Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: Bishop Wants Rich Christians to Sponsor Pilgrims

Rich Christians have been urged to assist the government at all levels in the sponsorship of pilgrims to the holy land.

Speaking at a workshop organised for would-be pilgrims in Enugu on Wednesday, the Anglican Bishop of Enugu, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, said assisting the government to sponsor more pilgrims would help in the transformation of the country.

Chukwuma, who said that 350 pilgrims would make the trip from Enugu to Israel, explained that the exercise was a spiritual one aimed at rejuvenating the lives of Christians.

He said the 2012 pilgrimage with the theme 'Spiritual and Moral Transformation' would help Christians authenticate their faith, adding that it was necessary to save the country from corruption.

"We want to sensitise the pilgrims on the theme of this pilgrimage. We want to tell them what they should do.

"We do not want anybody to abscond. This is a spiritual exercise and we must rejuvenate ourselves spiritually and authenticate our faith.

"Nigeria today expects people to be transformed. There should be a reflection and influence on the life of anybody who goes on pilgrimage. The change should be reflected in your behaviour for the good of the country," the bishop said.

He, however, appealed to the Federal Government to ensure the completion of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, to facilitate the travel.

On his part, Gov. Sullivan Chime appealed to the pilgrims to be good ambassadors of the state in Israel.

Chime, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Eze O. Eze, urged the pilgrims to avoid abscondment as a way of encouraging more sponsorship from the state and local governments.

Some of the pilgrims who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) commended the state government for the sponsorship.

A traditional ruler in Nkanu West Local Government Area, Igwe Samson Nnamani, said that going to Israel would be a dream come true for him.

"This is a dream fulfilled. I was born into the Christian religion. I will see with my own eyes where Jesus lived and died.

"I will abide by all the laid down rules, go and come back a better Christian," Nnamani said.

Also speaking, Mrs Balogun Omotunde, expressed happiness that even though she was not an indigene of the state, she scaled through the interview and would be among the lucky people to go to Israel.

"I am happy today because I scaled through the interview. I am happy that I will be going to Israel now that I have turned 50.

"This has encouraged me to draw closer to God," she said.

The pilgrims are expected to depart on Nov. 27. NAN

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