Date: November 30, 2016
‘Only brave women and men can bring peace to the world, not by practising war but by practising non-violence’, an Indian Author, Amit Ray had once stated. We will define violence as any act that is perpetuated to cause harm to another person and it is normally triggered by a misunderstanding.
As Ghana prepares for the polls on December 7, I happen to hear several peace advocates as well as peace lovers on various platforms calling for peace, peace, peace and saying no to violence.
Some of them believe for peace to be substantive, the key actors must prioritise the conduits of peace. How can we prioritise the conduits of peace when we do not even know them?
Interestingly, I chanced on a sermon by the Chairman of The Church of Pentecost, Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah, which assigns specific duties in the chain of the peace maintenance role.
Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah who doubles as the President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) centered his message on ‘Being An Agent Of Peace’ with specific reference to four Biblical characters; David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail.
The story on the four, which ran from 1 Samuel 19 through to 25 of the Bible, was an issue of transferring power from one king to another, and this process brought about wrangling which affected even indigenes of Israel at the time.
CHAOTIC POWER TRANSFER (1 Samuel 19-24)
Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyina narrated that Samuel had anointed Saul as king over Israel, then Saul disobeyed God and lost his favour; hence God chose David to replace Saul. Samuel therefore anointed David as king over Israel but the fact that he was anointed did not mean he was going to rule immediately.
A mighty man whose name was Goliath rose to terrorise the Israelites. David empowered by God killed this man. David, now a national hero won the admiration of most of the Israelites, particularly the women, who sang his praise.
Saul became jealous and felt threatened. Of course every normal human being would feel threatened given the circumstances. Saul started pursuing David with 3,000 men. Although David had no intention of usurping Saul’s power he had to flee because he was being hunted.
Saul needed someone to advise him positively. He needed someone to tell him that so long as God had appointed him ruler for a set time; until the time is over no one could stop David from only ascending the throne, but this would be after Saul was no more. Samuel, the Prophet actually needed to do that bidding.
THE SIDE ISSUES FANNED THE FLAMES (1 Samuel 19-24)
Then we get to know that although Samuel heard from God, he did not apply wisdom while disseminating the message. It was either he told David that ‘you will rule only after Saul was dead and gone’ or he explained issues to Saul that ‘David can only reign after you are no more’.
The Chairman likened this scenario to our situation in Ghana. I could hear him say ‘God speaks, yes; he can even mention who will become the next president because he knows it all but then after speaking to you, you will have to apply wisdom. Do I have to tell everyone about this, how do I get my message across without causing mayhem in this crucial season?’
This is what wisdom should guide you to do, you do not just burst forth because God says and leave people wondering in their minds which angle to go and what step to take next, sometimes it is best that you keep the prophecy to yourself and pray about it.
The advisors around Saul also had a part in the blame as the message of the Chairman unfolded. The advisors were expected to counsel the leader positively by looking for amicable ways to resolve their misunderstanding. Saul just needed someone to tell him to sit David down and trash out their differences instead of pursuing him.
In the illustration, the key actors identified are advisors to political heads. They are expected to quench possible flames that may arise even after the declaration of results and not fan it with heresies, imaginations and assumptions.
Ghana like Israel is committing a blunder by fighting amongst one another in the name of politics. Political banter has taken over our radio stations and television channels; one party against the other instead of speaking to the real issues bedevilling the nation such as laziness, worker apathy particularly those in the government sector, out migration, and our inability to extract and make use of our own natural resources for export.
Ghana needs this more than ever but you find precious time being wasted on discussing political achievements, among others; this is what the Apostle Prof. Opoku Onyinah referred to in his message as aligning 3,000 soldiers to chase after innocent and harmless David when the harmful enemies like the philistines and others were left alone.
NO LESSONS LEARNT? (1 Samuel 25:1-13)
The sermon continues that David and his men moved to Paran and settled in at the border closer to a man named Nabal who had a large flock and was very wealthy. David and his men formed a wall of protection around the man such that thieves could not break into the territory. David needed assistance because he had run out of provisions. He sent men to Nabal for support. Nabal told his men to send him word that he did not know him and would not offer help to servant who had ran away from his master.
We could say Nabal was right because he did not ask David to protect his territory but the fact that he did not know David meant he was not interested in what happened around him; Nabal was unpatriotic.
The electorate in this regard is being advised to be patriotic enough to know what goes on around them in order to inform their decision making during the polls and also advance sound political arguments where they seek to. In political arguments, getting the facts right is very essential. Nabal calling David who had become popular after killing Goliath, a servant was an unpardonable offense that ignited David’s anger. Be patriotic enough to know what people are doing right and wrong so that if they come to you for your vote you do not make inflammatory comments.
‘Nabal’s servants also reported every word; hook, line and sinker to David. This is what the media in Ghana today is also famous for’; the sermon noted. Sometimes the words spoken at the political rallies are not pleasant, sometimes it will be better if they remained at the rally grounds, at least only a few people would have heard those statements then but in our case, the media keep spicing those words and highlighting them for everyone to hear. This can incite the anger of an opponent. We must therefore be very circumspect in our reportage.
On hearing the message, David also gathered 400 men to chase after Nabal and to destroy him. He did not learn from what had happened around him, he did not learn from when Saul was pursuing him, an innocent man with 3,000 men.
‘When anger sets in people can hardly reason for themselves, they can hardly remember past errors of others; all they remember is to fight back. Ghanaians will not have time to remember what happened to other countries during wars when tempers are high so we should not even allow the tempers to go that high in the first place’, the sermon had admonished, adding that ‘without the grace of God, no lessons can be learnt and no peace can be enjoyed permanently.’
HERE COMES THE PEACE MAKER (1 Samuel 25:14-35)
At this juncture, a peace maker, Abigail who was the wife of Nabal was introduced. Abigail took gifts and went to meet David. She gathered courage and decided to meet David; this was a man who could have killed her at any given time because he was out there for her husband. This is why our opening statement says peace is pursued by brave men and women.
When Abigail met David, she spoke wisely and gently. She may have researched on David and that facilitated her conversation with him. She capitalised on three salient characteristics of David which he could not take for granted. She appealed to the faithfulness of David towards God, the faithfulness of God for David and the power of sin. ‘This was a wise, peace loving woman’, the Chairman had chanted.
Abigail reminded David of his righteousness and why he should not shed blood of the innocent so that he will not be hunted after he had become king.
Abigail told David of God’s faithfulness towards him. Someone needs to tell the political heads and their supporters that God has been faithful to them. The number of times they travel in a year and have escaped accidents, that alone means God will surely watch over them and see them in power if only he wants them to lead the country. Someone has to remind them that even if the electorates are no longer singing their praise, it is God who makes kings, which is why they need to relax and stay calm.
Abigail reminded David of the power of sin which could go a long way to affect him throughout his life. ‘We need people to tell the political leaders that when they become leaders through bloodshed, their conscience will always be heavy, 'if people have to die for you to get to power, then you are not going to enjoy peace in your reign’, the sermon stressed.
In the end, David’s anger subsided and he was reassured of his chances of becoming a king. He accepted the gifts from Abigail and sent her away with these words ‘go in peace’.
Abigail caused David to rescind on his decision and to accept the gift. We need people who can calm down hearts so that even if the election results do not go in their favour, the losing parties and individuals will accept defeat and give their blessing and support to the winning ones.
This is not the time for complacency, after preaching peace; let us also practice the conduits of peace
Be an agent of peace.
Written By: Lydia Darlington Fordjour (Journalist)
The Chairman of The Church of Pentecost and President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Apostle Professor Opoku Onyin read more