The tempo of pursuing the three fold agenda of the Lord Bishop of Diocese of Lagos West, the Rt Revd Dr. James Olusola Odedeji is in alarming rate. The Youth Development and Empowerment are becoming the topmost priority of the Diocesan and it’s being pursued holistically with so many events unfolding. To mark the 16th Anniversary of the Diocese on Friday, November 20, 2015, another history was made as he inaugurated the Royal Gems and Vessels Fellowship. One may ask what is this Royal Gems and Vessels and why the need of it? As they filed out with Mama Lagos West, Mrs Lydia Olukemi Odedeji to the altar, one discovered that the higher percentage of them are children and teenagers and few of them in youthful age.
According to Bishop Odedeji, he said time had come to inculcate godliness and commitment into the younger ones and that investment must be made into the youth of this Church. He further stressed that the leaders of other religion had instructed and commissioned their young men to go all out into marriage with Christian young girls and ladies. I think the Royal Gems refers to the boys and young men while the Royal Vessels refers to the girls and ladies. This initiative and vision must be bought into by the Clergy and laity of the Diocese of Lagos West. Most of our youth cannot identify themselves as Christians. They have no Christian testimony that is why they are easily tossed away by every wind of doctrine in most time on the issue of marriage. Bishop Odedeji stressed it to them that they must not go into marriage with people of other faith but Christians preferably Anglicans.
Maybe when the boys and the young men are being indoctrinated together along with their female counterparts, they will see the need to make marriage proposal to them when the time comes. When you ask most ladies why marrying outside Anglican Church, their responses are always that the young Anglican men are not coming their directions. And as age set in they settle for whatever comes their way. I commend the Bishop and Mama Lagos West for taking the bull by the horn in fulfilling the vision of Youth Development and Empowerment. The major issue is for all the clergy and wives to buy into the vision and run along with them to see young Anglican growing up with good Christian identity anywhere and anytime. If not it will just be like normal Boys, Girls and Ladies Guild that have made little or no impact in our youth.
My heart burnt within me as the Lord Bishop communicated the three visions of the Royal Gem and Vessel Fellowship to the august congregation at the 16th year Anniversary of the Diocese. It reminded me of days in Sunday Schools at Christ Church Anglican, Agege, the Chapel of the Light, University of Ilorin, Ilorin and the Smile Teams (a Bible Club comprising of Children and Teenagers in Unilorin Staff Quarters) where I had opportunity to work among children and teenagers for many years before my ordination into Priesthood in Anglican Communion. Many of which have grown up and they are good Christians in the societies today and majority are still in Anglican Church and married themselves. One will wonder what the three visions are. If you do not have a call and passion for young people especially children and teenagers, it may not have any spiritual meaning to you. The Bishop made reference to the Roman Catholic Church’s slogan , ‘Give me a child for the first five years and I will own him forever’. We must make the slogan our own or coin our own as the case may be. He encouraged to follow the pattern of the Roman Catholic Church.
What then are the Royal Gem and Vessels Fellowship vision? Firstly, there is need to stimulate members into personal relationship with Jesus Christ early enough in life. Secondly, to train our young men and women to make godly choices in their lives. And thirdly, to be a positive influences in today’s society. When there is clear definition, we reach the destination. The visions are long term investment that must be pursued with all instruments at our disposal especially the teaching of the Word of God, prayer and issues on the contemporary that had led our nation into corruption. May be people with genuine passion and spiritual understanding could come up with good Discipleship programme along children and teenagers that will be follows and monitor in all our parishes.
If we are focusing on youth today, the elders must be ready to be role models. Young people learn better and are impacted more under a Christian role model who can share their personal testimonies along with good practical teaching of the Word of God. Personally, testimonies of older people impacted me more than the theory of the Word of God. In those days I remember, if you are teaching us in the Sunday School and you have no testimony, we would not believe much of what you are saying. That is the major way of impacting young people.
By the grace of God in the next ten years if Jesus tarries we should begin to reap the divided of this great vision of the Royal Gems and Vessels Fellowship.
Revd Oluwole Ibikunle
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