Obstacles to Christian Witnessing

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

Obstacles hinder people from achieving their desired goals. Obstacles can be spiritual, physical, emotional, financial, and otherwise. The kind of obstacles we face is dependent on the kind of goals we set to achieve. However, some obstacles could be interwoven against certain goals.

Some physical cum financial obstacles come against our spiritual goals - just as spiritual obstacles come against our spiritual goals. Actually, our spiritual goals, just for the fact that they are spiritual, have more obstacles than we can imagine.

As followers of Christ, one of our spiritual goals is to witness to Christ whom we daily receive as Word and Sacramental Food. Witnessing is an expression of our faith. And the strength of our witnessing is dependent on the strength of our faith. If we have strong faith, we shall definitely have strong witnessing.

That is why the first obstacle to witnessing is lack of faith. Faith, as our Catechism teaches us, is that gift from God by which we believe, without fears, whatever He reveals to us. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to see what God wants us to see, though His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55: 8). It is the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes, and thus, we are able to believe God (Dei Verbium n. 5). The actions of the Holy Spirit dispose us to faith in God.

Lack of faith as an obstacle could be caused by doubts over what God has revealed to us. It could be caused by ignorance over God's revelation to us. It could also be caused by obstinate attachments to one's former religious beliefs. In our land, Christianity is barely hundred years. In other words, we have many Christians who are converts to Christianity, and who formerly believed in other gods, deities, charms etc. Their former belief systems might have obstacles coming against their new Christian beliefs.

It may therefore, be commonplace to find Christians who believe in divinization, soothsaying (ije nugegbe, ibu odu, igba afa, ili maa), several occult rituals and ceremonies - including masquerading (akatakpa, odo, omabe, etc). And these would be strong obstacles to their practice of Christianity. However, the truth is that obstacles are to be surmounted. They are to be overcome.

Zacchaeus is an example of someone who had obstacles that prevented him from seeing Jesus. The crowd and his stature prevented him from achieving his heart's desire: to see Jesus. But he did not give up. Rather, he turned around his destiny by charting out another line of action (Luke 19:1-10). That is our lot. We have to chart another course of action to our desired goal: witnessing to Christ.

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