Church yesterday was so much fun. The home churches had lots of interesting and inspiring, as well as entertaining presentations. The video clip I posted here is from the dance presented by home church A. It was simply thrilling and we were besides ourselves with joy as we rejoiced and celebrated the goodness of God, and shared in one another’s love. The leader of Home Church A also celebrated her birthday yesterday, so we had so much to eat and drink. 🙂
In view of our forthcoming mission outreach to a poor community at the outskirts of our city – Enugu, South Eastern Nigeria – I preached a sermon titled ‘Helping the Helpless.’ I basically challenged the congregation to become more sensitive and responsive to the plight and suffering of those around us who are less fortunate, and to become more committed to helping the helpless.
I began by sharing a piece of my own story and what drives me as a person.
“I love rural missions and charity outreaches. As a matter of fact, my very first mass evangelism rally 17 years ago was the result of my passion to help the helpless. I was just 19 then and had been invited to speak at a small Assemblies of God Church in a remote village called Umunwaku in my home state, Imo in south eastern Nigeria.
I was stunned to see that this church met in a little clearing inside the bush! The church building was nothing else than a handful of bamboo stakes supporting a roof woven out of palm fronds. I kept choking back the tears throughout that service, and afterwards resolved to help that church and the surrounding community in whatever manner I could, though there was very little difference between their financial status and mine at the time.
I eventually mobilized my own home church, plus other Christian groups to fund a mission trip to that village. We not only preached the gospel to them, praying for them, but we also distributed several food items and clothing materials to those who needed them the most.
And so was born a pattern that I began to replicate in most of my rural missions projects.
Helping the helpless is an essential aspect of the passion that drives me in ministry. It’s so intense that I’ve asked God to allow me retire at 45 so as to devote the rest of my life towards mobilizing resources to help the helpless people of our world.”
At the core of my sermon yesterday was the recognition and understanding that it is the responsibility of the privileged to help the helpless. I outlined the 7 divine commandments to the rich.
“Helping the helpless is a divine mandate to all.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Notice the 7 divine COMMANDMENTS to the rich:
- Don’t be arrogant.
- Don’t put your hope in your wealth.
- Put your hope in God.
- Do good
- Be rich in good deeds.
- Be generous.
- Be willing to share.
It is not enough to be grateful for our blessings. We must also use those blessings – whatever they may be – to bring glory to God by helping the helpless.
Over the years, God has been faithful to me. He has blessed my efforts as I’ve used the gifts, talents, skills, and other resources He’s given me. The result is that I have risen above the poverty that I see around me daily to enjoy a privileged life that most people only dream of. Along the way, I’ve realized that the successful must be vigilant and humble so as to remain sensitive to the plight of those who aren’t so fortunate.
Its so easy to live in the bubble that success brings, and thus allow your privileged circumstances render you insensitive to the sufferings of the helpless around you.
I believe that success, wealth, and prosperity are gifts from God. But I also believe that they constitute a divine call; the call to voluntarily and cheerfully use our blessings to alleviate the sufferings of the helpless who may never be able to pay us back.
"There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I COMMAND you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land." ~ Deuteronomy 15:11
Notice again that it’s a COMMAND.
I used this time to also reiterate our core mission focus as a church, as well as call attention to our forthcoming charity outreach to the poor in our city.
“I have made helping the helpless the central focus of all of our Home Churches’ missions activities here in Nigeria. Since last year, we’ve intensified our charity missions efforts and have targeted the following categories of the needy:
- Orphans and widows.
- The disabled.
- The chronically impoverished peoples within our cities and villages.
- The sick.
This year, 100% of all our outreach events are absolutely focused on helping the helpless – disabled, poor orphans and widows, chronically impoverished village people, and so on. Huge resources are needed to even make a dent in the lives of those we are trying to reach.
I challenge you to get fully involved in this missions. Get involved with your time, your talents, skills, money, and all of your blessings.
The preaching on sowing and reaping here in Nigeria, particularly among new generation Pentecostal churches, have been corrupted by the greed and selfishness of preachers. Nowadays, we extort money from people in the name of God. Then we use it to enrich ourselves, building empires and monuments that do nothing to alleviate the sufferings of those we fleeced to get the money. This is wrong.
And even those of us who give do so out of selfish greed, because we’ve been promised a magical return of multiplied sums. This also is wrong.
I believe God rewards us when we give, but He doesn’t do that on the basis of the amount, but rather on the basis of our attitude.
If you genuinely care, if you are touched by the sufferings of others, if the willingness to help is strong in you, He always makes a way for you to give.
"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." ~ 2 Corinthians 9:10,11
As I’ve already said, huge resources are needed to even make a dent in the lives of those we are trying to reach. So I challenge you to get fully involved in this missions. Get involved with your time, your talents, skills, money, and all of your blessings.”
I ended the sermon with a prayer to God to teach us His ways and help us walk in His truth.
Next Sunday, our church will visit a poor community at the outskirts of our city – Enugu, South Eastern Nigeria. Within this week, I will post details of our plans and efforts towards that outreach. I will eventually follow that up with updates including pictures, interviews, and videos.