Reverend Phyllis Ochilo was in her element as she urged the church leaders across the East African region to stand firm like a rock whose value is unparalleled.
During the second day of the church leaders workshop in CORAT – Christians Organisation Research and Advisory Trust of Africa – centre, she reiterated the need for the church to understand how powerful the rock was and in that regard decipher its real purpose and how the church can fulfill the gospel.
The Reverend stated that the church for a long time has suffered from an image problem. “Perhaps the church has low self esteem. We see it every other day when we conduct funerals in Kenya, or even during church services. The services in most occasions are turned to platforms for political rallies by the politicians.”
These instances have made the church to be viewed as insignificant. She states that somehow Christians attending the services are caught up in the sycophancy and accept the politicking at the pulpit as a non-issue. She is saddened by the fact that the political elites take over the microphones and the real intent of church which is to preach the gospel is forgotten. “Have we forgotten the transforming power of the word of God? As church leaders we even shrink and don’t preach the word. We sit and listen to the politicking. Do we know the power of Jesus Christ, the power to turn the world upside down?” she pondered.
As an unstoppable church, the leaders were urged to understand what the church was and its purpose on earth. That their calling was to become disciples of Christ and true discipleship meant that they become compassionate and ensure that they emulate Jesus Christ and his works.
“After the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence, the term Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) became a household name that was used to referr to Kenyans displaced. In the reading we see Jesus telling Peter that He wants to take the community of brokenness, of Internally Displaced People. We are internally displaced because our souls are lost until we find God. Jesus wants to resettle us on a rock,” stated the Reverend.
Reverend Phyllis states that she was very fascinated by the rock and she decided to call a geologist from the University of Nairobi in her bid to seek answers on the rock. She says she normally takes time to research and ask questions in a fact finding mission as she prepares for her sermons this she says enables her find appropriate answers to the many questions she may have had.
She ponders why God chose the rock and not sand. The geologist informed her that the rock is essential in life as it is the meeting place for all minerals and all the living organisms need minerals to maintain their proper nutrition. Without the rock, diseases and death would be an everyday occurrence. She continues to state that when the rock breaks down it becomes soil, which is the basis for all human existence.
The importance of soil is to develop plants, and this plays an important role in the global nutrient cycle. Soils also regulate the water distribution in the world as well as the atmospheric systems.
“After my conversation with the expert in the university, I feel like I have a Phd in the study of rocks. When Jesus said He would take the broken community and build it on a rock, he simply meant that he would build us on the very sustenance of life. Why should you feel small and be subservient to politicians and other people when you are built on the sustenance of life?” She pondered.
“Jesus challenged us to be his disciples and in order for us to follow him and become unstoppable, we have to be willing to die. The dying of self as he put it, was to carry the cross and follow him. God came into the world, in human flesh to serve, to love and to die.” She stated.
The Reverend noted that there was a lot of cultural significance attached to death but the leaders needed to understand that after death, there is new life. “I had a friend who had recurring headaches and when she went to see the doctor she was told that she had an eye problem. She disputed noting that in her geaneology, even her 80 year old mum could still see properly. But after seeing an optician, she was given spectacles and what she was breath – taking. She said that when she wore the spectacles, for the first time, she saw the world of color, she understood that she had been married to a handsome husband,” she stated.
She urged the church leaders, to wear spectacles that will allow them to see what’s going on around them and to allow themselves to experience death so that they can experience the refreshing new life and understand the gospel in depth. As God’s people were not born to be superficial.
She states that the trouble with Christians is perusing through the bible without understanding its deeper meaning. That it was a high time everyone thought about affirming dignity and sanctity of each individual and everyone we come into contact with and rather than seeing other people in line of their ethnic backgrounds, tribalism and racism which is embedded in the institutions, we should look at them as God’s people.
That it was time for the church leaders to be examples and rather than surrounding themselves with “their people” and hiding in their tribal cocoons in the disguise that they are the only ones they can trust, they need to be the change and call out evil by it’s name.
“When I was working in the USA, I was at a conference on developmental works, and a woman grabbed the microphone and stated that she was happy to see very many women in the room as the field of development had been male dominated for a long time. I was disappointed as she had a narrow vision. I had an issue with her because she recognised there were many women and did not mind to check or rather notice that I was the only black woman in the room. We all need to arise and stop thinking narrowly and surrounding ourselves with “our people”.
She states that people cannot afford to have small visions since the God we serve is a big God. The way people take positions in politics and matters of religion, demonstrates the love we have for God.
“In order for us to be the church God wants to give us a radical name, when you look into the mirror you won’t be able to identify yourself as you will see yourself through the lens of God and also see others through the same lens. We need to become witnesses for love and mercy. We can never be whole until they are complete,” stated the Reverend.
By: Fiona Imbali OAIC Communications