Mojatu Foundation and its affiliates has been providing a platform for people within the community with issues of great concern affecting them either socially, spiritually or psychologically. It is in this regard that the foundation through a thorough research, thought it befitting to extend arm of solidarity to partners within the vicinity who contribute immensely in the uplift of lives of those challenged; among them a pastor who gives hope and counselling to the people of his congregation.
Pastor Samuel Ezekiel Thomas is described as a man of exemplary character and leads his people through a spiritual journey. He has been preaching for decades at the Full Gospel Revival Centre, located on the corner of Bathley Street and Lamcote Grove in the Meadows, Nottingham; which recently celebrated fifty years of existence. Pastor Samuel doubles as a hospital chaplain on a part time basis at the Wells Road Centre and at the Highbury Hospital, and also offers counselling to some people with issues of mental health at the Thorneywood Court and other places.
We caught up with him for an interview on the a very important topic dealing with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which affects some members of the BAME community. We began by sounding his understanding of FGM and its implications and this is how it followed:
Pastor Samuel: People suffer from it dearly particularly women. It is unfortunate since it’s been done from an age when they have no understanding of the consequences neither the authority to stop it. They have to do it because it’s the parents’ decision. Sometimes the material they use is not sterilised and it leaves permanent after effects. They suffer from sickness and other infirmities. So, my job as a pastor is to stand by the people who are trying to stop it.
In fact, how did you come to know about it?
Pastor Samuel: Well I attended workshops and seminars, organised by the Mojatu Foundation; who are leading the crusade in the fight against its practice. It had been amazing and the personnel are very qualified. Discussions were centred around the harm and permanent injury that it causes to many of our children and also adults who suffered from it when they were children and continue to suffer from it. Some of them won’t get married because they cannot cope with the pain of childbirth. I was so enlightened that I immediately decided that this is an area I have to get involved in. Whether I could pull the whole church behind
it or not but as a pastor, I have to. Fortunately, when I shared it with my church, I found out they were interested as well.
Why do you think it’s important for Faith Leaders to be involved with tackling FGM?
Pastor Samuel: I think church leaders should be involved because of the injury and the ill health that it is causing to its victims. There are so many individuals who have gone through that situation and many are having difficulties having children, some with a morbid feeling that comes over them while others suffer in great pain in their sexual life. It has a permanent effect on their health and so I feel as a faith leader, the scripture is very clear and plain about health and our bodies. We should look after our bodies; we should eat the right thing and make sure that we’re not doing things that are harming the body. The body is the temple
of God and should be kept holy and so anyone who destroys the temple of God (which is our body) is affecting our creator. We should be involved in tackling FGM, so that we can have a better World for the children and adults who have to suffer from it.
What changes would you like to see?
Pastor Samuel: To change the mindset of the people who are carrying out the action. It is really destroying our young people because the equipment used could be a razor blade, not sterilised, or even a sharp knife. It is atrocious to just imagine and think of what some of these children have to go through. So, the action that I would like to see is to stop it and those who carry it out
be prosecuted. I’m sure that would bring out some fear or concern to them. They personally think that they are doing the right thing for the child, but they are sincerely wrong. It is illegal and should be denounced by the practitioners or face the consequence for doing it. That I feel will put a sense of fear in them to stop it.
Do you think it would be beneficial to introduce it into our educational system in order to introduce it to young people?
Pastor Samuel: Absolutely, our young people should be educated because there is no one more qualified and suitable (than Mojatu) to help to promote this to young people. If they are given a good knowledge of what’s happening, I’m sure it is something they will detest so much and that they will do everything they can to convince the people practicing it. I think our young people need educating, they need to know about this as they are ignorant of it. I have been to seminars where we have heard doctors and different experienced people talking about it and they need to get involved in promoting its inclusion in our school system.
Do you think there is a beneficial way to do that? What would be the way to transmit the message forward?
Pastor Samuel: By publicising/sending the information to the authorities because I don’t think they are educated enough in this field. There should be a lot of publicity materials with regards to what is happening, making it very clear and apparent so that they know. Introduce them to the idea that what we’re saying is good and we want them to come campaign, then enlighten the schools/colleges. It should be injected into the education system. There are so many things that are being introduced into our educational system with less relevance as of FGM. I think they need to get advice from people like Mojatu and people from a higher level that can help. We need to get it into our educational system. It should be one of the real subjects that are introduced.
So how can people get to know about your church?
Pastor Samuel: We send out thousands of leaflets everywhere and we hold programs on radio stations as well. People come in and we have leaflets of different organisations and what they’re doing. We have four important conferences and conventions throughout the year We have one for the ladies in January and one in May for the youth. We’re very much involved in the
community. We organise community barbecue and people come from everywhere and enjoy free dinner, a burger, a hot dog or whatever. It costs us a lot, but we don’t look at that. As a community church, we also put on a Christmas dinner, for free, where all the senior citizens can come along and have a free dinner. We can use all that to promote the church, people come to the church because they know a nice meal is available for them; some stay after the meal while others don’t. We do quite a lot to promote the church.
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