September 29, 2017 By Memunatu Bangura
Church leaders representing the Council of Churches in Sierra Leone (CCSL), Evangelical Fellowship of Sierra Leone (EFSL), Pentecostal Fellowship of Sierra Leone and Roman Catholic Mission of Sierra Leone have stated that the Christ Revival Evangelistic Ministry a.k.a. Sanctuary Praise Church and its branches should resume operations in the absence of the General Overseer, Evangelist Victor Ajisafe.
Pastor Ajisafi is currently being held in protective custody at the Criminal Investigations Department after statements attributed to him in a video that went viral on social media was deemed disparaging to the Muslim faith.
Rev. Dr. Osman Jesse Fornah, who made the appeal on behalf of church leaders at a presser on Circular Road in Freetown, noted that as chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, the fundamental right of worshippers at Sanctuary Praise Church has been violated, and that government should allow them to go ahead with their church services with the current pastor in charge.
“Evangelist Ajisafe has thousands of followers and worshippers that have been deprived of their right to worship. We are calling on government to lift the suspension on the churches and allow them go to church without Evangelist Ajisafe,” he urged.
He however stated that: “We condemn and disassociate ourselves from questionable and wrong statement in the said video and audio clips and also note that his position as expressed against Muslim faith and community in the clips was his personal opinion and not representing the ‘Body of Christ.”
Rev. Dr. Fornah stated that the ‘Body of Christ’ recognised and applauded the proactive response of the relevant bodies, while calling on government to temper justice with mercy and allow church services to continue without Evangelist Victor Ajisafe.
According to him, many utterances in the content of the video and audio tapes circulated on social media have the potential to undermine the peaceful co-existence of religions, and by extension the fragile peace of the country.
He continued that the Body of Christ deeply regrets the incident and called on Evangelist Ajisafe to tender a sincere and immediate apology to the government and Muslim community, affected families, individuals and the nation as a whole.
Rev. Fornah said forgiveness is a common tenet of both the Christian and Muslim religion, as prescribed in their respective scriptures, while urging all sides to exercise the fundamental aspect of their faiths.
Responding to questions, Bishop Dr. J. Achibald Cole said the ‘Body of Christ’ has looked into the issue of deporting Evangelist Ajisafe, noting that he is naturalised by marriage and has five children whose mother is a Sierra Leonean.
According to him, deportation was not the answer to the situation at hand, adding that Evangelist Ajisafe was ready to make a public statement for his action.
He said the suspension of his church was a step in the right direction for the safety of both the members and pastor of the church, while noting that it would be good that government rethinks the suspension of the churches.
“To err is human and to forgive is divine, we remain committed to religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence and continual religious dialogue,” he said.