Our world is facing global challenges that is making us to think and respond in different ways. We are facing climate change all across the globe, Coronavirus also is spreading at an alarming rate, the refugee crisis is still escalating and Post-Brexit is still with us if only now in the margins. Many are responding with fear and panic and resolving to stock piling as it feels and looks like the end of the world is near. But here is where we can learn something from church history and particularly from World Christianity. During and after the First World War (1914-1918), which obviously claimed so many lives, there was a deadly worldwide epidemic influenza which was sometimes known as the Spanish flu, some described it as a bubonic and small pox epidemic. It is recorded that within a short time as many died from the plague as had died from the four years World War. It is estimated that over ten million people died from the plague. One of the effects of this epidemic was an economic recession that hit the world then as several institutions closed or shut down.
It was during such hardship and turmoil that the Aladuras in Nigeria were born. The colonial authorities and the mission churches in West Africa withdrew as institutions such as schools, hospitals, clinics, colonial offices and churches closed. An example was the resident minister at St Savior’s CMS church in Ijebu-Ode in south-west Nigeria, Rev Gansallo who vacated his post and made an exit out of Nigeria. Yoruba Christians were disappointed at how the mission churches seemed helpless in the face of the disaster. The result was that these indigenous Christians gathered together praying in peoples homes, front rooms and in the front of locked churches. These prayer groups gathered momentum in south-west Nigeria that they later became prayer movements. The name Aladura has been variously interpreted as people that love to pray or people that prays. They earned such names because of their belief that God can heal through prayers, fasting and dependence on God. Many of them would gather to pray during these crisis and they saw healing taking place. Perhaps the culmination of their prayers was the revivals that took place in Nigeria from around 1918 till the 1930s which saw people healed, mass conversions and revival movements established. Examples of these prayer movements are Egbe Okuta Iyebiye which is translated as Precious Stone Society or Diamond Society, Faith Tabernacle, The Apostolic Church and Christ Apostolic Church to mention a few.
As Coronavirus continues to spread, can the church go on its knees and pray for revival? Can we trust God for healing people again? If God can use the Aladuras who in the face death chose to depend on God, can we during this lent season commit ourselves to prayer and fasting for the healing of the world? As we take precautions and follow healthy guidelines on personal hygiene, let us also remember that we serve a God that can heal. Let us be beacons of hope in this dark times.