Sunday, 17 August 2014

Productive Team Building

During the last vigil, I drew our attention to Acts 19:1-12 where Paul prayerfully set out to reach “certain” disciples to do ministry work with him. He wasn’t looking for people who were ministerially qualified because God qualifies the called. 2 Peter 1:10 say, he is able to “make your calling and election sure” if you are diligent. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 say, “…my strength is made perfect in weakness” because His grace is sufficient.
So Paul only needed the background God would build on; background like inexcusability, reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. After locating the disciples with these qualities, he ministered the Holy Spirit to them. Why? Paul understood that no disciple can successfully work in ministry without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). The purpose for which we have been called as ministers and workers is activated only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The account in Acts 19:1-12 is a capsule of how we can source for workers and ministers and what to expect. Sorry to shock you that contention is part of the deal. The good news is that though the devil will stir this up, we can keep God’s work going. If you have siblings or close friends and you’ve never tried to do a project together, there may be no contention but the moment you want to achieve a goal, I can guarantee that someone will not agree with something and that is okay. What is not okay is the inability to agree and move on with the goal or vision.

As long as humans staff ministry, people will come and go due to offense or opportunity. Even Paul who selected the disciples departed (vs. 9) but the work of God continued. Maya Angelou, a renowned poet said, “I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me”. Arriving and departing is part of life but look around you, who are we missing? Why are they not here, have we reached out to them? As we do so, we must keep our eyes on the goal which is Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

I learned a lot about bees from my Mum. She raised them and harvested their honey. She got so drawn to bees that whenever she stumbled on a channel or online site, you couldn’t pull her away until she was done watching or browsing. She believed bees and the product therefrom was God’s gift to her and each time she accidentally found anything about bees she believed God was reminding her of her calling and career.
As sweet as the product is, bees have very complex social behaviour one of which is that they can sting and kill. Interestingly, the Africanised bees are actually called killer bees! As workers we can do that too in the way we handle our calling and career. But this negative aspect is not what we need to promote, instead we need to concentrate on bringing out the honey of our election.
Bees are amazing! There is a lot we can learn from bees. They build intricate hives, protect the hives energetically, sustain themselves with honey
and reproduce. Based on this, I’ll share with us qualities for growing a productive team:
1. Build.
Our vision is to build the Kingdom of God by bringing new believers in and helping them grow up and become like Jesus. Our mission is simple and clear; we must position ourselves to build. As we build others we must not forget to build ourselves through devotion and obedience to God.
2. Protect.
We must guard one another and our local church. One of the best ways to do that is to let “no unwholesome word come from your mouth.” Undermining others in the church brings harm to God’s Kingdom and Jesus’ Bride, His church. More people leave the church because someone said something hurtful to them. As workers, we can protect this family God has called us into.

3. Provide.
Like bees, we must sustain ourselves from our labour. How productive have we been as a church? I mean physically by reaching more people, financially, socially, mentally etc. Are we healthy as workers and as a church? Not handling the church’s finances right is a sure way to lose not only money but people as well. Lack of funds mean lack of ministry; my people say “owo ni keke ihinrere, money is the vehicle of evangelism”. We must generate a culture of giving and generosity in our church so the church has sufficient funding to fuel the mission/vision.

4. Reproduce.
“Be fruitful and multiply.” That was God’s first command to mankind. The attitude of multiplication is non-negotiable. Every worker has to know and learn the skill of replacing themselves, and that conviction has to run throughout the team to the church as a whole. You are not a successful leader, if you haven’t raised someone who can take your place. When ministers and workers are sent to birth parishes, they are given just a handful of people with whom they are expected to multiply. How far has your department grown since you took over as leader or since you joined? If we fail to reproduce, we will die. The day we stop using phones and computers, Steve Jobs dies. But even if he didn’t have children, as long as we use software, his name lives.

Prayer Points:
1.              Thank God for qualifying you. It is not the title - leader, HOD, worker, minister, deacon or pastor that qualifies you, it is God. Thank God for calling and qualifying you!
2.                Let us pray that every minister and worker will yield to The Trinity and go, teach, baptise and observe all God commanded as directed in Matthew 28:19-20
3.              1st Corinthians 9:27b say, “lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Pray that God will position you to be built as you build others, to grow as you grow others.
4.              I went to observe a teen talk event at an Assemblies of God Church in Teaneck. During the talk, the guest speaker in trying to act an analogy and having run out of female volunteers called out two teen boys to illustrate a couple. Immediately a female leader jumped up and said ‘No”, she instead volunteered to be the teen boy’s girlfriend. Why? She was protecting the children from subtle evil indoctrination. Let us pray that God will position us as shepherds to protect his sheep.
5.              During a prayer meeting at the Women In Ministry conference and also at a prayer meeting for the Women Zonal Retreat Committee, a prayer point was raised, Lord make me a financier. Let us pray that God will provide for us to fuel the mission and vision he has committed into our hands.
6.              Be fruitful and multiply was a command. We obey when we have replicated our kind. This extends beyond biological reproduction to include mentoring, nurturing and growing others to carry on the great commission. Pray that God will fulfill the command through you.
7.              Finally let us pray for today’s service; that others will see Jesus in us as we – workers, ministers, pastors – serve in our various calling and that God being glorified in our service will return the seed to us as manifold blessings

Mrs. Omolola Omoteso-Famuyiwa is a minister who is passionate about sharing God's words for the healing of others.
This was shared during the Workers Prayer Meeting on 11.05.14 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Looking Unto Jesus

Hebrews 12:2 (KJV)
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I will use the 5Ws and H – Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

Who are we looking unto? 
Jesus - Jesus the representative of the Trinity. The Creator. The Saviour. Our Redeemer. The Resurrection and the Life. He has the power to save and has saved. He forgives sin. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith

What is the essence of looking unto Jesus?
Psalm 34:5 (KJV) They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

We look unto him for life, for wholeness and to take our shame and reproach away

Where can you look up to him?

You cannot afford to be ashamed of him. Do you discuss Jesus freely and have an intimate relationship with him? For some they look unto Jesus on Sundays, for others they can only worship him privately but not in public; they are secret lovers.

When can you look unto Jesus?
To know when we must answer the question of readiness. Are you ready – for breakthrough, for total trust, for promotion, for fruitfulness…

Boaz did not appear to be ready, Joseph did not prepare, Moses lack of prep made him spend extra 40 years learning what he should have learned.

For me it is now and everyday. For ou it may be next week, when you need your mortgage paid. Or next month when you need to travel and don’t want your airline to eb another Malaysian airline. Brethren life is short, death is sure, sin the cause and Christ the cure; so I enjoin that you look unto Jesus permanently

Why do we need to look unto Jesus?
He is the foundation of our faith. He went first by enduring the cross and despising the shame; and he ran perfectly the race that was set before Him. He is our redemption. He is the perfect model for faith. He trusted his Father from beginning to end in his earthly race. And he is the giver and sustainer of our faith.
Hebrews 13:21(KJV) Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.
So God can make us perfect
How do we look unto Jesus?
It is not by strength but by grace in a focused manner. In 1 Peter 4:11 Peter sank when he changed his gaze
Matthew 14 reads: 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Peter walked on the water. How? He kept his eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. As soon as he looked away he sank. But as long as Peter fixed his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water.
And so we are encouraged, commanded, implored to fix our eyes upon Jesus, lest we grow weary and lose heart. Keep him always in your sight. Focus on his power and his majesty and his glory and his holiness. Fix your eyes upon Jesus, and thereby run with perseverance the race set before you.
Sometime ago a friend said to me, you went to America for one master degree but you were focused and came back with two. I shook my head in strong affirmation. Then she added, why don’t you focus so you can get one husband! Of course I wasn’t shaking my head by the time she concluded.

We can look unto Jesus by being in sync with the Holy Spirit; this means we must be sensitive and obey God's command. Be sensitive to distraction and learn to pray in a focused manner. Wear what the Spirit says to wear, go where the Spirit leads and do what the Spirit directs even if it appears stupid. But be sure what you are interacting with is the Holy Spirit. You must know your calling. you learn to pray in a focused manner

Prayer Points:

1. Thank God
2. Lord help me look unto you in humility
3. Help me accept your will
4. Help me yield to your love
5. Help me to know you – that I may know you
6. Help me to believe in you– whosoever believeth in
7. Help me to accept you – stay and knock
8. Help me to trust – If you say it
9. Help me to fix my gaze on you and not be deterred by challenge
10. Thank God

Mrs. Omolola Omoteso-Famuyiwa is a minister who is passionate about sharing God's words for the healing of others. This was shared on 04.04.14 during the RCCG The King’s Court vigil.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Called to Serve?

Are you called to serve? Do you interact with others who have been so called? This is to those, especially mature singles, who have been called to serve in God's vineyard. I herein share my experience and concerns in the area of my personal life as a minister.

Most ministers in church (including resident pastors) now combine work in the ministry with secular jobs. This has becoming more and more challenging especially when ministers are expected to serve in full capacity (attend all services, carry out delegated responsibilities, serve members, attend church retreats and conferences and meet target in the area of remittance to the headquarter church and church planting).

Since ministries are built on trust, which are embedded in the ministers, who are called to shepherd and educate congregants, four core qualities are expected in all areas of a minister’s life – integrity, discipline, selflessness and humility. I usually tell those I minister to that Christians have one life, as opposed to a Church or Christian life and secular life; so your lifestyle (in and out of church) should model Jesus Christ. To model Jesus Christ while rendering service to the body of Christ, you must continue to seek knowledge in your ministerial and professional engagement. This will position you to guide the parishioners better.

One noticeable quality in those Jesus Christ called to be his disciple is diligence, whether as lawyer, physician or fisherman. While I was studying to obtain my master degrees, I rejected the pull to start a parish of our assembly in my school community. Not only was this pull not backed up by my spiritual conviction, I knew that studying at the time would strengthen my call and would enable me reach out to others. I was able to minister to young people and adults across the Athens-Ohio community via outreach programmes and initiatives by other churches and Christian organisations. I kept up with on-goings in my home church (RCCG Treasure Field Church) and returned to it after my study abroad.

One challenge for me as a minister is the need to differentiate between the church culture and pop culture. That the assembly resurrected hymns as part of worship was something that made me very happy especially at a time when the world was beginning to blur faith lines as hymns gave way to loud “youthful” heavy metal music (I minister in a teen/youth church).

The blurry borderline also affect dressing. While other ministers turn a blind eye to the dressing, especially of boarding schools that made our church their home church, I made it my responsibility to call individuals aside, commend something about them before going on to speak about what is inappropriate as far as their dressing is concerned. I would always add that Christians are expected to lead one life just so they do not take it that whatever is not allowed in church is allowed outside the church.

I have continued to model Christ by being timely, planning relevant programmes while maintaining the stipulated doctrine of the church and relating to colleagues and parishioners respectfully.

With my personal funds, I tend to go by the leading of the Spirit. I may be low on cash and sense that God is leading me to bless a pastor with an offering; I go ahead and do it despite my need. But I pull back from being involved with church income and expenditure. Though I am the longest serving minister, I allow the pastor in charge to manage how money is spent and on what. Though this may mean not holding the pastor accountable but it has saved me a lot of stress, as I am able to concentrate on counselling and follow-up, which is my assigned department.

I went the extra mile to formally train all the young people who work with me in the department in the ethics and skill of counselling and follow-up and the importance, skill and types of prayers. I ensure I counsel no less than 5 young people each time I am in church and lead members of my team to counsel as well. We meet regularly to pray, study the Bible, refresh and eat together.

When we visit Church members, we plan ahead to spend a limited time, we accept only water or soft drinks as hospitality from them to avoid spending too much time or rejecting a meal based on its presentation, we share briefly and pray.

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is a pointer to the fact that my calling is to serve God and others, be a good steward of His gifts and talents and be profitable to Jesus. John 15 has become my companion as I look up to the True Vine and maintain my relationship to ensure that I am fruitful and appreciated on the day of reckoning (judgement). 

At work and in social circles, I do not have a challenge in the area of maintaining my lifestyle as a Christian since the fact that I am a minister is not hidden from most. While some minister cut off totally from unbelieving friends, I relate with them in social (alumni groups, para-military society etc.) and professional circles (charity organisation, media and public relation groups) and model my conversations, dressing etc. as a living Bible they can read. 

It is sad to read that among all born again Christians, the divorce figure is 32%, which is statistically identical to the 33% among non-born again adults, as noted by the Barna Group’s study. This is largely due to the fact that most Christians leave the issue of marriage only to the will of God and compatibility without preparing adequately for the challenges that may be inherent in God’s will. Before facing the cross, Jesus knowing what was to befall him, with his trusted aides, to pray.

Until recently, I have carried out my role as a minister as an unmarried person; I was shocked by the level of discrimination single ministers face even within the Church. While I counselled at length about the need for singles to focus on their purpose in life, the will of God and prepare for their role in marriage, now that I am married, I realise that the preparation and required skill need to be directed by God. For example, the need for communication with my spouse went beyond what I envisaged while we were courting especially with my husband being a quiet person who is much older. Only in marriage did I start to truly learn what it means to communicate in love. Though I introduced praying together on the telephone, as part of preparation for the wedding, praying together as a couple did not come easy. After we started praying together, I realised things that I would never have thought would be issues; my style, duration, order of worship and prayer was totally different! I usually got out of bed, sang praises, worship in my native language, read the devotional and Bible and pray on prayer points. My husband’s style was just to read the devotional while sitting on the bed (which means his back was turned to me whether I am in or out of bed) and pray a very short prayer. He later explained that his drive time to work (45 minutes or more) was spent praying and part of his lunch break was spent on reading the e-Bible. Having lived in the USA for over 20 years, he would neither pray in the native language nor respond properly when I do. 

Due to his health and nature of his job, all he wanted to do in the morning was rush off to work and at night rush in to bed to catch a much needed rest! So there was minimal or zero communication on most days. With communication being a challenge and quiet time not fulfilling my need for fellowship and not having a car to enable me join the local assembly regularly, I got to the very brink of despair. 

Here was I, a relationship coach and counsellor, with all the skills I have and have blessed others with; in a challenging meltdown which became more than I could bear until I decided to adopt contentment (which the Bible called great gain) and total dependence on God. I would usually say, if God led me to this, He will walk me through it all. With prayers, I was gradually able to introduce praises, reading of the Bible and devotional and praying daily. I have also succeeded in including Bible reading from my native language Bible on Saturdays. I intend to move two of the dining chairs to the bedroom with a small table to ensure we can sit and look into each other’s eyes while having our quiet time. 

I prayerfully located a local church; though it is not my original denomination, the Word of God is being shared and my need for fellowship is adequately fulfilled. I have identified areas I need to work on so that I can fulfill my calling as a wife. I have continued to look out for retreat opportunities to help bridge the age gap and counselling gap which was created because we were in a long distance relationship and my husband could not attend counselling with me. 

Now I have recognised firsthand some of the reasons behind the growing percentage of divorce and I can truly say that the need to strengthen the marriage of the minister cannot be over emphasised. It is indeed for a reason that God instructed us to, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3). 

I recently was able to counsel a friend to look less at the minuses in her fiancĂ© and look more for and appreciate positive values in him. Within a short space of time after I counselled her and she began to appreciate him, the journey to the altar has become closer than she imagined. At times the positive values are taken for granted in Christian relationships and marriages because we expect our partner/spouse to be nothing but Christians forgetting that men and women are humans conceived in sin.  

While my health is less of a challenge, my husband’s health has become a huge challenge which has coloured everything from communication, to sexual interaction, to finance etc. But with God, things have become more manageable and we are both leading healthier lives. I try to eat well, drink water adequately, watch my weight by watching my diet and do bi-annual dental check-ups. Exercising has been a challenge since I work from home but I have added it to my routine. I am also yet to sign up for health insurance but I have taken all immunizations up to date and I ensure I fast regularly as a form of spiritual rebirth and to help my organs rest. Vacation or what I call a time of withdrawal (as laid down by Jesus) has been a part of my life even as a single minister; it is always refreshing to withdraw to the mountain to pray or visit tourist places or go on vacation abroad. The challenge however is in planning this regularly with my spouse. But plugging a vacation into our wedding anniversary has worked well and become a tradition. 

My personal life has continued to glorify God as I am guided by his knowledge and grace.

Mrs. Omolola Omoteso-Famuyiwa is a minister who is passionate about sharing God's words for the healing of others. Called to serve? dated 06.18.12 was written as a term paper for Omolola's doctoral degree.