Sunday worship under lock down in Nigeria

By Zakariya Musa, communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

A map of northeast Nigeria showing Adamawa State
A map of northeast Nigeria showing Adamawa State. Photo by Google Maps

Following the lock down measures put in place by the Nigerian government to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection among its citizens, the preventives measure are considered differently depending on the environment or level of understanding. Some states are in the fifth week of the total lock down, while others are in the third week. Adamawa State is among the recent states to place the order of lock down.

At the news of this pandemic, which has killed about over 200,000 globally, it is expected that social distancing, personal hygiene, and use of face masks are taken with seriousness. But this is still facing lots of challenges, either due to ignorance about the pandemic or how it infects people. For example, in many communities people get upset especially when his or her fellow refuses a handshake. From the preventive measures, it is also expected that people don’t converge in one place for worship, burials, weddings, naming ceremonies, and other sorts of parties, because the infected persons may not seem different from others who could get infected easily. Some of the religious leaders who were expected to extend awareness down to their followers don’t promote or support the government measures against the spread of the virus, which could cause total setbacks in the communities.

The lockdown measures have increased the difficulties of life. People cry of hunger as they stay indoors, especially those who depend on daily earning to put food on the family table. The so-called government palliative is not reaching the needy, or has less impact on the lives of the masses crying out from their homes. While defying the lock down measures, many have faced he wrath of security personnel as they try going about their business.

The last Sunday in April was the first for lock down to take place all over Adamawa State following the discovery of a COVID-19 case in the state. Churches conducted Sunday services in unusual ways by splitting the congregation into cells. I compiled a situation report on how the Sunday services were conducted on April 26:

“We are trusting God for protection against the stubborn coronavirus crisis that has shaken the global community. We had our worship in the family. We did a complete Sunday worship including offering to be taken to the church when the situation improves. We used the EYN texts for that day. Wash your hands, stay at home, stay safe.” – Rev. Dr. Toma H. Ragnjiya, Maiduguri

“Well we used to form cells by zones, but today only five attended in my zone due to rainfalls. But last Sunday we were 47 in my cell, though police/security used to distract. We do adhere to NCDC guidelines.” – Rev. James U. Hena, Yola

“We shared the church into 20 groups in our houses, this is the fourth Sunday we have been worshiping in our homes.” – Rev. Elijah Madani, Yola

“There was no Sunday service. We had service in the house. We are all fine.” – Rev. Patrick Bugu, Abuja

“We had our Sunday service in our compound (Theological Education by Extension, or TEE). Even the Bible studies, we did it together with our families in the compound and it was amazing. We took the offering we made to the nearest church (about 8,000 Naira)…. We give God the glory for all things.” – Rev. Daniel I. Yumuna

“It was ok, but the respect of the social distancing is observed by the members in some churches.” – Luka Isaac, Minawao, Cameroon

“As you may already be aware, the FCT [in Abuja] is one of the places that have been on the Presidential lockdown for over four weeks now. At EYN LCC Utako, only the three pastors, the church secretary, the technical crew, and a few others hold worship services in the church on Sundays and stream it on social media. Other members of our church hold worship services in their areas and homes. We have received testimonies from some of them, especially the men, on how this has helped them learn to be pastors in their homes. A good number of them send their reports to the church secretary promptly.” – Rev. Caleb S. Dakwak, Abuja

— Zakariya Musa is communications staff for Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria).