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Pilgrim’s Progress: The fourth man in this furnace

by Akan Nweke

Mr Ibu’s wife and one year old son have not seen for about a week now. The actor-comedian whose real name is John Okafor said he has been waiting to hear from the kidnappers for about four days now to no avail after they had called to reduce the ransom from fifty million to six million. Mr Ibu is afraid they may have been killed.

Before the New Year celebrations, hundreds of people in Jos lost their lives in a bomb incident. The same happened in Abuja. That wasn’t Abuja’s second time of erupting in flames like that; the Independence Day occurrence is still fresh in our memory.

In Lagos, we are advised to stay away from public places because there have been bomb scares in places like Motorways and Shoprite. Yesterday, amidst a client’s malarial fever, she was able to confide in me, her pharmacist that she had been told to stay away from Ajah bus stop because of a rumoured bomb incident.

Everywhere is public as far as I’m concerned. There is no place in Lagos that is low density.

I have just chronicled all the above events, dear reader, for you to see that the whole country has become something akin to a furnace. A furnace is like a large enclosed space for heating things. In the Bible story, Nebuchadnezzar the king asked his men to heat it up seven more times so that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego won’t have a chance. Nigeria has indeed been heated up more than seven times for there are bombs and rumours of bombs just like the Bible said about the end times: “there would be wars and rumours of wars”.

For you to know how hot that furnace was, Nebuchadnezzar’s  men were killed just by drawing close to throw the three men in; an important lesson in following death-trap instructions. Should I pray that those heating up Nigeria should be killed by their own fire?

As soon as those men were thrown in, Nebuchadnezzar got up and looked into the furnace and screamed, “did you not just throw three men in?” I wonder who he was asking, seeing as the throwers were dead. He went on, “I see four men in there, the fourth with the form of the Son of man” And because of this private vision, he fell on his knees and worshipped and ordered that the men be brought out and that no one spoke ill of their God.

The Bible says, “not one hair on their body was singed”, and the most awesome part, “the smell of the fire did not pass on their clothes. I believe that to be a particularly spectacular miracle as I’m well acquainted with the pungency of smoke!

There is a fourth man in this furnace. His name is Jesus. He isn’t just any ordinary man but a fourth man to three men who were joined by their unwavering faith. The guys had said, “even if he does not save us”. I think that is faith at its purest; faith that commits to stand even when no results are seen because it is really faith in someone rather than for something.

There is a fourth man in this furnace. There will be no excuse to lose integrity because of the heat of the fire. In our schools, in our work places and in our families we are required to be steadfast, unmoveable and abounding in love. People who love are not violent, dishonest, intolerant and all such things.

There is a fourth man in this furnace. Fear should be out and faith in. The entire country is a public place, and we still have to go out. Be security conscious but not rumor conscious. Whether we live or die, we do so unto the Lord.

There is a fourth man in this furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s carved image. We must not bow to oppression, political manipulation and the voter apathy pervading we the youth. On 15th January, voter registration begins and we must all come out and put our names on those registers. Come April, let’s take a stand and commit to a decision. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego took a stand against Nebuchadnezzar’s god, and likewise we must take a stand against kidnapping, acts of terrorism, treasury looting and all such unrighteous acts in our country.

I feel I have to do this. I decree and declare that Mr Ibu’s family be returned to him safe and sound in the name of Jesus.

Jesus  is the fourth man in this furnace!

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