Impact Of Living faith Church To The Development Of Nigeria, A Study of Gboko, Benue State
1.0 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
There has been a debate on the contribution (or lack of it) of European Christian Missionaries to the development and self-understanding of Africans since the publication of the book, The mission on Trial (1977). Some acute observers of the history of ideas have recently reopened the same debate on a local level with particular reference to the Church in Nigeria. A quarter years after the first centenary of the coming of the first missionary heralds of the Gospel in North Eastern Nigerian in 1885 is a landmark. In the history of the universal Church, it is a brief period. In the history of evangelization in the Eastern part of Nigeria, it is a vital period. The faltering steps of early days have gradually given way to a robust and fast-growing community of faith, with elements of joys and sorrows, problems and plans, the successes and failures. It helps us to understand better the growth of social, intellectual, political and material development brought to the people of the area by this Church.
The social, cultural and political problems hampering Nigeria’s quest for unity and appropriate human development have become major staples of contemporary concern of the Church in Nigeria (Obinna, 1995).
The multi-dimensional aspects of development in the various facets of the Nigerian Society have received the attention of the Church and still beckon on the Church for dialogue, critical and constructive dynamism if the church must continue to be relevant today and into the future. Indeed the history of the Church in Nigeria does not make full appreciative sense without a decisive entry for the better into the economic, cultural and socio-political development of the nation (Onwuanibe, 1995). Only with such vigorous engagement for the authentic progress and development of the nation can the Church’s message be welcome in the seeking of solutions to emergent development problems facing the country. Ultimately, human development is about the realization of potential. It is about what people can do and what they can become–their capabilities and about the freedom they have to exercise real choices in their lives. The impact of the Church can be felt in the dismantling of inhuman practices and institutions such as slavery, human sacrifice, killing of twins, and in the establishment of Christian villages which eventually gave way to schools for formal education. Translation of the Gospel into the vernacular languages and the production of catechisms in vernacular languages showed the good sense of recognizing the native culture, for language or tongue is a main vehicle of culture and development. Many local customs were banned as “pagan” and there is need today for inculturation in terms of appraising and recognizing good traditional values (Onwuanibe, 1995).
By building schools which range from the primary to secondary levels the Church recognized the importance of education in development. The Church has also had a programme of medical, social and personality development. She lays great emphasis especially through the voices of recent ecclesiastical hierarchy on the determining role of a just and widespread development for all the corners of the globe. She sees this condition as a prerequisite for world
peace via international solidarity. She even gives development a new name: peace (Paul VI, 1967). The Church therefore stresses on the true condition of integral development, one that does not disfigure the human person by a neglect of any of the important constituents of his personality.
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Gboko Local Government have been bedeviled by numerous development challenges which include: severe economic, political and social crises, decline in the standard of education, moral and infrastructural decay, cultural crisis predicated on the fact that traditional values in the people’s cultures have been heavily impacted by materialism, science and technology and ideologies. Health facilities are in total decay.
All these problems call to question the role of the Living Church in still contributing to the provision of needed succor in these problem areas. In view of these problems and issues, the big question is the relevance of the living Church in the present situation. Since relevance is an important feature of any meaningful phenomenon, event or institution, especially in the sphere of human life, the living Church’s role in the solution of problems in the 21st century Nigerian society may be definitive in the justification of its existence among the Nigerian people.
Moving from the great signs of vitality and great contributions of the living Church to community development since the advent of the early missionaries to Nigerian-Central , this work will look at the impact of the living Church in the development of Gboko Local government Area of Benue state, Nigeria
1.2 AIM AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The main aim of this study is to investigate the Impact Of Living faith Church To The Development Of Gboko, Benue State, 1960-2015
The specific objectives of the study include:
(i) To examine the origin of living faith Church in Gboko,Benue State.
(iii) To study the doctrine of living faith church in Gboko,Benue State.
(iv) To examine the impact of living faith church in Gboko,Benue State
1.3 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
To determine and study the various impact of the living faith Church in the development of Benue state. It is restricted to Gboko in particular. The choice of Gboko in Benue State is based on the centrality of the community.
Among the limitations include, time, resources, human factor, limited data and information.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The research work is both imperative and significant in the following ways:
- A work on the growth of living faith church has not been properly documented in Benue. Therefore it will serve as a reference point for the living faith church and other Pentecostal churches in Gboko and the society.
- The impact the living faith church have on the lives of Gboko people in particular and other peoples in Benue State in general are enormous and cannot be wished away.The study is significant because of the claims that living faith share the same experience of the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
- An appropriate understanding and appreciation of living faith as a branch of Christianity in Gboko is of utmost importance and this understanding and appreciation provide a window into the activities of the church.
1.5 Research Methodology
The step we have taken in this study has involved a review of background information on living faith church and their activities in Gboko. This situational assessment covers the origin, growth and development of living church in the area. This entails a systematic evaluation of past and present with the view to identifying trends, force and conditions with the potential to influence the integration of living faith church into Benue at large .
To ensure accuracy and objectivity, the research has adopted one of the qualitative methods of research known as the phenomenological method in order to get a reliable analysis of the growth and expansion of living faith church. Phenomenological method concentrates on the detailed description of conscious experience without alternative to explanation and assumption.
The method is traced to Edmund Husserl as the founder who reiterates that the main aim of phenomenology is the “direct investigation and description of phenomena as consciously experienced without preconception or pre supposition” (Anthony, 2006:42). Phenomenological method of research is usually careful, analytic and descriptive which enables the phenomenologist to see the phenomenon itself, by removing as far back as possible concealments, distractions and any other thing that might prevent the researcher from seeing the phenomenon exactly as it is (Brough, 1990: 252). This leads us to the concept of Epoche, meaning suspension of judgment, in which the phenomenologist brackets all reality and simply describes the content of consciousness of the phenomenon. The second reduction eliminates the mere empirical content of consciousness and focuses on the essential features and the meaning of consciousness instead.
Phenomenology also emphasizes on intuitions that are eidetic. This means that the essence and structure of facts in a phenomenon must be recalled with sterling accuracy and not merely dependent on what may happen naturally. This implies that the researcher is supposed to be attentive and impartial in listening in order to understand the phenomenon. Again, in using phenomenological method of research, one tries to describe the phenomenon without reducing it to supposedly object non-phenomenon (Sokolowski 1988: 324).
To sum it up, phenomenological research method is basically concerned with eidetic reduction, bracketing distractions, descriptive and intentional human consciousness. With this, it is imperative that phenomenological method will be suitable in investigating the existence of living faith church in Gboko.
The study also employs primary and secondary sources. To reconstruct the existence of living faith church in Gboko, oral data were collected during interviews with selected members and pastors of the Church in study area who claimed that they had good knowledge about their church
This segment explains how the work is carried out and the theoretical framework employed in the analysis of data. The thrust of the work relies more on primary source. These sources really exposed the practices and operations of living faith church. Since we wanted to establish when these churches started and its developmental impactin the area, oral tradition has become the possible source among other approaches. In the secondary sources, published materials like books, journal articles, magazines, Newspapers and all other works formally in circulation have been objectively used to determine the expansion and impact of living faith church.
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