Christian pilgrims seek closer Nigeria-Israel relations




Christian pilgrims on the 2019 exercise have underscored the need for closer ties between Nigeria and Israel toward promoting knowledge sharing.

The pilgrims, who are the first batch of the Plateau State 2019 pilgrims and include clergymen and winners of the Second edition of the National Bible Quiz competition, spoke in separate interviews on their arrival in Israel.

Fr. George Gorap, Executive-Secretary of Plateau State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, who is leading the pilgrims to the Holy Land, said that strengthening the partnership between Nigeria and Israel would also promote peacebuilding in the country.

According to him, the sponsorship of pilgrims by the Plateau government is a way of supporting the people spiritually.

“The end result is for us to replicate what we see in the Holy Land in Nigeria and we can be exposed to other people’s culture, draw closer to God, and become more united.

“All of us are from different denominations, but as you can see, pilgrimage has changed the whole narrative. We are one and all of us are united.

“The fruit of pilgrimage is not something that you can look at as economic value; it is more of spiritual value.

“So, it is very important for us to be united with our God, with one another, and to build ourselves up spiritually.

“It will contribute immensely toward peacebuilding, prayer life, drawing all of us closer to God, as well as promoting unity and peace in Nigeria,” Gorap said.

Fr. Polycarp Lubu, Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Plateau State, said that the pilgrimage initiative was apt in terms of promoting moral values.

“It is by strengthening the Israel-Nigeria relationship that we are able to come here (Israel) to see lot of things that are of benefit to us and to our country at large.

“It is our responsibility equally to learn from the Israeli government on how it developed.

“We too have a spiritual side. So there is a need for us to learn how we are going to develop our own so that we can have pilgrims from Israel visit Nigeria.

“This kind of relationship must be encouraged to strengthen the bond between both countries and thereby become counterparts in moral and infrastructural development,” Lubu said.

Winners of the second National Bible Quiz contest said it was important for Christians to read and understand the scriptures to be able to apply the knowledge gained.

Mr Chukwuowo Jerry, Winner of the Bible Quiz contest described the visit to Israel as a wonderful opportunity while thanking God for the successful journey.

“I hope we will have a successful pilgrimage; I want the Nigerian government to put more effort into ensuring that more youths participate in the International level of Bible contest.

“It should not stop at this point, but continue to provide other youths and other citizens of the country the opportunity to gain the spiritual knowledge and experience in Israel,” Jerry said.

Also, Mr Oyare Ayegba, who emerged first-runner-up, commended the Nigerian and Israeli governments for the platform created to encourage young people to read the scriptures.

“I like the cooperation between the Nigerian and Israeli governments and I pray that the Bible Quiz contest is sustained to bring about improvement in the organisation of the quiz in 2020,” Ayegba said.

NAN reports that the 2019 edition of the National Bible Quiz competition was organised by the Embassy of Israel in Nigeria, in collaboration with Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Nigeria, CAN and the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Board.

As part of the reward for excelling in the competition, the winners are in Israel as guests of honour at the International Bible Contest scheduled to hold on Dec. 24 in Jerusalem. (NAN)