ALL IN THE NAME OF MINISTRY

There is an emerging trend that is sickening among the African preachers. Church splits and church hoping has become the norm. If  somebody is seeking to establish a ministry the biggest motivation is how can i engorge my self and get the best i can, can it and sit on it.

The biggest motivation for planting a church is not for building up the body of Christ but seeking for ways by which one can get to mint the generous contribution from the west. Churches in the west are known to be generous in giving towards gospel ministry courses and many lay preachers have often times taken this to their advantage. One would easily split a congregation and plant his church right close to the previous and start looking for ways of attracting donor funding.

Ones the funds begin to come in, these group of people would quickly channel the money to other personal projects and even prepare deeds under their name. Others get engorged and soon they leave the Church giving excuses like my set covenant with God for service was a given number of years; seven for instance. At this point and time they usually have fat bank accounts, big houses and a fleet of imported automobiles

The folk simply moves on to build his empire as he continues to con the donors. Well this is embarrassing and ungodly. The trend is becoming worse and worse. The effect of such behavior is that many vulnerable people have been used as baits. These preachers take photos of their congregations and post them online on their blogs and websites to depict the poverty and misery of the church members.

When the western donor churches see such photos they give continuously to help but the money gets to the preachers pockets. Soon the flock is left without a shepherd and the donors get to realize the mischief maybe  a little bit too late. The funding is stopped and the ministry sinks to oblivion. And the cycle continues, another lay preacher, another ministry, another generous giver and finally a disillusioned flock.

PREACHERS OF A DIFFERENT GOSPEL

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The African Continent has a big plague that is slowly eating away the heart of  the true gospel and faithful handling of Scriptures. It is surprising to see the ever increasing number of Churches as new Ministries are being established. Many critics have said that the African church has not done enough discipleship for the ever increasing number of believers. Others still argue that the church is slowly moving away from its mandate. Whether or not, the one thing that is quite subtle is what we see Paul warning the Galatians against in Galatians: 1: 6-10; the Church in Galatia had been infiltrated by a teaching that was quickly spreading like gangrene.  This same teaching was pointing people away from the gospel which is Christ Jesus and his work of grace.

 

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THE FOCUS OF THE WORD FAITH DOCTRINE

 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should  preach a gospel other than the one we preach to you, let him be eternally  condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!  Am I now trying to win the approval of men or God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-10.”

 

Like the Church in Galatia, the church in Africa has seen an influx of egocentric “Men of God,” who are lording over congregations preaching heretical messages that are devoid of Christ but with a coating of religion. These groups of people serve their own interests as they are key on three big points; health, wealth and power. Others go as far as having self help sessions in the Church. The challenge has been a misconception of what the gospel is and how we ought to herald the message. People have been taught on how they can get material blessing and be well endowed here and now. With the majority of people looking and earnestly searching for hope, they end up being easy baits to these preachers. As being cognitive misers, the congregations easily get duped and even made to believe and subscribe to these preachers.

 

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 Our biggest challenge in Africa being poverty and resources, the preachers act like witchdoctors others giving charms for wealth, anointing oil for good health and protection against witch craft, still others have holy water with which they use to anoint homes and houses from “bad eye,” effect and ill motives.  The biggest of them all preach against suffering in this world. They are quick to point out that Christ needs us to occupy and thrive in this world  before he comes to take us home. Nobody should suffer because we have it all done by the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is however contrary to the gospel and  its an error in the interpretation and application of scriptures.

 The biggest question to us as  servants of Christ is how do we walk away from these errors and ensure that the gospel is preached in its entirety? While writing to the Corinthians Paul is keen to point out that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Our depravity and fallen nature qualifies us to be the objects of God’s  wrath. Our default position is destruction, but God out of his love lavished his grace on us. He has chosen to save us and give us life. As it is Christ should be our treasure and priority as believers. For the preachers ours is to woo for the bride of the Church. For we have been called to a higher calling. Scriptures remain authentic and true inspired word that ought to be handled faithfully.

CHRISTIAN SCHOLARSHIP IN AFRICA

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PROF. KWAME BEDIAKO

The history of African Christianity can to a greater extend be attached to evangelism by the western missionaries who entirely gave themselves to reach out the African Continent. In droves they came leaving behind all their belonging and family, carrying their coffins with them and laying down their lives just to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Well the gospel was proclaimed and God worked in the hearts of many and the veil was uncovered and people came to the knowledge of Christ. Then there was the challenge of culture verses the gospel, this saw many African theological scholars  dig in to find how Christianity could be viewed not as a form of western culture but a global religion. Their labor was more towards exalting Christ as the Lord of the universe.

 

Amongst such African scholars is the theologian Kwame Bediako. Manasseh Kwame Dakwa Bediako, late rector of the Akrofi-Christaller Institute for Theology, Mission, and Culture, in Akropong, Ghana, was born on July 7, 1945. He died, following a serious illness, on June 10, 2008. Over many years he pointed others to Africa’s proper place in contemporary worldwide Christian discourse. He charted new directions for African Christian theology. He labored so that generations of scholars, confident equally of their Christian and their African identity, might be formed in Africa, and to that end he created a new type of institution where devotion to scholarship and understanding of the cultures of Africa would be pursued in a setting of Christian worship, discipleship, and mission.

 

Kwame received an excellent education of the English type. The period of his secondary education coincided with the transformation of the Gold Coast into Ghana, the first of the new African nations, led by Kwame Nkrumah, with his emphatic rejection of Western rule in Africa and high sense of Africa’s past glories and future destiny. Kwame Bediako left Mfantsipim as its head prefect and in 1965 entered the University of Ghana, set up after World War II with the aim of being an Oxbridge in Africa. There he developed as an eloquent orator and debater, a person who could make a mark in politics; he also attained the academic excellence in French that won him a scholarship for graduate studies in France and the promise of an academic career. By this time he was a confirmed atheist under French existentialist influence, apparently deaf to the pleas of Christian classmates.

 

In France he gained master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Bordeaux, not surprisingly choosing African francophone literature as his area of research. During his time in France he underwent a radical Christian conversion—so radical that at one stage he thought of abandoning his studies in favor of active evangelism. Happily, he was persuaded otherwise; the time was coming when he would recognize scholarship as itself a missionary vocation.

 

Kwame’s evangelical convictions and credentials were manifest, but he was wrestling with issues that were not at the front of most evangelical minds, or on the agenda of most evangelical institutions at that time. Could Africans become fully Christian only by embracing the mind-set of Western Christians and rejecting all the things that made them distinctively African? Ordinary African Christians daily faced acute theological issues that were never addressed in the sort of theology that apparently served Western Christians well enough. It was not that the theology was necessarily wrong; it simply could not deal with issues that went to the heart of relationships with family, kin, or society, nor deal with some of the most troubling anxieties of those who saw the world in terms different from those of the Western world. Africans were responding to the Gospel, and in unprecedented numbers, but the received theology did not fit the world as they saw the world. Great areas of life were thus often left untouched by Christ, often leaving sincere Christians with deep uncertainties. Much evangelical thinking was not engaging with the issues of culture, or was doing so simplistically or superficially. It was such concerns that brought Bediako back to academic study, and Kwame took a second doctorate in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

 But his immediate call was to Ghana and to the pastorate of the Ridge Church in Accra after spending time as a lecturer. The three years (1984–87) that Kwame spent there were formative for him in what they revealed of the concerns, aspirations, and anxieties of African Christians, and in later years he was never less of a pastor for being a scholar and academic. Indeed, even before he left Aberdeen he had a clear vision of what his ongoing work was to be, and pastoral concerns were at its heart. When he left Ridge Church in 1987, he found, with the full approval of his church and the support of friends in and beyond Ghana, an opportunity to put the vision into practice. The outcome was the Akrofi-Christaller Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology, later called the Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture. Its establishment and development lay at the heart of Bediako’s work for the rest of his life.

Indeed much still ought to be done as regards African Christianity and discipleship as well as missions.

                         

                SOURCE:  Akrofi-Christaller Institute of Theology, Mission, and Culture.

                                                                                                   

 

 

Passing the Baton: Apprenticeships

In recent years local churches and denominations have attempted to find ways of better identifying, encouraging, preparing and testing people for gospel ministry.  Potential gospel workers have often felt confronted with a vast gulf between their emerging desire to devote their lives to gospel service and the processes (machinery) by which they do so within a church or denomination or a Christian organization. A successful approach to overcoming this problem has emerged based on a ministry apprenticeship concept. This entails a prospective gospel worker being associated with an experienced gospel minister in a structured programme integrating spiritual development, ministry experience and biblical teaching for a period of time usually one to two years. In the course of this “apprenticeship” both the apprentice and the experienced practitioner, along with the local church oversight body, are better able to assess the suitability of a person for ministry and, if appropriate, facilitate progress toward more specialized training or ministry involvement.

 The “apprenticeship” idea is based on the concept of prospective gospel workers (apprentices) working alongside experienced practitioners (pastors, mentors, coaches etc.) who not only share their knowledge and skills, but also their lives and ministries. It mirrors the kind of relationship evident between Moses and Joshua (Ex. 24:13; 33:11; Num. 11:28), Elijah and Elisha (1 Kings 19:21), Jesus and his disciples (Mk 3:13-15), and Paul and his co-workers, particularly Timothy (Acts16:3; Phil. 2:22; 2 Tim. 3:10). In each case, prospective gospel workers/leaders were associated closely with mature practitioners, sharing with them in the various experiences of life and ministry, and in the process, being equipped and proving their suitability for ministry themselves. The goal of such apprenticeships is to facilitate “the passing on of the baton” of gospel service to another generation of proven men and women.

Apprenticeship should be the heart of  ministry, many of the times though not so many people have understood this concept. Indeed it is more of a new approach that could be foreign in our context but still is a good avenue from which we can be able to recruit, train and equip the next group of gospel workers for the African church. Many of the churches in the west thrive on apprenticeship as a way of resourcing and recruiting gospel workers. First-hand exposure to gospel service in an apprenticeship provides an invaluable context for both the apprentice and the experienced teacher/guide/coach –along with any other body of oversight –to assess suitability for ministry. It allows the apprentice to experience the realities of gospel work and appreciate its demands and requirements, enabling them to better assess their spiritual gifts and sense of call to such a ministry. At the same time, it provides those guiding, teaching and overseeing them a substantial basis for affirming or otherwise their suitability.

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In our efforts to equip the African church with gospel workers for the coming centuries it is time to embark on structured models of descipleship and mentorship.

The big questions for the African Church still remain to be:

1.How best can we equip gospel workers?

2. How can we tackle unfaithful teaching of scriptures and combat prosperity  preaching?




Depravity and Perversion

Romans 1:24 :

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

I have been following the debate in the media on homosexuality and many people championing for their rights. The Kenyan media for instance has actually been giving air time to many of these people and sure enough they have since become over night celebrities. One in particular has even been on online blogs as a gay gospel artist.

Gospel to him is about unity and togetherness and harmony, good for him and indeed for them. They have the knowledge of God’s unity,  and the only problem is do they really even understand what the Gospel is all about?

Do they also know what they are suffering from? You see if you were to visit the doctor for a medical check up in the advent of a disease or discomfort in your body, there are obvious conventional tests that the physician will run. Often times tests are based on the symptoms presented by the patient. Now the symptoms in themselves at times can not be the disease. For example it would be very wrong to have fatigue and fever and quickly diagnose yourself with malaria and run for anti-malaria  drugs over the counter. As much as these are signs that accompany and could mean that you have malaria, a proper diagnosis ought to be done by the professional medical practitioner.

The same applies to us, the created mortal being, God in His sovereignty made us in His likeness and image. Then we fell sick, through our ancestral root and race through Adam we got poisoned. And the nature of sin got a grip on us and we became hostile to God even unto becoming God’s enemies and nothing we could ever do could get us back to His nature of perfection, now that also means that we do not have any unity with God.

Now this sickness is what we call depravity, not having anything good coming from us and our hearts. Not even one of us is thinking about God and can be in unity  with Him. When writing about this Paul speaks with clarity and confidence as He points out that it is God who allowed His permissive will to take effect. In that the nature of sin, corrupted our will that was perfect. Now since that had happen all we had was a sinful will that can not will anything that is of God. In other words when we sinned we died.

There is a difference between the nature of sin and the acts of the sinful nature, the nature of sin is who we are. Blotted with sin to the core. We are more like sin factories and all that comes from our hearts and lives is nothing but sin. More like injecting poison into a piece of apple, every single bite of that apple is lethal. Now that is what we call the nature of sin, so the apple is fully poisoned, but the acts of the sinful nature would be the lethal apple bites. A little bite would result to death, and even so instantly.

Now that is what has happened to the human race, and the self acclaimed gay gospel artist. Poisoned apple with lethal bites. Another term would be what you would call perversion. Twisted self. Man hates God, runs after evil, God lets man have all he wants and eventually man chokes himself to death.

There is no difference, one should not say i am not gay, i do all the good stuff, i do not steal, i do not kill. That is great, it is good to be good and do good things but as i said we are all poisoned and no amount of good works and good things can get us in unity with God. The Gospel is the means of unity but with God, but it is not about unity in itself like the gay guy is peddling.

Another thing that ought to be set straight is that sin is sin by any other name. Gay ism is just as sinful and envy and jealousy and fornication. Same applies to slander and drunkenness. All of these things are the symptoms of our sickness. They are not the sickness in themselves but they point out to the core disease which is the nature of sin. Now this nature is what gives birth to these symptoms.

ANY CURE?

Now that we have seen the problem and we all are the problem then the solution to the problem is what the gay gospel artist and all of us need to know. This gospel is what is the good news. The good news of God, that after letting us go our own way and caused our own destruction and got depraved, God almighty does not want all of us to die as a result of this ailment.

He initiates a plan and executes the way to unity with him not unity among men. God is pleased when we are united and by all means he wants us to unite with a common purpose. But even in our efforts to unite we can not unite, unless we first unite with God. So all of us are dead, but God chooses to intervene and change the course of our fate.

Now this is it, a price had to be paid and the price was to be paid to God. No man could pay this price so God instead asked for a price and He goes ahead to pay the price. That while we were still sick He brought the healing which is Jesus Christ. Christ is the healer of our nature of sin. His death and resurrection paid our healing and whoever God elects or chooses to save is thus healed. Now it is about the man for man, you see it is man who sinned and man died and man was to finally die eternally, but the God man, Jesus Christ was without sin, this nature of sin. So when He died on that cross He imputed his righteousness on us. That is the nature of righteousness and holiness. And in that is our healing.

For all that have received Christ they have received healing, what remains is a groaning and  a struggle with the acts of the sinful nature. The nature  has been crucified and is dealt with once and for all. What remains for them that are in Christ is to trust and obey, there is no other way, trust that Christ will lead us home and obey Him to be able to overcome sin.

Now that is the unity of the Gospel, Christ has died, Christ has resurrected  and Christ has united us back to God. The unity is in us being forgiven, getting our perversion dealt with and living in obedience to the will of God. But if we choose to be proud and full of ourselves and keep to the depraved nature, then all that is remaining for us is eternal death.

But sure enough we can be gay, yes and even call ourselves gospel artists, yes, and even be celebrities yes, because in our nature, the twisted selves that’s the best we can offer. Sin has got the best of us and we can not help it but be gay.

But the wages of sin is death, be depraved all you want. Make yourself the gay artist of the century. Build influence and live like you want. But sooner than later you will drop and meet the giver of life. The God almighty. Then you will account. Soon and very soon.