Praise & Prayer, January 2019


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Brethren, pray for us (1 Thess. 5:25)
“Praise the Lord, all people on earth, praise his glory and might.” (1 Chronicles 16:28)

TUESDAY 1ST Happy New Year to you! Praise God for His sustaining grace and mercies that kept us thus far. Ask the Lord for greater multiplication of His word in us and with us.

  • Pray for God’s anointing on us afresh to serve Him faithfully this 2019 and pray for the Gospel to accelerate and yield hundred-fold and that through us the knowledge of the glory of God will spread wide among men this year and beyond.

WEDNESDAY 2ND Praise God for all those who volunteered their gifts, skills, education, talents, time and resources as contribution to Kingdom services with EMS in 2018. Pray that God will grant grace and peace to each and every one who has made himself available to be used for the Gospel.

THURSDAY 3RD Praise God for the new converts in Bantanima, Senegal. A woman along with her household accepted Jesus. Praise God for the conversion of the landlord in Gungul, Gambia. We praise God for convicting him to join the church that started in his house.

FRIDAY 4TH Praise God for using the school that was newly opened in Old Yundum, Gambia as a means to bring a parent to the saving knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

SATURDAY 5TH Praise God for a successful training of leaders who came from three churches in our Zambian mission station. It was an exciting time for the churches coming together as they felt very encouraged in sharing burdens and ministry ideas.


But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose. Luke 4:43

SUNDAY 6TH EMS MANAGEMENT Pray for fresh grace, blessings, protection and daily strength upon the EMS Management Team as they work daily and travel to advocate Christ’s cause and provide leadership within Nigeria and abroad for the purpose of God’s mission around the world.



MONDAY 7TH EMS BOARD MEMBERS Ask the Lord to please keep EMS Board Members humble and always relying upon him to give them the perfect wisdom and direction that they need to strategize and advice EMS leadership on how to move the ministry forward.

TUESDAY 8TH EMS SUPPORTERS Pray for EMS Supporters and Partners that God will strengthen them and pour fresh zeal and increased passion for God’s Kingdom on them. Ask the Lord to grant open doors for many who pledge to support EMS to fulfill their pledges.

WEDNESDAY 9TH EMS STAFF Praise God for all EMS staff; they have been doing well at their various desks. Ask God to bless them spiritually, physically and financially.

THURSDAY 10TH ECWA EXECUTIVES Pray that the ECWA mandate to fulfill Matt. 24:14 will be fruitful this year. Ask the Lord for daily grace, guidance and wisdom on ECWA Executives for more of God wisdom and unity of purpose for mobilizing and impacting the body of Christ and its leadership to fulfill the mission of God worldwide.

FRIDAY 11TH ECWA MINISTERS/STAKEHOLDERS Pray that the Lord will restore His church to her Kingdom responsibility as priests and kings. Ask that this restoration will begin with all ECWA ministers and stakeholders at many levels.

SATURDAY 12TH CENTRAL REGION – GARKI DCC Praise God for the commitments of the many individuals, groups, families and churches supporters God has blessed EMS with in this region. Ask the Lord to renew and replenish their grace as they serve God’s purpose with their gifts, talents, skills and resources In 2019 and beyond. Pray that God will give us more of these people to advance His work this year.


But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

SUNDAY 13TH NORTH WEST REGION – KADUNA Pray for missionaries who are working and laboring in difficult terrains in this region. Ask the lord to shield, guide and defend them and their families from every evil in 2019.

MONDAY 14th MID CENTRAL REGION- KAGORO Ask for open doors for the penetration of the gospel into difficult terrains in this region. Pray that God will direct our ministry plan for 2019 to break new grounds to preach, make disciples and plant more churches in this region.

TUESDAY 15TH SOUTH NORTH EAST REGION- JALINGO Ask the Lord to sustain the young family of Pas. & Mrs. John Isa and that of Pas. & Mrs. Cyrus Ishaku who got married last year in December.

  • Let keep praying for Christian communities in this region that are still displaced as a result of attacks from terrorists. Pray especially for a firm foundation for the believers who can’t gather for worshipin their usual churches. Also pray that the pastors of all the churches that are currently closed due to these attacks will stay focused and be guided in seeing areas the Lord will have them serve Him during this challenging period.

WEDNESDAY 16TH FAR NORTH – KATSINA DCC Pray for the fruitfulness of our outreach teams to unreached communities of this region. Pray for the harvest of souls as missionaries launch out to preach the gospel. Pray that we will experience the Pentecost again in 2019.

THURSDAY 17TH NORTH CENTRAL REGION – JOS Pray for spiritual awakening in the body of Christ in this region this year. Pray for spiritual enablement, exemplary leadership, right influence and a deep sense of commitment to Scripture and missions among God’s servants in the North Central Region, so that through them the purpose of God will be achieved.

FRIDAY 18th EMS MUSLIM OUTREACH UNIT Pray for the Muslims around the world that God will encounter them. Pray that Christians will be well-informed and suitably equipped to minister to them globally.

  • Pray for the successes of all the training scheduled for this year in all ECWA Muslim Background Believer (MBB) centers. Ask the Lord to console the bereaved in the wake of atrocities committed in the name of Islam in Nigeria and elsewhere.


  • We thank God for New Life for All who went on an outreach to the mission station and recorded eight new converts in Gidan Maidoki; ask the Lord to grant sustaining grace on these converts as they are discipled by the resident missionaries.
  • Pray also for a financial opening for the building project at Gidan Soda and Dandume in Tsiga


But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

SUNDAY 20TH Praise God for the successful evangelistic activities that were embarked on across the foreign mission fields in 2018. Pray for a fruitful ministry in the 18 countries that EMS is reaching out to. May God grant more wisdom and grace on all cross borders missionaries as they put up relevant strategies to reach out to their communities this year.


  • Ask the Lord to raise workers who can work in French-speaking Senegal and in new Gambian mission fields.
  • Pray for the Gambian Seminary that started with 3 students; pray for God’s wisdom and understanding of His word. Also pray for the primary school at Old Yundum that has predominantly Muslim pupils. May they be ministered to even as they receive sound teaching.


  • Pray for God to provide support for the completion of the building of a mission church in Kaboli that is ongoing.
  • Pray for God to provide EMS of ECWA Togo with a vehicle for the purpose of coordination of the mission work.
  • Pray for God’s provision to acquire a land for ECWA Togo Headquarters. Two hectares of land for the ECWA HEADQUARTERS OF TOGO is estimated to cost about Five Million Naira only (₦5,000,000.00) in Sokode.


  • Praise God for the successful starting of ECWA Theological School Togo which kickstarted in September 2018. Pray for God’s wisdom on the school leadership as they put up strategies to enhance the school’s growth.
  • Pray for the provision of at least 5 motorcycles for the missionaries that are working in the interiors to run the work easily.


  • Pray for the three congregations in Zambia- Kitwe, Luanshiya and Mufilira – for God’s direction as they meet to map out schedules for 2019.
  • Also pray for these churches to embrace evangelism and giving for the gospel.
  • Pray for the Zambian team of our missionaries as they focus on the fields that God will give thempatience and commitment.

FRIDAY 25TH ECWA CAMEROON Pray for some of the EMS missionaries in Cameroon that are in dire need of motorcycles for the progress of the work.


  • Let’s be in prayers for Sister Edith Aboubakar who encountered the Lord through the prison ministry of the Amahs (our missionary in Mali). She has left Mali to return home as a free woman. Ask that the Lord will increase upon her grace to be steadfast and stay committed to serving God in truth and in spirit.
  • Let’s also uphold our sister Hauwa who gave her life to Christ through the house fellowship ministry Mrs. Amah started. Pray for good understanding of the Word as she is descipled; ask the Lord to keep her focused and steadfast as she struggles with the issues of her husband leaving to marry another wife.
  • Continue to pray for God’s provision for the Amahs to care for some of sister Hauwa’s needs.
  • The foundation-laying process of the permanent site of ECWA Mali has stopped for lack of cash;please pray for God’s provision for the progress of the work.


Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2

SUNDAY 27TH EMS TRAINING UNIT Thank God for the impact of all our trainings and programs in 2018. Pray that this year our trainings and programs will receive wider acceptance with greater multiplication and that believers and leaders will truly be equipped to fulfill the Great Commission. Pray for our Staff Retreat.


  • Praise God for the provision of funds to buy 13 wheelchairs to our targeted handicapped women and children.
  • Praise God for the miraculous provision for kids’ Christmas clothes and grains for the year 2019.
  • Praise God for the provision of admissions for some of our kids into tertiary institutions; pray forprovisions for their upkeep in school and for God’s divine protection as they resume.
  • Pray for EMS HOUSE OF HOPE’s Consultant for safety; he traveled to the US to see his family.

TUESDAY 29TH EMS RELIEF UNITAsk the Lord for help from above as EMS empowers widows, orphans and the less-privileged through this unit. Pray that the Lord will open doors of grace and supply to EMS as we seek new avenues to raise money for this effort.

WEDNESDAY 30TH MISSIONARY KIDS Pray for the children of missionaries and pastors, that the good Father will shield them from mischief of the devil and strengthen them in their call to follow the Lord In this year 2019 and beyond.

THURSDAY 31TH EMS NATIONAL MISSION CONFRENCE EMS is trusting God to bring together all its missionaries from all its mission fields across Nigeria to converge in a conference at the headquarters in Jos in April. Pray for financial support for the conference.


ECWA Maryland Church Activities

Sundays: Sunday school, Youth Bible study, and Baptismal Class 10:00 am -11:00 am
  • Sunday Service – 11:00 am – 1:30 pm
  • 1st, Sunday – Prayer Service
  • 2nd, Sunday – Holy Communion
  • 3rd, Sunday – Thanksgiving service
Wednesdays: Bible Study and Prayer
Saturdays: Intercessory Prayer 9:00 am – 10:00 am
  • 1st, Saturday – Board of Elders’ Meeting

Why Plant Churches in the USA?

by Rev. Joseph Ezeigbo M.Div, Th.M | The Psalmist urges us to declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. Ps.96:3

America, with her approximately 350 million people, has the third largest population of any nation in the world. Although this number represents only about 4.28% of the entire world population, it comprises the highest number of the largest ethnic and groups of people in the world. Further, America has the highest number of growing immigrant population in the world, thus making it the greatest mission field in the world. These are not new facts. Missiologists established these statistics more than a quarter of a century ago. Immigrants accounted for 4.7% of US population in 1970 and rising to 6.2% in 1980 and up to 12.5% in 2009. Since 2000 America absorbs at least 1 million immigrants annually. (Note that this excludes undocumented immigrants). Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, charged His disciples thus saying, Do you not say, ’Four months more and then the harvest?’ I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields. They are ripe for harvest (Jn. 4:34). In His compassion for a desperate and distressed world, He urged them (us— ECWAUSA) … The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field Matt. 9:37-38. POLARIZATION OF THE GOSPEL Though record indicates that about 30,000 Churches shut their doors between 2006 to 2012; a study reported by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion states that there has been a general increase in the number of Churches in the US since 1998. The National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted between 2006 and 2012 also indicates an increase from about 336,000 congregations in 1998 to about 414,000 in 2006 and perhaps leveled off at 338,00 in 2012. The Southern Baptist Church(SBC); America’s largest denomination, has about 50,000 congregations. However, consider that these overall statistics include those denominations that have become apostate (denying the five Cardinal doctrines of the Bible), including the inspiration of the Bible and authority of the Scriptures and ordination of openly gay and homosexual individuals. In Africa in general and Nigeria in particular, the situation is more bemoanable. The seemingly out of control upsurge of the Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has become a reproach to the cause Christianity in Nigeria. Fake miracles, Occult practices, False and demonic doctrines, bogus titles by “ministers of God” (MOGs), excessive lavish lifestyles and materialism etc. (Reading material, The Seduction of the Nigerian Church by Gary Maxey and Peter Ozodo and The Modern Theology versus Biblical Theology by an ECWA pastor, Daniel Sopuru). According to Pew Research, Nigeria is the second most religious country in the world. Apostle Paul stated the integrity that governed his ministry and should be the goal of every ministry in these words, “unlike so many we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ, we speak with sincerity, like men sent from God” “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have received this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly, we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17;4:1-3). POST-MODERNISM (POST-CHRISTIAN) ERA For those who canvass in Philosophy, this is an upgrade from the Age of the Enlightenment of 17th and 18th Centuries. Author and pastor David Roper gives the following description of this period: we are living in what many have described as a Post-Christian era. That doesn’t mean there are no longer many Christians around; there may in fact be more true believers than ever before. ‘Post–Christian’ era means that Christian faith no longer plays a role in shaping public opinion and policy. Christian assumptions and commitments once widely held no longer have the presence and impact they once had. A new hallmark of this period is characterized by the rise the “Nones.” The “Nones” are the new segment of the American population who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated. And they are growing by the numbers. According to a study, in the 1950s, around 3% of Americans checked the “None” box when asked about their religious affiliation. That number has grown especially in the last decade to 20%. This group, according to Pew Research Center, makes up for about 23% of US adult population. About 33% of Millennial's population fall into this category. In the last five years, this population grew from 15% to 20%. PORTRAY THE BEAUTY OF THE GOSPEL AND TRUE CHRISTIANITY Paul’s admonition to his protégé, Titus behooves us. …that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (NIV) Tit. 2:10. The word attractive adorn (NKJV) kosmeo in Greek. The idea is to beautify or make beautiful in order to draw attention. The Gospel has become the object of ridicule and caricature in many quarters today for the reasons mentioned above especially when considering the state of the Church in both the United States and Nigeria. Judging by population and size ratio, Nigeria has the largest number of Churches and Christian population of any country in the world. United States and Nigeria are the two countries with the highest number of Church attendance population in the world. May we aspire to spread the aroma of Christ as we are urged for we are to God the aroma of Christ. PROPAGATION OF THE GOSPEL The Psalmist urges declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples Ps.96:3. The Great Commission is preceded by Christ’s declaration of His possession of All authority in heaven and on earth (Matt.28:18) Contextually, therefore when we obey the Great Commission, we march under that divine authority and the promise of His company and abiding presence (vss.19-20). Also, the blessing of those who proclaim the God news would be abundantly ours (Isa.52:7).

Rev. Joseph EzeigboRev. Joseph Okechukwu Ezeigbo is a Bible teacher for the weekly Bible study at ECWA Maryland. He is also a part of the National Day of Prayer and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted.

The Cost of Being Part of the Building Process

by Rev. Jean de Dieu Nzeyimana | ECWA USA DCC Assistant Secretary, Pastor of ECWA II Louisville, Kentucky | Planting a church requires fight, endurance, commitment and courage to dodge Satan’s arrows that come from both within and outside the church! Planting a healthy church requires self-sacrifice.

Building solid church requires planning and preparation. What are the costs related to both planning and preparation? Without going into more details, many of us know how Nehemiah planned, inspected, and prepared to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, despite the opposition from both inside and outside! When he resolved to the rebuilding work, he endured the first cost of being mocked and ridiculed. They (opposition) said:

What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-burned as they are? …. What they are building if even a fox climbed upon it, he would break down their walls of stones!”, end of quote (Nehemiah 4:1-3.)

This ridicule and mockery may appear the same for someone envisioning to plant a church today and who encounters opposition along the way. The Apostle Paul endured pain in his missionary trips when at several times he was mistreated, ridiculed and sometimes put in prison for what he believed in. But there was a joy in the end to see that the Gospel that started in Jerusalem, spread in Judea and Samaria had reached the entire world. That joy caused the Apostle Paul to say: 2 Timothy 4:7-8:

I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Paul’s crown of righteousness is a result of his commitment to serve hardheartedly, to endure the pain of serving self sacrificially.Planting a church requires fight, endurance, commitment and courage to dodge Satan’s arrows that come from both within and outside the church!Planting a healthy church requires to conquer fear of failure within oneself! Conviction that you are doing the right thing. Conviction that it is not your work but the Lord’s! You must sense God’s presence and his voice repeating the same words he told Isaiah as found in Isaiah 41:10: “Go I am with you”! It requires commitment to follow through.There are many people out there who will always want you to fail because of their own interest and profits! Acts 16:16-24 recounts a story of a dirty and satanic business held by wicked people through a female slave who, through her evil spirit in her predicted future. When the apostle Paul intervened to silence the devil, he was beaten up, dragged out of the city and put into prison. Planting a church comes with cost! It was once said:

There is no growth without change. And there is no change without loss. There is no loss without pain. A church that wants to grow without going through growing pains is like a woman who says: “I want to have a baby, but I don’t want to go through labor.

Planting a solid church requires obedience. Using my own experience, God convinced me to leave a paying job I had to become a full-time pastor without salary! It was crazy in the eyes of other people including those in my church. Some said: “Do not expect any tithe from us. Go in the factories/warehouses and sweat like others. God listened to the ridicule and provided in a miraculous way. God has many ways to reward people of courage.

Planting a solid church requires trusting God. One day I asked someone to join the leadership of our church. He told me that he was willing to do so with only one condition; to give him a salary! Knowing well that I, myself do not have any salary, but just trusting God, I prayed for him a similar prayer as Elisha’s in 2 Kings 6:17: “O Lord, I wish he could trust your faithfulness!”.

‘Till today, God has been providing for our needs.

Planting a healthy church requires self-sacrifice. In ancient Ugandan kingdom, a young boy whose name was Charles Lwanga; a son of the Ugandan king was persecuted, burned alive in January 27, 1887 in Namugongo province by his own father just because he refused to recant his faith. The child decided to side with other Christians and this cost them their lives as a result! One of those boys, the oldest Matthias Kalemba, exclaimed, God will rescue me. But you will not see how he does it, because he will take my soul and leave you only my body! Out of that persecution sprang a strong church which stands today! Tertullian, one who is believed to be one of our early church fathers once wrote. The more Christians are persecuted the more Christianity takes root; the blood [of martyrs] is the seed of the church. Costs is almost always associated with building a solid church across the ages!

Regarding planting a solid ECWA USA, same above principles should be applied. A healthy ECWA church requires committed sons and daughters who are determined to go and find the lost from diverse cultures. We need to come out of our comfort zone and go where we may be challenged. We must break cultural barriers and allow inclusiveness.

There is pain mixed with fear for any pastor to see his congregation decreasing! I have a quote from Bill Smalt that illustrates pain/fear of building a solid church:

As the pastor moves down the aisle to great his congregation, he glanced over to the section that, only weeks ago, was occupied by several people who had been under his watchful care for a number of years. The feeling of success about the service he just led suddenly fades away. One of the reason pastors quit the ministry is discouragement. Watching people leave a church prematurely, year after year, wears on pastor’s emotions and can play a big part in feeding feelings of discouragement and failure.

This was our experience in ECWA II towards the end of last year! We saw three diverse groups splitting from our church. The first thought was: Are we the reason of these departures? Fortunately, and we thank God for that, it was not because of us! They just wanted to start their own churches as they claimed to belong to their church denominations of origin and not to ECWA. It was a shock to us to see people queuing in front of church office to inform us of their unannounced departures! We were just left with one option; to pray and let them go! However, I was energized by a quote from the same person Bill Smalt:

Be willing to let people leave the church! People are going to leave your church no matter what you do. But when you define the vision, you are choosing who is going to leave…. You can’t surrender the leadership of your church to manipulators. Jesus invested the maximum time with those who would bear the maximum responsibility.

I agree with Bill that in the church, people go, and new people come. What we should consider is not the sizeable number of people, but few who support our leadership and the direction of the church. After these departures, some people told me that I should thank God for purging his church of those who could hurt it in the end. This thought corroborates with someone who identified three layers of people: The core (genuine followers), the leaning in (those who can follow), and the leaning out (those outside the margin). And he said that we should get rid of those who lean out and remain with the core and the leaning in.

Planting a solid church requires to break the cultural barriers. Last March I visited a healthy church in Pretoria, South Africa and I was amazed by how multicultural the church is. Its members are from more than twenty different nationalities. The whole congregation (both men and women and child) are involved in various church activities. From ushers, to welcome teams, traffic and parking teams, information team, prayer teams, men’s, women’s, and youth programs, etc.

The church has a wing for children’s ministry where church members go to volunteer as teachers, ushers, and baby sitters.

There is no such thing as a South African, Rwandan, Burundian, Nigerian, Tanzanian, Ugandan, or Kenyan church member! They all work as sons and daughters of the Kingdom. I would suggest that this multicultural church did not arrive to this point overnight! It cost their church leadership enough time to implement that effective church structure.

Labeling and name tag calling are other indications of dysfunctional churches. When we start labeling our churches as Nigerian, Burundian, or Rwandan, the failure is already looming at our doors. And most of the time we are the active agents of that labeling, especially when we seem pushy towards those who do not look like us. No one would tell anyone to leave the church, but their attitudes would convince you that you are not welcomed! My dream is to one day see ECWA USA beyond the cultural barriers mentioned above. Let us use more inclusive terms rather than exclusive ones!

Building a solid church requires investment in time, effort, and energy. Nowadays, many church leaders, especially in African churches here in the USA, have tendencies to consider church like any other duty. They come to church on Sundays and after service they go and stay away from church activities until they come back the next Sunday. I wonder why church members are reluctant to give their tithe because, according to them, they refuse the pastor to get paid twice! The pastor goes to the company/Warehouse like any other person, someone complained! Why would he (the pastor), want us to pay him for the work he did not do!

Some African pastors here in states have tried to make church a business! They take the church for another source of revenue/income! If you believe you can’t trust God to provide for you as you work for him, then get down to business and find jobs like any other person. Pastors should spend enough amount of time performing church duties. If a pastor has a full-time job outside the church, he should not expect that his church would to be sound and strong!

Before concluding my sharing, if everything I said can be forgotten, remember this anchor for a solid church plant, reliable results will not be taking place until godly men and women get on their knees and pray without ceasing. Prayer should not be put on to-do-list. It should permeate all our activities. Prayer must be our lifestyle.

Rev. Jean Nzeyimana

Rev. Jean de Dieu Nzeyimana is ECWA USA DCC Assistant Secretary and Pastor of ECWA II Louisville Kentucky. He is the Executive Director of Gate of Hope Ministries International.

Biblical Mandate for Church Planting

by Rev. Joseph Ezeigbo M.Div, Th.M |It is through the Church that Christ intends to reign on earth, because the church is the visible manifestation of His mystical body . Eph.1:22-23. Col.1:18 (image: Grow Baby Grow, R. James Shupp).

The Biblical mandate for Church planting is inextricably interwoven with the Great Commission. This burden was uppermost in the Lord’s heart that it is repeated in all the four Gospels and in Acts.

The Church is not an afterthought but has been in the mind of God since eternity. Eph.1:4,;3:2-6. For this purpose we shall concentrate on Matthew 28:18-20. The apostles carried out this mandate immediately following the descent of the Holy Spirit in Acts1:5-8,2:41-47. The mandate spells out what should be the stance of the church. “ A church on the go”. The Church is a movement not a monument. Not just a movement, but a missionary movement. Matt.28:19-20; Acts 1:8.

It is a transformational movement ( make disciples of the nations) Matt.28:19

It is an educational/teaching movement. ( teaching them…) Matt.28:20.

Greater Purpose

There is yet a greater purpose for the mandate to plant churches.

  1. To declare the praises of Christ for our salvation 1 Pet.2:9
  2. To declare His glory through a life of holiness Eph.1:4,6;1 Pet.2:10-12.
  3. It is through the Church that Christ intends to reign on earth, because the church is the visible manifestation of His mystical body . Eph.1:22-23. Col.1:18.
  4. The Church is also the fullness of her Head (Christ) Eph.1:22-23.
  5. It is through the Church that Christ declares His reconciliation with mankind and between mankind. Eph.2:11-22; Col.2:18-22.
  6. It is the Church that makes manifest the mystery of the ages and through which the manifold wisdom of God is declared to the kingdom of darkness. Eph.3:9-10.
  7. The Church is God’s designated change-agent in the world Acts 17:6;2 Cor.2:14-16.( I recommend Christian Counter Culture, A Message of the Sermon on the Mount. (Inter-Varsity Press) by John Stott. Kingdom Disciples ( Moody Publishers) by Tony Evans.

First Century Examples

a. The early Christians obeyed this mandate Acts 8:4-7;11:19-21.

b. The apostle Paul carried out this mandate as he traveled and evangelized the Mediterranean world.Acts 14:21-23;16-20;1 Tim.1:3;Tit.1:5.

c. The Body of Christ is not a vague, amorphous visualization or imagination, but a tangible reality represented by a local church.

Rev. Joseph EzeigboRev. Joseph Okechukwu Ezeigbo is a Bible teacher for the weekly Bible study at ECWA Maryland. He is also a part of the National Day of Prayer and the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted.

How to Use Technology and Social Media Without Worshiping It

by Rowland Adeniyi | To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline (image: iStock).

Technology and social media allow us to stay in touch with friends, explore the world around us, learn new things, and order anything online. It is a powerful tool to make our life easier and better while on the other hand, it can lead to isolation, neglect of our responsibilities, or disrespect of people around us. To use technology and social media without worshiping it, we must exercise self-control which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. This includes turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices, cultivating healthier activities to keep yourself busy, turning off your connected devices, or uninstalling social media Apps from your smartphone and using the one on your personal computer. If you’re beyond exercising self-control, you can find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949. There is no need to be in self-denial, many of us are not using technology and social media appropriately. It is very difficult to know the cause of the problems; technology providers, educators, school curriculum, or the federal agency policies about technology. There is plenty of blame to go around even as far as parents themselves are concerned. Although there is no scientific standard for measuring if you’re worshiping technology and social media, some reports suggest it may affect as many as 38 percent of the general population. The reason for discrepancies is that it is researched differently among scientists including the mental health professionals. The vast majority of Americans, about 95% now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 77%, up from just 35% in PEW Research Center’s first survey of smartphone ownership conducted in 2011. THE GOOD AND THE BAD When used wisely, technology and social media have the potential to support the much-needed large scale change in education especially in the areas of math and science education. For this to happen though, educators need to be very creative in developing new and far more ambitious course work for a quite different future that technologies and social media make possible now. The most useful educational perspective of information technologies and social media is to see them primarily as tools that help students accomplish more. The tool role is of primary importance because it extends the capacity of students to undertake investigations, to attack computational problems, to communicate, and to access information resources. On one hand, the potential positive effects of using technology and social media without worshiping it include enhanced cognitive development and school achievement, reduced barriers to social interaction, enhanced fine motor skills and visual processing and effective rehabilitation. On the other hand, the potential negative effects include threats to child safety, inappropriate content, exposure to violence, bullying, internet 'addiction', displacement of moderate or vigorous physical activity, exposure to junk food advertising, sleep displacement, vision problems, and musculoskeletal problems. All researchers agreed on one thing, the extended use of technology is damaging to anyone, especially in the early developmental years of adolescence. ARE YOU WORSHIPING TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA? The troubling thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that a person is endlessly surrounded by technology. From the time one wakes up to the time one goes to bed, we are bombarded with technology and social media. Its use is endless. In this digital age, how then do you know if you’re worshiping technology and social media?

  • I saw an elderly lady walking across the street one day in one of the high-tech cities along the US west coast with her eyes glued to her device screen and not even paying attention to the oncoming traffic until the driver slammed the brake and blew the horn and the lady literarily ran off the street. If a person is not able to physically stop checking their Facebook account, tweeting, blogging, e-mailing, or whatever, then they are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Complex, strategy-based games like Starcraft can improve many cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning. When playing a strategy game, the player must be flexible and quick to change tactics on the fly with limited resources and logistics when something unexpected suddenly happens, just like in the real world. Although this strategy game no doubt improves cognitive skills, doing it online in excess no doubt constitutes that we are worshiping technology and social media.
  • Everyday we use our technology to buy practically everything online these days and that includes perishable goods like groceries delivery as well. There is no doubt about it; from researching our first home to ordering pizzas online, we are a technology savvy community when it comes to shopping. The problem comes when we keep buy unwanted goods every day and we end up as a compulsive online shopper.
  • A virtue as Wikipedia described it is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. Having read a few books on the impact of technology and social media on humans, I can say conclusively we are consuming technology at an alarming rate and entertaining ourselves to illness. When our use of technology and social media clash with the development of our virtue, our relationships, work, or school then we are worshiping technology and social media.

USING TECHNOLOGY & SOCIAL MEDIA WITHOUT WORSHIPING IT The most important thing about using technology and social media without worshiping it is that of self-corrective behavior which can be achieved by everyone with discipline. Corrective behaviors include the use of software that controls the internet use and types of sites that can be visited like Qustodio or Disney's Circle for your phone and/or wireless router. These software are designed to supervise, manage and protect children device use on the go! It basically allows parents to see how their children uses devices, apps, the web and control it. For self-correction, one will for example set their alarm for say 45 mins. Things done without devices is good, which means a person is having a face-to-face interaction which is always better and rewarding. After the 45 mins, one will get outside the building or house and do something different, like reading a book or visiting a friend’s house where one can either play an old-fashioned board game like monopoly or go for a walk. Physical activity is very effective at increasing serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine levels which is known to decrease dependency on the use on internet devices. Boredom isn't bad, and the cure for boredom is being creative without using technology. Studies show technology and social media use just makes a person more easily bored. I. CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 12 YEARS Looking at the use of smartphones, MP3 players, TV, social media, and the internet at large make it all seems as if our kids are always plugged in. Many parents compete with technology for their kids’ attention all the time. As a family, everyone need to work together to create an acceptable technology use policy (see example below). This includes 1) Who can use it and what they are allowed to do with it? 2) Where and when they are allowed to use it? and 3) How will this use be monitored? One of the best things the parents can do regarding technology is to talk to their kids about what they are seeing, hearing and doing. What are other kids doing? What do they think about this and that? Have they seen or heard of other kids being bullied? Have they been bullied? Are your kids mature enough to understand the basics of internet safe usage? It’s also a good idea to show your children news articles about bad things that happens when kids use technology. It’s one thing to hear it from you, but to see it happen to someone their age will make them think twice. We as adults need to be very specific on what our children are allowed to do with their devices. For example; no bullying, and they should never take or look at naked photos of themselves and explain to them the consequences. Whatever they text, post, email, or tweet will become part of the public realm and they can never get it back, since it will be there to assist or hinder them as adult. The parents can use cell phone bills, monitoring software like Qustodio or Disney's Circle to look at the technology itself to see what content has been viewed. This is not an invasion of privacy – it’s not about snooping. It’s about keeping your child and other children safe from predators, bullies, and content they think they are old enough for but that is really harmful. Sample Family Acceptable Use Policy.

  1. You may not ignore calls or texts or email from us. We will always know the password for this device and you may not have or know the password to our devices. Your use of your devices is privileged and will be revoked for a week at the first evidence of tampering with our security or password.
  2. When you are at home with us, you may have ______ hour(s) on school days and ____ hour(s) on weekend days to enjoy using your digital devices. We like being with you and talk to you.
  3. You will return this digital device to a parent (or a guardian if we are not home) at ____ p.m. every school night and at _____ p.m. every weekend night.
  4. Do not post or share photos of other people without their permission. And especially, do not photograph or share inappropriate or naked images of yourself or other people. If something does happen, you can always call us for help.
  5. Resolve conflict with someone face to face and NOT by texting. We expect eye contact during face-to-face discussions. Don’t text when you are angry or mad.

What happens online impacts your life offline. Colleges and future employers can and will search your name, and the internet never forgets. Slow down and think before posting. II. TEENAGERS AND YOUNG ADULTS Many adults sometimes don’t know what their teenagers are going through every day which is why it’s hard to separate teenagers from social media, messaging apps, or online games and videos. Sometimes some of them are afraid of being alone and they rely on technology and the social media in general to give them a sense of belonging while their capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. There is no doubt about it, technology is inhibiting our teenager’s connection and conversation at school and at home. Somehow, they find ways around conversation, tempted by the constant bombardment of text or an email in which they feel they have to look at or listen to. We really need to teach our teenagers the virtues of person-to-person conversation and especially the use of technology and social media without worshiping it. Work with Your Teenagers and Teach them to Use Technology Wisely Challenge your teenagers as a parent for them to use technology and social media as a tool to contribute to and analyze global environmental datasets, polls, and other network science projects. Here they can collect their best work and evidence for skill mastery into portfolios for you as a parent to evaluate. This will give the teenagers a technique to move between quantitative observations to theory that they will find powerful for use later in life. And these experimental investigations will continue to mature as your teenagers mature. It may even break the barriers or walls between you and your teenagers and they may see you as allies. Depending on how good these portfolios are; they may even be able to use them in college admissions and job applications. Be A Good Role Model We need to show our teenagers how to use technology and social media in a healthy, human way while also developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way they use digital media rather than accepting technology's promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world's knowledge at their fingertips. Show them how to make money with their knowledge of technology and social media. And if you as a parent didn’t know how, pay to send them to summer school or weekend classes on how to. Teenagers with Technology Issues Need to Try Self-Help Research shows strong associations between addictive use of technology and comorbid psychiatric disorders. In “The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders by Andreassen et al.: A large-scale cross-sectional study; age appeared to be inversely related to the addictive use of these technologies. Being male was significantly associated with addictive use of video games, whereas being female was significantly associated with addictive use of social media. Being single was positively related to both addictive social networking and video gaming. As a teenager, you have to accept the fact you’re not an adult and hence lack the maturity to curb devices use on your own. Studies has shown that the parents taking the device away from you as a teenager doesn’t help either since it creates a withdrawal symptom like, anxiety. Instead, there are plenty of other ways to help yourself find a healthier balance: As part of a self-help, you need to recognize what make you reach for your smartphone in the first place. Is it when you’re lonely, bored, depressed, or stressed; then the excessive devices use might be a way for you to relax. And there is no better way to relax than to change your mood without the use of devices. Head on to your neighbor or friend for face-to-face interaction which can make you feel calmer, safer and less stressful. Studies shows interacting through text, email or messaging that bypasses nonverbal cues does not have the same effect on individual's emotional well-being. No one knows you better than yourself, and the ultimate goal is to build skills that will make it easier for you to relate to others and find it easier to communicate in person rather than tweeting, texting or blogging other people online. Building skills in these areas may help you weather the stresses on your daily life without relying on your devices. Think back to other times when you've reached out for your devices, is it to distract yourself from other issues like loneliness and shyness? If so, you need to reach out to your friends and family. If you are shy, there are ways to overcome social awkwardness and make lasting friendship without relying on social media or the Internet. Help your younger sibling out with their homework. They've probably been nagging you for a while about that anyway. Set a good example for your siblings. Better yet, try reaching out to your teacher for that problem you know you cannot solve by yourself or join a club at school that is not related to technology or social media. Where to Find Technology/Internet Addiction Treatment If you’re a teenager with technology and social media issues or internet addiction disorder, sometimes abbreviated as IAD; it may be time to look for outside support, teenagers often rebel against their parents, whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional therapist. It's very difficult to find a dedicated facility that specializes in technology and social media issues or internet addiction. Many treatment centers that treat internet addiction also handle a variety of other behavioral problems. Professional therapists who provide couple’s therapy often deal with patients that have a range of compulsive behavioral problems. Find treatment centers here for internet addiction in your area or call the Helpline at 888-465-7473 or 877-762-4484 or 866-208-4949. Specific therapies and therapeutic activities prescribed by a therapist will vary from teen to teen, but here are some options tested to have the best impact on a teenager with internet addiction.

  • Structured and closely supervised schedule with little or no access to Internet-connected devices
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Behavioral modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Equine therapy
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Recreation therapy

III. ADULTS As an adult, the best way to use technology and social media without worshiping it is to cultivate habits that can free us to enjoy living. This includes: Cultivate Healthier Activities Been bored and lonely as an adult is no fun. You should resist the urge to use that device by doing a hospital visit, volunteering at church or your community, taking a yoga class, reading a book, or walking with friends. Disable Notifications Internet connected devices somehow pulls people out of the present moment and into someone else experience. Resist this by turning off the function where new posts pop up as alerts on your devices. Unless your job requires it, there is no need to take your devices like smartphone or tablet with you everywhere in the house. Leave it where you normally put it when you get home and go to the deck to relax and get some fresh air or just take time off for a quiet time.. Block Out an internet Connected Devices Turnoff Time Ever since I almost crashed into the car in front of me while driving on Interstate 5 using my smartphone about 5 years ago, I always turn off my smartphone as soon as I get into the driver’s seat. Other times I turn off the smartphone include during sporting activities, bedtime, dinner, meetings, or playing with kids. Check internet Connected Devices with a Purpose Determine from this day on to always check your smartphone with a purpose in mind. Constantly documenting everything around you to post on your social media page so that you’re socially accepted is nerve racking and time-consuming. It’s best to check your smartphone sporadically or at a scheduled time and make sure you time yourself. No Smartphone in the Bedroom or Bathroom Treat your bedroom as a mini-sanctuary where there is no eating or smartphone usage. If you cultivate this habit, your children will thank you for it when they grow up and on their own. Smartphone usage and eating in bed unless on special occasions is totally distracting and send the wrong message to your kids that they can eat in bed and take their smartphone to bed as well. Unless your job requires you leave your smartphone on all the time, or you use your smartphone as a wake-up alarm; it's best to turn off all devices and leave them in another room overnight to charge. Get traditional paper books for the bedroom and bathroom instead of eBooks on your smartphone or tablet. Uninstall social media Apps If your eyes are glued to your smartphone or tablet instead of helping that crying baby or living up to your responsibility as a parent then it may be time for you to remove the social media apps from your smartphone and check Facebook, Twitter and the like only from your personal computer. Unless you make a living from social media; you can spend as little time as you want on social media and you won’t miss out on anything. Besides, you will boost your sense of self-worth and have more time for things that are important in your life; like spending quality time that requires eye-to-eye contact with loved ones.

Rowland Adeniyi is a security and Infrastructure Architectures Consultant. Consulting to colleges, Microsoft, and other agencies. Built and maintains ECWA USA Website.

  REFERENCES Andreassen, C. S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M. D., Kuss, D. J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E., & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30(2), 252-262. Carnes, P., Delmonico, D., & Griffin, E. (2007). In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free of Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior (2nd ed.). Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden Foundation. Internet addiction disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from Stewart, C. (2010, January 13). Obsessed With the Internet: A Tale From China. Retrieved from Young, K. S. (1998) internet addiction: The emergence of a new clinical disorder. Cyberpsychology and Behavior 1: 237-244. Young, K. (n.d.). Center for internet Addiction – Education and Treatment. Retrieved from Risky Business: internet Addiction – Help for recognizing and dealing with smartphone and internet addiction. (Mental Health America) Media Smarts – Site covering safety tips for children and how to cope with challenges such as social media, texting and messaging, and excessive internet use. (Canada's Centre for Digital and Media Literacy) Understanding Addictive Cybersex – Article by Dr. Jennifer Schneider discusses the types and consequences of cybersex addiction. ( Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous – How to find a 12-step program for sexual addictions. (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) On-Line Gamers Anonymous – Help and support for problems caused by excessive game playing. (OLGA) Restart Center – Offers programs to help you disconnect from digital media, such as smartphones, gaming, and the Internet. (Center for Digital Technology Sustainability) Apps Block social media Because Users Can't Stop Themselves – Review of anti-distraction apps and software that help you monitor and curb your smartphone and online behavior. (NPR) Smartphone Compulsion Test – Dr. David Greenfield's screening tool for smartphone overuse or addiction. (The Center for internet and Technology Addiction)

How to Build Strong Multi-Cultural Churches

by Rev. Sunday Bwanhot | Pastor, ECWA Church, Chicago | We must have policies that allow “none indigents” to be engaged in ministry at all levels and be elected into different offices within the ECWA Structure

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Rev. 7:9-12 The chief end of man and all creation is to worship God thereby bringing glory to God. The Great Commission is about making disciples of all nations (ethnos- people groups). The Church is God’s instrument to make this happen. So, building strong multi-cultural churches is not man’s idea, it is God’s express will. WHAT IS A MULTI-CULTURAL CHURCH? Simply put: Believers of different cultural backgrounds worshiping together in one place. These different cultures may be of the same ethnicity or of different ethnicities. This is God’s plan that will culminate in the Revelation 7 experience. Naturally people of the same race or tribe hang out together and systematically exclude others who are not like them. But the church of God is called to pull down all barriers that separate and differentiate us. This has always been a challenge which each generation must face and overcome. Although all of Jesus’ disciples were of Jewish cultural background, the Holy spirit launched the Church in a spectacular way by bringing people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds together as recorded in Acts 2. The Church that was birthed represented the community around it. The Jews were very reluctant to integrate other cultures and ethnicities, they wanted to maintain their mono-cultural identity. God had to get to work to change that mindset. He was not going to allow His church to be limited to or be defined by one cultural group or ethnicity. He created all cultures and ethnic groups and He wants all to worship Him together as part of the one family of God. Acts 10 expose how God finally dealt with the ethnocentric posture of the Jewish believers. “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Acts 10:34-35. Later on, Paul declared in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It is clear then that God’s plan for His church is to accommodate all people of all cultures and backgrounds. It is to be noted that there will be mono-cultural churches is some situations like rural communities where all the community members are of the same culture. There will be need for a mono-cultural church in cities also where immigrants into the city cannot communicate in the main spoken language. First generation immigrants benefit from the mono-cultural church. However, such churches must work toward being multi-cultural, else they will not grow much and they will lose their young ones who may not be interested in learning the language of their parents. HOW WE CAN MAKE THE TRANSITION AND BUILD STRONG MULTI-CULTURAL CHURCHES

  1. Be convinced that this is God’s plan and work toward it.
  2. Pray for God’s revelation of how your church can make the transition
  3. Prepare your congregation for the change which could take a long time and could be painful
  4. Study, preach and teach the Bible always rather than talking much about your culture or church denomination.
  5. Language is a strong tool that connects people – use the main language everyone speaks.
  6. Have a parish mindset for your church. Reach out to everyone in the community where your church is, rather than just inviting people of your cultural background.
  7. Adapt to the community where you are – become all things to all people… Some aspects to consider are: dressing, language, time orientation, style of worship, etc.
  8. Be involved in the community in other ways and not just on spiritual things
  9. Show that you are for everyone and not just for some.


  1. Acts 6 reveal how it can get messy when different cultural groups worship together. A proper balancing act is needed.
  2. Cultural pressure can be very strong. Peter shied away from the Gentiles to please his fellow Jewish believers; Paul had to rebuke him Galatians 2:11-13
  3. Acts 15. The Jerusalem Council had to come up with new policies that addressed the concerns of believers from other cultural backgrounds.
  • Churches need to have right policies that welcome people of different backgrounds
  • Majority culture should always be ready to make sacrifices to accommodate the minorities
  • It is important to not only integrate but also treat everyone fairly and equally.
  • Give leadership responsibilities to minority cultures also.

CONCLUSION Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) – if we are going to be the kind of church God wants us to be, which we also want to be, we must follow the 9 steps given above and in addition: update our constitution, manuals, and handbooks to be a true reflection of a church that is global and welcomes all cultures. We must have policies that allow “none indigents” to be engaged in ministry at all levels and be elected into different offices within the ECWA Structure. Church planters need to be trained and equipped to start churches with the mindset of growing multi-cultural churches and not mono-cultural churches. It is easier to start a multi-cultural church than to convert a mono-cultural church into a multi-cultural church. May ECWA be a church that anybody from any ethnicity, or cultural background can walk in and feel at home because we are all about Jesus and not so much about culture or denomination. Amen!

Rev. Sunday Bwanhotby Rev. Sunday Bwanhot is EMS/SIM Missionary. He serves as Team leader of SIM Culture Connexions; Pastors of ECWA Chicago.  

Passing the Torch: Mentorship in Ministry

by William N. Downie III | If intentional effort to pass the torch of ministry by training up those to follow is not taken by Christians, then in one generation the Church will be ill-equipped to survive at best, and dead at worst (Liberty University Senior Honors Thesis,

Mentorship is a key function of the Church. If intentional effort to pass the torch of ministry through mentorship is not taken, then in one generation the Church will be dead or crippled. Though much has been written on mentorship, most have approached the topic by matching their methods with biblical teaching rather than starting in the Bible and developing their methods from it. A search for examples of mentorship that exist in the Old and New Testament will synthesize to form methods and principles which biblical characters used. These methods and principles are evaluated and then contextualized for the modern Christian to form a foundation which can be used as a strong basis for the creation of any mentorship program. The Need Raising up leaders in the next generation is crucial to the survival of any group, and especially to the Church. If intentional effort to pass the torch of ministry by training up those to follow is not taken by Christians, then in one generation the Church will be ill-equipped to survive at best, and dead at worst. Because of the enormous weight that rests on the matter of mentoring the next generation of Christians, the topic should be seriously considered. Christians have published thousands of books and articles wrestling with the matter of mentorship; however, few are products of exegesis (drawing out a message first from Scripture),1 but rather eisegesis (reading one’s own desired meaning into Scripture).2 Fewer yet are products of a survey of the entirety of Scripture’s teaching on mentorship, but rather a case study of one particular instance. As such, there is a need to add such a collection of research to the field of biblical mentorship. The Solution Because of a lack of coverage elsewhere, there is a need to research how to train the next generation of Christians to follow in ministry. Looking for biblical principles from a purely biblical evaluation of various portions of both the Old and New Testaments is the best way to make up this deficit in research. After this, it will be easier to synthesize timeless methods and principles for mentorship and examine how the principles can be used in both a positive and negative sense. If followed, these biblical methods and principles will be able to inform Christians in ministry how to effectively pass the torch of ministry to the next generation of Christian leaders. Framing the Issue For almost 2000 years the church of Jesus Christ has existed as a beacon in a dark world leading people to Christ. However, church buildings are not what have made a difference in the world for centuries. People have made the difference; it has been the Church Universal, or all who genuinely have saving faith in Christ. This importance placed on people is consistent with Jesus’ initial commands to the original Church to be salt and light to the world (Matt. 5:13-16 HCSB)3 and to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). While this command is clearly made to the entire Church for all time, the question over how to do this best does not have a clear answer. Throughout church history, Christians have employed different methods to mentor other believers. Out of a desire to serve God in the most efficient way possible, the question of how to do this best has arisen countless times. As a divinely inspired manual for life, the Bible has of course been consulted for direction in this dispute. Unfortunately, there is no place in the Bible which makes a definitive claim regarding how to train up the next generation of Christians. However, there are examples given of mentors in the Bible from whose success we can learn positive lessons. In addition, there are people who did not do well in mentoring others, from whom we can learn negative lessons. Clarification The Bible contains many examples of what people today would consider mentorship. However, the concept of mentorship is a modern American idea. Thus, there is no truly biblical definition of mentorship because that word is not in the ancient Hebrew or Greek vernacular. To make the matter more difficult, when there are instances of people in the Bible who seem to be effective mentors, their mentorship is rarely a primary (or even secondary) focus of the overall biblical narrative. Thus, biblical examples which speak directly to mentorship are almost non-existent, if not entirely so. Because of this, people involved in church ministries often develop a method of mentorship which works for them and then look to the Bible for proof-texts. That eisegetical approach will not be used here. Rather, the purpose is to find examples in Scripture which fit a modern definition of mentorship and then uncover what principles, positive and negative, contribute to the matter of mentorship. One definition for mentorship is that mentorship is “a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing their wisdom and resources.4 A more encompassing definition of mentorship is that mentorship is “an intentional and appropriately reciprocal relationship between two individuals, a younger … and an older, wiser figure who assists the younger person in learning the ways of life.”5 Parks is reserved in who she attributes the title of mentor to, but recognizes that mentors are people who show recognition, support, challenge, inspiration, and accountability to their mentee.6 Thus, different types of relationships can become mentor relationships if properly conducted. This means that subcategories of mentorship exist such as teacher-student relationships, parent-child relationships, friend-friend relationships, coach-athlete relationships, discipleship relationships, etc. To avoid becoming exclusive, the primary focus of this thesis will be mentorship in general, with brief mention of specific areas of mentorship only briefly being mentioned when they arise in the text. However, a more sizable section will be devoted to discussing discipleship in the Gospels because of the ease in ascertaining significant application of discipleship principles for all areas of Christian mentorship. Also, as God incarnate, Jesus is the most worthy mentor from whom we can learn effective techniques. 1Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 55. 2Ibid. 3Unless otherwise noted, all biblical quotations will come from the HCSB translation. 4Tim Elmore, Lifegiving Mentors: A Guide for Investing Your Life in Others (Duluth, GA: Growing Leaders, Inc., 2009), 2. 5Sharon Daloz Parks, Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011), 165. 6Parks, Big Questions, 167.

Understanding What the Prosperity and Health Gospel is all About

by Dr. Mrs. Eunice Abogunrin | On one hand, Prosperity Gospel is about getting the abundance from the benevolent God, while on the other hand, it is about fighting against the antonyms of prosperity from malevolent gods, spirits, people and circumstances.

Today, some Christians are investing their time into prosperity seeking, while some are wondering and nagging at the paradigm shift, from the call, to take our cross and follow Christ to seeking for a crown without a cross. At the inception of the church and in the most part of the early history of the church, Christianity was marked by the cross, which symbolizes a high cost and sacrifice. But, that paradigm has shifted and is changing in some churches, where the crown is more desirable than the cross. However, some churches still believe that, we need to bear the cross here on earth, before we wear the crown in heaven. At any rate, each view becomes time consuming and it is a perfect time here to unpack what Prosperity Gospel is all about. But, before we move into any deep discussions about the topic, allow me to first set a delimitation. Delimitation: It is not in the scope of this blog to go through the history of Prosperity Gospel. Also, this blog will not cover the historical development of Charismatic Theology. Lastly, it is not the intention of this blog to discuss the assets and lifestyle of the Prosperity Gospel preachers. After the aforementioned, let’s start with the meaning of prosperity. Definition: Prosperity is the state or condition of being successful. It is a state of being whole, complete, fitting or being in a state of no lacks. Other words to describe prosperity include: wealth, wellness, well-being, luck, richness, luxury, fruitfulness, strength, fortune, promotion, favor, abundance, accomplishment, comfort, peace, welfare, blessing, plenty, upliftment, enjoyment, greatness, milk and honey, victory, security, health, power, sufficiency, progress, freedom, thriving and ease. Prosperity is a state, where a man/woman is flourishing. These are the terms used day to day to state or describe an undisturbed good living, which is free from the antithetical cases that are opposite of prosperity, such as: poverty, sickness/illness, disappointment, pain, bitterness, weakness, regression, powerlessness, danger, downfall, trouble, suffering, persecution, failure, hunger, lack, poorness, loss, adversity, sadness, barrenness, agony, fear, insecurity, anxiety, loneliness, distress, defeat and death. Having gone through the definition, the synonyms of prosperity and its antonyms, we shall move to the concepts of prosperity in the bible. Prosperity in the Bible Though it is beyond the coverage of this blog to have an exhaustive treatment of the cases for prosperity in the bible, to have a fair treatment of the topic, we need to see what the bible shows us about prosperity. To be sure, the bible talks about: prosperity, people looking for it and God promises it. The following passages are helpful on the concept of prosperity. Prosperity – blessings, success, protection, help and promotion from GodGenesis 1:28-29, Deut. 8:18, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 33:3-26 and some notable rich men, such as: Solomon and Job. Antithetical cases: As prosperity and its synonyms are found in the bible, there are grim situations or life perils as well. These are described with words such as, invasion, locust swarms, waste, ruin, mourning, grieving, destruction, desolation, desertion/abandonment, lack, punishment, hunger, drought, plagues, defeat, famine and death (cf. Jeremiah 22, Joel 1 and Amos 4). Soft Spot for Prosperity Gospel For the sake of fairness to Prosperity Gospel and its prosperity beliefs, we need to see how prosperity is desirable and pursued by human beings. Using the definition of prosperity and its synonyms, either intentionally or unintentionally, privately or publicly, quietly or loudly, human beings desire and pursue prosperity. Also, using the antithetical words that are direct opposite of prosperity and its synonyms, human beings try to avert those situations or seek for deliverance from them. Let’s briefly look into what human beings generally desire, which resonate with what Prosperity Gospel treasures. General and Universal Desire for Prosperity Day by day, every generation and race, human beings one way or the other desire to be whole and peril free. Therefore, either personally or religiously, privately or publicly, human beings desire prosperity. For example, they bring what they desire to the attention of God or gods. Also, they mention their desire in their prayers, wishes, blessings, requests and through casual conversations. By and large, it is viable to say, that everyone desires prosperity and many of its synonyms. General and Universal Hate for Prosperity Antonyms As it is true of general and universal desire for prosperity, by and large, human beings hate the antonyms of prosperity. Thus, they try to avert grim situations, which are detrimental to a good condition. So, as human beings look for prosperity and some of its synonyms, on one hand, on the other hand, they try to avoid, fight or avert the situations that are opposite of prosperity. Therefore, either individually, or religiously, privately or publicly, quietly or loudly, folks do their best not to encounter those antithetical conditions that are against prosperity. This is true of the ancient world and of this age of technology. In every generation and culture, human beings try to avert the elements that are enemies of their holistic living. So, they fight against the enemies of their physical, financial, social and many try to prevail over the enemies of their spiritual lives. Open discussion on the battle against prosperity antonyms At this juncture, we will move to the reasons why some people go to or prefer prosperity churches and preachers. Some Motivating Factors Some motivating factors that draw many people to prosperity churches and that make their preachers admirable include, the following and this writer allows contributions on each point: Power Encounter Power encounter is real, but it could become a phobia that drives people to look for deliverance. Along with this are mystical feelings, which their authenticity could not be objectively or empirically proven in many cases. However, the fear of the malevolent spirits or people could be perceived as real and some people look for higher power to combat them or render the evil attacks or activities useless. Illness Illness, chronic diseases are human enemies. Therefore, their presence is irritating, devastating and burdensome. As much as possible, human beings take full measure to fight them, either through medicines, sacrifices, prayers and counter powers. So, some people go to the prosperity churches to seek for deliverance from their illness. Lacks – There are lacks in life and when they are present, folks want to pursue measures to meet their needs. Some of the lacks include, peace, open doors, opportunities, success, partners, children, jobs, relationships, and other aspects of life. These lacks draw some people to the prosperity churches. Prophecy Many of the prosperity churches’ preachers believe that the office of prophecy continues. So, they believe that, they have the gift of prophecy and they can speak with fervor of mind, bring revelations from God to man and give ecstatic words. They claim that they are under divine power, they can foretell, order or decree. This “office” has been a powerful bait, to draw the curious individuals to the prosperity churches and their preachers. The uncertainty of life, fear, ambition, curiosity, anxiety and other life situations compel many people to go and hear what the future holds for them. Wealth Either out of need or out of want, some go to prosperity churches for the sake of wealth. It may simply be a desire to always get the daily needs or for fame. Either way, the desire for money could be a motivating factor to attract some people to prosperity church. Allow me to give an illustration of a man and his cousin who left ECWA for a prosperity church, because each of them was promised to become a millionaire. Other ReasonsTime and space will not permit the specifics of other reasons, but, those reasons could include: attractions, uncertainty of life, discord from previous church, pear pressure and testimonies. Now we will move to the strengths of Prosperity Gospel Strengths of Prosperity Gospel If we hold on to the soft spot for Prosperity Gospel, we will be able to objectively find some strengths in the Prosperity Gospel and its preachers. Care Prosperity Gospel and its preachers speak to the needs of the masses. They know where the people are itching, and they offer comfort, healing and understanding. For example, the members are known for being their brothers’ keepers, in giving, visiting, encouraging and job opportunities. Prayer Prayer is one of the prominent activities of the Prosperity Gospel churches. They have unquenchable prayer activities and take “pray without season” serious. This becomes a drawing strategy, because many people want to pray and be prayed for. Church Planting – Many of the Prosperity Gospel churches use church planting strategy to attract members to their buildings or house churches. The importance of close proximity strategy could not be overemphasized in church planting and church growth. Therefore, church planting is a notable strategy of Prosperity Gospel churches. Powerful Pulpit – Many of the Prosperity Gospel churches preaches are powerful on the pulpit. So, their speeches, both in churches and on public devices are attractive and inviting. Therefore, energized souls could not stand lukewarm pulpits and rush to warm pulpits. Retention InitiativesAnother notable strength of the Prosperity Gospel churches is the endeavor to retain their members. When you go in, they want to keep you. Part of the retention is service opportunity. All these add to the population growth. Open discussion on other strengths of the Prosperity Gospel churches At this juncture, we can say that our soft spot for the Prosperity Gospel could be strengthened by the facts on the general and universal desire for prosperity and its synonyms and general and universal hate for the antonyms of prosperity. Also, the strengths of the Prosperity Gospel churches could call for our soft spot. Now, the question is, what is wrong with Prosperity Gospel, if by and large prosperity and its synonyms are desired, and its antonyms are not desired by human beings? The following section will show us what Prosperity Gospel is all about, which would include its weaknesses or misconceptions or derailment. What is Prosperity and Health Gospel all about? What we have discussed this far have served as a snapshot of what Prosperity Gospel is all about. On one hand, it is about getting the abundance from the benevolent God, while on the other hand, it is about fighting against the antonyms of prosperity from malevolent gods, spirits, people and circumstances. Again, to be fair and objective, these two aspects of longing for prosperity and its synonyms and longing for a deliverance or freedom from the antonyms of prosperity are general and universal. However, the derailment comes, when these longings become the priority of the Gospel message, the Gospel preachers’ activities and the motivating factors of the Gospel church goers. These acts show the deviation from the total surrender and allegiance to God, which include our heart, soul, strength and mind, as found in Matthew 22:37 and Luke 10:27. Anything that is short of our total love for God and his eternal values would lead to spiritual emptiness. Worship In most cases, Prosperity Gospel’s worship is centered on the feelings of ecstasy instead of giving oneself to God in an act of reverence and appreciation. The significance of worship is on who and what God does. However, if what brings someone to the church is for his own gain, his worship would be centered on his gain. Plus, while worship should be lively, it should retain solemnization, because, the worshipers are in the presence of God. Therefore, going into ecstasy could interrupt the due reference for God during the worship and lead to distractions for many of the worshipers. This should remind us of the true worship, according to John 4:24. ProphecyProphecy, in term of foretelling has ceased, because it was an office of authentication. After the inception of the church and the completion of the bible, that office ceased too. However, Prosperity Gospel holds on to prophecy, (which I would call utterances, instead of prophecy.) Enns reports, “Pentecostals and charismatics teach that the gift of prophecy (giving divine revelation) continues today, (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 1995, 675). There is a problem on the continuation of the gift of prophecy. To be sure, this presenter is not here to discredit other people’s claims of visions. However, it is necessary to indicate that people’s testimonies are subjective. We could not put absolutism on them, because of human factors. Therefore, it is wrong to make utterances normative. Also, after the completion of the bible, God has stopped the foretelling prophecy. He used propositional means of communication throughout the bible and brought it to the apex in his self-revelation, through Jesus. He has spoken what we need to know about our salvation and conduct. Hebrews 1 and Revelation 22:18-19 are helpful on the cessation of the foretelling prophecy. Baptism of the Holy Spirit Baptism of the Holy Spirit is not once and for all in the Prosperity Gospel churches, as the evangelical Christian and the bible teach. Rather, in the concept of the Prosperity Gospel, there is a second baptism. “Baptism of the Holy Spirit is distinct from and subsequent to the experience of the new birth,” (Enns, 674). Time will not permit this speaker to go into the concept of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in the Prosperity Gospel churches. But, in summary, in contrary to the concept of second baptism, it would be helpful to mention that, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is once, which happens at the conversion. So, there is no second baptism of the Holy Spirit. Also, the indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit are not repeatable. What is ongoing or repeatable is the filling of the Holy Spirit. Misconception of the Relationship between Faith and Wealth Prosperity Gospel is called “Health and Wealth Gospel or Word of Faith, or the Gospel of Success or Seed of Faith, because of its emphasis on the link between faith and wealth. The Gospel Coalition describes it this way, “The prosperity gospel (also known as the ‘health and wealth gospel’ or by its most popular brand, the “Word of Faith” movement) is a perversion of the gospel of Jesus that claims that God rewards increases in faith with increases in health and/or wealth,”, accessed on 7/17/18. The following quotation is a good summary of what Prosperity Gospel is all about: “Prosperity Gospel is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans. If humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity,” (Prosperity Theology, Wikipedia, accessed on 7/13/18. The author continues, “The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God’s will for his people to be happy. . .. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and power, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession,” (Prosperity Theology, Wikipedia, accessed on 7/13/18. The above summary shows the weaknesses and misconceptions of the Prosperity Gospel. But, let’s quickly glance through some bible passages used by the Prosperity Gospel, to buttress its claims on the link between faith and wealth and between giving and wealth. The popular passage of the Prosperity Gospel on the cause and effect chain, between giving and blessing is Luke 6:38, which is worth quoting here, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” At the face value, in this passage, giving causes blessings. By, parity of thought, the more one gives, the more he/she is blessed. The figure of speech of pressed down suggests more into the measure. Shaken together will make the measure more compact and enables it to give room for more. Run over refers to how the measure could overflow, with the amount of the input. To be fair to the passage and the Prosperity Gospel, the passage suggests that, a person who gives generously or liberally will find blessings. One can say, such a person will be blessed by others too and more so, by God. One can also add other passages, on the effects of giving, obedience and faith such as: Prov. 11:24-25, Matt 9:22; 29-30, 17:20, Mark 9:23; 10:52, Luke 8:48; 17:19; 18:42, Acts 3:16; 14:8-10, Hebrews 11:32-34, James, 1:5-7. These are some of the undisputed passages, where either giving becomes the cause of blessings or where faith produces freedom or healing. See also Dawn Hutchinson, New Thought’s Prosperity Theology and Its Influence on American Ideas of Success, (Nova Religion: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 18 (2), 28-44, 2014). However, why many bible-believing churches decry the tight connection between faith and prosperity, as found in the concepts of the Prosperity Gospel is not to deny the messages of the above passages. Rather, the problem is how the Prosperity Gospel has put its priority on the link between faith and prosperity and its synonyms, which we have listed earlier. So, one of the key issues is how Prosperity Gospel believes that faith and prosperity/its synonyms coincide. Also, a priority on prosperity and its synonyms shows some misconceptions of Prosperity Gospel, which we shall now mention briefly. There is a misconception of the problem of evil, if man thinks a church could combat evil and its manifestations. Sin entered through the Fall of man and since then, both moral and natural evil exist. So, to think man could extinguish evil is to undermine the reality of its existence and the reality of sinful nature of man. For example, the Advancement Thinking believes in human self-autonomy, inevitable progress and that, science will one day solve all our problems. But, as man is finding solutions to one problem, another problem shows up. No wonder, medical advancements have not been able to eradicate all the diseases and the hospitals are not empty. Ironically, this technology age is full of various diseases and insecurity issues, irrespective of the advancements. Wealth has not been able to prevent some rich people from hard feelings and even from suicide. See Russ Bush, The Advancement Thinking: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age, 2004, on some of the wrong assumptions of the age of technology. Similarly, if faith and prosperity are conditionally intertwined, many of the Prosperity Gospel church attendants should be wealthy and healthy. However, as at the look of things, that is not the case. There are many of the members, who are poor, and some are sick. Further, there is a misconception about the blessings from God. Though some blessings in the bible are conditional, many of his blessings are unconditional. Also, he blesses at his will not at our will. In addition, there is a misconception of the values of the earthly things. Earthly materials are perishable, in a sharp contrast to the heavenly things that are not perishable. Obviously, the perishable materials should not be our priority. Along with these listed misconceptions is the ignorance of Satan’s efforts. The enticement from the devil, which started from the Garden of Eden has not disappeared. Rather, he still entices children of God with worldly things and they bring the concepts back to the church. John MacArthur observes what the devil is doing and says, “In our day, the efforts of the enemy began with secular society and worked back into the church, which so often catches the world’s diseases and adopts the spirit of the age,” (John MacArthur, 1 Corinthians: Godly Solutions for Church Problems, 2007, 67). One way or the other, the church is moving fast in the direction of worldliness and it is becoming hard to know the difference between the church and the world. The world is in the church and the church is in the world. It would be great and God honoring, if the church is in the world as salt and light. But, it would be so devastating, if the church is in the world to become worldly. Not only these, every human effort to eliminate life perils by positive words or human faith or through “name it, claim it” faith is a misconception of the teachings of the bible about the reality of suffering. The bible does not teach a suffering-free life. Rather, it tells us the reality of suffering. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33). Suffering is a high cost of Christianity and it points us to the cross here on earth and the crowns there in heaven. Plus, life suffering is not a sign of lack of faith. Our Lord embodied faith, yet he suffered and even died. Paul was a man of faith, yet, suffering was part of his ministry. For example, Paul boasted, not of any suffering-free life. Rather, he boasted of his suffering in 2 Cor 11:16-33. In addition, today, in many parts of the world, persecutions of Christians are skyrocketing, and many have died for their faith. Nigeria church is going through suffering, as she is having mass burials of the martyrs. So, to think that suffering is as a result of lack of faith is inimical to the biblical examples of hardship, even in the midst of faith and obedience to God. Let’s look into the last, but not the least misconception. To be sure, there are other misconceptions, but for the sake of time and space, this writer shall touch the last, which is the grimmest misconception. This is the misconception of human primary predicament. While referring to Millard Erickson’s work, on human predicament, this presenter discusses in her dissertation that, one’s concept of salvation is based on one’s concept of human predicament. If man thinks his predicament is poverty, his concept of salvation will be about wealth. But, whether some people accept it or not, man’s primary predicament is his alienation from God. For those who know that, their priority is the reconciliation, which the death of Christ has brought, between man and his creator. So, as Erickson has penned, “Thus the more radical our conception of sin, the more supernatural the salvation we will deem needed,” (Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 1985, 562, cf. Eunice O. Abogunrin, A Comparative Study of the Concepts of Salvation in African Traditional Religion and Christianity, Ph. Dissertation, 1999, 144 ff). Any wrong views of sin and salvation would surely affect human priority, which would in turn affect the right concepts of the eternal values. Then, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26). But, after going through these misconceptions of the Prosperity Gospel, what should be our approach to its goers? First, we should apply brotherly love. We may not agree with many of their beliefs, Prosperity Gospel church goers are our brothers and sisters, because their beliefs do not necessarily mean that those who subscribe to those beliefs are not believers, when it comes to saving faith. Whoever has saving faith by grace is saved. Second, we should not be too busy about the Prosperity Gospel, its church goers and pastors. (This reminds me of a tale about a rat, who went to London, to see the queen, but got distracted when it got there). Third, we should avoid the misconceptions of Prosperity Gospel and know that Christian life does not necessarily mean a suffering-free life. Rather, we should go by our ECWA 2018 theme: “Joy in Suffering.” 1 Pet 3:14 says, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’” In accordance with this passage, we should go by Paul’s approach in Phil 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In line of these two passages, we should settle and pledge our allegiance to Christ with the words of Rom 8:35-39 and come to the conclusion, from Romans 14:8 that, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” Fourth, we should emulate the strengths of Prosperity Gospel, which include: care, prayer, powerful pulpit, retention of church members and church planting. On this last strength, the present writer thanks ECWA USA leadership for making church planting the heart of this conference. Conclusion In this blog, we have looked into the definition of prosperity and mentioned its synonyms and antonyms. Generally, human beings desire prosperity and its synonyms on one hand and look for freedom or deliverance from the antonyms of prosperity, on the other hand. Furthermore, we covered some beliefs of Prosperity Gospel. We also look at the strengths of Prosperity Gospel and how those strengths are attractive and serve as baits, in drawing members to the Prosperity Gospel churches. After all these, we came to the disadvantages or weaknesses of Prosperity Gospel and came to what should be a viable approach to the movement. At the end we admired some of its strengths and in line with the heart of the ECWA USA, we should learn from the Prosperity Gospel’s church planting strategy. Close proximity is a strong strategy of church planting and church growth. (For more on evangelism, church planting, church growth, discipleship and global missions, see Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, Robert E. Coleman, The Master Plan of Evangelism and Scott A. Moreau, G.R. Corwin and G.B. McGee, Introducing World Missions). Therefore, ECWA USA should take ECWA to the community, instead of waiting for the community to come to ECWA. The locations of ECWA churches in the USA are too scanty and we urgently need more locations, not only to rescue ECWA sons and daughters from populating other churches, but to be part of God’s global missions, in rescuing the perishing, in this dying world.

Dr. (Mrs) Eunice AbogunrinDr. Mrs. Eunice Abogunrin is a visiting lecturer at lgbaja. Online Professor of The­ology at Liberty University. Secretary of ECWA Women Fellowship USA.

The Role of Women in Building the Church

by Dr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye | In the new testament……God used these less known women to speak out, lead, and support people’s call to repentance. These women also had issues, hence, suffered some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture shared their gain, and reward, Acts 21:8-9 & Matthew 9:18–26 (image: ECWA Women at ECWA USA International Conference, Chicago, IL, July 20, 2018).

The Greek word for ‘church’ ekklesia relates to a called-out assembly (Ek = out of, Kaleo= to call). In as much as there was no ‘church’ in the old testament, there were the ‘called out’ that assembled in the wilderness. Abram was called out to go to the promised land – Canaan, and God used the services of Moses to lead the called-out people (Israel) from Egypt to Canaan. Apostle Stephen made reference to God’s called out people in the wilderness on their journey to Canaan. Acts 7:37-38 – 37 “This is the Moses who told the Israelis, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your own people.38 He was in the assembly in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living words to pass on to us. The Mandate Gen 6: 5 -5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. In the days of Noah, there was wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence, hence a mandated call for someone to speak up, and a call for repentance. No king ruled in Israel after Samson died in Judges 16, until the time of Eli in 1st Samuel. The incidence of evil in Judges 19 called for someone to speak up, and a call for repentance. Judges 19: 30 Everyone who saw it was saying to one another, “Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelite's came up out of Egypt. Just imagine! We must do something! So speak up!” There was a call for repentance through true fasting in Isaiah 58:1 – “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.” Aside from the popular women such as Deborah, Esther, Ruth, and Abigail in the old testament, there were other women that were less popular whom God used to speak out, to lead, and to support people’s call to repentance. These women had issues, thus suffered some form of pain while serving. However, the scripture shared their gain, and reward. Table 1 below shows a few of the less popular women in the Old Testament by their marital status. Table 1. Less popular women in the Old Testament by their marital status.

Unmarried The Pain The Gain
Rahab Joshua 2:1, 3; 6:17-25 Current Stigma: -`Prostitute – Betrayer of her own people Mentioned in the Hall of Faith – Hebrews 11:31 James 2:25 – Rahab was considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction.
Married The Pain The Gain
Noah's Wife, Son's Wife – Genesis 9 – Nameless – Scorned during the preaching, and -Loneliness after the flood 1 Peter 3:20 – God’s patience while Noah was building the ark is a reference point today.
Rahab Past Stigma: -`Prostitute – Betrayer of her own people Rahab married Salmon and they had a son named Bo' oz. Bo'oz's son was Obed and Obed's son was Jesse, the father of King David. – the line of Jesus – Matthew 1:5
Jehosheba, wife of Jehoiada the priest. She was the daughter of King Jehoram and Queen Athaliah. As well as a sister of Ahaziah, (Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel who murdered her grandchildren, thus Jehosheba was the granddaughter of Ahab and Jezebel.) Jehosheba took Joash (her Nephew) the son of Ahaziah, stole him away, and hid him for 6 years. II Kings 11 – Little-known woman, – Surrounded by ungodly family members, – The sorrow of losing so many nephews killed by her mother, and – A complicated life. Her courage preserved the royal line of David through which Jesus came. She is a point of reference for good today.
Widowed The Pain The Gain
Widow of Zarephath – fed Elijah – man of God who was ministering to the children of Israel. 1 Kings 17:7-16 – Poor – Hopeless – Helpless Jesus recognized and mentioned her faith and work. – Luke 4:26
Unknown Marital Status The Pain The Gain
Woman of Thebez – killed Abimelech, bold/courageous, was at the war front. Judges 9:50-57; 2 Samuel 11:21 – A mere unknown woman, – At the war front – High risk – Hard work Made history, hence, an example
Wisehearted Women -These skillful women with willing hearts labored as unto the Lord. Gave their treasures, time and talents ungrudgingly for the completion of God’s Tabernacle through Moses in the wilderness. Exodus 35:22-29   – Nameless, – sacrifice, – hard work   Made history, hence, an example
Tabernacle Women – Made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Exodus 38:8 – Nameless – sacrifice – hard work Made history, hence, an example

In the new testament during the time of Jesus, people gathered in Synagogues and temples. Luke 4:16 – He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. John the Baptist called for repentance due to wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence at that time.

Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 “ From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel.”

Similarly, in the New Testament, aside from the popular women such as Mary, Elizabeth, Dorcas, Table 2 below shows a few of these less popular women by their marital status. God used these less known women to speak out, lead, and support people’s call to repentance. These women also had issues, hence, suffered some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture shared their gain, and reward. Table 2. Less popular women in the New Testament by their marital status.

Unmarried The Pain The Gain
Daughters of Phillip the Evangelist These four single young women had the gift of prophecy. They represent boldness, courage and a willingness to step out for the Lord no matter what season of life. – Acts 21:8-9 – Nameless Their ministry is mentioned in the Book of Acts.
  Jairus’s daughter was dead – Matthew 9:18–26     – Hopeless However, God used her resurrection to bring praise to His name. Reference point today
Married The Pain The Gain
Priscilla – co minister with her husband Aquila as Tent Makers. An effective mentor to Apollos. – Acts 18:2 – Possibly expelled from Rome for Christ – Sacrificed time from their business Mentioned today as a good example.
Salome – wife of Zebedee (Matthew 27:56), the mother of James and John that requested they sit in places of honor in the kingdom (Matthew 20:20–21), & a female follower of Jesus. One of the women watching when Jesus was being crucified—with other women (Mark 15:40). Together to anoint Jesus on the 3rd day (Mark 16:1–8). Only Mark mentioned her by name. – The anxiety – pain from losing Jesus – Almost unknown Mentioned today as a good example.
Widowed The Pain The Gain
The Samaritan Woman – The woman at the well. Able to confront her past truthfully and transform into a motivating mouthpiece for the Lord. – John 4 – Her past was loaded She became one of the first mass evangelists for Jesus Christ.
Widow of Nain – her son was raised from the dead. Luke 7:11-18 – The pain – The loss – The grieve Her life became a testimony and a source of praise to God
The Widow’s Mite – who gave her all in the temple that Jesus commended. – Luke 21:1-4 – The hopelessness Jesus recognized and mentioned her faith and work
Unknown The Pain The Gain
Syro-Phoenician Woman – The Canaanite woman who begged as a dog. Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30 – Nameless Great faith that Jesus recognized. The power of such resilience needed in building the church of God today.

Present and Future – Building Solid ECWA Churches in the U.S.

The Role of Women in Building the Church

The church started at Pentecost, after Jesus ascended, and was referred to as the body of Christ. (Ephesians 1:22–23; Colossians 1:18). The Mandate Due to continuous wickedness, evil, corruption, and violence in the world today, there is a need to speak up, and for action to repentance.

Matthew 24:37 – “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 28:18-20 – The great commission – 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Mark 16:15: And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 – The Ministry of Reconciliation

Today, God, regardless of our marital status, God is looking to use our services to speak out, lead, and support His ministry of reconciling people to Himself as we call them to repentance. We may have issues like the less known women referenced in both the old and new testament, we may suffer some form of pain while serving. Yet, the scripture encourages us that there is gain and reward for us sometime in the future. Pain As discussed so far, women may be experiencing or may experience some of the challenges below or more.

– Current or past stigma/loaded past – Nameless and unknown/little-known – Scorned because of Christ – Lonely, poor, hopeless, helpless – Surrounded by ungodly family members – Sorrow, grieve, and pain from loss of loved ones – A complicated life – At the war front– in a high risk and very challenging situation – Working hard – Sacrificing and giving on several ends – Possibly expelled/disowned for the sake of Christ, and – Anxious

We are called to work, give, sacrifice, reach, touch and transform the body of Christ Gain Similarly, some of the rewards include, but not limited to.

– Being considered righteous – God exercising patience with unbelievers because of us – Making history as a point of reference/good example – Having a life of testimony and being a source of praise to God, and – Possessing the power of resilience needed in building the church of God.

Conclusion We will be raising Godly lineage and preserving posterity through our courage – Psalm 144:12 – Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Psalm 128:3 – Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children (boy/girl, young man/young lady) will be like olive shoots around your table. We will be mentioned/recognized by the only One who matters – for evangelism, ministry, faith and good works, hence, reward us in heaven for joining Him in the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we need to do the little we can. The women in the Old and New testament did not do it all, they just did their own part and passed the baton on. What are we doing that others can learn and pick from?

Dr. (Mrs) Bukky OlaoyeDr. (Mrs.) Omobukola Olaoye is a Home Healthcare Quality & Management Consultant; Administrator for A Premium Healthcare Solution, Financial Director of ECWA USA DCC.

The Truth About the Holy Spirit and How I Can be Filled

by Rev Philologus O. Irukera | Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23)

If you are like me, you are probably wondering like Gideon, at the height of Israel’s humiliation, subjugation and oppression by the coalition of enemies (Judges 6:11-13), why is the Church so ridiculed, weak and seemingly unable to fulfill her Biblical mandates today? Where are the aura of God’s presence and power in the Early Church that elicited fear, respect and goodwill from unbelievers (Acts 2:42-47)? Where are the famed divine exploits through both the leaders and members of the Early Church in our time (Acts 5; 6:8-10; 8; 12-13:3; Rom. 16:3)? Coming closer home in ECWA today, why do will find it difficult to replicate the faith exploits of our forefathers and the missionaries that brought to them the Gospel of Jesus the Christ? I presume the answer boils down to just one factor: the quality and depth of our relationship with God through His Spirit. This informed, sustained dynamic relationship with God through the agency of the Holy Spirit is the heart of the topic of this workshop. Being a workshop, it is expected that this meeting would be interactive. However, it would be impractical to venture into being exhaustive with just an hour long meeting. Hence, we shall depend on the Great Helper Himself to direct us to His choice of area of emphasis as we proceed. Also, some questions have been prepared separately to aid and stimulate discussion on the topic under consideration. I. Truth about the Holy Spirit The Bible is replete with information about the Holy Spirit. For example, right at the beginning in Genesis 1:2, the Bible reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in the creation story. Let us briefly consider some revealed truths about His identity and activities in the Scriptures:

  1. Holy Spirit is a person. He is not a mere force or influence as some sects would have us believe, but a person with all the related qualities of will, emotion and intellect. Hence, Holy Spirit may be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and His will or instruction resisted or obeyed (Acts 7:51; 13:1-3; 1Thess.5:19). He knows our ways even, our darkest secrets and rebellions (Acts. 5:1-11).
  2. Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. John 14:26; 16:7, 14-15; Acts 5:3-4, 9. Apostle Peter identifies Holy Spirit as the omniscient God whom Ananias and his wife conspire together and lie to. Co-equal and co-eternal both with the Father and Son yet, the Holy Spirit never works against them. He is in unity with both the Father and the Son because His works conform to their will and interest.
  3. Holy Spirit was the agent of creation. The Hebrew word ruach translated as Spirit of God in Gen. 1:1-2 can also be rendered as breath of God in reference to God’s power breathing out creation. Interestingly, Jesus Christ whom John identifies as the Word (ho logos) who is God that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14) is also credited with the creation of the universe in Col. 1:15-16. These truths about the Son and Holy Spirit confirm that the creation was a united effort of the three God-heads. So, now we know that God’s call, Let Us make man in Our image, was directed to the Son and the Spirit (Gen. 1:26, HCSB). So focusing on Gen 1:1-2, it is certain that the creation was brought into being through the relentless power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Holy Spirit is also the agent of new creation. Apostle Paul describes those who have been saved through the blood of Jesus Christ as new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In His famous nocturnal meeting with Nicodemus, our Lord Himself describes the new creation experience as a state of being born again (John 3:7). He describes it again as being born of the Spirit, to reveal the identity of the Holy Spirit as the one who is behind this life altering spiritual experience in Christ (John 3:5-8).
  5. Holy Spirit is the Author of the Scriptures. About forty people of various backgrounds, status, educational levels and living across many national boundaries over a period of about fifteen hundred years penned the books of the Bible. Though their education, personalities, experiences and skills were influenced their writings, 2 Timothy 3:16 clarifies for us that these books of the Bible are God-breathed. Apostle Peter clarifies it further for us by stating that these men spoke or wrote from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This fact proves the Holy Spirit as the real Author of the Scriptures.
  6. Holy Spirit is the promised Helper. In John 14:16-17, 26 Jesus promised to send a new helper to be with His disciples after His departure. Jesus calls this helper paracletos. This word is unique to Apostle John’s writings. It is strictly used for the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel as cited above and is translated as helper, counsel and comforter. It is also used in reference to Jesus Christ in John’s first epistle and translated as advocate (1 John 2:1). Paracletos simply means a person called alongside or called to one’s aid as helper (or comforter, a Latin equivalent), advocate, intercessor or counselor. Jesus makes it clear in John 14:16, 17 and 26 that the Holy Spirit is the intended Helper and not Mohamed as some Muslim apologists spuriously claim. Note that the Helper is sent to be with the disciples, and to live inside of them forever. These and many more that Jesus indicates in verse 26 prove that the late Mohamed the prophet and founder of Islam has never been and cannot be the promised Helper.
  7. Holy Spirit as Gift. Peter in his Pentecost sermon boldly and passionately pleads with his listeners to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus to receive the Holy Spirit as the promised gift (Acts 2:38-39). It is hard to believe any less considering the total package the Holy Spirit instantly brings into the life of a newly saved sinner. The following will do to drive this truth home:
  • Baptism of the Holy Spirit: Rom. 6:2-4; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Eph. 2:19-22; 4:3-6; 5:30. Otherwise known as Spirit baptism, it is that divine act of the Holy Spirit whereby He baptizes or joins or places the new believer into the body of Christ, the Church- consisting other believers and Christ as the Head. Through this baptism you mystically become part of the body of Christ, His Church regardless of your denomination.
  • Indwelling of the Spirit: 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19; Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:24. It is the gracious act of the Holy Spirit whereby, in fulfillment of Jesus’ promise of John 14:16, 26, enters and permanently dwells in every repenting sinner. It is permanent! That is why it is not possible for a redeemed sinner (Christian) to lose the Holy Spirit.
  • Sealing work of the Holy Spirit: 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2Tim. 2:19. This is the work of the Holy Spirit whereby at conversion, He affixes on every penitent sinner, the divine stamp of approval and ownership as a guarantee for immediate, ultimate and total salvation.
  1. Practical works of the Holy Spirit. There are other experiential works of the Holy Spirit especially, in the life of Christians. Below listed are some of them:
  • He convicts: John 16:8-11. Holy Spirit exposes the sins of the world, thereby convincing and convicting to bring to shame and possibly repentance, the person being reproved.
  • Guides into all truth: John 14:26; 16:12-16. The Holy Spirit teaches and gives biblical insight to believers as well as brings such into remembrance when it is exactly needed.
  • Empowers and gifts believers various spiritual gifts for service. Acts 1:8; Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12. The presence and influence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian will condition him/her with the ability to exceed his/her natural ability. Hence, the Lord’s instruction to His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they experience the Holy Spirit before they proceed on the work He assigns them. Also, the Holy Spirit by virtue of His indwelling of believers gives at least, a special ability, otherwise known as spiritual gift, to every Christian to serve or edify the body of Christ (Eph. 2:10; 4:11-13). Christians are saved in Christ for a purpose. We are saved and equipped by the Holy Spirit to serve one another with our spiritual gifts, seeking to build-up one another in faith until we all mature and conform to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). So, no Christian can afford indolence, doing nothing in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  • Intercedes. Romans 8:26, 27. Though the exact interpretation of this verse has been a subject of debate among some Bible students, what is not in doubt is that the Holy Spirit is the dependable Helper of Christian in his/her prayer relationship with God. When in prayer and words fail us in articulating the needs that are sensed in our spirits, the Holy Spirit is always on hand to help those saints who would let Him. He does not replace us or take over our responsibility to pray. Rather, He is our partner, our enabler and helper.
  • Infilling of the Holy Spirit. The prerogative of infilling of the Spirit rests with every believer. The decision is yours to make; hence the call to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18, Gal. 5:16). However, the Holy Spirit is always eager and ready to cooperate with every believer to help him/her remain under the influence and control of the Lord. And when we slip, yes, when we lose the infilling of the Holy Spirit due to our foolish and carnal ways, grieving Him (Eph. 4:30), He’s always there, faithfully waiting to help us recover the loss if we truly repent in total humility and submission.

II. Meaning and Reasons for Infilling of the Holy Spirit Meaning of Infilling of the Holy Spirit: Certain phrases in the New Testament give hints and shades of what constitute the infilling or the filling work of the Holy Spirit. Such include controlled by …the Spirit (Rom. 8:9), led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 5:18), live by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:16), crucified with Christ … by faith (Gal. 2:20), Let the word of Christ dwell in you…(Col. 3:16), …walk in the light …(1John 1:7). They all point to the state of total obedience, surrender and submissiveness under the dominant will and control of the Holy Spirit. So, the filling work of the Holy Spirit can simply be explained as the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit whereby He continuously fills and exercises divine control of the life of a Christian as he consistently and progressively surrenders. Reasons for the Infilling of the Holy Spirit One may ask: why is it necessary for a Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit? The following deserve our careful consideration:

  • It is commanded in the Scriptures. Apostle Paul’s call to the Ephesians (5:8) not to be enslaved to fermented drinks but instead be ruled by the Holy Spirit comes standard here. So does also, Gal. 5:16 call to Christians to live strictly under the control of the Holy Spirit to avoid falling under the power of sinful desires of flesh.
  • The responsibilities attached to our calling in Christ necessitate that we be filled with the Holy Spirit to succeed. In our service to the dark and dying world on behalf of the Lord, we are expected to shine our light of Christ for all to see (Matt. 5:14-16). As salt we are to demonstrate the sweetness that life in Christ offers and as well as morally and socially season the society to minimize decadence (Matt. 5:13). We are sent to bear witness to Christ as the Savior (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). And to the body of Christ, we are called to use all the gifts and blessings at our disposal to edify or build up one another in faith (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-13). We are called and equipped in Christ to produce spiritual fruit to the blessing of others and to the pleasure and glory of the Father (Gal. 5:22). The infilling work of the Holy Spirit is the key to our being successful in all these responsibilities. For it is through the filling work of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to succeed.
  • The reality of dangers attendant to Christian pathway necessitates that we be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus does not promise His disciples bed of roses. If anything, He clearly forewarns them to be prepared for difficulties (John 15:18-16:4). Apostle Paul in Ephesian chapter 6:12 acknowledges our struggles against enemies beyond flesh and blood. Therefore, he encourages Ephesians to embrace the infilling work of the Holy Spirit as the only proven pathway to victory (6:10-13). Paul also recognizes the enemy within every Christian to be the sinful nature that seeks to derail our spiritual growth and ascent. To disarm this enemy and forestall the inherent danger, Paul encourages all to surrender to the life under the leadership of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18).

Practical Steps toward Being Filled with the Holy Spirit Now to the question of how a Christian can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The prescription given here is not exhaustive. It is based on the insight gleaned from the Scriptures and from the accrued wisdom of other saints who have trod this path before us.

  1. Desire sincerely to please God. This is a desire for practical holiness. Matt. 5:6 calls it a thirst and hunger for righteousness. Our Lord calls those who nurture this type of crave blessed with a promise of satiation. The desire to please God does not end with mental activity. It must find culmination in definite and deliberate positive actions described in Psa. 1.
  2. Confess every unconfessed sin the Holy Spirit brings to remembrance. Trust and thank God for the promised forgiveness of confessed and forsaken sins (I John 1:9). Do not revisit or re-confess the sins that the Lord has forgiven and forgotten (Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Heb. 8:12). Rather sincerely confess and forsake every sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of and move on with total trust in Him for the promise of forgiveness.
  3. Practice genuine and complete obedience. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Discipline yourself to obey the voice of the Spirit through the Scriptures, Godly counsel from others and the careful prompting of your conscience by the Holy Spirit. The Lord indeed demands obedience from His true disciples (John 14:15, 23).
  4. Surrender totally your will to the full control of the Holy Spirit. This is a step above obedience; it is total submission. This is Paul’s intention when he says he has been crucified with Christ and that the selfhood in him lives no more but Christ living in Him (Gal. 2:20). Rom. 12:1-2 calls it, offer your bodies as living sacrifices …renewing of your mind. In 1 Thess. 5:19 it is not put (ing) out the Spirit’s fire. Surrender to the authority of the Word of God and the leading of the Spirit.
  5. Crave to know God intimately more. Despite the fact that he was very close to God already (Numb. 12:6-8), wanting to know Him more, Moses pleads with God, Now show me your glory (Exod. 33:18). Same goes with Paul who craves to know Christ the more (Phil. 3:10). This is one crave every Christian must not outgrow!
  6. Embrace active fellowship with other saints. This is the clear position of the Scriptures (Heb.10: 25). The rising preference for virtual church under the guise of modernization is disconcerting and inimical to the vision and purpose of Christ for His Church, His body (Eph. 2: 14 -22; 3:14 – 4:16). Nothing should replace physical coming together of His saints for wholesome fellowship. Also, every believer must make it a habit of making deliberate preparation spirit, soul and body, for every fellowship with other saints and our Father just as He instructed Israelites to do in Exod. 19:10, 11.
  7. Be actively involved in the communal life of your church. The Spirit has endowed every truly born again with at least one spiritual gift. Identify it if you don’t know yours and promptly seek to use it for the mutual building up of members of the household of faith (1 Thess.5:11; Jude 20). Don’t be a bench-warmer in the congregation of the Called-out of God.
  8. Delight in the word of God. Follow the example of the Psalmist in Psa. 119:9-16. Develop acute interest in it and like an infant, crave the pure spiritual milk (1 Pet. 2:2-3 NIV). Don’t just read and study it but meditate on it and as well, let it be on your lips (Josh.1:8). Above all, in the words of James, our Lord’s brother, be doers of the word and not hearers only (Jas.1:22, HCSB).
  9. Cultivate the habit of reading Christian materials. Religious publications like magazines, expositional works on Bible characters, biographical works on living or dead exemplary Christians and the likes could be of great help.
  10. Christian audio/visual materials. Christian drama, documentary and music can be of great benefit for spiritual development if wisely used. At the dedication of Solomon’s new temple, good music released the glory of God that filled the temple (2 Chron. 5:11-14. Music with spiritually rich lyrics potentially, will not only positively appeal to God but can be spiritually enriching to His people.
  11. Pray continually. (1 Thess. 5:17). It is one thing to truly desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit while it is another, to actually and effectively act on the desire. This is due to the complexities and rebellious inclinations of man. Our Lord understands this too well, when He counsels sleepy Inner Circle, Watch and pray….The spirit is willing, but the body is weak (Matt. 26:41, NIV). Pray continually for the help of the Holy Spirit as you endeavor to align your will with and surrender totally the rule of your life to the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion Holy Spirit is not a mere force. He is fully God in unity with the Father and Son. Holy Spirit is very active in the world out there and in the Church elsewhere today. He is our helper who desires to make His presence and power felt in our lives for our good and to the glory of the Father. Because of our persistent rebellions, we have considerably limited the impacts of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in our lives today. The results are the waning glory and drying river of goodwill that we used to enjoy among men. We now have defeat and restriction in places we ought to have been victorious and unstoppable. We no longer impact the society for the Lord like our forefathers did. The reason is not farfetched. We have not allowed the Holy Spirit the free reign and rule that He is supposed to have in the Church and in our lives. But if we humble ourselves as a people, if I repent and turn submissively to the rule of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in my life, then there will be an end to the era of Ichabod. The renowned acts of the Holy Spirit in the days of yore of our fathers and mothers in the Way (Acts. 9:2) will again be replicated in our own very time. Sinners would be won by loads into the kingdom of God. Fear will grip and awe strike the world all over. And the work of God will be revived again in our church family and in individual lives. Only if we would be ready to say yes to the infilling work of the Holy Spirit! Only if I would jettison my big idol of carnality and you your petty idols of pride, greed, self-centeredness and the likes! If we would surrender to the lead and control of the Holy Spirit and submissively cry, Have your way now Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus! Then we will experience those blessings and benefits of infilling of the Holy Spirit which include peace, joy, practical victory over sin and over power of darkness. We would be empowered to overcome befuddling odds and limitations of life. Above all we would become bold and effective witnesses of Christ, bringing in the bounteous sheaves of ripe harvest of souls like the early Christians (Acts 4:13-20; 5:12-14; 8:4-8) and our forefathers in ECWA did. For the Church, and indeed ECWA, to regain her lost glory, power, fruitfulness, goodwill and respect from the society, we must all go back to the ancient path of total surrender and submission to the leading and control of God the Holy Spirit. For you and me to experience the authentic Biblical prosperity, we must personally allow the Holy Spirit to rule our will and affect. For Him to fill us, we must give Him the total control of our lives. May the Lord help us all as we do so. Amen! References Online Sources Begg, Alistair. (May 12, 2018). Five Truths About the Holy Spirit. June 20, 2018 Bright, Bill. (n.d.) The Steps to Being Filled with the Holy Spirit. June 22, 2018 Walvoord, JohnF. (January 8, 2008) The Filling of the Holy Spirit. July 4, 2018 Books and Bible Translations Bridges, Jerry. The Pursuit of Holiness. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2006. Cabal, Ted. (G. Ed.) The Apologetics Study Bible (HCSB). Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. Green Sr., Jay P. (G. Ed.) The Interliner Bible: Hebrew-Greek-English. 2nd Edn. London: Hendrickson Publishers, 1986. Griffiths, Michael. Cinderella with Amnesia: A Practical Discussion of the relevance of Church. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975. International Bible Society. The Holy Bible (NIV). Colorado Spring: Biblica, 1984. MacArthur, John F. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. Willmington, Harold L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011  

Rev. Philologus IrukeraRev Philologus O. Irukera is a trained and ordained minister. He is an assistant minister at ECWA Church in Maryland.

6 Strategies for Preventing Disease

National Institutes of Health (NIH) | Taking steps to protect your health is the best way to prevent disease and other conditions. Health screenings, vaccines, and guarding yourself from germs and bugs can help keep you feeling your best (image: Paul Bischoff).

1. Get screened for diseases
Some screenings can reduce your risk of dying from a disease. But sometimes, experts say, a test may cause more harm than good. Before you get a test, talk with your doctor about the possible benefits and harms to help you decide what’s best for your health.

To learn about screening tests, ask your doctor:

  • What’s my chance of dying of the condition if I do or don’t have the screening?
  • What are the harms of the test? How often do they occur?
  • How likely are false positive or false negative results?
  • What are possible harms of the diagnostic tests if I get a positive screening result?
  • What’s the chance of finding a disease that wouldn’t have caused a problem?
  • How effective are the treatment options?
  • Am I healthy enough to take the therapy if you discover a disease?
  • What are other ways to decrease my risk of dying of this condition? How effective are they?

2. Guard against germs
For nearly a century, bacteria-fighting drugs known as antibiotics have helped to control and destroy many of the harmful bacteria that can make us sick. But these drugs don’t work at all against viruses, such as those that cause colds or flu. Learn how to protect yourself against germs in the environment.

To block harmful germs:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If you’re sick, make sure your doctor has a clear understanding of your symptoms. Discuss whether an antibiotic or a different type of treatment is appropriate for your illness.
  • If antibiotics are needed, take the full course exactly as directed. Don’t save the medicine for a future illness, and don’t share with others.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle—including proper diet, exercise, and good hygiene—to help prevent illness, thereby helping to prevent the overuse or misuse of medications.

3. Protect your body’s bacteria
Microscopic creatures—including bacteria, fungi, and viruses—can make you ill. But what you may not realize is that trillions of microbes are living in and on your body right now. Most don’t harm you at all. We tend to focus on destroying bad microbes. But taking care of good ones may be even more important.

To protect good microbes:

  • Don’t pressure your doctor to give you antibiotics. They may cause more harm than good.
  • Know when to wash your hands—for example, when preparing food and before eating.
  • Don’t use antibacterial products you don’t need. Antibacterial soaps have little or no health benefit. And antibacterial versions of household products have not been shown to reduce your risk of infection.
  • Don’t go overboard with hand sanitizers. They’re useful in health care settings, but hand washing is a better option in most situations.
  • Experiment with different skin moisturizers to see which work best for you.

4. Protect yourself and everyone else from disease
We share more than food and culture within our homes and communities. We can also spread disease. Luckily, we live in a time when vaccines can protect us from many of the most serious illnesses. Staying current on your shots helps you—and your neighbors—avoid getting and spreading disease.

To protect yourself and others from preventable diseases, stay up-to-date on shots for these 16 vaccine-preventable diseases:

  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
  • Cervical & other cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia
  • Rotavirus diarrhea
  • Shingles
  • Tetanus

5. Prevent mosquito-borne illnesses
Most mosquito bites are relatively harmless. The itchy bumps often last for just a day or two after a mosquito has punctured your skin. But if the mosquito is carrying certain germs, like viruses or parasites, these pathogens might enter your blood during the bite and make you sick. But we can all take simple steps to avoid getting bit by those blood-sucking insects.

To avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents. Products containing DEET, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or IR3535 can be applied to skin. Follow label instructions.
  • Cover up. When outside, wear long sleeves, pants, and socks. Mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric, so spray thin clothes with an EPA-registered repellent like permethrin. Don’t apply permethrin directly to skin.
  • Mosquito-proof your home. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep insects out. Use air conditioning if you have it.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites. Empty standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, and birdbaths on a regular basis.

6. Block tick bites and Lyme disease
When warm weather arrives, you might get the urge to walk barefoot through the grass. But before you stroll through your lawn or head out on a hiking trail, you’ll want to protect yourself and your loved ones from ticks that often lurk in tall grass, thick brush, and wooded areas. Many ticks carry disease, so do what you can to keep ticks from taking a bite out of you.

To prevent tick bites and tick-borne diseases:

  • Help keep ticks off your skin by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and long socks.
  • Ward off ticks by using an insect repellant that contains at least 20% DEET (for the skin) or permethrin (for clothes).
  • Avoid ticks by walking in the center of trails and steer clear of tall vegetation.
  • If you’ve been in an area where ticks are common, bathe or shower as soon as possible, and wash or tumble your clothes in a dryer on high heat.
  • Check your body carefully for ticks. They dig and burrow into the skin before they bite and feed.
  • Removing ticks right away can help prevent disease.
  • If you develop a rash or fever after removing a tick, see your doctor.

Muslim Finding Jesus equals Love & Life Everlasting

Kristen Tritt | Faith – may be the most important among these factors that influence change. (image source)

Growing up in the United States, there is a common belief that the very nature of prison itself is so awful that it would inspire in criminals a conviction never to return, and therefore to stay on the "straight and narrow." This perspective, though, doesn't account for the reality that numerous factors – education, access to jobs, a stable family life, and a sense of purpose – impact recidivism (the rate at which people return to prison).  In fact, a sense of purpose – faith – may be the most important among these factors that influence change. And faith is something that can develop inside prison walls.

Walking through the gates that separate R.J. Donovan State Prison from the rest of the world, it's difficult not to imagine what it would be like to come into this place knowing that you wouldn't be coming back out.  This is the reality for the majority of the inmates I met on my visit to the prison with The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI.) TUMI facilitates a seminary class for interested inmates that teaches coursework on spiritual disciplines, and I was invited with a group of colleagues to catch up with these inmates on their work. I was not prepared for what I encountered there.

A group of about 30 men, varying in appearance and racial background, but sharing a bodybuilder's physique, trickled into a nearly empty room, which housed only a piano and some bookshelves. On the shelves were copies of the Bible. These men eventually mingled into conversations with my group, and it was in this scenario – like a school dance, where two sides of the auditorium eventually, warily, intermingle with one another – that I found myself face to face with Matthew, who was wearing a skullcap and a cross necklace.

He warmly shook my hand and asked how I was. When I returned the question, Matthew smiled, and a flood of warmth flowed from his lips: "Sister, I am so beyond blessed. You know, God is good, and I have so much joy in my life. He's transformed me." This was not an answer that I expected from a man who would be locked behind doors for the majority of his life. I was stunned as Matthew continued his story, a tale of redemptive transformation.

Matthew, by his own admission, entered prison as a devout, but angry, Muslim. He actually used the term "radical Muslim" in reference to himself, and admitted harboring deep hatred and violent thoughts towards Christians. He said he blamed them for the social ills that plagued the world and eagerly sought out others who shared his beliefs. Also, Matthew was afflicted with cancer in his stomach that required weekly doctor's appointments. He wasn't expected to live, and I can only imagine how that dark knowledge must have colored his already stormy worldview.

At one point during his cancer treatment he was given a new cellmate, a young man who was originally from Egypt, a fact that Matthew hopefully clung to, expecting his new cellmate to share his radical anti-Christian sentiments. Instead, to Matthew's horror, his new cellmate happened to be a faithful Christian, whose reaction to Matthew's cancer diagnosis was to pray fervently for him. In fact, Matthew told me this young man enlisted his own mother to pray for the cancer as well – and she traveled all the way to California from Egypt to do so. Having never seen one another before, the woman prayed over Matthew and praised God for what was to come. He had never before experienced the love and kindness that would prompt a person to travel far and wide just for him, motivated by the desire to help.

In the midst of others' faith – people who were essentially strangers to him – and commitment to God's healing powers, Matthew found himself grappling with his own fundamental beliefs about Christians and God, and tenuously he began to hope that their convictions were correct. After a few weeks of ceaseless prayer from his cellmate and his own fledgling hope for himself, Matthew was overcome one night by a feeling of warmth spreading through his stomach. It's this sensation that finally provoked in him an uncontrolled outpouring of prayer to the same God as his cellmate, and he found himself prostrate on the ground, begging God for a miracle and for forgiveness, and finally, worshipping Him in the same manner as he'd witnessed his cellmate doing many times before.

The following morning was the day the doctor came, and Matthew was scheduled for an MRI, where he was diagnosed cancer-free. Literally overnight, Matthew had been healed from the cancer that was devouring him from the inside out, and ever since then he has been filled with an indescribable sense of joy, and even love.

"I had never felt love before," he admitted to me with happiness in his eyes, "and now I am filled with love for God."

Every time I minister in the prison I am reminded of Matthew 9 where Jesus says, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." God is at work in America's broken prison system. He is quenching the thirsts of those who have longed for something to drink. It is time to for Christians to overcome stereotypes, and realize that prisoners are not outside the bounds of God's grace. Now is the time to help with this harvest.

Kristen Tritt is the media and communications coordinator for Serving California, a foundation committed to building a community of empathy for those who are struggling and provide them with resources to transcend their situations. Kristen is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in pre- and early-modern literature. She has worked with various nonprofits and is most interested in social justice issues and work that serves others and builds community.


If God Is Just, Why All This Suffering?

Bethany Hanke Hoang and Kristen Deede Johnson | Holding God's goodness and the world's pain in tension (image by Bret of

A million girls and boys trafficked for sex each year.

Millions of widows facing violence and destitution at the hands of their own family and neighbors.

Tens of millions of slaves locked in crushing labor.

Hundreds of millions of girls raped.

How do we hold in tension the truth of God’s goodness and love for justice with the reality of pandemic suffering? There are countless stories of people all over our world—people created by God for a life of wholeness and flourishing but who instead undergo a living nightmare of injustice. How do we open our eyes and see the dire needs of our neighbors while holding fast to hope in a God who rescues, heals, and restores?

Derailment in the face of suffering is far too often the norm rather than the exception. Even those of us launching forth with the deepest passion for justice and conviction of God’s goodness can lose heart and fail to persevere over the long haul. Everyone is vulnerable to derailment; injustice can breed disillusionment and doubt. Suffering can drive cynicism or, even worse, despair.

But God invites us to come to him—not in spite of doubt and derailment but in the midst of it. Woven throughout Scripture is an unguarded type of prayer known as lament. To lament is to ask “Why?” and “Why not?” as well as “What are you doing God?” and “Where are you?” To lament is to pour out our hearts, holding nothing back. It is to pray without trying to be more full of faith than we actually are. Lament is prayer that honors the honesty of pain and anger while also honoring the truth that God is the one who reigns and whose hesed love never fails. Lament holds in tension all the suffering that seems to make no sense with a determination to believe that God is just. Lament draws us near to God when we are tempted to turn away. Lament enables us to keep moving forward with perseverance in the justice calling; it is a way to remain deeply connected to the God who loves us and loves justice even when injustice makes us ask the hardest questions of God.

The Heart of Lament

Lament is a gift. In the midst of everything going wrong around us—whether in the world at large or in the lives of people whose names and faces we know and hold dear—lament is a gift given to help us hold fast to God. God invites lament because he knows our temptation to turn away rather than toward him in the heat of hardship. Some of us turn away by not talking to God when we experience pain in our lives or see the suffering and evil of oppression at work in the world. Others turn away by pretending they can simply press on with their lives and shelter themselves from the pain they feel or see, seeking to avoid the tension of wrestling with a good God who reigns over a world that is festering in grief. Lament is only the beginning of our journey toward God in hope, but it is a beginning that we can hardly plumb too deeply. Even as we station ourselves to wait upon the Lord and determine to rejoice in the midst of trembling, in the face of injustice we need to return again and again to lament.

The more we probe Scripture to see how prophets and leaders and ordinary people lamented their circumstances, the more it becomes clear that God invites our questions and pleadings rather than our despair and silence. God can handle the questions we bring; no question is too shocking or big for God. In the midst of the enslavement of God’s people, Moses shows us faith that laments: “Why, Lord? Why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?” He even goes so far as to accuse God of not doing what God has promised, crying, “You have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:22–23).

The psalmists accuse God of not being present in the midst of suffering: “Why, LORD, do you stand far off?” (Psalm 10:1). They show impatience with God’s timing, frustration at having to wait, and the pain of feeling forgotten: “My soul is in deep anguish. How long LORD, how long?” (Psalm 6:3).

They admit that the ultimate victory of the Lord is not always clear, that defeat often feels much more near: “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2). They argue that suffering and injustice make God look like a fool and ask why God does not show the world the truth of his power: “How long will the enemy mock you, God? . . . Why do you hold back your hand?” (Psalm 74:10–11).

The Prayers of Lament

The books of Job and Lamentations echo harrowing questions directly accusing God of being the one who not only allows but also intentionally inflicts vicious suffering.

The prayers of lament in Scripture give us the gift of anguished language when we cannot find words of our own. And we need to speak; we need to speak aloud to one another during those times when we feel we are continuing to talk to God—we’re clinging and crying out to him, moving toward him, praying, worshiping, seeking him—and yet we don’t experience any response on his part. It can seem that not only is God turning a deaf ear, but he is no longer even present.

When we are brutally honest with God in the midst of true lament, we may find that “rock bottom” does not seem to exist; there can appear to be no end or limit to the grief, no enduring relief for the pain. We need to know that we are not alone in this sense of fathomlessness.

Jesus shows us what prayers of grief look like when the bottom has fallen out. Quoting Psalm 22:1, Jesus utters the ultimate protest of lament. Hanging on the cross in the fullness of his humanity and deity Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, emphasis added). Like Jesus, we can and should turn to the desperate cries of the psalms and the prophets as we grapple for words in our lament.

Cry out to God. Even when you don’t see his footprints amid the mighty waters, stand firm. Remember who God is even when you cannot see the truth of who he is in your midst. Rejoice that he is the God who fulfills all that he has promised, the God who saves, the God whose love for us and all of his creation is everlasting, never-failing. All glory will be revealed (Isaiah 40:5; Romans 8:18). Darkness will never be the final word.

Bethany Hanke Hoang is a Founding Director and Special Advisor for the International Justice Mission's Institute for Biblical Justice. You can follow Bethany on Twitter at @Bethanyhoang.