Uproar Over Planned Christian Pilgrimage In Jordan …Christian Leaders Reject Proposed Trip …We Can Visit Any Holy Site – NCPC

Christian leaders in the country have kicked against taking Nigerianst to Jordan for the 2020 pilgrimage.

Even though the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC) has said
that it mandate is not limited to taking Nigerians to Israel for the Holy Pilgrimage along, most of the Christian leaders who spoke to LEADERSHIP condemned the planned visit to Jordan, insisting that the Kingdom is not connected to the birth and death of Jesus Christ and should not be considered for pilgrimage.

On 29 May 2021, NCPC is expected to commence airlift of Christians to Jordan for the 2020 Holy pilgrimage.

It will be the first time Nigerians will be landing in Jordan for pilgrimage amid unrest in the Middle East as a result of conflict between Israel and Palestinian based terrorist group, Hamas.

Israel had earlier shut it’s land and air border as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the NCPC insisted that taking Nigerians to Jordan for the exercise is part of their mandate.

This has caused uproar within the Christian community with Church
leaders insisting that going to Jordan should be considered as a tourism tour and not Holy pilgrimage.

Reacting on the issue, the Prelate, Methodist Church Nigeria, His Eminence, Dr Samuel Chukwuemeka Kanu Uche, said Jesus was not born in Jordan but added that the organisers of such pilgrimage know why they choose the kingdom.

“I don’t know whether Jesus was born in Jordan. If they want to go to Jordan, well, except for Baptism. But Jesus was not born in Jordan. He was Baptized at River Jordan. It was there the holy spirit came upon him in the form of a Dove. That is the importance attached to Jordan.

“Secondly, the Jewish people cross River Jordan on their way to the promised land. I don’t know why they want to waste money in Jordan. I
don’t know why but they know better. They may have their reason,” the
head of the Methodist Church in Nigeria said.

Also, the National Coordinator, Prayer Force Network, Bishop John Pofi, said it is not good for the Nigerian pilgrims to go to Jordan.

“Why will you go to a place that is not ascribed as the original birth place of Jesus Christ? If you don’t go to where Christ was born and where he was crucified and where he resurrected, you’ve not gone for pilgrimage,” the Bishop said.

According to him, pilgrimage is all about the birth of Christ Christ and his resurrection adding that the mystery of Christianity lies in salvation through Jesus Christ.

“Anybody going to Jordan, as far as I am concerned is going to the Middle East. For the last few days, have you seen the missiles that are going on the air? What if a mistake happened?

“At this point in time, what does it take to temporarily suspend the pilgrimage in Jordan until Israel opens the borders? If you fly to Israel, you know you are protected. If anything happened in Jordan, who would take the consequences? Safety, we know, is of the Lord. But let us not take anything for granted. To me, they just want to go and
catch fun because there is nothing spiritual about it. If it is time
to pray, is it in mount Sinai that you will go and pray? The place of the birth of Jesus, where he was crucified, where he resurrected, they are not in Jordan,” he said.

Pofi called on Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the organisers of the pilgrimage in Jordan to have a rethink.

“Nigerians have seen a lot. There is no point traveling for any pilgrimage in Jordan. That’s not a pilgrimage. They are going for tourism. As missiles are flying, I am appealing to Mr President and
all his Advisers, even though he doesn’t have advisers on religious affairs, I am pleading with the vice president, let them look into this issue carefully. They should not come all tell Nigerians it was a mistake. We will hold the government responsible if anything happened,” the Bishop said.

Another Christian leader, Rev Favour Aigbedu, said it is unfortunate for Christian to go for pilgrimage in Jordan instead of Israel.

“As we speak, the Middle East is in crisis. Sending Christian to that land is unacceptable. This is not the time for such. In fact, Jordan is not a Christian Nation to start with.

“The pilgrimage is a spiritual exercise for Christians to go to Israel and see what they have been reading in the Bible. Holy pilgrimage is not a tourism exercise. This is not a welcome development.

“The NCPC must look into this issue. If Israel cannot be access now,
the pilgrimage should be postponed. Is not mandatory that the pilgrimage should be done every year. Let us rather pray for the security and safety of the world,” Aigbedu said.

Former Board member of the Christian Pilgrims Commission in Nasarawa
State under the Tanko Almakura’s administration, Bishop Edward Chanomi
Williams told LEADERSHIP that Jordan has never been part of their pilgrimage tour.

Edward, who is the presiding Bishop of Peace Chapel Mararaba, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State said what affect Israel and
Palestinian affect the middle east.

“What affects the middle east affect the entire world because all eyes
will be there. I read in the news that the President of Turkey called
on the Nigerian President seeking for support to end the crisis in the
middle east.

“If with what is happening in the middle east some people still want
to risk the lives of Nigerians then it is uncalled for,” he said, advising NCPC to put the pilgrimage on hold until the middle east is safe.

“That Jordan is not affected does not mean that the middle east is at
peace. It is not at peace. If you look at the way rockets are flying, you don’t know what will happen. So, the NCPC should put it on hold until peace is returned to Israel, and the Middle east. Pilgrimage is
a spiritual exercise and our anchor is Israel. Pilgrimage is a spiritual issue, not carrying people on tour,” Williams said.

Also, Pastor Habu Aminchi, said what the NCPC is trying to do is bad adding that the should suspend the trip and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

“Going to Jordan is not pilgrimage. What they are trying to do is bad. Christianity is about love. When your neighbour’s house is on fire, you have to sympathise with him. We are supposed to pray for the peace of Jerusalem because that is what the Bible instruct us to do. Whoever
that pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace will follow him. Going to
Jordan for pilgrimage is not acceptable and condemnable,” Aminchi said
adding that people planning for the Jordan trip are giving a wrong
interpretation to the whole concept of pilgrimage.

“We argued this things in the past. We insisted in CAN that Christiana
should be allowed to go for Holy pilgrimage to the promised land and
to the land where Jesus perform all his miracles and was raptured into
heaven. The significance is Israel. If they are going for tourism, they should remove the Christian Holy pilgrimage,” he said adding that there is no relationship between Christianity and Jordan.

“There is Biblical connection between Israel and Egypt which we have
visited in the past. The river Jordan that flows from Israel to the dead sea has nothing to do with the kingdom of Jordan.

“I’ve not seen any archeological evidence on the relationship between
Christian worship and Jordan. They would have visited Rome. It makes
more sense because the sites are there. But maybe because of the COVID-19 Europe is in lockdown that is why they are going there. They can as well visit Egypt,” he said.

But the NCPC has said that by it’s mandate, they can visit any site
outside Israel.

Also, the Commission which said many states have shown interest in the
trip, added that Jordan is safe to visit as the crisis in Israel and the Palestinian area has not escalated to the entire middle east region.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP, the Special Adviser on Media to the NCPC
executive secretary, Rev Ayuba Pam, said the flag-off for the pilgrimage to Jordan will commence on the 29 May 2021.

“The flag-off for the pilgrimage will commence on the 29 of this month
and it will be done in Jos,” he said that, “it all depend on how they view the middle east.

“We have an issue between Israel and Palestine. The 2020 pilgrimage
which will be performed this month is not taking place in Israel because Israel closed all her borders and they are not allowing people to come into their country because of COVID-19 lockdown.

“Jordan, which is in the Middle East, is the place that the commission
has chosen for the visit. It is one of the holy places that has three holy sites.

“The expectations of the Commission is that people will understand why
Jordan has been picked, not because of anything, but because Jordan is very critical in the Biblical history and it is very important,” he said.

According to the SA media, Jesus Christ started his ministry in Jordan adding that many people know the Bible story about the Baptism story
of Jesus Christ at River Jordan.

“It was the River Jordan that the Children of Israel cross to the promised land,” Pam said adding, “It was in mount Nebo that Moses stood to look at the promised land from a distance but couldn’t enter
because God said he was not going to enter the promised land. So, Jordan is very strategic in Biblical history,” Pam said adding that Jordan is peaceful.

“I think it is relatively peaceful. The trouble in the region has not escalated to the point the entire region could be declared non accessible. The current situation cannot affect the Christian
pilgrimage that we will undertook in the next two weeks.

“The pilgrimage is for 2020. The 2020 pilgrimage would have been done
around November/December last year up to January- March this year but
because of the COVID-19, the world was locked down and those who had paid for their pilgrimage last year and the once to be airlifted are going to Jordan. The 2021 pilgrimage will commence in November/December of this year,” he said.

On why they are going to Jordan, Pam said: “Well, by the mandate of
the Commission, we are supposed to visit all Holy sites. Especially places Jesus walk in. And Jesus started his ministry in Jordan as I said. There are holy sites in Rome, there are holy sites in Greece,
even in Turkey there are holy sites.

“So, the mandate of the Commission is not restricted to Israel alone.
It is all the Holy sites that Jesus understood his ministry. It is an
interwoven kind of a thing between the old and the new testament. The
old testament where Moses did a lot of job, and where others also
perform. I counted Jordan, Turkey and the rest of them,” Pam said.

He said there were trainings ongoing for the intending pilgrims adding
that they will be airlifted in batches.

“In Plateau State, we are doing the screening. People are coming with
their international passport. We are working to ensure that those who
don’t have International Passport get it. We are working on it. We
can’t give an exact number of the people that are going to Jordan now
because we are training the people in batches. Many people especially
in the states are picking interest in the Jordan strip. It is not
compulsory. The states are supposed to show support to their people,
“Pam added.


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