Intending Pilgrims get Charge on Spiritual Significance of Exercise
By Ralph Madugu
The spiritual significance of Christian pilgrimage to Israel was the emphasis during the orientation and farewell service organized for 2018 intending pilgrims from Plateau State by the Pilgrims Welfare Board.
The over 1700 intending pilgrims, who defied the cold and converged on the headquarters of the Church of Christ in Nations, COCIN, venue of the orientation, could not hide their joy and excitement as they rendered songs and danced in worship and praise to God for the privilege to embark on a journey that has been described as a fulfillment of the prophecy contained in Zachariah 8:20-22.
In an exhortation, Plateau State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Dr. Soja Bewarang, who is also the leader of the delegation for this year’s exercise, described the pilgrimage as a meaningful spiritual journey to a sacred place.
He pointed out that, while some people embarked on the pilgrimage for various reasons, for a child of God, it was an opportunity to walk on the footprints of Jesus Christ.
The cleric, who drew lessons from Zachariah 8:20-22, admonished the intending pilgrims to see the opportunity of physically visiting the Holy Land as a means of enriching their spiritual lives.
Said he: “Please let nothing distract you. Assess your relationship with God and your family. May you come back as new people in faith. Pilgrimage is not a vacation, site seeing or entertainment. The activities are designed to enrich our spiritual lives. The worse you can do and the sin you can commit during this pilgrimage is to abuse this kindness done to you by Plateau State Government. Going on pilgrimage is not a right but a privilege and it is not a means to your salvation but it enhances your faith”.
In his farewell message, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State congratulated the intending pilgrims for being found worthy to participate in the pilgrimage and urged them to see it as government’s appreciation for their contributions to the success of his administration and tasked them to pray for Plateau State and Nigeria.
He tasked them to be exemplary in their conduct as they were the good ambassadors of the state and Nigeria, noting that from the state had carved a niche for themselves and the state in the past for holding the best records in good conduct.
“Having set such an enviable record, I expect nothing less this time around. There should be no compromises and any act to the contrary will be met with dire consequences. May those who go with unclear motives therefore witness the experience of Saul on his way to Damascus and be converted to soul winners for God’s kingdom”, be stated.
In a goodwill message, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Rev. Dr. Tor Ujah, represented by Mr. John Tor Akume, thanked Governor Lalong for sponsoring the largest number of pilgrims in Nigeria and commended the intending pilgrims for exhibiting a high sense of maturity during the screening exercise describing it as a “reciprocation of the state government’s gesture.”
Earlier in his address, Executive Secretary, Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Rev. Fr. George Gorap, said the preparation for the 2018 exercise had not been easy but, by the special grace of God, they were able to overcome the challenges as a result of the cooperation and encouragement they got from the state governor.
While calling on the pilgrims to pray for lasting peace in the state, the cleric reminded them that they were intercessors for the state and enjoined them to thank God for the opportunity offered them because they were not better than those who could not make it this year.
Rev. Gorap assured that all arrangements had been concluded for a hitch-free and spiritually rewarding pilgrimage.
The orientation exercise featured lectures on the spiritual significance of pilgrimage, medical tips, immigration and security, discipline and general education among others.
A total of 1,707 Christians are expected to perform this year’s pilgrimage to Israel and Rome. Out of this, 1,200 were sponsored by the Plateau State Government, 500 by the 17 LGCs in the state while 7 were self-sponsored.