Tragedy on Sunday


It was Sunday, 27th January 2002. The day started with the sun sending forth its radiance into the atmosphere. Christians set out for their various churches; others chose the day to do whatever it was they did not have time to do during the past week. Indeed, it was just like any other Sunday, that is, until 5.30pm.

I left the venue of my part-time lectures which I attended after Sunday service in spite of the fact that I had one more lecture to go. There was no specific reason for me to leave; I just wanted to go home. I had only been home a few minutes, when the first bang sounded. “That must be a heavy truck having a burst tyre,” I thought, as I continued to rest lazily on a couch in the living room. Maris, my wife sat nearby feeding our son, Praise. A few minutes later, we heard it again, ‘booom!!!’ the whole apartment vibrated this time around. “What was that?” my wife asked. I shrugged, “Someone must be using explosives for mining somewhere”.

I saw the futility of that explanation as soon as the words came out of my mouth. There were no mining facilities around where we lived. I guess I was recalling my school days when we used to hear the sound of explosives because our school was just a couple of miles away from a quarry.

Maris rose up and looked out from the window. “My dear, everyone is outside, I think we should get out too before anything happens”. This time, everything looked as if we were under heavy artillery attack, the difference being that we could not see any visible signs. I could sense God’s peace in this situation because I was so calm inside. By this time however, panic was in the air because nobody knew what was going on. I told Maris,“Let’s wait a while and find out what is going on first then we will know the next step to take”.

As the sounds and vibrations continued, I scanned the horizon from the vantage point of our apartment, which is on the second floor of the building where we live. That was when I saw a sight I had only seen in the movies. I saw in the distance, great sheets of fire and cloud rising up and turning the skies into a bright red and yellow colour. At that point, I knew what it was. I don’t know how I knew what happened, but while everyone around were speculating, I calmly told them that I suspect there was an explosion in one of the military installations. This was confirmed later by the military authorities when the public was briefed sometime later in the day. The explosions continued till the early hours of Monday morning. As I was going to work in the next morning, I saw people walking back to their homes from the various places they had fled to for safety.

I thank God He spared my life and those of my family. I could have been right in the middle of it all because my route home from my lecture center was by the entrance of the particular army installation, which exploded. I had only passed by less than an hour before the explosions began.

It is tragic and ironic that most of the people who died, did not die from the explosion, but died as a result of drowning while fleeing from the danger zones. They did not know that the ‘forest’ they were running into was actually a canal covered with shrubs and water hyacinth. It grieves my heart that a great number of those who died were children. Many are still missing. A soldier, who was looking for his child, found a baby abandoned in one of the houses and rescued the baby. No one knows who the mother is. Homes far away from the explosion site were destroyed as they were hit by shells, which were propelled by the explosion. A lady traveled from another state in Nigeria to see her mother in law in Lagos. She will not be going back because she was felled by one of the shells.

My Church, which is just a few kilometers away from the explosion site, had its ceilings caved in and had its windows were smashed. But God is faithful; many of our members have been accounted for. The loss, both human and material is colossal and far reaching. Death struck once again, on a Sunday afternoon and took the lives of people. The toll of human lives lost is in the neighborhood of 1000.

While we grieve for the loss of lives and property, we must also learn a lesson from all this. Fear, is a tool of the enemy and he uses it with wicked precision. Most of the people who died, were not killed by the bombs which exploded, they were killed by fear. This was not helped by the fact that the authorities did not react soon enough to let the people know what was happening. The Bible correctly says in 1 John 4:18 that fear involves torment.

Another lesson we learn is that of preparedness. There are no guarantees for tomorrow, but for those who know and trust the Lord, their future is certain, either here on earth or in the bosom of our Lord.

Please pray for the people of Lagos in Nigeria, especially those who have been badly hit by this tragedy. Pray for those whose relatives are still missing, that God would re-unite them, those whose properties have been destroyed that the Lord will restore them and most of all, pray for those who are grieving their loved ones, that the Lord will comfort them. Copyright © 2002 by Steve O. Popoola, All rights reserved

Steve Popoola was born in London but currently reside in Lagos, Nigeria with wife Maris and son, Praise. I work in a bank as a Systems administrator. I am Assistant Youth Director and Head of Publications in my Church. I also love to sing and teach. I can be reached through my email address, stpopoola@yahoo.com . Visit the Steve Popoola Family Site for inspiring stories, articles and poetry. Http://www.biblepraise.org

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