By Patrick Obia
A non-profit making organization based in Calabar, Cross River State capital, Basic Right Council Initiative (BRCI) has commenced a five-day training of Pastors of various churches in Odukpani LGA of the State on ways of ending children and adults witchcraft accusations.
Held at Assemblies of God, Adiabo, Odukpani Local Government Area, Co-founder of BRCI, Mrs. Ese Ibor in opening remarks thanked the preachers for availing themselves of the training which she said will be Bible-based standard and a mind shift from the conventional teachings.
With the theme: “Heart of the matter: keeping children safe from harm”, Mrs. Ibor prayed the men of God to open up their hearts to learn and unlearn many things about witchcraft accusation and all forms of abuse; hands to work, mouth to talk as well as a heart that cares and has passion.
Taking the teaching on ‘children as a gift from God’ the facilitator, Pastor Martins Omang said the purpose of the teaching is to create a paradigm shift from the pastor’s previous way of thinking in terms of child witchcraft branding.
Drawing his text from Luke 18 verses 15-17 he charged pastors to be agents of change in their immediate communities instead of a tool of destruction.
His practical teaching, in which participants were divided into groups with Genesis 21 verses 8-19, Jeremiah 1 verse 5-9; Psalms 139 verses 13-16, and Psalms 127 verses 1–5 respectively, were all the root of the practical session where he said God has values for children.
Neglect, rejection, sexual abuse, witchcraft branding, drug abuse, stigmatization, and forced admittance of crimes among others were all identified as some of the wholesome practices going on in communities that are not favorable to children.
Pastor Martins, who is the Assistant Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, noted that “children are gifts from God, created in his image and for whom he has a clear plan and purpose.”
On his part, Pastor Bassey Mbang while taking the religious fathers on ‘personal responsibility and the tendency to blame others for misfortune’ said everyone must not blame everyone for their woes.
He urged the trainees to take the message to their various denominations and discourage any form of accusations, adding that: “accusations made against children are not from God.”
Earlier, CAN Coordinator of Odukpani Local Government, Rev. Leonard Ekpenyong lauded the gesture of BRCI to train pastors on the subject matter.
The Reverend fingered some pastors as major accusers of children as witches. He said as disciples whom God has chosen to look after the flocks, they should serve as glue and not as dynamite.