Wednesday, 20 September 2017

OPEN THE DOOR

By David Pam McQuel

We live in exciting times! Its overwhelming that God left the treasures of the kingdom in fallible mortal hands.

Luke 11:52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” NLT

There is such a profound truth in this rebuke as Jesus lashed out at the Pharisees who were considered in their day, the trustees of God's revelation.

First, their action and practice attracts God's highest disapproval. In fact, the exclamation point reveals emotional reaction. Which means that these leaders stirred wrath and disgust.

Second, althought they held the key to knowledge, they won't enter the kingdom, and won't let those who want to. It is sobering that although we are mere human beings, with frailties God chose us to entrust us with such loft responsibility.

Lastly, the pain in Jesus' words is for the fact that these guys stand at the door to the kingdom, they won't enter and they won't let others enter. They hold the truth in contempt. The hold divine treasures but take them lightly.

In the First Covenant, the knowledge of God was entrusted to the Priest, the Prophet and the Levite. However, in the Second Covenant, the reservoir of knowledge is open to open to all. Putting us in position of responsibility.

All of us who profess to know the Lord, become guardians of kingdom knowledge. As sort, we should not falter as the Pharisees.

It is in this light, Jesus sent His disciples, in Matthew 10.
1 Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness...5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!"*

Today, as true Christians we hold the key to righteousness. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. That in presenting the gospel to many, we open the door to for them to find Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord and find the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ.

Today, we hold the key to forgiveness. The wrath of God is read. Man ways are continually evil. And worse more, man is so passionate on his ambitions and skilful in creating new ways to defy God. But in His mercy we can find forgiveness. We as believers hold the key to the door.

Today, we hold the key to the kingdom. Jesus told Peter that He has given the Church, the keys to the kingdom. Matthew 16:17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

A lot more that goes down here could be altered if we took His words more seriously.

Today, we have the key to salvation. Romans 10:14 "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

How are they going to believe in Christ and be saved if they don't hear about His free gift of Salvation?

Philip was sent by the Spirit on the way to Azotus where he found the Finance Minister and Treasury Secretary of the Queen of Ethiopia, Candace. The Spirit said to him, "Join this chariot.'

He join himself to this dignitary, and found out the man was hanging around the gates of the kingdom of God. But didn't understand.

As he listened to what the man read, he found out the man was reading Isaiah's prophetical schematic of the Sacrifice of Christ 700 years before it happened.

It didn't take long, the man was baptized by the roadside and went back full of joy! The rest is history as the Ethiopian Coptic Church is millenia old enduring testimony of that encounter.

What would have happened if Philip never opened the door to salvation?

Today, we hold to eternal life. Gods love brings us to eternal life. It is for this reason that Christ came. He came that all mankind may fine life, life that is everlasting.

Even though not everyone may be save, God has commanded us that we must witnesses to every living soul. Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

How will those destined for eternal receive unless we open that door to them?

Today we hold the key to healing. Mankind is hurting. As in the days of Jesus, diseases and sickness abound everywhere. Advancement in medicine has not reduced sickness, rather we keep discovering more daily.

Jesus sent his disciples to teach, preach and heal. The gospel has never changed. We should teach, preach and heal otherwise our gospel is incomplete.

Today we hold the key to God's compassion and his unending mercy. The overall disposition of God towards man is his mercy and compassion. His judgement will destroy us. We can't stand his holiness. His purity is intimidating. His faithfulness is incomprehensible. His wisdom is past finding.

But his love and compassion makes the way for us to enjoy His judgement, His holiness, His purity, His faithfulness and His wisdom.

As a child of God, you hold the key to many people finding God. Don't just stand at the door. Come on in, into the kingdom and help others come in.

That's the pleasure of the Father.
God bless you.

*Unless indicated, all Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version



Sunday, 17 September 2017

WHEN THE HEART WANTS THE TRUTH

By David Pam McQuel

Understanding the Truth is the moment man comes closer to eternal life.

We sat with Konate to talk. I intended to make the gospel as clear as possible. He just wanted a chat. He has met a few church people who talked church and Christ, he always won the debate. He was certain this meeting would turn the same way.

He laughed. He smiled. And he threw a little joke and jest here and there to lighten the mood. He wanted to handle me. He wanted to be step ahead and just have fun. But I didn't want to be dogmatic or religious but polite and firm. I wasn't going to let politics, sports and friendship lighten the moment. I just stayed focused.

Konate is Dioula, predominantly a people of Islamic culture in West Africa. However, he was a total secularist. In his childhood, he has been to the mosquef a few times. But growing up as a teenager, in the South, survival was the main goal.

He made friends with mostly kids of Catholic background to whom Christianity was dominantly a designation rather than a practice. They were like him. Religion was totally absent from their lives. The played along what worked and anything for survival or for a better life.

Grown up now in his late 30s, he has seen it all! Danger and ruggedness, risk and threat, failure and success, struggles and breakthrough. He has entered places he thought he'd never come out,survived a ghastly accident many didn't and has many times been involved in physical fights with clubs and knives and survived.

Konate has known dire need, abject poverty and unexplainable want. He has spend sleepless nights on empty stomach, trekked long distances for lack of money.

Yet before forty, according to him, luck has fallen on him. Through his struggles, a lesson his mum taught him turned his life around. "Help people, but don't expect any reward from them but God", she said a million times. In his youth he kept this truth until one day he help a man who came back to change his life.

From then, God blessed him. He runs a wholesale business that has brought him happiness and comfort beyond his wildest imagination. And in all this, he was irreligious.

He believed God existed, but had no contact or relationship with him. He thought the Jew, the Christian, the Muslim and the traditional worship all worshipped one God. His philosophy puts him in comfort and no dispute with anyone. He just smiles when others argue. He belongs to no one but believes in none actively. He felt safe that way.

He rationalized that if he didn't drink, lie, go after his neighbours wife or cheat someone from what is legitimately his, and give generously to the needy, he will please God at the end and have free pass into paradise.

But then a nagging question has hunted him for years now, "Do you know how God will judge you?"

Of a truth he always thought he knows what God wants, but then how will God judge him? Now, this question bothers him more than ever.

"High buddy!" I greeted
He smiled with his Mr Cool Guy comfort. "Welcome chez moi."

We gisted a bit about the days activities, about life in Abidjan, about travelling which is his hobby. He shared with pleasure, his experience with different cultures, in Tanzania, Egypt and the Congo.

As we chatted, I was seeking in my heart the best way to approach and breakthrough his over confidence.

He went on to show me around his living room the five beautiful oil on canvas paintings. He found out I love paintings. We tried to outsmart each other on interpreting these fine amazing artworks. He bought two in Accra, one from Senegal and two from Tanzania.

"At the end, what will be your reward?" I threw the question and took him at stealth.
"Je ne sais pas." He replied, at first gazing right into my eyeballs, then back to the painting as if he wants to understand something that has long escaped him.

"I tried not to think deep into spiritual things" he added

Right there, I knew I got the key to his heart

"You know Konate, God's way of judging is different.' For the first time I saw Mr. Confidence scared. I could almost see sweat drops on his forehead. Little did I know the Spirit of God was leading me to hit the question that has tormented him forms long time.

I then quoted Isaiah 55:8
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

He has never read the Bible, how could he know these verses were written in there? As I began to breakdown what these two verses meant and link them to the free gift eternal life in Jesus, Konate stared at me through his glasses, unemotional, at first trying to act calm and invulnerable but then, we were just two of us, why hide his vulnerability?

From then he opened up as I broke forth the truth in tiny digestible fragments, trying hard to keep my sharing short, to maintain momentum and to lead him to the faith.

"Mon Ami, I'm touched!" He broke in calmly and forced me to pause. Right then I knew he had received the word of God.

The next 5 minutes, I led him to Christ and clearly spelt out the rudiments of faith in Christ. He was spellbound. He was glad to receive forgiveness. He had an encounter with the Truth.

Jesus is the Truth

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

HOW WILL THEY HEAR, IF NO ONE PREACHES?

A report by David Pam McQuel

On 31st August 2017 a long standing plan came to fruition. A Scripture that has driven my heart since 1993.

Isaiah 9:2 The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.

We at the World Mission Centre at the beginning of each year look forward to taking the gospel to those who have never heard. This year wasn't different. About a year ago I met at a restaurant in Accra Mall, Accra Ghana with Mr. Yunuyus Dasat, a long serving and an experienced theatre nurse, well involved in Christian medical outreaches and we set the skeletons for an outreach that will involve a medical team.

Plans got a boost when our dear friend from Chicago, Illinois, Diana Bailey shipped a large quantity of medical supplies that could help us in our outreach. Although we almost lost the shipment when the Ivorian immigration required that we pay import duty on the mission resources as though they were for commercial purpose, God sent us help and they were cleared.

Soon the Lord led us to a community, Bonon in the Marahouet Region, Central Ivory coast, about 5 hours away from Abidjan the economic nerve centre of the nation.

No significant effort was made until I received a whatsapp message from a total stranger now my friend from Nigeria, Olarenwaju Benjamin, the founder of Project Save Nigeria, a ministry totally devoted to rural missions and evangelism in Africa.

Brother Benjamin proposed collaboration for an outreach and offered to co-finance with Project Save. From then, plans kicked off.

We intended to take a team of about 20 comprising of a medical team, a barber, a carpenter and a team of missionaries and our budget was $3,000. But as the date approached, we prayed and appealed to partners and friends and hoped to receive support enough. All that came in was less than $600 and we vow to hold the outreach making a lot of sacrifices.

When the proposed resources didn't come, some members of our medical began to withdraw since we couldn't transport them from Ghana to the ivory coast and we had to drop the barber and the carpenter as well and went with the medical team we could get and our missionary delegation.

First weekend of July was VOI (Visit Of Inquiry). I was robbed on the way, it did not deter me. I still finally got to the Gouro village, my very first time. My contacts were good. I was received and I left on the following day.

Finally on the 31, we were ready. And that same day our only doctor was making the 12 hours road trip from Ghana. The team waited at the park on their feet for 5 hours. Since the outreach coincided with the Muslim festivities, transportation was very scarce. Eventually we got to Bonon, at 8:00PM, tired, drained and hungry. We had to forfeit the film show intended for our first night there.

The following morning activities began:
Friday 1, September 2017
7:00AM Team Morning Fellowship
7:30AM Community Sanitation
8:00AM Visit to the Local Chief's Palace
8:30AM Breakfast
10:00AM Socializing/Get ready for the evening crusade
1:00PM Lunch
2:00PM - 5:00PM Rest
6:30PM Crusade

Gratefully, our doctor arrived.

Saturday 2, September 2017
Medical Outreach
6:30AM Breakfast
7:00AM - 5:30PM Medical/Spiritual Care outreach
6:00PM Meal
7:30PM Crusade

Sunday 3, September 2017
7:00AM Breakfast
8:00AM Team Worship a MIRENA Church
10:30AM lunch
11:AM Departure back to Abidjan

We had over 300 confess Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives. Over 200 received free medical care and drugs. More than 90% of these people never heard the gospel explained.

The whole outreach was an expression of Christ's compassion. In my next blog post I will publish some of the moments in Bonon.

Thank you to those who gave. You made it possible. And to those who could support, there more outreaches coming ahead. God bless you.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Peace, The Deepest Yawning of Man's Heart

By David Pam McQuel

The end of man's quest is peace.

If I have money to take care of my needs, my worries, my family and my health, I will be at peace. My mind will be at rest if I am not sick. I will be at peace if I find a good paying job. When my business thrives I will be at peace. If I can afford my medications, I will be at rest. What will give me peace of mind is when my kids are married. When I'm through with my education I will have peace. When my dad's health improves I will be at rest. When my son gets off drugs and bad friends I will be at rest. I can't find peace unless this divorce is over. As long as I am in this town, I will have no peace.

Unless he is in jail, my life is not safe. Unless I pay off this loan, I shall have not peace. As long as there is the threat of homelessness, how can I have peace? The fear of war breaking out takes away every drop of peace from this city. There is no peace between my daughter and I. Unemployment is the biggest threat to peace in this country.

The list of such expressions is as long as long as the beaches of the world. The most repeated word is peace.
The secular definition of peace is calm and absence of conflict. When warring parties in Kosovo, Liberia, Sudan or Syria agree to end or halt the conflict, the media calls it peace. Although tensions remain, fear persists and mistrust even heightens, it is still considered peace, fragile as it may be.

This definition of peace is limited to human mind. It is unassuring, inconsistent and unpredictable. If we look among the nations of the earth, there is very few places that are calm. Violence has escalated, the value of life has diminished, man has become very brutal, non tolerant and uncompassionate.

The greatest promise of God to man included peace
Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

The New Testament teaching on the recreated human spirit puts peace at the centre of God's new life in Christ:
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 

The Scriptural definition of peace is interesting. It is rooted in Jewish teaching and in God's dealings with the children of Israel. The word translated peace in ancient and modern Hebrew is Shalom.

The word had many components and variations in interpretation. Its a compound word that connoted among other things the following five interpretations:
1. Security and safety: Security is protection. It is the assurance of protection from harm or danger. Israel had many national enemies, and they constantly relied on Jehovah's protection from their aggression.
2. Welfare and prosperity: God promised Israel that obedience to God will reward them with physical and material wellbeing. Physical and material wellbeing brings about harmony and tranquility. Deuteronomy 28:1If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth... Deuteronomy 28:10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you.

At every single time Israel disobeyed God, part of their punishment in exile or under colonization was the absence of welfare.
2Chronnicles 15:3 For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law...5 In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. 6 One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress.

3. Above all, reconciliation with God: This above everything else is the true expression of peace. If everything works well but you are either scared of God or He is mad at you. Jesus is the Prince of peace. When I received Christ, the first thing that happened to me was the peace of God flooding my heaving which brought about spontaneous joy.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Man can forego all other needs. Man CANNOT afford to forego this particular peace. It is the primary
4. Preservation: This word means to keep from decay, corruption or destruction. It means to keep whole. 

No Scripture in Old Testament describes this as Psalms 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Will all the crisis, turmoil, violence and hopelessness in the world today, ONLY Jesus can give you all the peace you need. And TOTALLY FREE.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

THE FADING DARKNESS

By David Pam McQuel

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned. ~ Isaiah 9:2

Darkness, spiritual darkness covers the earth. I will present some of the lofty claims of ideological and religious that oppose faith in Jesus as the only hope of mankind.

The only door
1Corinthians 1:18 "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
Truth is found in the God's Word preached alone.

Types of darkness
1. Islam
Basic beliefs:
Islamic practice can be summarized by the Five Pillars of Islam.
These are composed of the confession of faith (“There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet”), prayer (the ritual prayers said in Arabic five times a day while facing Mecca and performing the prescribed set of bowings, kneeling, and prostrations), alms (taken as a tax in some officially Islamic countries), fasting (the lunar month of Ramadan, during which Muslim believers fast during daylight hours but can eat while it's dark), and pilgrimage (the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim believer should make once in his or her lifetime).

Islam teaches that Jesus was a great prophet.
Islam affirms that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he lived a sinless life, that he performed mighty miracles, and that he will come again at the end of history. It even calls him a word from God. However, it explicitly denies the deity of Christ and repudiates the title “Son of God” as blasphemous. It also (according to the majority view) denies he died on the cross, claiming that Jesus' visage was imposed on someone else, who was then crucified, and that Jesus was taken up into heaven without tasting death. Islam explicitly denies the possibility of substitutionary atonement.

What Scriptures say:
Let me explain. I see at least two things inherent in the religion of Islam that have been used by terrorists to promote violence.

First, Muhammad rode into Mecca on a stallion with a sword in hand to conquer by force. By contrast, Jesus saddled up a donkey to ride into Jerusalem to humbly suffer and die for the sins of the world. Herein lies the difference. Jesus founded a religion based on moral persuasion. From the beginning, Islam has condoned the use of the sword. Historically, not all Muslims have used it. Thankfully, many modern Muslims refrain from it. But Islam is a religion which sanctions force, if necessary, to advance its purposes.
One other aspect of Islamic faith also has the potential to fuel the fire of evil. The Islamic faith (at least at a popular level) puts a strong emphasis on salvation by works. Muslims have no assurance of heaven. However, if a Muslim dies while engaging in holy war (jihad ), he is assured of entering heaven. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, jihad "‘is an act of pure devotion’; it is ‘one of the gates to Paradise;’ rich heavenly rewards are guaranteed for those who devote themselves to it; those who fall in the jihad are the martyrs of the faith."

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2013 issue of Southern Seminary Magazine. Zane Pratt serves as vice president for global training for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist. Excepts published by gospel by thegospelcoalition.org

2. Secularism
Basic beliefs:
The online dictionary defines Secularism as a belief system that rejects religion, or the belief that religion should not be part of the affairs of the state or part of public education. The principles of separation of church and state and of keeping religion out of the public school system are an example of secularism.

The pride of Secularism
Secularism protects both believers
Secularism seeks to ensure and protect freedom of religious belief and practice for all citizens. Secularists want freedoms of thought and conscience to apply equally to all – believers and non-believers alike. They do not wish to curtail religious freedoms.

Religious Freedom
Secularism seeks to defend the absolute freedom of religious and other belief, and protect the right to manifest religious belief insofar as it does not impinge on the rights and freedoms of others. Secularism ensures that the right of individuals to freedom of religion is always balanced by the right to be free from religion.

Secularism is about democracy and fairness
In a secular democracy all citizens are equal before the law and parliament. No religious or political affiliation gives advantages or disadvantages and religious believers are citizens with the same rights and obligations as anyone else.

Secularism champions universial human rights above religious demands. It upholds equality laws that protect women, LGBT people and minorities from religious discrimination. These equality laws ensure that non-believers have the same rights as those who identify with a religious or philosophical belief. (Secularism.org)

What Scriptures say:
What is destroying the moral and spiritual foundation of today’s society?
Zacharias: I believe a convergence of many factors has taken place. Much of education in the 1960s came unhinged from any moral absolutes and ethical values, to wit the book Excellence Without a Soul by Harry R. Lewis. We have seen this happening the last 40 years. There have been many voices alerting us to this. But more than just a philosophy took over; a mood took over.

First, secularization generally held that religious ideas, institutions, and interpretations have lost their social significance. People liked the idea of a secular society and a secular government. But in terms of moral values and ethics, they never checked into the internal assumptions of secularization that made it wide open to almost any view on any subject. Beginning in the 1960s, the moods of secularization ultimately led to society’s loss of shame.

Next is pluralization, which sounds like a practical and worthy idea; and in many ways, it is. In pluralism you have a competing number of worldviews that are available, and no worldview is dominant. But smuggled in with pluralization was the absolutization of relativism. The only thing we could be sure of was that all moral choices were relative and there was no point of reference to right and wrong. This resulted in the death of reason.

Last is privatization, which is an accommodation to the religiously minded. If secularization and pluralization were going to hold sway, what does society do with the large number of people who are spiritually minded?
Being spiritually minded was okay as long as people kept their spiritual beliefs private and did not bring them into the public arena. The irony of this was the fact secularization — which had its assumptions on absolutes and anything of the metaphysical nature — was allowed into the public place. In fact, its very trust was to bring it into the public place. But anyone who believed in a spiritual Essence, an Ultimate Reality, and the fact there were transcendent absolutes that needed to be adhered to was told to keep those beliefs private. That ultimately paved the way for the loss of meaning.

These three moods — secularization, pluralization, and privatization — brought about loss of shame, loss of reason, and loss of meaning. How was this authoritatively pontificated in the social strain? This is when philosophy stepped in, the moralizers against morality came in, and political correctness came in. These gave society some parameters that allowed it to expel the moralizing from outside the secular realm.
As a result, everything became pragmatic. Philosophers and naturalists stepped in. In this new century, we have lost all definitions of what it means to be human, and what sexuality, life, and the home are all about. 

We are on the high seas, battling the storms of conflicting worldviews without a compass. Excerpts from "Defending Christianity in a Secular Culture: Worldview. An Interview with Ravi Zacharias by Richard L. Schoonover, associate editor of Enrichment journal.

Our faith in Christ is not competing, it stands as the only real hope and assurance of peace with God and for the life after.

God bless you.

Friday, 4 August 2017

AN EXTRAORDINARY TRANSFORMATION


I was born into the Muri kingdom, which is mostly Fulani. My mother, Hajia Aminat Jalingo, is of the Kutep tribe. Contrary to the Islamic tradition of multiple wives, my father married and maintained only my mother. I am the fifth of nine children. My father lived in many parts of Nigeria, serving in the Army till 1996. My mother also worked with the Nigerian Medical Corps until her retirement in 1992. I attended the Army Children School, Ikeja Cantonment, Lagos, completed my secondary education at Government Girls’ College Enugu. I studied Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN). After my studies, in 1996, I worked as Programme Producer/Director with the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Yola. I got married on April 27, 1997 and God blessed us with a set of twin boys – Hassan and Hussain.

I never believed that I needed salvation for whatever reason, because every Moslem is convinced that Muhammad was the last Prophet in the long line of those that Allah had sent before. The Islamic Hadith (Mishkat) speaks of about 124,000 people who lived at various times in history. Twenty-eight of them are mentioned by name and most are found in the Bible. Since each of them was sent with a word from Allah to warn the respective people not to practice idolatry, to live righteously and to consider the coming Day of Judgement, it is perceived by Moslems that Isa (Jesus), the one to whom is given the greatest prominence in the Qur’an, was like Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses) and most others sent to the Jews. Therefore, when I heard Christians call Him, Lord, I became mad at them.

As a young girl, in the secondary school, and even as an undergraduate, I would delightfully pack copies of the Holy Bible and take them to Kaduna for destruction, I thought the Bible was demonic. Many are still doing it today, I became Vice President of the youth wing of the Jamaatu Nasril Islam. Very often, I saw Christians happy in every situation; yet, my success at school, which gave me the job at NTA, and brightened my chances of a good husband, could not bring me such peace and happiness, Several people had talked to me about Christianity, but to me then, Muhammad was the final seal of the prophets. This was my pride as a Fulani girl who saw herself in the greatest religion of all time.

Qu’ran does not teach salvation in Jesus Christ, but it gives Him the greatest prominence. 
The wonderful statements in the Qu’ran are enough to compel one to search more about Him. The name Jesus (Isa)  occurs about 25 times in the Qu’ran, and the title Messiah is used 93 times.

I hated anything that had to do with Christianity. I was always happy seeing a Christian unhappy and enjoyed hearing that Christians were suffering, but on the 25th of September 1999, I was caught in a web. The day before, we attended the Friday prayers and all went well. 

At about 1:30a.m. suddenly, an unusually bright light appeared in the bedroom with a mighty wind blowing and throwing all the pictures and other valuables to the ground. My husband and I became afraid. He got up from bed, brought out charms, known in Hausa as “Hayaki”. He placed it on the ground, got hot charcoal and placed the charm on it, but the mighty wind threw it all down.

Before we could make out anything, a voice thundered, saying: “You have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Go and be “Tabitha” unto my people”. I asked my husband if he could understand what the voice was saying, but he said that he did not hear any voice. He later concluded that I belonged to a secret cult, which accounted for my hearing voice that he could not hear. He thought that I wanted to sacrifice him or our set of twins. He got angry, took our twins to the guestroom and abandoned me in the bedroom. I was very worried and couldn’t sleep. In the morning, again, I heard the voice saying: “Tell your husband that you have accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour”. I said “No, I can’t. What has a Fulani got to do with Jesus Christ”, I thought that demons were after me. The thing happened again on 28th and 29th, and each time, there was an invitation to “come and serve”. 

So I told my husband that I would go to Church the following Sunday. “Not in this house”, he retorted, He might have received my word with shock, yet joy and peace flooded my heart at that time. I knew what I was passing through and it would be disastrous for me not to do what God would want me to do for Him.
On Saturday, after speaking to him about it, I went ahead and bought for myself the first Bible I ever bought or read in my life, and hid it under my box. The next day, Sunday, I picked up my Bible, got into my car and drove to the nearby Baptist Church.

After the service, I came back and met my husband at home. I greeted him but he asked me where I was coming from; I wanted to lie, but heard a voice saying ‘what were you taught in the church today?’ It was “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” So, I told him that I was coming from the Church. He got up in anger, gave me a beating, snatched the Bible from me and wanted to tear it but I told him of the danger of tearing the Bible, so he stopped. He was shocked because he knew that it was my role in the past. So he dropped the Bible in anger and left till the evening. 

I brought out food for him as usual, but he kicked the food away and warned his sister that no one should eat the food I cooked in the house again for he had declared me an infidel and as a result, I would have nothing to do with the family, even with my own kids. The next day, he went to fetch my father from Makurdi. As I welcomed my father, he too, started beating me with his military belt and boots, until I was unconscious and was taken to the hospital where I stayed for three days. 

Wonderfully, on the third day, at about 2 a.m., the Lord appeared to me. I noticed a touch on my feet and I woke up trying to see who it was that touched me, but the face was shinning like the sun in such a way that I could not see his face. I only looked at Him from His feet to the chest. I was afraid and screamed for help. One of the nurses came, prayed with me and asked me not to be afraid again. As I said amen to her prayers, I began to speak in tongues for about three hours. I was saying things they could not understand. Some of them thought I was mad but a psychiatric doctor who was called in, confirmed that I was normal.

The figure appeared again. This time He said unto me, “Be bold, for this is temporary: you will overcome the temptation”. The fourth day, I was discharged from the hospital. On getting home, my husband gave me a divorce letter, which I collected with joy and told him. ‘I am married to Jesus.’

After that, I packed my things, including my two cars, kept them in someone’s house and travelled to Lagos. My husband took my twins to Saudi Arabia. Not done yet, my father had the man that I had kept my belongings in his house arrested on the grounds that he had abducted me from my husband’s house. On hearing that, I returned to Jalingo and arranged his release. Then, my father collected my cars and other belongings claiming that he bought them for me as wedding presents.

In trying to make me renounce my faith in Christ, the Management of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Yola, had my appointment terminated, under pressure from my husband. My father and some Islamic fanatics took me to one Alhaji’s house in Jalingo and there chained my feet and my hands. After seven days, I was released, with a threat of death, if I went to Church again.

My mother arranged for my uncle, her elder brother to reconcile my father and me. As we went talking, my father got angry, picked up his gun and shot at me. As God would have it, the little movement I made at the sight of a gun overturned the seat where I was sitting and I was pushed to the ground. The gun sounded but the bullets did not enter me but passed through the chair and to the wall. Everybody was alarmed, my mother started weeping that he had killed her only daughter. Later, my mother advised me to go and stay with her elder brother. Being a moslem, he too was unhappy with me and made life difficult. Once, he threatened to kill me with a cutlass so I left his house for Lagos and later, Maiduguri.

I was denied my rights in the family; my father had me thrown into prison on false allegation. He had initially gone to a Sharia court but I protested against that since I am now a Christian. So, he took me to a Magistrate court at Hadeja. The Magistrate ordered that I be remanded in prison for calling my father, my neighbour. I was in detention for six months without trial and bail until  some Christians on prison visitation, learnt that I was there for becoming a Christian. 

The matter was reported to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman who wrote a petition that led to my proper trial. The Magistrate sentenced me to two years imprisonment plus a fine of five thousand Naira. One Christian Women Fellowship in the area paid the fine while I was taken to prison. That was September 5, 2000. Some inmates asked me to appeal but I told them, confidently, that the Lord Jesus would do a great Appeal for me. 

At midnight, I prayed: ‘Lord, I want you to deliver me from this prison before December. If you don’t, the people will ask me, where is your God?’ I reminded him of how He answered Hezekiah. On October 2, 2000, less than a month after my imprisonment, a letter came from Abuja ordering my release and I was set free. My prison experiences brought me closer to God that I developed more faith in God’s ability to see me through.

After two months, I decided to go and share the Lord Jesus with my grandparents. The moslem youths were looking for me everywhere, to kill me. They hid me until I couldn’t be hidden. I fled to the bush for four days. On the fourth night, I woke up with a snake beside me. That day, I told God that I wanted to go back to Islam. I couldn’t continue like that in the bush but He quickly reprimanded me. He asked “Upon all the sufferings you’ve been through, you still want to go back? If I didn’t shut the mouth of the snake, wouldn’t it bite you while you slept? I repented and told him that I was sorry; I will never go back to Egypt”.

I found out that God actually took me to prison to teach me some things. One was to read the Bible and, two, because of a female Christian warder who left and married a Moslem and God shut her womb. In the prison, God told me in a dream that she was going to have a baby. When I told her, she became angry, tortured me, called me names, but I kept praying for her, that the name of the Lord be glorified since I had said the Lord told me. Later, she actually had the baby, and that converted her and her husband. Eight molems in the prison gave their lives to Christ. They were baptized in the Holy Ghost before I left. Seeing what the Lord used me to do in the prison, I knew that I would do better outside.

One day, some moslem youths came and kidnapped me. They laid me on the ground, raised their cutlasses to kill me but their hands remained hanging in the air. That happened to three of them and the others fled. They were later taken to the police who wanted them killed but I told them it was the Lord’s battle not theirs. I told them that I had forgiven them. As I was leaving, they asked for their hands to be restored. I said “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, let your hands come down” and their cutlasses dropped. Today, they are Christians and live with me. 

On another occasion, another group of moslem youths kidnapped me. They were taking me to Sokoto. On the way, scorpions emerged and started to sting them. They dropped me, begged me and even gave me money to take me back home. Yet on another occasion, they kidnapped me and wanted to inject me with poisonous material but they couldn’t find those materials and had to let me go.

The Bible says we must start from our Jerusalem. Moslems and Fulanis are my Jerusalem. Many of them live in ignorance, not having heard of Jesus till today. And if I am one of the fortunate ones that God brought out, I need to go out and say something to them. That is why I say I would fight the cause with my blood. I am not limiting myself to Nigeria; I intend to go to the Middle East, planting a church in Saudi Arabia where my children are. I tell God that my children in Saudi Arabia are Ambassadors of Christ and they must become Pastors in Saudi Arabia.

So, any time I hear a moslem is converted somewhere and is persecuted, I take them in. I have forty-nine under my roof right now. They call me “mama”. The oldest is eighty-nine years. She became a Christian and her children threw her from upstairs to die, but God preserved her. A Pastor found her and brought her to the centre. Some come with their ears cut off, others are stripped naked etc. I pray for people to join me in this crusade. Thank God. He is raising men among the coverts in the centre and in my family.

My immediate elder brother who is a soldier has become a Christian. My mother became a Christian since 2002. My elder brothers who wanted me dead or back to Islam are now Christians. One of them, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Maiduguri had to relocate to Imo State because of persecution.

I testify that Jesus is Lord. Some people came to attack us. The first time they came, they saw a pool of blood: the house became a pool of blood. The second time they came, the house became plain land. The third time, they saw ocean. The last time, the house became a pillar of fire. Sometime later, something happened that led to their arrest and the Commissioner of Police sent for me. On getting there, the police brought the criminals who said that I didn’t know them but they knew me. They were all Moslems, some of them from Republic of Niger. 

They then narrated how they had to attack me, but I was delivered by the Lord. That day, the Commissioner of Police lined up his men in the office and asked me to pray for them.

Instead of leaving me alone, my former husband began to persecute me. While leading some assassins to my place to kill me, the vehicle in which they were travelling was involved in an accident. He, alone died in the hospital after confessing that he wanted me dead for I was bringing shame to his name. It pains me because both of us were in the same room the day I heard the voice. After that I prevented him from destroying a copy of the Bible, something I used to enjoy doing. He knew how violent I was, destroying Christendom. He should have learnt a lesson from my conversion and repented. 

That is how many others die without repentance even though they are exposed to the gospel. The good Lord who is always my Shield and Protector will always save and hide me in His shadow. My life is in God’s hand.”

*Credit for this article goes to Gospotainment Radio.
*Photo is free domain download, not true image of Binta Faruk

Thursday, 20 July 2017

THE FAULTY CIRCLE

By David Pam McQuel

Throughout the life span of the church there has been a continues circle. Its been a rollercoaster. The church will be on fire, great revival and an overwhelming expansion will come. The quality of commitment skyrockets. The passion for the things of God will be unparalleled.
Then as the late Myles Munroe says, "the  greatest enemy of success is success". The church flourishes, and her prosperity becomes her bane. Everyone relaxes and she begins to pat herself at the back and singing her praises.

Then management and administration takes centre stage and priority shifts from spreading the word to consolidation. Project Babel starts, and the church loses her call. Solidly, step by step, little by little we become at ease. Personal ambition, struggles for position, desire for fame and recognition come in and the spiritual life of the assembly is drained.

With the  of the generation of the torchbearers, a new generation comes that had no experience with righteousness and a genuine touch of God. The light of God grows dimmer and we return to era of darkness where we yearn for a new revelation of the truth. 

Then we wait for another move of God while the church is reduced to a social gathering and a religious building, the platform for dogma and philosophy.

Then a new generation rises praying for a move of God.
Solomon son of David wrote:
 "What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
  Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time." Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10

Making a convert
A lot of effort has gone into making converts. Definitely, there is no church without converts. That is the beginning of everything in the kingdom. 

Through the centuries, the church has played down resources, money and human lives to bring the gospel to those who need it. Hundreds of thousands of missionaries have crossed the seas from Europe, America, and recently from Asia and Africa. There was a time when missions was the best and most coveted career by youths.

My recent experience with the effort to win the lost was in November 1989, when the evangelist Reinhard Bonnke threw his phenomenal massive gospel crusades in Jos, North Central Nigeria. That's my native land and it was the biggest for Christ I had ever seen.

I was 18 years old and already in the ministry. I attended 5 of the six days. About 1.6million people gathered at the Polo Ground for six days. It remains in my memory the biggest effort for Christ in just a short time that I ever saw.

The intimidating crowd at his welcome, from Helping at the Airport to the Polo fields, was, the joyful carnival,the laughter, the celebrations, the beaming luminaries at the venue, planning  and organizational web, the superimposing podium that was a prayer shelter for the 3,000 men and women that prayed for 24hours for almost 3 months. You couldn't miss the thousands of volunteers in angel-white uniforms.

The sound system was stunning, traveling within a 40km radius brought Christ to the whole city. The whole city was agog. Most people in Jos have never seen anything like it.

One person who stood out apart from Bonnke's staff was his interpreter for the second night, Rev. Musa Fomson, whom I had the privilege to serve under. That gave me privy to certain facts about the crusade.
The Christ for all Nation reported that they spent $23m from planning to finish. In doing some mathematics, they estimated that they spent $30 to make each convert. And on the average, years later, that was to be one of their small meetings.

A lot has gone into the gospel.

Making a disciple
Making of converts alone is a less profitable effort. It must be accompanied by a carefully planned effort to grow the new convert. Otherwise it will be like a fisherman catching fish and throwing them back into the sea.

Paul wrote to the Colossians by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he said:
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6, 7
The continuity in the faith is more  advantageous. We need to ensure that every single believer is established in the faith through disciples. A disciple is a follower who believes a teaching and actively live by it.

Many new believers never have the privilege to be discipled. From conversion they are merely brainwashed to just a church and be actively involved in her pet doctrines. New believers cannot grow through pet doctrines. It is the rooting and building up in the Word that guarantees not only an individual's continuity but also that of the church.

Grooming independent disciples:
The effort to sustain a continually vibrant church through generations can only be achieved by raising matured believers. Matured believers are weaned from breast milk. They can feed themselves from the truth. They are called sons of God and can be led by the Spirit of God.

Mere converts are like babies. They can be swayed by every pet doctrine. The are tender and obedient. That turns out both as an advantage and as a weakness.

Here are a few things that make a convert into a disciple:
1. Focus on Christ
Every new believe should focus on Jesus Christ who saved him by giving his life for him. This is the key thing in our life. Jesus is everything. He is the one who loves us. And our very lives should have as ultimate goal to do his will.

2. Consistency in His Word
The new believer should be consistent in listening to the word of God because it is only by it that we can grow.

3. Good company
A new convert should find a good company of people who share the same faith.

Here are a few things the local church should do:
1. Prioritize spiritual growth
The local church should focus on developing the spiritual lives of new believers. Sometimes we focus on making quick leaders and feeling positions. Moreover, the people we put in such positions still have not grasped the fundamentals of the faith.

2. Teach service
Jesus' last teaching was service. During the last supper, he tied a towel around his waist and washed their feet. Every new believer should understand this. And we should give them room to learn service from the scratch.

3. Develop compassion in believers
We are all products of the compassion and mercy of God. God had mercy on us and gives us what we don't deserve. We must show compassion to others.

4. Give room for people to err and help them rise above  it.
This is one of the most important points. We need to love new believers and be firm. Let them have the freedom to make mistakes, for we have all made so many after we received Christ. We should insist that they live by Scripture daily. 

Paul gave us a pattern in writing to Timothy, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."  1Timothy 2:1-2. It must be a chain that never ends. 

We have to break the circle of hot and cold, up and down. 

With consistency, we will reproduce after our kind and the faith will be stronger and better, long after we are long gone.