Mercy Ikoro

Religious leaders have been charged to rejig their evangelism methods by going beyond preaching from the pulpits to doing more acts of charity, adding that christianity is about giving.

This charge was made recently by the leaders of the Dorcas Ministry, the charity arm of the Temple of Uncommon Grace, during the Shop For Free (SFF) charity outreach held recently in Ikeja, Lagos.

The SFF programme is a quarterly event organised by the Dorcas Ministry, where the needy and vulnerable people like widows, orphans, the physically challenged and the unemployed are brought together and given gifts like clothes, shoes, foodstuff, money and even empowerment and health consultancy services.

According to the pastor, Nkem Anyabuike, helping the poor is one area that people should look into, because many Nigerians are suffering and living in penury.

She said, “So many Nigerians are hungry and living in very bad situations. They need to stay alive. Jesus Christ was all about giving to the poor and feeding the hungry.

Anyabuike said the idea behind the SFF charity programme was to bring relief and offer hope and love to people in need and those on the verge of losing hope in life:

“I have found out that when people are in need and depressed, they begin to doubt the existence of God. So, we try to use our charity programme to preach, provide them some relief and reassure them that God still loves and cares for them.”

Coordinator of the Dorcas Ministry, Chika Onyanusi, encouraged Christians to be charitable, saying that no amount of charity is too small to be accepted by the poor.

“Christianity is about giving. These days, leaders are more interested in asking their followers to donate and sow seed. It is all about asking the poor to give, but no one is asking them to come and take. Giving to the poor is what Christ is all about. And we should all try to emulate him,” she said.

Onyeanusi, who is the brain behind the SFF programme, explained that the outreach has various phases by which they provide succour to the less privileged.

“The first stage we provide is where they go to take items like clothes, shoes, bags and even household materials like cooking utensils and furniture. Then we have the raw food segment, where we give out bags of raw food like rice, garri, spaghetti, groundnut oil, seasonings, spices, noodles, salt and sugar.

“The third is the human resource and skill acquisition segment. Our idea is to assist people without work and those searching for jobs. We have a human resources expert that interviews and counsels them on the jobs and skills they possess, and we would take it up from there and seek ways to get them gainfully employed, or get them empowerment opportunities.

“There is the health section, where we have medical officers that provide free basic health checks like blood pressure and sugar level. And then the last is the entertainment section, where we give cash gifts to the best dancers,” she said.

Some of the beneficiaries that spoke to newsmen expressed gratitude to the organisers. Many almost burst into tears as they thanked the organisers, calling on religious groups to borrow a leaf from members of the Temple of Uncommon Grace and join in the quest to amelioration the plight of the poor in society.

“I am very grateful for this charity event,” said Mrs. Odulami, who got clothes and food bags. “I am pleasantly surprised at what I got from them. I got two nice clothes, a pair of good shoes, beautiful gele and food bag. I believe God has used them to touch our lives this festive season, and we are thankful.”

“I pray God to bless them,” said Mrs. Oni, a widow and mother of two. “Our country would be a much better place if we have more display of concern and love towards widows and the needy.”