Sunday 30 June 2019

No Sinner is a Christian

I was thinking this morning.... about that Billboard at Yenagoa junction by Mbiama in Rivers State. As we journeyed from Aviara in Delta state back to Port Harcourt last weekend after attending the burial ceremony of the mother of my colleague, I was engrossed in some literatures for the most part. At a point I looked up and asked where we were and was told we were in Bayelsa state. Looking ahead, I saw the billboard, that billboard that had intrigued me for decades, with the inscription, 'No Sinner is a Christian' and immediately knew we were at Yenagoa junction at Mbiama. I lowered my head and fond memories began to flood my mind. 

Those five words, 'No Sinner is a Christian' are not ordinary to me because they remind me of the days gone by. The billboard holds special memories of 1985 when I had to leave Warri to Port Harcourt for the very first time. My elder brother had been admitted at the University of Port Harcourt the year before, a period before the introduction of mobile phones. He had sent a message home that he was broke and needed money for food. After serious scooping, my parents were only able to put together N25 (twenty five naira) and a bucket of garri. Since there was no one travelling to Port Harcourt, I was asked to take the money and garri to him in school. Unknown to us, on the same day I set out from Warri to Port Harcourt, my brother had boarded a vehicle from Port Harcourt to Warri. We missed ourselves. Though it seemed like a journey in futility, but being my very first trip to the famous Garden City, every kilometre was an experience. But the unforgettable moment for me was beholding those five words 'No Sinner is a Christian,' written in white on the black background of the billboard strategically located at a point they say was Yenagoa junction. For me, Yenagoa junction never remained the same, because whenever I passed by, I was reminded that 'No Sinner is a Christian.'

For many years, I kept asking myself if it was true that no sinner is a christian. The play of words and use of simple syntax somewhat masks the subtle warning behind the words. Back home, I pondered on those words into the next day which was a Sunday. Later that evening, a couple in church paid my wife and I a surprise visit. After making acquaintances, the wife told a story of how her former boss was so mean to the point of sacking her on trumped-up charges. This very rich, supposedly Christian boss, she said, for some reason had a church beside his house both in the city and in the village. The boss had told her, with a smile of satisfaction on his lips, of how he was so angry with the 'noise' from the church on a particular service day, that he stormed the church, grabbed the Pastor and started pummeling him. As the congregation fled, he not only beat the Pastor to pulp, he destroyed the church equipment. Goodness me! Why did he take the laws into his hands instead reporting to the authorities, if he felt his right was violated? The picture of the billboard at Yenagoa junction flashed by reminding me that 'No Sinner is a Christian.'

I understand that falling into sin does not make you a sinner, but if sinning has become a way of life for you then you are a sinner and John 9:31 says God hears not sinners. So when the news broke of a Pastor alledgedly raping a celebrity years ago, and the denials that followed, my heart weeps, for I know not who is telling the truth. One thing I know is agreeing with the message on the billboard at Yenagoa junction in Mbiama that 'No Sinner is a Christian.' 

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey. 

Sunday 23 June 2019

The Christian Brothers Booze

I was thinking this morning.... about booze. Last Tuesday, the organisation I work for had an HSE conference with CEOs of our partner organisations. It was an intense session of brainstorming on what more we could do to make our people safe. Immediately after the session, which ended before the official closing time of 4.30pm, we took a few steps into the tent behind the hall where a staff party had already started. It was kind of difficult for many to make that transition, moving from drinking water to drinking alcohol, especially because technically they were still on duty. It was a dilemma for many that saw me around the table. They wanted their booze but not sure how I will react being one of the Company's 'drugs and alcohol police officers.' They were also afraid that I might conduct drug and alcohol test the next morning, which is a serious offence if one is positive. While some jokingly warned me not to try it, others had to deal with the finger-biting dilemma by settling for just a bottle of booze. As I mused on their dilemma I remembered a TIME Magazine article I read recently titled 'Why Alcohol Companies Are Betting on Non-Alcoholic Booze.'

It's looking like stress is driving more and more people towards having the usual weekend socialising on week days. They seem to want to visit their regular bars midweek but don't want the alcohol. According to the TIME Magazine article, it was this challenge that birthed a bar called 'Getaway,' New York City’s first permanent booze-free bar. Sam Thonis, the owner says, 'We are just offering something that I think people want: a social experience without the alcohol.' Now many of the established companies are working on investing more funds in non-alcoholic booze. Hmm!

But I am thinking, is it possible to have a non-alcoholic booze? The dictionary definition of booze is 'alcoholic drink' with synonyms such as liquor, strong drink, spirits, intoxicants etc. So how can we have a non-alcoholic 'alcoholic drink?' Funny, right? It's like saying you have a non-alcoholic 'ogogoro.' Take away the alcohol and it will no longer be booze or ogogoro. Are you surprised at the contradiction? Please don't be. We see and read about this daily. We have many that profess to be Christians, but don't believe in Christ. They are in church, engaging in all sort of anti-christ activities, such as making members to masturbate in 'church' or sharing booze/ beer as communion and still want to be called Christians. Haba! How can you take away the Christ and still be a Christian? Just like it is alcohol that makes a drink become booze, it is Christ that makes a man a Christian. 

It's funny how people want to lose the essence but not the name. They want to belong to a particular circle without its core value. If you have taken away the alcohol from the booze, why don't you call what is left by the real name, juice or non-alcoholic beverage? Why still qualify it as booze? Please let's call a booze, a booze. Also, when next you read those unsettling news saying this pastor did this or that, or see a flyer from 'Christian Association of Native Doctors,' remember to call a Christian, a Christian. You cannot be a native doctor and a Christian at the same time. And when you see a bottle of brandy called 'THE CHRISTIAN BROTHERS,' don't be confused, it doesn't mean the brandy is a Christian. But if you happen to be in the mix of this contradiction, I leave you with 2nd Timothy 3:5 that says 'Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.'

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Tea or Coffee?

I was thinking this morning.... about tea and coffee because it rained for the better part of last night. I walked into a restaurant with colleagues for a special breakfast last Thursday looking forward to a simmering pot of tea or coffee. As I scanned the refreshment desk to see the choices available, disappointment immediately replaced my expectation when I discovered there was only Lipton tea and Nescafe coffee. I was transfixed for some seconds as I remembered my experience as a child.

I remembered early in the days in Warri, a good breakfast for me was akamu (pap) and akara (bean ball) while a great breakfast was yam and pepper soup (which in Itsekiri, we call Igbagba or Epuru, when the yam is cooked together with the spicy sauce.) In all my growing up years, one meal I disliked as breakfast was bread and tea/coffee. It was not just because, at best the bread goes with 'Blueband butter,' the tea/coffee was never an inspiration. So whenever we were made to take tea/coffee for breakfast, I would frown and literally curse whoever discovered tea as a part of a meal. I never knew that some day I would understand why and start enjoying tea and coffee. 

Decades had passed and it was deja vu staring at the simmering pot of tea that has become a permanent feature in my diet. From whence cometh this tea? I imagined in Bible language. I found out that tea was discovered and consumed as a beverage around 3rd century AD, while coffee was discovered in Ethiopia around 11th century AD? Interestingly, tea has become the most popular beverage in the world after plain water, with the world’s tea market estimated to be worth $38.8 billion in 2013.

It is interesting to see how tea/coffee preparation and options had developed over the years from one nation to another. In the Himalayas, it’s traditional to add butter to milky black tea. Wahoo!!! Why on earth would anyone add butter to tea? Wonders will never end. In Nigeria today, you still see the tea seller, generally referred to as Mai Shai, brewer of tea in Hausa, creating a waterfall or should I say a 'tea-fall,' as they mix the beverage between cups. Same old Lipton tea, no improvement whatsoever. Though Turkey is the highest consumer of tea in the world, the Americans have by far made the most improvement in the tea/cofee business. Do you know that Starbucks, the American coffee company and coffeehouse chain, can serve a cup of coffee 19,000 different ways? Yes, you read right, 19,000 options. No wonder that between 1971 when Starbucks was founded and 2019, they're operating in 30,000 locations worldwide. Who would have thought that selling tea and coffee could be so lucrative. 

As we get deeper into the rainy season, your preference to keep warm may be plain tea or coffee or one of the 19,000 options on offer at Starbucks. Or it could even be the old fashioned pepper soup. Whatever it is, just don't beat yourself because Colossians 2:16 says 'Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink.' The most important thing is that you stay warm. 

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.