen in the careers of the prophets. Jeremiah, called as a young man to be a prophet to the nations, is seen confronting the evils of his day with the word of God “in [his] heart like a burning fire shut up in [his] bones.” However, his deep pessimism is soon revealed when he cries out:
Cursed be the day in which I was born!
Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me!
Let the man be cursed
Who brought news to my father, saying,
“A male child has been born to you!”
Nevertheless, Jeremiah would still fulfil his destiny as the prophet whose words would guide Israel through the commencement and conclusion of their captivity in Babylon and whose prophecies would tear down and build nations.
This interplay of pessimism, optimism and activism is seen across the prophetic trajectories of Habakkuk, Jonah, Isaiah, and even John, the first Baptist. These prophets are seen coming out boldly with the word of God against the evil of their days, then sinking into despair either as a result of the heavy implications of those prophetic words or due to the unpopular nature of their ministries. This happened especially when there was a stay on execution of the prophetic word in such a manner that made it come across as though the prophet was false or had lied. However, each of these nation-builders was eventually vindicated.
God’s purpose for the Church in the nations was fashioned before time began. What was concluded before time began cannot be frustrated in time. We must remember also that our starting point is “It is finished;” the finished work of Christ at Calvary suggests that we are fighting from a standpoint of victory as a foregone conclusion. God’s response to Habakkuk, a prophet in the throes of pessimistic despair sums up the ultimate victory of the nation-builder:
Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
THE ESSENTIALS OF NATION-BUILDING
As I begin to conclude, let me highlight the practicalities of writing the vision and making it plain as the contemporary Church takes its rightful place in contemporary Nigeria, drawing lessons from the lives I have just profiled before you. I will share three essential thrusts of a nation-building church, namely visionary leadership, strategic positioning, and visionary institutions.
- Visionary Leadership: No nation-builder can build an enduring nation without the ability to access God’s intention for that nation. Nations are not arbitrary boundaries on maps or the creations of men; Scripture tells us:
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…
Furthermore, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “nation” is derived from the Latin word “natio,” meaning “birth.” In essence, nations are forged in the wombs of nation-builders who, out of the raw materials of various diversities, “knit” the hearts and aspirations of groups of people together in line with “a common ideal and propelled by a common sense of destiny.” 
To take responsibility for our nation, Nigeria, as part of God’s nation-building institution on earth, we must, like Esther, Daniel, and Nehemiah have a strong sense of why God created our nation and our role in God’s plans. Esther understood God’s vision for her people and that she had come into the kingdom “for such a time as this,” Daniel “understood by the books” that the restoration of Jerusalem was at hand, and Nehemiah accessed a divine blueprint for repairing the broken walls of Jerusalem. Without clarity of purpose and vision, we cannot even begin to decode our individual and collective roles. Nation-building without a clear ideal is like a ship without a compass in the middle of an ocean. This ideal must align with God’s purpose and timing for the respective nation. Any nation-building venture that is not built on a God-given ideal and in alignment with God’s timing will only produce weariness and a downward spiral into pessimism. As visionary leaders, our role is to inspire our fellow citizens and provide hope amidst the rigorous challenges of nation-building.
- Strategic Positioning: In the Message version of Ephesians 1:23, we read:
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
This implies that our posture cannot be one of subservience to the powers that be, but the realization that we represent a higher Kingdom and we have a mandate to execute the agenda of that Kingdom here “on earth as it is in heaven.” Thus, we cannot be aloof or be content with superficial access to the corridors of power or photo-ops with Mr. President; we must begin to infiltrate and occupy strategic boardrooms of power, until kings and presidents say, as did Nebuchadnezzar of old:
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
This implies that rather than our predominantly reactionary posture, we must begin to develop strategies for positioning Godly people on all the mountains of culture and influence – from the Mountains of Government and Family, to the Mountains of Economy and Arts and Entertainment; from the Mountains of Media and Education, to the Mountain of Religion, until the flag of the Kingdom of God is hoisted on every mountain.
We must become skilled not only in “rightly dividing the word of truth” but also in rightly dividing public policy, and we must design programmes and initiatives that develop the latent capacities of our people to understand and excel in the art and science of governance across sectors. In this regard, we can take a cue from Daniel who “had skill in all literature and wisdom…and understanding in all visions and dreams.” This is what led to his meteoric rise in Nebuchadnezzar’s cabinet. Until we step outside the comfort zone of our cosy Sunday services and interface with the rot around us as salt and light, the work of nation-building cannot begin.
- Visionary Institutions: The nation-building ideal, as well as the vision and courage to make it a reality, must be transferred from visionary leaders to the people until the people, themselves, become visionary leaders, not just followers. In other words, the pioneering vision must be distilled until it becomes an empowering vision that transcends the individual. At that point, it becomes an institution. This process of institutionalization of vision is called discipleship.
I am reminded of the words of Napoleon Bonaparte:
There cannot be a firmly established political state unless there is a teaching body with definitely recognized principles. If the child is not taught from infancy that he ought to be a republican or a monarchist, a Catholic or a free-thinker, the state will not constitute a nation; it will rest on uncertain and shifting foundations; and it will be constantly exposed to disorder and change.
The discipleship model of nation-building was modelled by Christ in establishing the Church and equipping it to build the nations. That is why the Church is the ideal nation-building institution mandated to disciple nations in line with Godly principles.
An institutionalized vision is no longer subject to individual strengths and weaknesses; it draws on collective strengths to minimize individual weaknesses, to combat corporate threats, and seize opportunities. As in Nehemiah 2:20 (NKJV) where Nehemiah galvanized others to “arise and build,” it is clear nation-building is not a solo project. Therefore, the Church, in these low moments, can find strength as a collective body, with bone joining to bone, and each joint supplying, to bring healing to a dying nation. In doing this, it can draw strength from the trajectories of the aforementioned heroes of faith.
The invasion of the spirit and soul of a nation-builder usually produces an energizing dose of optimism. The contrast between the optimistic picture and the pessimistic environment may stir up activist inclinations in the potential nation-builder. However, sooner or later, faced with overwhelming difficulties, the nation-builder may soon find himself or herself on a downward pessimistic turn. This is a test of courage and faith that every nation-builder must face. I call it “The Promptings and Paradox of Destiny.” This trajectory has been the story of the Church, an institution called to build nations.
The nation-building mandate, however, can only be fulfilled by the overcoming power of faith – faith in God and in His enduring word. Such faith is an active faith, faith that interfaces with its environment, forcefully advancing against the gates of hell and deploying appropriate strategies from activism to policy propositions and from advocacy to active politics and governance.
This nation-building mandate is the reason why I was apprehended forty-five years ago at Yaba Baptist Church. It has been the story of my life and ministry. It is why the congregation known to you as The Latter Rain Assembly, now known as the Citadel Global Community Church, has over the years, accepted responsibility for the politics and governance of Nigeria. It is why, in the past thirty years, we have brought timely prophetic and policy interventions to the nation at crucial moments. Such prophetic interventions have, through the years, brought a barrage of persecution, detention and isolation which could have, but for the grace of God, thrust us in the throes of pessimism.
This sense of responsibility for the destiny of our nation and the nations is was what led us to birth the International Centre for Reconstruction and Development (ICRD), a think-tank that has impacted the polity through policy and programme interventions in key sectors including education and local governance; it was what inspired the formation of Save Nigeria Group (SNG); it was why we marched the streets of Abuja and Lagos when the nation was under the grip of power hijackers in 2010; it was what took us to Ojota in perhaps one of the largest protest rallies ever recorded in Nigeria’s history as we demanded an end to corruption in the management of the oil sector; it was why, on various occasions, like Abraham, we rejected rewards from men, lest they say they made us rich.
This nation-building mandate was what made me drop the hat of activism to step into partisan politics by accepting the invitation to be running mate to General Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in 2011. It has been an arduous journey of destiny but we have resolved not to give in to pessimism or to rest in the victories of yesterday, but to press on towards the mark of the high calling.
Fellow nation-builders of the Shepherdhill Baptist Church, nation-building is also in your DNA. Over the centuries, the Baptist Church has stood tall in Christendom as a hub of nation-builders. From the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon, to the “Preacher to Princes,” Billy Graham, and from Obadiah Holmes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who was whipped for his religious beliefs and activism, to Martin Luther King Jr. whose optimistic dream continues to reverberate decades after his death, the Baptist movement has been pivotal in shaping polities from the pulpit to the podium. This movement has also produced notable political figures including one-time British Prime Minister, James Callaghan; a former Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama; and past American presidents, including Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton.
Here in Nigeria, the Baptist Church has also seen the emergence of the likes of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Moreover, your involvement in the education sector is evident in such interventions as the Baptist High schools, Baptist Academy, Obanikoro Lagos and Bowen University. Hence, this movement has clearly demonstrated responsibility for nation-building.
As you face the 21st century challenge of building a Nigerian nation that could be potentially great but is currently paradoxically submerged in social, economic and political setbacks, this is not the time to rest on your oars or to give in to despair. It is not the time to drift in blind optimism disguised as spirituality or to sink into escapist pessimism masquerading as heaven consciousness. It is also not the time to whip up misguided activist sentiments or to engage in aimless revolts. Rather, now is the time to draw inspiration from the past, to be positioned strategically in the present, in order to take a leap of faith into the future.
It is time to align with God’s purpose and timing for the nation, to build capacity as nation-builders, and to create strategic structures and alliances, aimed at deploying key leaders in every sector, public and private, in every city. Moreover, it is time for the body of Christ to come together, to reconcile our differences, to heal as a body, to become united in purpose, with every joint supplying its unique strengths, as we rise up as one body, to take orders from our Lord and Master, to build a great nation on the foundations of righteousness and justice, faithfulness and truth; a great nation where peace and unity prevail, where no one will be oppressed, and where every man, woman, boy and girl can go to bed giving thanks to God and saying, “thank God I am a Nigerian!”
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless our nation, Nigeria.
Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare
The Citadel Global Community Church,
 Phil 3:14 (KJV)
 Phil 3:12
 Matthew 5:14
 “Pessimism.” Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/pessimism
 Bennett, Oliver. “Cultural Pessimism.” Edinburgh University Press. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-cultural-pessimism-pb.html
 “Optimism.” Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition. Accessed July 9, 2019. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/optimism
 Montagu, Judy. “Are optimists and pessimists born or made?” Jerusalem Post. November 3, 2015. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/In-My-Own-Write-Positively-negative-431937
 “Activist.” Vocabulary.com. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/activist
 “Active.” Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Online Edition. Accessed July 9, 2019. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/active
“Activism.” Cambridge Dictionary. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/activism
 “Ekklesia.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1577
 “Ecclesia.” Your Dictionary. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.yourdictionary.com/ecclesia (Please note: “ekklesia” and “ecclesia” are used interchangeably.)
 Romans 12:8 (NLT, KJV); Romans 13:1-7 (NKJV)
 John 18:36 (NKJV)
 Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)
 Hebrews 12:23 (NKJV)
 II Corinthians 5:20
 I Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
 Isaiah 33:22 (NKJV)
 Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)
 Psalm 89:14 (NKJV); Isaiah 25:1 (NKJV)
 I John 4:8 (NKJV); Romans 14:17 (NKJV)
 See Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28
 See Revelation 12
 Genesis 1 and 2
 Psalm 149:9
 Ephesians 3:14-15
 Genesis 1:26
 Exodus 25:8
 Genesis 12:1-2
 I Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
 Exodus 4:22-23
 Matthew 28:18-20
 “Contemporary.” Dictionary.com. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/contemporary
 Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)
 I John 2:18 (NKJV)
 Ephesians 4:11-14
 Uwandu, Elizabeth. “Stakeholders decry report of 13.5 million Nigeria out-of-school children.” Vanguard. December 13, 2018. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/12/stakeholders-decry-report-of-13-5-million-nigeria-out-of-school-children/
 Adebayo, Bukola. “Nigeria overtakes India in extreme poverty ranking.” CNN. June 26, 2018. Accessed July 9, 2019. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/26/africa/nigeria-overtakes-india-extreme-poverty-intl/index.html
 “How Abuja pastor raped me – Busola Dakolo.” Vanguard. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2019/06/how-abuja-pastor-raped-me-busola-dakolo
 Romans 15:4
 See James 5:17
 Esther 4:16 (NKJV)
 Nehemiah 2:2 (NKJV)
 Nehemiah 2:17 (NKJV)
 Jeremiah 20:9 (NKJV)
 John 19:30 (NKJV)
 Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NKJV)
 Acts 17:26 (NKJV)
 “Nation.” Merriam-Webster. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nation
 Bakare, Tunde. “Nigeria At Centenary, A Nation Under Bondage?” Sahara Reporters. January 15, 2014. Accessed July 12, 2019. http://saharareporters.com/2014/01/15/nigeria-centenary-nation-under-bondage-tunde-bakare
 Esther 4:14 (NKJV)
 Daniel 9:2 (NKJV)
 Nehemiah 6:15-16
 See 52
 Daniel 7:25
 Matthew 6:10 (NKJV)
 Daniel 6:26
 II Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
 Daniel 1:17 (NKJV)
 Alesina, Alberto, and Bryony Reich. “Nation-building.” February 2015. Accessed July 12, 2019. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/alesina/files/nation_building_feb_2015_0.pdf
 Ezekiel 37:7 (NKJV)
 This refers to the title of a message I preached at a national youth conference many years ago; it has become my go-to phrase for describing the conundrums of destiny.
 Genesis 14:23 (NKJV)
 See 1