LANRE ADEWOLE goes on a voyage of toilet ministration. He reports that it is winning and offers more hope than sighs.
In Mark 16:15, Jesus gave a direct charge to all Christians. “Go ye into the world and preach the gospel to all creature.” In Lagos state of about 20 million people, arguably with more Christians, bringing the gospel directly to over 10 million Christians is bound to be arduous on its own, regardless of the various denominations of church scattered all over the state, and could be humongous when considered that Jesus charge was for all mankind, irrespective of religious beliefs and affiliations.
With the divine assignment well cut out for His obedient believers, different avenues have been used and are still being used in delivering on the charge, with the conventional methods of open crusade, special invite to special programmes, distribution of tracts at strategic public places and one-on-one preaching, being the most known.
However, Lagosians are now getting very ingenious with their divine assignment, preaching the gospel in public restrooms (toilets) wherever such are found. There is hardly any public urinary utility today in the state without a biblical message, injunction or passage, hewn on either the door or the wall of such convenience. From government buildings to hotels, eateries to private offices, event venues to church buildings, no restroom is spared common messages like “Jesus is Lord”, “ Accept Christ today, tomorrow may be too late”, “Jesus loves you”, “Hell fire is real”, “The soul that sinneth shall die” among many other too numerous to list. Popular biblical quotes are also often found in such places, which a contributor, Fiyinfolu Akinjobi described as “sacred altar”. According to her, “wherever Christ is being preached is sacred. Men may call such places you mention as toilets which are supposed to be smelly and dirty but once the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in any ways, the holiness of His name has come upon such places. It would amaze you how many people have been saved by just coming in contact with the messages written on toilet doors”. Another contributor, Abiodun Ijiola brings a historical dimension into it. “The gospel is simply returning to where it all began” he enthused. “Where was Jesus, the good news being preached, born”? “The Manger” Inside Lagos replied. Ijiola with his fantastic knowledge of the Bible launched into symbolism to drive home his perception of the fad. Inside Lagos enquiries could not provide an answer to any particular Christian denomination that started the practice but hazarded guesses pointed at possibly two Pentecostal denominations. “You know they (identities withheld) always want to preach to everybody. Everybody must attend their churches despite the huge following they have already. It can’t be beyond them. The ways such messages are usually couched are what you are likely to have in their gatherings” Ebuka, a perceptibly nominal Christian offered. “What do you mean nominal? Because I don’t appear to like what they are doing too well? I am a Christian, pure and simple.” Why is he not in agreement with the practice? “Because they de-face people’s walls and doors” he thundered. Almost everyone asked by Inside Lagos confirmed running into such messages at almost all the restrooms they have used in the state but majority was not sure if blessed or saved by them. A 400-level Law student of University of Lagos (UNILAG) who simply introduced himself as K spoke of his annoyance the day a friend came visiting and had to use the visitors’ toilet in their house. “Could you believe he was preaching there? My Dad found it funny but I didn’t. We are Muslims. He didn’t show respect to our religious sensibility. He could preach to me directly and it would be for me to either accept or not. Why using style (indirect way)?” Pastor Adeyi Samuel was ambivalent. His edited contribution reads “I won’t say it is good or bad. You can preach the gospel in any ways as long as you don’t bring anyone into discomfort. Jesus makes heavy burden lighter, so you cant preach His good news by bringing additional burden on anyone. Maybe, I would say it is ok for government buildings but not too ok for private buildings. You can’t imagine how many souls had been ministered to, and delivered by those messages. Atimes, I will run into some that would bring immediate answers to agitations in my soul”. Owners and operators of buildings housing toilets with these messages appear helpless. A manager at a Mama Cass restaurant wonders how those who do it can be caught in the act. What does she think of installing monitoring camera? “By law guiding such installation, I think the restroom is part of where you can’t put it in a public place like ours, so you don’t violate somebody’s privacy” she explained. Findings by Inside Lagos also revealed that a subtle religious contest is now on in the new ministry ground as Muslims are also beginning to propagate their faith in there, challenging the Christians for space. Inside an average toilet now, it is common-place to have beside “Jesus is Lord”, “Allah is great”. T.J says despite being a Muslim, he reads those messages, and then puts that of his own belief by the side. A ministration revolution appears to be finally here.