The Church has been dared to be an unstoppable force in society in order to bring the desired change in the various communities.
Reverend Phyllis Byrd Ochilo, the Director of Just Communities at the OAIC says that church leaders need to be Shepherds and ensure that the church becomes relevant in the society and this can only done if they dared to become unstoppable.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John theBaptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The Reverend who was giving the days devotion at a workshop in CORAT centre in Karen, recalled how 2 years back there was a volcanic eruption in Ice land that nearly brought everything to a standstill. She narrated how she was caught up in all the chaos as she was on her way back from the USA. She was stuck in Amsterdam as the ash cloud hit the world hard and many events stalled. Many flights were cancelled as the dust blurred the visibility.
“I remember we were stopped in the middle of nowhere and we had to look for other means of transport. I was with my 9 year old daughter Atieno and we had very many bags and I recall carrying 6 bags and yet still I had to ensure that my small daughter was well. We were in France, stranded and we had to stand in a line from 9:00 to 3:00 in order to get a bus that would take us to Amsterdam and eventually get a flight to Kenya. We spent the night in Amsterdam and we were able to get a flight the next day. When we reached Kenya I kissed the ground and vowed that I would not leave the country again unless I could drive,” narrated the Reverend.
The Reverend states that the volcanic eruption was unstoppable. The effects of the eruption was so severe that people the world over were hard hit in various ways. The petrol prices went up, the lack of refrigeration facilities in Ghana lead to loss of billions of money because they could not export their pineapples in Europe. Kenya’s casual labourers lost their jobs because the flowers could not be imported. The USA lost billions of dollars a day and various other countries also lost tremendously and that just goes to show how powerful the volcanic eruption was.
The Reverend recalls calling experts that included Geologists from the University of Nairobi to ask what could possibly be done to stop the eruption and the experts said that they could only predict such occurrences and even with all the technology and resources available, nothing could be done as it was an act of God.
Reverend Phyllis who was addressing 60 Church leaders from different denominations from Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, Monday morning at the Christians Organisation Research and Advisory Trust of Africa (CORAT) centre urged them to be the unstoppable force, just like the volcanic eruption in order to bring the desired change. She stated that her wish was one day, the church would be described and seen as unstoppable.
“I hope that when we speak on behalf of the people in governments, that the government would shiver and recognize that we are unstoppable. That we should not allow people to bribe us with large parcels of land, give us cars, that by allowing them to attend the fund raising and giving us large donations, we shall keep quiet. We should instead be an unbwogable church- shujaa church – ,” she urged.
She says that the unstoppable church called by God, just like the gospel, “God says I will build a congregation on the rock and the powers of hell cannot conquer it.” That Peter’s confession on that day, became the foundation of all believers. All should know that it is because of Peter’s faith in Jesus that he is able to say that I will build the church. Jesus refers to the church as His own as He is the foundation. That the powers of death and the forces opposed to it will not destroy it.
“We need to be an ecclesis church. Ecclesia originating from Greek’s ECC which means – out – while LESIA means – loud – . Ecclesia means called out loud. Jesus called us out loudly and that each one of has a purpose and the bible states that it is a clear purpose which is to be Jesus’ disciples. Jesus said that whoever wants to be His disciple should follow Him. He was the epiphany of God, the revelation of God, as He revealed the embodiment of the teaching of God,” she stated.
For one to be Jesus’ disciple, there was need for one to be compassionate, and for the Church to be unstoppable, there was need for Christians to live lives of compassion and be able to make a difference. She stated that compassion is a persistent trait, just like the karate skill, one is required to make persistent constant movements, it becomes part and parcel of someone. Not because someone tells us to, but automatically knowing that there is a problem, and there is need to move in and alleviate the problem. “It is the emptying of cells and filling them with God. This encompasses among others things, to be able to value people, developing their dignity throughout life, and always being dependent on God.”
The Reverend reiterated the need to build the foundation of Christianity as an alternative community with an alternative vision and values. A new community built on a rock and one that is an embodiment of Christ.
“We need to be in the world but not of the world and grounded in God. Our lives should become a channel of God, to challenge the world, to give the church a challenge, confidence and hope”. “When the larva of the earthquake boils over and spills out, when the wind blows, no scientific technology can stop that, it is unstoppable. When the earthquake opens in Rift valley, there is nothing that can hold it together, it is unstoppable. When we are called to be the church, we are called out loud, we too become an unstoppable force, transformed by God, through the Holy spirit,” stated the Reverend.
As a church being transformed does not mean that the men of the cloth are better than the rest, nor by carrying bibles every day claiming to be saved does it make them better Christians than the rest, but rather the church leaders ought to lead by example and give the world a new vision, to run the world upside down and begin to address the issues of injustice. The need to call out sin and address it as Jesus did when he called it out by name.
The church leaders are meeting to strategize on how to improve on advocacy skills in their churches across East Africa.
“Jesus built an unstoppable church which cannot be destroyed. I dare us to be an unstoppable church.”
By: Fiona Imbali, OAIC Communications