By Fidel Ozugha and Barr. Peter Ozobialu
His Presence Vineyards Church (a.k.a Rehoboth), Egbeda, Lagos has held its annual thanksgiving service with the theme-‘Surpassing Glory’. It was to thank God for His protective presence to the members, relations and friends during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide #EndSARS Protests. In his sermon, the Senior Pastor in charge, Pat Obumselu looked back into the early period of the year 2020 and x-rayed the dismal failure of the world system. ”Everything in the world working according to human wisdom failed. Governments of various countries even those of super powers, advanced health system of the world failed; land, sea and air transport could no longer hold. Science and scientists were found wanting in the presence of the ravaging pandemic. Police, army, doctors and healthcare professionals, education, etc all failed dismally. I listened to most of the 2019 prophecies of the prophets, none could inform us of what was in the womb of 2020. Nobody could see what would befall and engulf the humanity.
”For the first time, the world was overwhelmed by this mystery disease. People were dying in their thousands especially in cold region countries. Fellow human beings were dropping dead in unprecedented ways in both the poor and the rich countries of the world. Africa, a hot temperate zone, was lucky. We were spared unlike what was obtained in Europe. Ways of living changed authomatically. People began to suspect one another as carriers of the dreaded and dreadful virus. Wearing of nose or face mask became a must for all gatherings around around the world, be it wedding, burial, funeral, AGM, etc. In place of physical meetings, zoom and virtual meetings became a new way of life. Most of things were done online: teachings, trainings, business transactions, job interviews, etc. No more handshake but knuckle. Even hugging was a risk. Many preventive theories, curative drugs were compounded by experts yet Covid-19 remained adamant in executing the killing mandate.
”Coronavirus (Covid-19) made us to wash our hands regularly even when we had not eaten or when no food to eat was available. New words – physical (which many called social) distance, isolation, quarantine, palliatives, etc – were added to our lexicon. Thus the year 2020 has the good, the bad and the ugly sides. It has been an awesome year indeed. The glory of God still shines over the year despite gross failures of man-made systems. The Word of God is sure. Know that is God that sustains us , that has kept us all alive during the period. It was His surpassing glory that saw us through.” He said that just like the Israelites praised God for His faithfulness and love to them upon return from Babylonian captivity we shall give thanks to God for being counted among the livings after the raging storms.
According to him, even though 2020 inflictted mankind with bitter memories, we have surpassed it by the glory of God hence we must keep it behind and march triumphantly and defiantly into 2021 with fervor and new expectations.
Taking the congregation to the book of Jude 1: 24-25 that reads: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, 25 to the only wise God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, before all time and now and forever. Amen,” Pastor Obumselu explained that God deals with His children differently. ”He loves us so extravagantly. While everything failed during the Covid-19, God didn’t fail. His ability, capacity and capability to save is why we are still alive. He is Jehovah everything.” Pastor Obumelu relied copiously on the passage to preach that it was only Jesus that could keep us from falling and presented us to the glorious presence of God.
He emphasized that even though virtually everything failed in 2020 but the only things that did not fail are God, me and you and for that reason we must praise God because it is only the living that can praise God. He likened the pandemic to what is written in the book of 2Kings 25: 1- 25 where the Jews were taken captive by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, and enjoined the members to have faith in God because He is the only one who can save.”
The thanksgiving was blended with a lot of dancing as expression of appreciating the protection, provision and promotion members enjoined during the Covid-19 pandemics. There dances by teenagers, songs, dramas, etc. Offerings were done in groups – women, men, youths, children, families, corporate bodies, personal and individual ones. The pastor and his family pulled everybody around to the altar during their special period to honour time. One of the highlights of the event was cutting of the thanksgiving which was done by the Pastor and his wife.