“Ms. Ndidi, does God hate Africans?” a nine year old boy asked Ndidi Nwuneli, a social entrepreneur and the founder of LEAP Africa, who was also a Sunday school teacher at the time.
“Of course not. God loves all his children equally,” Ndidi quickly retorted.
“So why do so many young African children die?” the boy asked again. A question that caught her off guard.
I stumbled and mumbled as I responded.“There are many reasons why young African children die. Most of them are man-made, and we cannot blame God.”
So he asked, “Why does he let it happen?He could stop it.”And I said …“Yes he could, yes he could, but he sent us here as change agents,light of the world, salt of the earth, and we are failing.”
And how can we change the narrative?
The first is that we need to change our mindsets. Both as people of faith and of those who are not religious, their perceptions of those of us who are people of faith. Now, for people of faith and those of us who are religious, we often say, “If God wills, I’ll do this; inshallah, I’ll do that — by God’s grace, I’ll do this.” Now there are many things, I believe, that we can control — some we cannot. I believe that God is all-powerful, but he’s not a micro-manager.
He has sent us here as his change agents, and we must stop making excuses and using him. That means that if you’re a teacher, go to school and give your students the best. If you’re a public-sector official, release the funds meant for that school or public health-care center instead of stealing it for your personal purposes.
Now the second step is that we have to utilize our resources and assets for social impact. In England,1,900 churches have been shut down since 1969, due to shrinking congregations,while in Africa, every single day,a church or mosque is being built.
I live in the Lekki area of Lagos,and in my community, there are at least 50 really nice churches,but there’s no adult literacy center,no homeless shelter and very few public schools and hospitals. Many of these spaces could be utilized for social change.Imagine if every single church in Lekki opened its doors to the homeless at night,gave them a sleeping bag, a warm meal and a voucher in the morning to learn a vocational course, offered by the unemployed youth who attend that church. That would demonstrate what we preach and what we speak about as people of faith, and what led me to Christianity in the first place.
For those who believe in God, Ndidi advice against using God to outsource responsibility for what happens in their lives. To those who don’t, she asks that they keep an open mind and work with faith-based organizations, especially on issues like health care and education. “There’s so much potential that can be realized when we walk across the divide of faith and, hand in hand, try to solve many of our problems.”