BSN’S Diplomatic Relations with the Nigerian Church
…a critical nucleus in the Bible work
Christianity is fast growing in Nigeria. In one of its studies, the Pew Research Center, a US-based global think-thank that provides information on social issues and demographic trends, projects that Nigeria will be home to the third largest Christian population in the world by 2050. This, no doubt, is the sheer grace of God at work in the Nigerian Church, that despite several persecutions, challenges and setbacks, the Body of Christ is marching impregnably forward, and the gates of hell could not prevail against it.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the umbrella body of Christians in Nigeria, brings together the various denominations of the church into 5 categories namely: The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) made up of the Catholic Church in Nigeria, The Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) comprising of Anglican, Methodist, Baptist Churches, Foursquare, Presbyterian, Eternal Sacred Order of C & S, Church of the Lord Aladura and other Orthodox Churches. Other categories include The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) made up of Pentecostal Churches, the Organisation of African Instituted Churches comprising of Churches founded by Nigerians (Africans) in Nigeria, as well as the ECWA – Evangelical Church of West Africa (Former Sandan Interior Missions) which had root in Northern Nigeria and Tekan – Denominations based in Northern Nigeria such as COCIN, HKAN NKST, Christian Assemblies, LCCN, etc.
The unity of the various denominations of the Church is very critical to its survival. Hence, while praying passionately for the Church, the Founder, Jesus Christ, pleaded with the Father “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” John 17: 21 (KJV). The Holy Bible, thus, becomes the most important tool for the unification of the body of Christ. The Bible is used by the entirety of the Christian churches for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3: 16) (KJV).
It was for this purpose that the Bible Society of Nigeria (BSN) was established to provide this all-important tool necessary for the sustenance of the Church in Nigeria. For the Society to effectively achieve this purpose, it has put in place mechanisms for fostering amicable and productive relationship with the churches which are considered a veritable nucleus in the Bible work.
In relating with the church, the BSN seeks to understand, identify, and meet the peculiar needs of the various segments within the denominations. This understanding has led to the creation of various brands of Bibles and curation of programmes that profoundly impact on Christians nationwide. The diplomatic relations between the BSN and the Church have indeed, contributed massively to the propagation of the gospel through concerted mission work, particularly in the hinterlands, translation of the Bible into indigenous languages, Bible Study Notes on various relevant subjects, Braille for the Blind and Sign language for the Deaf. The End-to-End programme of the Society remains a reference point for the consummation of the relationship between the Church and the Society in expanding the gospel to the unreached through multimedia evangelism, preaching, free Bible donations and ultimately, planting of Churches in the mission fields.
The Church and the BSN, thus become an inseparable partner in the Bible work in Nigeria. The Society constantly engages with Church leaders across all denominations to explore strategic partnerships in Bible production, translation, and distribution. As the world continues to evolve, bringing with it newer and more dynamic challenges and problems such as conflicting sexual orientation, gender identity, marital instability, climate change, natural disasters, global conflicts, religious intolerance, racial discrimination, gender equality, obnoxious legislations, etc., the relationship between the Church and the BSN, more than ever before, becomes more relevant to addressing these issues.
Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States is quoted to have said, “The Bible is the one supreme source of revelation of the meaning of life, the nature of God, and spiritual nature and needs of men. It is the only guide of life which really leads the spirit in the way of peace and salvation…” If this is anything to go by, then the Church and the BSN must continue to work together for the good of mankind. This is the only fundamental and enduring relationship that is sacrosanct for the propagation of the gospel and advancement of the kingdom work in Nigeria.