By Uche Amunike
Mercy Chinwo, Tope Alabi, Nathaniel Bassey, Ada Ehi and several other gospel artistes drawn from different denominations touched lives and electrified the mammoth crowd that attended the 14th ‘Unusual Praise’ concert held at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) Complex, Lagos, Saturday.
The concert, which is considered the largest annual Catholic concert in the country, was hosted by the Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki, with the 2022 theme being: ‘Let Everything that has Breathe Praise the Lord’.
Speaking to Newsmen during a media briefing held in Lagos before the concert kicked off, the Planning Committee Chairman of this year’s program, Chike Oruche stated that people would go home with testimonies and abundant blessings and went on to urge all to be prepared as the heavens will open for an out pour of the holy spirit.
He also introduced a new initiative of entrepreneurial mentorship where owners of small scale businesses were empowered.
Hear him: ‘Apart from the ministrations, we had the entrepreneurs. In 2018, we introduced Unusual Entrepreneur, an economic empowerment initiative that combines mentoring and seed funding for small businesses. 400 people have benefitted from the mentoring and seed funding exercise. In the future, we desire to increase that figure with the cooperation of our parishioners and sponsors.’
Speaking on what made the 14th edition of the Unusual Praise concert, special and different he stated: ‘Number one, we moved to a bigger venue; we also improved on production. This is not rivalry with The Experience, as Unusual Praise is totally on its own; it’s about praising God.’
‘Unusual Praise is for anyone who wishes to worship and experience God in a new, special, and unique way. Catholics, Protestants, agnostics, and unbelievers are all welcome. This year’s theme is Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. So, we invited everyone to partake and enjoy a refreshing time in the presence of God’, he concluded.
On his part, Monsignor Paschal Nwaezapu, who is the Parish Priest of the host parish, Catholic Church of Divine Mercy, Lekki, maintained that Unusual Praise was all about getting people to give God a sacrifice of praise.
His words: ‘The whole idea about Unusual Praise is that we want to encourage people to praise God in the normal way they do, and apart from that, we close this with what we consider to be the highest praise ever, the Holy Mass itself. So, it encourages people to go out of the normal thing and give God praise.’
‘It is actually very typical of Catholics to praise God, as praise and worship is a big part of our faith; though we used to do it more through traditional hymns and classical music. But also, we should not forget that the Holy Mass is the greatest act of praise. While we may have faced a little pushback from well-meaning Catholics initially, the overall response has been incredible, which is why, to the glory of God, Unusual Praise has continued to grow from strength to strength.’
On the area of charity shown during the concert, he replied: ‘The church has a mission and we call the mission evangelization, which some call evangelism. The evangelisation has two dimensions; it has the vertical dimension and transcendental dimension whereby we preach God to people, but also, this people we are trying to lead to God, they are still here on earth. They feel hunger, they feel pains so, we also want to pay attention to that dimension so that their needs will be taken care of and not just talk to them about God because when their needs are met, then they praise God better.’