MARCH 2008 CONTENTS 12
The Young Man on Calvary’s Cross
Mondays with Pastor Agu
Pastor Agu in Jesus House Baltimore
Mother: A Woman of Influence
Celebrating Mother’s Day
BANT: Effective Church Membership
777: The Final Destination
In Profile: Abiola Obileye
Are We All Guilty?
Tears and Cavities by Joseph Amaeze
by ‘Lanre Iroche
by Chichi Wodu
by Omotayo Abereoje
by Pastor Funke Adeaga
by Chichi Wodu and Gillian King
by Bambo Akani
by Adanna Bankole
by ‘Lanre Iroche
REGULAR SECTIONS In The Crucible
Stories @ Jesus House
Pressing Forward together in Prayer
elcome to our special bumper edition of Outflow. This is a busy month isn’t it, March? There’s so much going on…from Mother’s day to Easter, and several significant days in between. This year’s Festival of Life in particular is one occasion happening this March that has me all excited. The theme this year is, ‘Behold, I will do a New Thing’. I’m sure that after participating in the fast for the entire month of February, a lot of us are very eager to experience the newness in our lives that God is certain to bring. I personally am ever expectant, as I’m sure most of us are. Easter is here again, and for many, it is an opportunity to indulge in the longest weekend of the year, and to bust out the eggs and bunnies. All totally legitimate activities I must add - I personally have nothing whatsoever against chocolate or rabbits, and I certainly enjoy having an extra 2 days on which I don’t have to go to work. That said though, Easter hasn’t been about that for me for some years now. Increasingly, I am finding a positive correlation between the level of depth I achieve in my journey as a born again Christian, and the meaning that Easter holds for me. I imagine what the alternative would be. A world where Jesus didn’t come, didn’t die for our sins, didn’t rise from the dead, destroying the power of sin and death in his wake, and bringing redemption to all who will take it by grace and faith. Imagine the alternative. Imagine having to obtain your salvation by works, as under the old covenant. Imagine having to resort to the blood of bulls and rams to gain atonement for your sins? Really and truly, I shudder, and for all these reasons, I’m ever so thankful to Him. The truth is, most of us wouldn’t make it under the old dispensation, and I thank God for bringing the new and living way, the way of faith, whereby we live, where we should have died, and we’re victorious where we should be condemned. Thus this season is rife with opportunity – to share the essence of this victorious life with those around us. It’s the only assignment that our Lord has charged us with. A lot of us wonder how we can become more effective harbingers of God’s kingdom on earth, especially as the contemporary times we live in don’t seem to allow us much time or scope to adopt a ‘John the Baptist’ approach to evangelism. The question often is, how do I make a considerable impact? One way is to get more involved with the work being done in this very house. Our ‘Building a New Tabernacle’ feature this month focuses on effective church membership, and if ever there was a time to become an active participant in the work that God is doing through this body, now would be that time. So again, I call on a well worn catchphrase of mine, and encourage us all to ‘get involved’. It’s a big issue we have for you this month, at least 8 pages bigger than usual, so there’s a lot to get into, but before I sign off, I would like to on behalf of the entire Outflow team, join the church, and indeed the entire country to wish all our wonderful Mothers a wonderful Mother’s day. We love you, very very much. Temitope
by Kemi Olutunbi
Esthers Community Page
Your Health and You
Coping with Stress and Fatigue by Tina Edgal
The Voice of One
by John Zach
Reviews, March Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries
Cover image and background image for In The Crucible by asikofoto
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Pastor Agu Irukwu SUPERVISING EDITOR Pastor Shola Adeaga EDITORIAL TEAM ’Lanre Iroche (Editor), Temitope Omojuwa (Managing Editor), Adanna Bankole (Social Affairs),
Bukky Olawoyin (Resource/Advertising), Gillian King (Stories@Jesus House), Chichi Wodu (Profiles), Yemi Folayan (News), Joseph Onwuchekwa (Features) Bambo Akani, Olamide Shofolu ART DIRECTION Tolu Shofule PHOTOGRAPHY Folashade Olutobi (flashade) CONTRIBUTORS Pastor Funke Adeaga, Pastor Chizor Akisanya, Kemi Olutunbi, Tina Edgal, John Zach, ‘Detola Phillips, Tokunbo Odunlami, Abiola Obileye, Omotayo Abereoje LAYOUT/DESIGN Imaginovation 07956 497 376, simplysumfink 07957 964 527 PRINTING Alpha Colourprint 020 7231 5454 (www.alphacolourprint.co.uk)
OUTFLOW MARCH 2008 Jesus House, 112 Brent Terrace, Brent Cross, London NW2 1LT, Tel: 020 8438 8285 Fax: 020 8438 8286 E-mail: email@example.com OUTFLOW is published by Jesus House. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.
In The Crucible with Pastor Agu
he danger of a church losing its spirituality can be seen clearly by the large number of church buildings that are empty or up for sale, the decline in church attendance in some church quarters, and sadly, church services that have no life in them, as well as the lack of relevance that some parts of the church have in relation to their community. The DNA of the church is that it is a spiritual entity; the body of Christ - that is the church - is God’s weapon to stand against the kingdom of darkness in the spirit realm with clear results here in the natural The bible reminds us of God’s intent for the church, in the book of 2nd Chronicles 7:14 (NIV) which states that: :”If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”. This is a clear indication that a church (or people) who are spiritual (connected to God and led by God), become an effective tool in His hands. The most obvious way therefore to render the church ineffective would be to take its spirituality away from it. It would then be at best an excellent natural organisation but would lack the supernatural power that is necessary for the transformation of souls. It is against this backdrop that any decline in the spiritual barometer of a church must be viewed with great concern. Since the church is not a building but as the Greek word for church “ecclesia” would suggest - is the “people”; it becomes absolutely important to ensure that the people are more focused on the spiritual than on the natural. In this regard, our relationship with God is of course foundational for it is this connection that gives us sustenance and an insight into the spiritual realm. One must admit that we really do not help ourselves in this regard. A cursory look at most of our Christian channels would tell you that the kinds of messages that are preached have such a strong focus on the material, and here and now, with scant regard for the spiritual or eternal. Whilst there is nothing wrong with material things and in fact I believe that they play their part in our lives, the challenge is when most of our lives are dedicated to the acquisition of these things. The result is ironically a lack of fulfilment as these never really fulfil. In fact, not just is there a lack of fulfilment, but a slow spiritual death. Each person then needs to watch their spiritual life or as we have said - their spiritual barometer, and know when it is getting to dangerous levels in order to take necessary actions to move back up the scale.
Rebuilding Spiritual Foundations
Here is a checklist of 7 symptoms of decline in a person’s spirituality: (1) Prayerlessness, (2) A neglect of the Word of God i.e. the study of the Bible, (3) Increasing acceptance and accommodation of sin, (4) Feeling overwhelmed by the issues of life, (5) A paralysis - being unable to take necessary steps to arrest the situation, (6) A tired and weary spirit, (7) Lack of zeal and passion for the things of God. Do check yourselves against this list to determine where you are. I will leave you with this scripture as food for thought. Ephesians 3:10 (AMP) says: “[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated many sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere”. It is time to rebuild our spiritual foundations.
OUTFLOW FEBRUARY OUTFLOW MARCH2008 2008
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
Stories @ Jesus House
The Jesus House Workers’ Awards Ball
t was clear that the 2008 awards season was well and truly underway, with the BAFTA’s, Grammy’s, Brits, Oscars…and the Jesus House Workers’ Awards Ball! Not to be outdone by its celebrity counterparts, the 2008 instalment of the Ball, on the 2nd of February, was an evening of glamour, elegance, celebration and panache designed to reward and acclaim the church’s 500-strong workforce, who volunteer their time, skills and talents to the service of this outstanding ministry. Few know that most members of the music ministry arrive at church by 7.30am on a Sunday, sing or play for all three daytime services and then minister in the evening service at 6 pm as well, and fewer are aware that members of the prayer department are incessantly interceding for all of the services while we enjoy the powerful worship and teaching. What about the volunteer workers from the evangelism team who have faithfully served in the Prison Ministry every Sunday (even if when falls on Christmas Day)? ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...’ (Mark 10:45). When Pastor Agu announced the ball and the black tie dress code, the anticipation heightened and the preparations began; this was surely an event that could not be missed. No expense was spared on the night and the workforce was literally given the ‘red-carpet’ treatment. Upon arrival at the Jesus House Centre, the guests were ushered down the carpet as the sparkling flashes of our very own in house paparazzi OUTFLOW
MARCH 2008 FEBRUARY 2008
Flashade, Kush and Ade Okelarin) blinked away. A personal welcome from Pastor Shola Adeaga greeted you at the end of the carpet and by this stage you knew you were in for a very special evening indeed. Hollywood had certainly come to Cricklewood! Grabbing a cocktail from the professional bar you were ushered into the worship centre, which was transformed beyond recognition – the feather décor adorning the dining tables was reminiscent of the flapper dresses of the 1930’s art-deco period. Mellow tones poured from the live jazz band, which rendered popular worship songs that rhapsodised the crowd. And as the hall filled with guests, smiles abounded as friends greeted and complimented one other on the ravishing array of outfits. As people took to their seats, a delectable three-course meal was served – the experience rivalled any famous restaurant dinning experience. The event was organised by an in-house committee who had worked relentlessly in the run-up to the big evening. All who attended were impressed; a member of the music ministry recounted her experience by saying, “On arriving at the door, seeing everyone all dressed up and the red carpet rolled out, I knew this was going to be a treat. Walking into the auditorium and seeing the decor confirmed that. Even the guest and table lists [were] impressive. The whole ambiance was great. It felt like a real night out” The theme of the evening was ‘Stars in His Eyes’ – a fitting title, Pastor Agu said, as
he believed that the individuals making up the workforce were ‘stars’ in the eyes of God. The evening saw many deserving members of the workforce rewarded in several categories, such as Best Worker for each functional department (i.e. the departments that function every Sunday), Best Overall Worker and Best Department. As the awards were given out – and many of the recipients were genuinely surprised when their names were announced – the paparazzi fired away with abandon. Unfortunately there were no Halle Berry-type acceptance speeches! A very special award, called the Kingdom Award, was given to the late Pastor Ify Irukwu and was received by her daughter Noni (as she is affectionately known) – the award was given for the person who has given his/her life for the Kingdom. With our appetites satiated and the workers celebrated, there was only one item left on the agenda, to hit the dance floor!! Our very own J Blox (Kanene Dieobi) entertained the crowd until the early hours of the morning, and the people danced... and danced...and danced. Who said Christians didn’t have fun? The event was truly a success and a fitting celebration of those who have chosen to serve, and the feedback from the evening was unanimous: “I enjoyed everything; I mean everything about the evening. This is no exaggeration or attempt to flatter. The food was delicious, the officiating superb, [and] what can I say
about the music? Just sweet! It was an evening that my wife and I really looked forward to.” “I felt the evening was amazing. I loved the vibe, the atmosphere [which was] warm and extremely comfortable.” “I honestly enjoyed everything about the evening, but what I enjoyed the most was dancing non-stop... the music was good and everyone literally let their hair down and danced into the morning.” What does it take to be a ‘Star Worker’? Outflow asked a selection of the winners what the secret to their success was: Prince Ademola Sobogun, Best Worker, Prayer Department: “[My] three tips are better unwrapped from the words of Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:5-8: humility and submission to constituted authority; being like Jesus (Colossians 2:6-7); obedience (Colossians 3: 22-24)” Damola Akingbade, Best Worker, Stage & Lighting (Multimeda): “(1) Find an area or ministry you’re passionate about, (2) Learn as much as you can to become close to [being] an authority in your area of interest, and (3) Diligently & consistently apply yourself to whatever you’re responsible for.’ Afi Umo, Evangelism: (1) Staying in the place of prayer, (2) Reading the word and (3) Discipline. Hassan Sulaiman, Vision: “(1) Serve from the heart, (2) Do your very best, (3) Humble yourself - especially when it is most difficult!” Omotoye Akisanya, Music Ministry: “I don’t think commitment is necessarily about being there all the time doing everything. It’s about doing what you do with your whole heart when you do it. And also, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s about Jesus. What you give or don’t give, what you hold back or release, it’s ultimately Him that we’re accountable to. That helps to put sacrifice in perspective. And finally be genuine. Don’t do what you do in the hope that someone will pat you on the back. It never works!’ List of Awards Best Workers Facilities Department: Ndidi Osemenam Finance Department: Sola Porbeni French Church: Fatmata Akpokiniovo Front of House: Nike Akinniranye Hospitality: Lolu Akingbe Kidz First: Kwabena Asare Sound Engineering: Seni Ramos Visual Projection: Ozichi Chilaka TV Ministry: Abimbola Mainoo Stage & Lighting: Akindamola Akingbade Pages Bookshop: Annette Ogunnusi Prayer Department: Prince Adebowale Sobogun Protocol Department: Tade Olajitan Teaching Department: Kola Babayemi The Brook: Oladapo Rufai Music Ministry: Omotoye Akisanya Ushering Department: John Okuonghae Word Mill: Okey Nkere Vision: Hassan Sulaiman Outreach Department: Augustina Badu Evangelism Department: Affiong Umo Follow Up: Anne Nwakeze Prison Ministry: Wale Opaniran The Cornerstone Award: Prayer Team Most Changed Life: Adelekan Aderemi Best Overall Worker: = Dapo Badejo & Ayo Adedoyin Most Committed Worker: Sunmade Ejiwunmi The Kingdom Award: Pastor Ifeyinwa Irukwu Best Head of Department 2007: Abies Omoregie Department of the Year 2007: Kidz First
OUTFLOW OUTFLOW FEBRUARY MARCH2008 2008
Stories @ Jesus House
MARCH 2008 FEBRUARY 2008
An Audience with Pastor Agu BY Tokunbo Odunlami
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
n the 23rd of February Jesus House held ‘An Audience with Pastor Agu’, with over 300 guests, comprising of young adults at Jesus House and beyond, in attendance. The night was organised by the new young adult’s ministry ‘ReConnect’ and put together to give the young adults a chance to get to know their pastor in a different way, to search deeper and get their questions about the issues they face on a daily basis answered. The night started at 7pm with an influx of guests, who were welcomed into the foyer by the ReConnect team. The foyer had been transformed into a jazz lounge with dimmed lights and soft sofas arranged in small clusters, giving the place a nice, relaxing but vibrant feel to it. As the band played away in the corner, cocktails and canapés were being served to the arriving guests. There were people everywhere, all chatting away cheerfully; it was obvious that people were pleasantly surprised at the new look of the foyer. A few guests were asked what their impressions were; here are a few comments that were made: “The ambience is rich, and the event has definitely been well planned.” “It feels great to be here, the event has not started yet, but I am having a great time already.” At 8:30pm the doors of the worship centre were opened. Otty Warmann, the compere for the night, welcomed the guests and spent a few minutes engaging the crowd in order to make the session more of an interactive one. A clip called ‘the ignorable calling’ was shown, which basically touched on some of the different issues and questions everyone asks at this stage of their lives: ‘What if I take the wrong path in life?’ ‘What if I take the wrong job?’ ‘What if I marry the wrong person?’ ‘What is my calling?’ The clip finished on a positive note, saying that maybe a person’s calling in life was not about all those decisions but instead is about who they are and who they are becoming. Pastor Agu was welcomed onto the stage and Bisola Balogun, the interviewer for the night, ran the questions the guests had submitted earlier by him. When asked about who he was before he became a pastor, Pastor Agu responded that his core personality had not changed, but that he went through a cleansing process where all his old habits and addictions were flushed out by getting closer to God. He also mentioned that shortly before becoming a Christian (a decision which his late wife Pastor Ify had greatly influenced) he had reached a point were he was searching for something better, and even though he had a fantastic career in banking and lived life in the fast lane, there was still a huge void in his life. It was at this point he decided to give God his life and he developed such a passion for God that his friends and family thought he had simply gone mad. He also encouraged the crowd saying, “God will never set you on a journey without equipping you with all that is necessary to complete [it].” There was a 15 minute interlude, after which U’mau Otuokon, the guest performer, treated the audience to a dose
of her mellow and soulful acoustic sounds. As she played away on her guitar, the crowd meditated on the words of her song, ‘No more pain’, which was very apt for the occasion. During the second half of the show a couple of the event organisers – Bambo Akani and Chiamaka Ezenwa – were invited to the stage to give some background as to how ReConnect was formed. In the middle of last year, focus groups were started when it became apparent that there was a need to accommodate young adults in the church who didn’t quite fit into any of the existing ministries. The purpose of these
focus groups was to determine what the needs of these people were and how best to meet them. Following the success of JFactor, these meetings continued; a core group of people started to attend, and it was at this point that ‘ReConnect’ was birthed, culminating in Saturday’s event. The main purpose of ReConnect is to bring together young adults of like minds going through various challenges in their lives (e.g. graduating from university, choosing the right career path, building the right relationships, settling down into the early years of marriage etc.) closer to God, which means going back to the source. This was backed up by the scripture from the gospels (Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:26-28), which say “love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” and “love your neighbour as yourself.” Its mission statement reads “Know God – Know You – Make a Difference.” For to love God you have to know Him and to love your neighbour you have to love and know yourself first. Our desire is that by following these two principles that Jesus called the greatest commandments, we can make a difference in the lives of others. Interestingly, the slogan also mirrors that of the church as a whole – “In Pursuit of God, Discovering Purpose, Maximising Potential.” The audience also got the opportunity to ask Pastor Agu live questions. Direct questions, some of which were very bare and candid. Hands were up in the air enthusiastically being waved at Otty for an opportunity to get a question in, more hands than there was time for unfortunately. The questions that were aired covered the core issues that a lot of us have problems with; they ranged from pre-marital sex, tithing, new churches’ bling culture, to genuinely hearing from God. One particular question that really struck a chord with everyone was on how Pastor Agu knew late Pastor Ify was supposed to be his wife, thus leading on to how an individual determines their future partner. Pastor responded by saying that he got a conviction in his heart that she was to be his wife and the decision was not based on physical or emotional feelings but instead there was a strong conviction in his heart from God that she was to be the one. He also went on to say that people make the mistake of basing that decision on carnal feelings, which should not be the case. As those emotions will come naturally if one is walking with God, and that God is not a wicked God – He would not make you marry someone that you’re not attracted to! At about 11:30 the crowd was still gasping for more of Pastor Agu’s words of wisdom but sadly it was time for the show to come to an end. After a standing ovation from the crowd the event was brought to a close but there was still a long queue of guests that stayed behind to get some personal questions answered by Pastor Agu. Pastor Agu was commended for his honesty in sharing his own experiences and quite a number of people put their names down to get involved in future ReConnect events. Some asked for a sequel to ‘An audience with Pastor Agu’, an opportunity to ask further questions and recapture the experience, which they described as simply inspirational.
Hear our cry O Lord A Prayer Gathering for the Republic of Kenya
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
Stories @ Jesus House
n the evening of 12 February 2008 a small group of people gathered in the worship centre of Jesus House for the express purpose of praying for Kenya, a nation in East Africa that has endured a major crisis since its most recent election. The crisis – which erupted on 30 December 2007 after the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki in the elections held three days before – is especially shocking given the country’s reputation of being one of the most stable and prosperous in the region. It was sparked by the opposition leader’s claim that the elections were rigged and ethnic violence has resulted in the death of at least 1000 people and the displacement of some 300,000 more. The prayer meeting was presided over by Pastor Nick Chanda, head of the prayer department in Jesus House, and was attended by people from different churches across the borough. Pastor Nick began the session by reminding the people, as seen in Psalm 46:1, that prayer works to bring calm and resolution to crises, as God is a very present help in time of trouble. He testified to the part prayer played in bringing down the tyrannical regime of former Ugandan president, Idi Amin, after the renowned Christian leader Morris Cerullo visited the country with a prayer team. He proceeded to encourage a prayer of thanksgiving to God for His ever-present help in time of need. The prayers for forgiveness, healing and mercy (2 Chronicles 7:14) were followed by prayers for unity amongst the people of Kenya. Rosalind Ngoju, Riyies P. Tobiko and Kennan Ngar stood as symbols of three different tribes, Kikuyu, Maasai, and Luo respectively. They went to the front, held hands, knelt down and prayed for each other, signifying a unifying bond. They also forgave each other symbolically on behalf of the tribes they represented. Mary Mwatsama and Betty Njunge, symbolising President Kibaki and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, respectively, also went to the front and prayed, one after the other, for peace. Pastor Nick then prayed for restoration and healing using the two ‘leaders’ as a point of contact. He went on to say prayers for those who had lost loved ones in the conflict. He concluded by prophesying health and healing for Kenya from Jeremiah 33:6-9 and encouraged the attendees to believe God that the prophecy would come to pass, reminding them to thank God for it when it occurred. It was reported on February 28, 2008 that after talks, which involved the mediation of former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, the two sides have agreed to the terms of a coalition government which includes the creation of the post of Prime Minister. The agreement averted further unrest, as a mass street protest that had been planned failed to take place after the meeting. So, as Pastor Nick said, quoting from 2 Chronicles 20:30, “‘…have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.’”
OUTFLOW 2008 OUTFLOWFEBRUARY MARCH 2008
News Reel Anti-male service alert in US churches
Flipping the script on the call for more women in church leadership is the claim that men are not welcome in American churches. In an article written for Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox, David Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going To Church, states: “Many common worship practices are subtly tilted toward the feminine heart. Without even realizing it, we’ve created the perfect environment for sensitive women and soft-hearted men to meet with Jesus. But this worship climate tends to alienate masculine men.” To prove his point, his recites lyrics to worship songs which feminize worship: Hold me close, let your love surround me/Bring me near; draw me to your side; I’m desperate for you, I’m lost without you; Let my words be few/Jesus, I am so in love with you. This, according to Murrow, is an example of the feminization of Christian worship and it is more than a mere discussion point. According to the statistics cited by Murrow, male involvement now dwindles in American Christianity: “This is a major reason 61 percent of the adult worshippers in our churches are female. Why some 70 percent of the volunteers and midweek participants are women. Why up to 90 percent of the boys who are raised in church will abandon it by their 20th birthday, many never to return.” Even though such statistics are worrying, critics say it’s is rather presumptuous to assume that the reason for a dwindling male congregation is a result of ‘feminized’ worship. The figures can well be attributed to the lack of role models – or teaching encouraging Jesus as the ultimate role model, the negative reputation of church leaders, the absence of support groups in churches which identify with the reality of their situations rather than the ideal they should aspire to. As the debate continues on whether modern worship is becoming a turn-off to men, in contrast there is a rising devotion of men within Islam. After all, a Muslim man can kneel between airplane seats and pray at the allotted time, so perhaps there is a lesson to learn - men are more into “doing” than “feeling” religion. However, Christianity offers more than enough opportunities to do rather than feel and the debate rests upon the notion that being Christian is a 2-hour weekly affair. If men feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings to the God who created them and His Son who died for them, then what hope is there for the women in their lives? According to the Houston Chronicle, Christianity needs a resurgence of masculinity. We need men who, like the apostles, pioneers of faith, and missionaries, take tremendous steps of faith and journey boldly forward. Families need men who are led by God and in turn, lead their families - not with coercion, but by example. For this to happen, it says, churches should consider becoming a more “guy-friendly” place, encouraging accomplishment and achievement, and inviting tasks and challenges, all of which appeal to men. “And maybe a song like, ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ could be sung occasionally.” David Murrow
Archbishop in the line of fire
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has caused a furore with his comment that it “seems unavoidable” that parts of Islamic Sharia law will be adopted in the UK. He has faced calls to apologise for his comments, in which he implied adopting aspects of Sharia law was unavoidable. PM Gordon Brown praised Dr Williams’ “great integrity”. Dr Williams told clergy and laypeople at the synod - the Church’s governing body - he believed “some of what has been heard is a very long way indeed from what was actually said.” And he does not regret speaking about Sharia law, as it is right to air other religious communities’ concerns.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams
For many the idea of a religious court holding power over British citizens seems totally alien to our mainly-secular culture, according to the BBC reporter Nick Tarry. However, for centuries British Jews have been practicing a legal system similar to the Islamic Sharia law. Muslims and Jews share a lot of similarities in many of their traditions, such as food laws, burial rites and language, and this case could prove no exception. British Jews, particularly the orthodox, will frequently turn to their own religious courts, the Beth Din, to resolve civil disputes, covering issues as diverse as business and divorce. The Islamic Sharia Council in London held meetings with the Three Faiths Forum and the Federation of Synagogues to discuss how the Jewish community has developed the use of Beth Din courts, in parallel with the British legal system.
British- Nigerian graphic designer depicts moody superhero Jesus in Manga Bible
He comes to town as a stranger, a silhouetted superhero ready to save the world. He’s dark, he’s moody and he deals in miracles. He is Christ. That’s the portrait of Jesus depicted by Ajin-bayo Akinsiku, known as Siku, a 42year-old Anglican of Nigerian descent. He worked as a graphic designer and artist and recently graduated from theology school with hopes to become an Anglican minister. The Manga Bible - an abridged version of the Bible illustrated in the “manga” style, the Japanese form of comic, has earned rave reviews in the Christian community and has been endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who is quoted in the book’s blurb as saying: “It will convey the shock and freshness of the Bible in a unique way.” Speaking to The Times, Siku said: “I’m seeing him as the original Superman. That’s why he appears as he does, in silhouette and exploding into the scene in heroic poses. I am saying, ‘this is my hero, my superhero.’” The Manga Bible aims to pass on the biblical message to the 15-25 age group and has already sold 30,000 copies in Britain, becoming the best-selling manga novel in the country. It attempts to illustrate the whole Bible, from Genesis and the Old Testament to the Book of Revelation and the New Testament, in 200 pages. In recent years publishers and Christian authorities have seen the benefits of directing Bibles at niche markets in an attempt to make the “greatest story ever told” more accessible to new generations of readers. In 2005 new renderings of the Bible included a translation into text message form as well as a slim line version designed to be read in 100 minutes. The accessibility of The Manga Bible is aided by the book’s heroes who sound like street-savvy teenagers dressed in the latest Bedouin fashion. Samson falls for a girl called Delilah who asks him: “Samson babes, what’s the secret of your inhuman strength?” John the Baptist appears like a bedraggled fighter from a video game, and is described as “a lone figure emerged from the Jordanian wilderness . . . fearless and full of attitude”. Siku admits that these colloquial flourishes, such as when he described Jesus as “the
News Reel African Cup of Nations: The Bible takes centre stage
The Bible has a place everywhere… even on the football pitch. Thanks to the efforts of the Bible Society of Ghana, in partnership with local churches and Christian organisations in Ghana, spectators at the recently concluded African Cup of Nations left each of the matches with more than the thrill of having watched live entertaining football; they each got The Ultimate Goal. The theme The Ultimate Goal (TUG) is based on a passage in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (3:14): ‘I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’, and in making the most of a rarely found opportunity to introduce people to Jesus Christ, competing teams were also given copies of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren. Seizing every opportunity to place God’s Word in the people’s hands, leaflets were distributed at all four stadia where the matches were held. Young people eager to see people’s lives touched volunteered to make this happen, giving out leaflets and sharing God’s Word with spectators. In addition a collaboration between BS Ghana and gospel musicians in the country saw over 6 artistes perform live on stage to an audience of over 1,500 people, in a performance dubbed ‘The Ultimate Goal Musical Explosion’. People from all walks of life gathered at the National Theatre, one of the country’s biggest theatre venues, to praise and worship God. At the end of the programme many committed their lives to Christ and received counselling and support. In the same spirit of thanksgiving and worship, hundreds will gather at the Westminster Chapel from 6pm on the 8th of March to worship and praise God for what he’s doing in the lives of young people. The event will be hosted by Rev Nim Obonge MBE and attended by a host of church leaders like Dr Lawrence Tetteh, Rev Dick Essandoh, Pastor Kofi Banful, Pastor Alex Gyasi and many others. Worship will be led by Jesus House’ The Tribe of Judah and a host of others. Free tickets for this event are available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01793 418100 ‘badass’ that kicks everyone’s butt” has caused some problems. “I got into trouble with some Christian forums for talking like that,” he said. But the Church of England praised The Manga Bible, describing it as “brilliant and clever”. A Church spokesman said: “This will clash with some people, but it’s something many people will identify with too. The idea of Christ as a sort of superhero figure isn’t new. Think back to Jesus Christ Superstar. What’s important is that the message of the Bible is maintained.” Though young adult men are the main readers of manga, Siku claims to have heard from grandparents and young children reading his book. The novel is meant to be a starting guide for new readers of the Bible. Every few pages, a small tab refers readers to the biblical verses that the scenes cover. The novel has been criticised by some manga fans as being too wordy, because the manga style is usually cinematic. “If you are condensing the Bible into 200 pages, it will be wordy,” argues Siku. Akin and Siku As with many comic books there will be a sequel. His next project is The Manga Jesus, a 300-page novel focusing on the life of Christ. Jesus will be darker and moodier, like Christian Bale in the new Batman sequels. Every good comic book hero needs a side-kick however. The Robin role will be fulfilled by John and Peter, who will provide the humour and light relief. Siku said: “When you have a heavy character like Christ you need a side-kick who softens the tone a little bit.”
FIRST QATARI CHURCH SPARKS DEBATE
A bitter debate has broken out in the tiny, oil-rich Gulf state of Qatar over the construction of the Muslim country’s first church, set to open next month in time for Easter. Critics have branded the concept as “repulsive” while supporters said building places of worship for other religions is a right guaranteed by Islam. A former minister insisted there should have been a public referendum. “The cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha,” wrote columnist Lahdan bin Issa al-Muhanadi in the Doha daily Al-Arab - adding an apology in case the concept upset any readers in this country of 900,000, of whom only 200,000 are native Qataris. The former dean of the Sharia (Islamic law) School at Qatar University, Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, disagreed, saying having “Places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam.” Four other Christian denominations are also planning to build churches in Qatar, whose ruling family, and most of its small native population, adheres to a rigorous doctrine of Islam known as Wahhabism. Once St. Mary’s opens, neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which also practices Wahhabism, will be the only Arab nation in the Gulf that bans churches. Gas-wealthy Qatar has opened up since current ruler, and staunch US ally, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, seized control and ousted his father in a 1995 palace coup. Qatar’s leaders have even hosted Jewish rabbis and Christian clerics alongside Muslim religious scholars at annual inter-faith forums. But Ansari sees the old influence in the current opposition. He attributes it to “a fanatic culture resulting from religious teaching [stipulating] hatred for the other and from social norms that denied non-Muslims their rights on the basis of old political and security considerations that have become obsolete.” St. Mary’s parish priest, Father Tomasito Veneracion, a Filipino, stressed in comments to the daily Al-Raya that the church would be ‘merely a place for collective prayer.’ It would not have crosses outside the building or serve as a platform for proselytizing, he said, adding that it would finally provide a place of worship for those who up to now were forced to practice religious rituals at home. It would be open in time for the solemn Easter holy day, which this year falls on March 23. The Vatican website estimates about 100,000 Qatar residents are Christian. Most are Indians, Filipinos, Lebanese and Western nationals who, despite praying in private, have celebrated Christmas publicly for about a decade. For other Christians, construction of an Anglican church will begin in May, according to Qatar’s Anglican priest Canon William Schwarz. Building has already begun on a Greek Orthodox Church and another for Copts. Meanwhile the debate has spilled into the letters pages of Doha’s dailies. Engineer Rashed al-Subaie, in a letter to Al-Watan, agreed Christians should be allowed to practice their faith but should do so “in line with public morals without being given licenses to set up places of worship.” Christians should “worship their God in their homes, not publicly.” But Ansari hit back at those citing Islamic texts to justify their rejection, notably Muhanadi, who has quoted the Prophet Mohammed saying “no two religions will come together in the Arabian peninsula.” “This does not mean that churches should be banned in Qatar because [Islamic] religious scholars believe it applies to Hijaz -- specifically Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities in Saudi Arabia,” Ansari said. “Let’s all welcome the presence of churches in Qatar as a demonstration of Islamic tolerance and human brotherhood.”
& CAVITIES JOSEPH AMAEZE
sk the average man on the street what Easter means to him and you’d most likely be presented with an opinion that is far adrift of the Christian perspective. Not being courageous enough to conduct a street survey I opted instead for the man on the web and a quick trawl on Google presented almost two million web-based entries on this very topic. Unable to investigate them all I had to settle for a handful of comments that I consider to be representative of the majority. Here are a few of them: • “Most kids think Easter bunny when they think of Easter. It is supposed to be a day of religion but most people eat chocolate and hide eggs”. • “Watching the Ten Commandments while uncomfortably full” • “God’s promise that it won’t be dark forever, the rain has to stop sometime, and we all have a second-chance to mess everything up again and start new :) God Rocks!” • “As an African from Nigeria, Easter means very good “jollof rice” and goat meat! It has nothing to do with chocolates!” • “To me Easter only means higher than usual travel tickets and a few days off”. • “Instead of ‘Easter Sunday’, a more appropriate name for this holiday would be ‘Cadbury Shareholder’s Sunday’” • “It’s the only time I indulge on a expensive dress without the guilt”. • “I prefer working during the Easter holidays because the office is quiet and I get more work done (also surfing the net). The roads are also very quiet....”
“Most kids think Easter bunny when they think of Easter. It is supposed to be a day of religion but most people eat chocolate and hide eggs”
• “As an atheist, Easter has no relevance or importance to me except that there’s rather more on telly to avoid…” And finally, albeit in a totally different context from ours, Arsenal Football Club Manager, Arsene Wenger, said: “Christmas is important, but Easter is decisive!” Of the dozens of blogs, sites and pages I visited all the opinions seemed to favour one of two extremes (a) That Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, or (b) That Easter is a time to binge endlessly on chocolate bunnies and eggs. Of these two groups there are quite extreme positions. Some of the religious faithful go the extra mile and bawl their eyes out as they watch Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ while the Couldn’t Care Less Brigade overindulge themselves in Ghana’s finest export and subsequently need to book urgent dentist appointments. I therefore coined my own meaning of Easter which, in my view, captures both extremes: “Easter is a time for tears and cavities”. I believe what’s needed here is an honest debate and a shift towards the middle ground, so I’ll get the ball rolling with a sincere, and I hope thought-provoking, question: “Is Easter relevant to the 21st Century Christian believer?” 12 OUTFLOW
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For those who didn’t know, Easter, probably the most holy festival on the Christian calendar, has its roots in Paganism, just like Christmas. Originally a pagan festival, Easter was the day when pagan Anglo-Saxons celebrated renewal and rebirth. In a bid to convert all Saxon pagan rituals to Christian ones the early Church leaders, rather than outlaw them and risk a backlash, transformed pre-Christian celebrations to Christian ones. It was convenient for them with Easter as it fell just after the Jewish Festival of “Passover”. The word Easter itself originates from the name of the AngloSaxon goddess of rising light of day and spring (Ostera or Eostre) and its origin goes back to 2000 BC in Babylon, in honouring the goddess of spring Ishtar, the mother/wife of their god, Tammuz, who is believed to have brought him back from the underworld. In Phoenecia she was known as Astarte, in Greece Eostre, and in Germany Ostera. Clarity needs to be given at this point to the fact that the word “Easter”, as used in Acts 12:4 in the King’s James translation of the bible, refers to Pascha (pas’-khah) or “Passover” and not Easter as we know it today. So where do chocolate rabbits and eggs come in? Well, according to historical records, both eggs and rabbits were considered sacred symbols of fertility, sex, and new life by ancient Saxon druids (viewed in modern day as wizards or magicians). All this information begs the question: Should we still celebrate Easter as a Christian festival? and after careful consideration I’ve decided not to proffer an answer to this to avoid being lynched by the faithful majority. Instead I will offer an opinion on what Easter means to me. Irrespective of its pagan roots, I see Easter as a season of opportunity, evangelically speaking. While I have no intention of shelling out my hard-earned bucks on Easter eggs and Easter bunnies I will be asking the Holy Spirit to present me with opportunities to share the good news instead. The most vivid image in The Passion of Christ was the very last one, which, for me, brought focus to all the violence and gore that preceded it; the scene where our ‘hero’ emerged from the shroud with visible holes in his side and hands, and departed the tomb. It drove home a very clear message: “Jesus isn’t dead - He’s alive!” This is good news and deserves to be shared, like Mary Magdalene did, with those who don’t know. From the comments I came across on the web I’ve realised that many outside the church have either never been taught, or paid attention, to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and that their chocolate rituals are done more out of ignorance than scorn. And I’d recommend that rather than getting caught up in debates about what day Jesus died or whether the dates of the Easter holidays are determined with reference to astrology, I propose that we discuss the relevance of the empty tomb and what it signifies for mankind. Easter is a season to reconcile the world to this truth, even if we do so while weeping or stuffing our faces with chocolate. Have a great holiday.
The Young Man on Calvary’s Cross [A Pilgrim’s Lament] ‘LANRE IROCHE
It happened early one Friday morn Just shortly after the break of dawn Looking out of my window I see a crowd on a hill Curiosity got the best of me I had to inspect what was going on Not the prettiest sight I admit, bearing visions of ill For hanging on a tree they called a cross I see a young man looking down Battered and bruised and upon his bleeding head, rested a thorny crown I wonder what crime that he did commit Was deserving of such a punishment So I inquired from those that I saw that were gathered round I hear there wasn’t much to his case It seems he shouldn’t have been there anyway So how’s it possible that he ended up, up there? I hear that he was betrayed by a friend And then abandoned by all of his other men And then taken to the home of the one High Priest It seems the priests found no fault in him I hear that he went about doing only good deeds But they beat him because he said he was his father’s son So how’d he come to be hanging right here in front of me with nails through his hands? Simply because they say he claimed to be the King of Jews, I don’t understand Then he appeared at the governor’s home The great representative of great Rome Where the rulers and elders brought him to argue his case I hear that Pilate knew of his innocence But he was much too afraid to pass his judgment So the people asked for his death and set a murderer free And that’s how he ended up, up there Exactly how he was feeling no one seemed to care Still they mocked him and jeered at him helplessly hanging there Is this the price you pay for your good deeds? For healing those with all kinds of disease? Because they say you’re Messiah, and what if this was true? It’s such a cruel thing to watch a great man slowly die Oh what a great, great loss I only wish that I’d seen his deeds with my very eyes The young man on Calvary’s Cross Irrespective of what you believe, there is truth in this pilgrim’s lament. For the believer it is a time for meditation and reflection on the price Jesus was willing to pay for your salvation and safety, and for those who choose not to believe there is plenty to admire in a man who, despite evidence to the contrary, accepted an underserved punishment in order to achieve a greater good. If there is any in history worth emulating - above prophets and sages, rulers and priests - it is this young man who hung from Calvary’s cross that those whom he loved may enjoy life, and eternity, free from the bondage of sin.
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Mondays with Pastor Agu words by chichi wodu photographs by flashade
t is early on a Monday afternoon when we arrive at Alison Close, an unassuming side road leading to our eventual destination. It isn’t until later that we find out that Alison Close has been deliberately named after the late wife of our subject, who received permission from the council to honour her in this way. As we drive down the road towards the gates, we are greeted with a calm feeling, as though we have actually arrived at a retreat resort of some sort. When we pull up outside the house we are received with warm hugs by Pastor Agu Irukwu, who is dressed - rather unusually for those more accustomed to seeing him in suits or blazers - in blue denim jeans and a light green polo top. He looks well rested on his day off. It is therefore the perfect opportunity to chill out with him and find out a little more about the man away from the pulpit. 14 OUTFLOW
As we enter the house we are greeted with the same comfortable warmth that we felt as he welcomed us. A beautiful home it is, with an almost minimalist approach to décor and its air carrying an unmistakeable citrus fragrance. At the entrance there
“2007 was a tough year. Having a loved one pass on is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through.” is a picture of the family at a wedding in Nigeria, and the walls are decorated with
contemporary African art. His favourite art piece is an etching of the Lord’s Supper by African artist Bruce Onobrakpeya, but he is however quick to let us know that he is not an expert. Our first stop is in the kitchen, where we’re offered hot drinks to shake off the cold. Pastor himself is recovering from a cold and still has a tickly cough that he is trying to get rid of. Normally, on his days off he would do all the ‘normal’ things, like go to the bank, pay the bills, and pick up his dry cleaning. It is also the day of Family dinner where he cooks for family and friends. As Pastor Agu lounges on a cream leather sofa in his front room, our conversation is tinged with plenty of laughter; you can tell he is a sincere and principled man. Interviewing him is easy and there is rarely a question he is unwilling to answer. He is always frank about himself and his family
Clockwise from far left: Pastor Agu in reflective mood; dedicating a newly born child; in discussion with Pastor “Doc” Shola Adeaga, with whom he shares a “special relationship”; in a meeting in the office with female management; preparing dinner for the children, as he does most Mondays.
and I guess this is one of the many things that the church loves about him. “[I want] to live life with intent,” he says in response to my question about what he wants out of the year; “To make my days and my time count. [I want] to be fulfilled, to give myself completely to the things that matter: serving God, raising my family and I hope to enjoy the journey. I realise that I have to number my days and that the days are not endless and time is running out. There has to be some sort of structure,
At a point during the interview the children arrive home from school and Pastor’s face visibly brightens. which means getting a balance and doing the things that matter. The children are critical, and so is family, but the one thing that is most important is my relationship with God.”
astor turns forty-four (44) this month and I wanted to know what lessons he had learnt from last year, bearing in
mind Pastor Ify’s health and eventual going to be with the Lord. “It was a tough year. Having a loved one pass on is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through. This is more so when you realise how close Ify and I were. However there is grace available from God and I am quite hopeful about the future.” I then went on to ask him what kind of birthday celebrations he would like this year. “I’m hoping my birthday will be a pretty quiet one. But that’s easier said than done, bearing in mind I have a large family of 2500 people and that’s something you cannot get away from. One of the responsibilities of fatherhood is that you can’t deprive [your children] of [the chance to] celebrate your birthday. You just accept these things and are grateful that people want to celebrate your birthday with you.” We begin to speak about friendships, and it is clear that this is something he really values. “I have some really good friends, not just here but also in Africa and in the states. I enjoy the time we spend together in each other’s homes and also eating out. This is something I really enjoy doing.” I ask about his special relationship with Pastor “Doc” Shola Adeaga and he smiles
warmly. “It’s a very special relationship.” He laughs as he recounts a time when Pastor Shola told his (Pastor Agu’s) mother that he (Pastor Shola) was her first son. “I was close friends with Doc’s sister, classmates in fact, and Doc was the big brother that you looked up to; he had quite an enviable social life. Our relationship really took off when he joined Jesus House in its early days. When I point out that they perfectly complement each other, he agrees. “We work very well together. He has strengths
“I’m hoping my birthday will be a pretty quiet one. But that’s easier said than done.” where I don’t and I have strengths where he doesn’t. He is a great guy” As a single parent I want to know how he has coped with being the sole parental figure in his children’s lives since his wife’s passing. “Becoming a single parent has had its challenges. At first it was a bit overwhelma
Above, clockwise from top: Pastor Agu walks up Alison Close with Noni and JJ; meeting with visitors from the US; listening intently while on a break from preaching duties.
ing but with time and a fantastic support network and tremendous grace from God, I am coping reasonably well.” At a point during the interview the children arrive home from school and Pastor’s face visibly brightens. He is a real daddy and obviously very close to his children. I wanted to know what happens when he comes home from work extremely tired and they need him, and his honesty is a breath of fresh air. “I wish I could say I got it right all the time,” he explains, “but because I have a very good relationship with the children they understand when I am tired.” He is a playful dad – “We muck about all the time” – play-fighting and what have you. 16 OUTFLOW
Being a normal guy, he does the same things as most regular folk. “I am not always
“When I got married my culinary skills were put on the shelf but in the last 6 months I have rediscovered this part of my life and I find it very therapeutic.”
organised at home but I am making a desperate, desperate, desperate attempt to get more organised.” He has days when his stuff is everywhere. “It is something I am working on.” A subject that seems to get him excited is cooking – “I am told I am a good cook” – and he says that he finds it therapeutic and loves to experiment with all sorts of food. He goes on to say “As a bachelor I cooked a fair bit but when I got married Ify spoilt me and my culinary skills were put on the shelf as I rarely cooked. However, in the last 6 months I have rediscovered this part of my life and the amazing thing is I find it very therapeutic. I love experimenting and will usually have a willing audience in the
“On our most recent vacation, we had the chance to swim with dolphins; I could not believe how calming it was.” children, my PA Abi [Balogun], my sister Ola, and Sola [Kujore]. I enjoy our family dinners on Monday evenings when I can cook for them. We always try to invite one or two people from church to join us as well. Travelling is another subject that gets him excited. He laughs when he remembers one particular holiday, when he took the kids paragliding, scuba diving, snorkelling and jet skiing. “Noni just loved jet skiing. She kept saying, ‘Faster, Dad, faster’. There is such an adrenaline rush”. “On our most recent vacation, we had the chance to swim with dolphins; I could not believe how calming it was. I would recommend it to any Pastor or Business Executive or any stressed out person.” It is refreshing to see him so relaxed, and as much as I dread dragging him into discussions about work on his day off, I can’t help but inquire. He tells a great story about a young guy who wanted him to be his mentor. “I asked him to come and hang around with me for a week and at the end of it he was so burnt out! He thought that the work I did would be easy, that all I did was wear nice suits and preach nice messages on Sundays and Wednesdays. The preaching is probably the easiest part of the work. The more complex part is managing the church. We have thirty-eight full-time staff and so many other part-time workers. Then there are 500 volunteers who work, and it’s not like you are paying them a salary. There are
“A young guy wanted me to be his mentor so I asked him to hang around with me for a week. At the end of it he was burnt out!”
Above, clockwise from top: Preaching duties are resumed as Pastor Agu returns to the pulpit; handing Nonye her supper; returning to the house with the children after the interview.
the various meetings with the leadership of the church, keeping the various parts of the ministry going, managing the various relationships with other churches and Christian organisations. There is also Mandate Men’s Ministry and many other initiatives going on in the city of London. I am however convinced that God gives you the grace and ability for the call He has placed on your life.” Apart from his family and his work for the Kingdom, Pastor’s other great love is sports. Health and fitness are an important part of his everyday life. He keeps fit by frequenting
the gym and swimming, and believes that physical health is as important as being nourished spiritually. “I think exercise is critical. I try to go to the gym at least 3 times a week and I think it is important to have the body well M.O.T’d. I make sure that I eat a properly balanced diet and am conscious of eating the right things always.”
he interview comes to a natural conclusion as we observe Pastor get ready to cook dinner for the children. Our only lament is that we won’t get the opportunity to supply our own verdict.
Outflow would like to join with the entire church in wishing a Happy and Prosperous Birthday to the Senior Pastor and Shepherd of the House, Pastor Agu Irukwu. We pray that God’s continued blessing will rest upon your crown. OUTFLOW
Pastor Agu on Church Leadership & the Mandate A report from Jesus House Baltimore
BY Omotayo Abereoje
f the many lessons in life, learning to be a leader is certainly a curious one. I mean, who learns to be a leader? It’s only recently that my ears have become attuned to the question: “Are leaders born or are they made?” All of a sudden, leadership is a hot topic and a big deal and it touches on the focus of our retreat -“Revisiting the mandate.” Dear reader, you would have to have been there to get an in-depth understanding of the vast ground covered by Pastor Agu Irukwu, but I’ll attempt to give you a meaningful glimpse. A mandate is “an authoritative command or a formal order from a superior”; thus as a Christian, it is not chosen by you, but you can begin to understand it through an intimate relationship with Christ, time spent in prayer, and the things that 18 OUTFLOW
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arouse your passion. It can be as general as that given to the body of Christ, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” or as specific and unique as that given to a local Church or an individual (Mark 16:15). Although revisiting the mandate is relevant to one’s personal life, our retreat focused on a Church’s mandate. Whatever a Church or an individual’s mandate is, it must align with the overall kingdom mandate to represent God’s kingdom on earth and win the prize, that is, the souls of men. Without a doubt, doing life or doing Church on a daily basis can distract you, but you must always have this general mandate in perspective. In order for anyone to fulfill a Godordained mandate, the individual must be engaged in both “hill and valley work,” as Pastor Agu put it. “Hill work” is fervent, continuous and intense prayer, while “valley work” is our interaction and involvement with the community around us. Both strategies are necessary, and a church needs the right balance of the two. Pastor Agu also presented five important questions one must answer in brutal honesty in order to fulfill a mandate: Who are we (and therefore who are we not)? Where are we going (our destination)? Where are we at the moment (taking stock)? Are we willing to pay the price (counting the cost)? What assistance do we need (getting help)? Asking these questions will help you develop an accurate view of where you are, where you are supposed to be going,
and what needs to happen in order to arrive at the destination. Your level of honesty with yourself and God in this assessment matters; keep in mind that you do not have to share your responses with others. For example, when responding to the question, “who are we?” do not respond based on who you would like to be; be honest! A church that understands its spiritual DNA and is intent on fulfilling a mandate must engender prayer (the place of battle). This means becoming creative in prayer and having a plan for prayer. Such a church builds people and does not abuse them. A mandate-fulfilling church must embrace its mandate and have a burden. It must also communicate the vision, give ownership of the mandate to the members, encourage innovation and creativity and demand excellence. It should become organized (in order to evoke God’s blessing), and create the right structure and processes (making it difficult for chaos to set in even in the absence of some essentials). This weekend has placed JHB in a season in which we are still revisiting our mandate. It is similar to the concept of getting back to the basics. It is a very necessary season as we welcome new members and must retain our core identity. Not only was time with Pastor Agu a tremendous blessing to our Church as a unit, but to each individual, as we are forced to take the time to revisit our personal mandates . . . or to say “hello” to it for the very first time.
Mother ‘A Woman of Influence’
PASTOR FUNKE ADEAGA
other’s Day is celebrated all over the world in recognition of motherhood, and even though it may evoke varying memories in various people, it nevertheless is a time to appreciate the unique qualities, sacrifices, strengths, weaknesses, turmoil and joys of those who have at one point or the other been called ‘Mother’. It is interesting and instructive that our concept of motherhood is generally more limited than you would find in the dictionary, which describes a mother as: A woman who adopts a child; A woman who raises a child; A mother superior; A woman who holds a position of authority or responsibility similar to that of a mother; A woman who creates, originates, or founds something; A woman exercising control, influence, or authority like that of a mother; Someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; An origin or source; A person or thing that is very large, powerful, or impressive; And of course, someone who has given birth to a child The important thing to note from these definitions is that motherhood does not necessarily have to be biological as we often imagine. What seems characteristically unique in the definitions is that a woman is or can be a mother as long as she is nurturing, influencing, exercising responsibility, and making an impact in the lives of people around her. In our daily existence, we rarely think about those that are constantly wielding influence over our lives, yet these are the people that have the greatest impact on our futures. Emerson, the American essayist, said, “People are what their mothers make them”, and Abraham Lincoln added, “All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” For centuries mothers have had a huge influence on people on the whole, and on children in particular. There is an African proverb which states that ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’. Indeed, families are the crucible in which our character is initially formed, and there is absolutely no doubt that mothers play a powerful role in influencing these formative years of our lives. Therefore, on this special occasion, we should encourage each other as women and mothers to appreciate the opportunities afforded to us to influence lives (particularly those of young children) – motivating, inspiring, and creating lasting changes. Our submission is that every woman is a ‘mother’, a vehicle of influence and change. As women, we are constantly and continuously influencing those around us daily but most of us do not even realise it. We influence not because we have studied the art or because we have the best ideas or the perfect credentials. We Influence when we connect with other people, are honest and authentic in our words and actions, and celebrate them for who they are. We influence and impact children in particular by our examples, by the things we say or do not say, and by the way we treat other people around us.
“All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.”
- Abraham Lincoln
The Bible certainly recognises women who were in positions of power and influence - women who contributed to making the world a better place. If we take the example of Lydia in the bible; we are not told that she was a ‘mother’ but she used her influence to minister to others and helped the cause of Christ by bringing others to him. There were others like Deborah (the Judge), Miriam (Moses’ sister), Mary Magdalene (who brought spices to anoint Jesus), and Mary - who gave birth to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords As we celebrate Mothers day, the one question we should ask ourselves is this: In our daily interaction with people i.e. colleagues, peers, husbands, children, etc, what do they see when they look at us? Do we influence or impact there lives positively? Influence is yours, whether you are a mother, wife or neither. Use it in the pattern of God’s holiness, and as an instrument of Heaven’s love. Frankly, as you influence others, you are also mothering them. We wish you all a very happy Mothers Day.
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Celebrating A Mothering Sunday Case Study by Chichi Wodu
t is probably the only occasion celebrated by all, regardless of religion, creed, race and culture, and though advertisers and businesses may see it as another big event for raking in consumers’ hard earned money, it is simply a way of showing your mother (who laboured, in some cases, for several hours to give you life) that you love and care for her. In my family, we call our parents’ home Head Quarters (HQ), and as a rule we all gather there on Mothering Sunday, despite being there almost every Sunday. On this day we make sure my mother knows that we appreciate her and that she consider her to be a “Proverbs 31” woman. We always celebrate with traditional songs in our native language (Igbo) and dance, and as we are a large family, my mother absolutely soaks up all the fuss we make over her. My sister makes a cake every year, which my mother loves, and every year we carry the cake to her and sing the same song, the Nigerian classic, ‘Sweet Mother’. The cake is made exactly to my mother’s taste - a sponge cake with a little sugar - and decorated with pretty icing. Every year she says the same thing: “Yes, that is nice not too much sugar.” She does not even try to hide how proud she feels. She normally prays at this point, after which we tuck into the dinner specially prepared by my sisters (being the youngest daughter I always end up washing the dishes!), and afterwards she, despite her regular complaints of aches and pains, gets up and performs a traditional Igbo dance. We all join in, laughing at each other as we vote on who has the best moves. It is an atmosphere full of love and laughter and my mother always looks on proudly at her children and grandchilden. Then she makes a speech about how God has brought her and her family through good and bad times and she always reminds us of how her and my father (now late) struggled to bring the seven of us up in the UK. It is a story that we all know so well and so, and we usually finish the ending for her in unison. “Do you all remember the time that the...” “Yes mother...” we all say with laughter. She goes on to say more: “Look at you all today, an architect, an accountant, even an actor...” This goes on for a bit. However, we really do give God the glory, as she always reminds us to. That is how we celebrate mother’s day at the Wodu HQ. The Jesus House way by Gillian King
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
flower, a gift, a poem and an exhortation usually delivered by the mother of the house, Pastor Ify Irukwu (of blessed memory). It’s a celebration of womanhood, that every woman can enjoy, whether they are mothers or not. Prayers are said for mothers, mothers-to-be and everyone who hopes to be a mother, and all the mothers in the congregation are asked to stand up as the rest ‘stretch forth their hands’ to pray for and acknowledge mothers for their hard work and commitment to their charges. Of course what makes it all the
MARCH 2008 FEBRUARY 2008
Mothers Day more poignant is that among those standing are mothers of babies, young children and adults. Some of these adults are mothers themselves, so it’s usually a cross-generational celebration. I always cry on Mothers’ Day at Jesus House because I have always found it to be a very moving experience. I imagine I cry because, when I look at the little faces and listen to the little voices of the children who stand on stage and deliver a poem, song, a dance or a skit, my chest swells with pride and my heart is filled with hope for the next generation; for boys who will grow into men, and girls who will themselves one day become mothers. I contemplate the incredible hard work that goes into being a mother, the thankless tasks, the sleepless nights, the struggle through pain, fatigue and sometimes illness to deliver the care and attention our bundles of joy need, seemingly constant and never-ending, and my heart is filled with hope that all those seeds of unconditional love will one day grow into a tremendous harvest. As I listen to the word and accept the prayers, along with the little gift that is always given, I am reminded of so many things to be grateful for and again, tears well.
It’s a celebration of womanhood, that every woman can enjoy whether they are mothers or not. I am reminded that my hope shall never be cut off, that children are a gift from God, and I am reminded that children, brought up in the way they should go, will never depart from it. When I remember these things my heart is filled with gratitude for my faith in Christ and the way He hears me when I call; when I’m tired, overwhelmed or scared He steps in to help me out. My heart is filled with love for the Jesus House family who always go out of their way to make mothers feel special and celebrated and I am filled with hope for the future, that it will be all right and my child’s milestones, no longer seem so daunting. I imagine I find Mothers’ Day so moving because children are the ultimate symbol of hope. From the time they are conceived, they are expected with great anticipation and every milestone is welcome with celebration and triumph. You watch them grow from little acorns into mighty oaks and the word of God that can sometimes seem abstract is manifest before your very eyes. So how do we celebrate mothers’ day at Jesus House? ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13:13NIV)
Happy Mothers Day!!!!! OUTFLOW
Motherhood: A Manifestation of
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.â€™ Psalms 119: 116 (NIV)
elcome to this month’s Marriage Column. Can you believe it is March already? Last month I remember reflecting on the fact that February seemed to have arrived so soon and this seems to apply also to March. Spring is just around the corner and the advent of spring means a change in the seasons, letting go of the past and embracing the new. You cannot wear the same clothes you wore in winter in spring; it would be inappropriate. So as we continue to take hold of the new beginnings that God has spoken to us about, my prayer is that we will move into the greater heights that God has prepared for us in our marriages in Jesus name, by letting go of those habits that hinder his will for our marriages. As I mentioned last month, I am totally convinced that the best gift that we can give to our spouses is our prayers. Then we looked at compelling reasons for praying together and how to pray together as couples and now we will consider what we should pray about. Perhaps the best starting point on this journey is the place of thanksgiving. We are able to come together to speak with our Father because He has given us life, health, peace and daily blessings, including the air we breathe, the earth we reside in and the food we eat. His protection and provision in numerous ways are unceasing, His blessings towards all our loved ones are worth thanking Him for, and even more importantly, His gifts of affection, companionship and love, which flow between us as husband and wife, has brought us to this point. Put succinctly, spending time to think about and to talk to God about the many reasons to be thankful to Him helps us attain the heart attitude necessary to sustain our communication with Him in the place of prayer. But beyond this, we can spread the tentacles of our rapport with God to cover our individual needs and to do this effectively we need to spend time sharing and communicating about what we are going through in our individual lives. This way, we can keep the prayer altar alive as we discuss our mutual issues with God as one. Apart from the freshness that a daily routine such as this can bring to our prayer lives, it deposits strength into our trust and reliance on each other as we become certain that whatever is important to us is a priority to our spouses, and that he or she is committed to taking this issue to God for a resolution. Apart from our personal issues, it’s important that we connect with God’s heartbeat for souls in our prayer time together. I am certain we don’t have to search far to find unsaved loved ones, friends and acquaintances. This is a good platform to pray together for their salvation, asking for a tenderness of heart for them
Together In Prayer
Marriage Corner and that, as God has declared in Matthew 9:37, He would bring labourers to share Christ with them so that they may receive the gift of salvation. We can also pray for other current issues that God brings to our hearts at this time. It is in fact a very good idea to ask Him to tell us what He is burdened about and I’m sure we will find ourselves on a very interesting journey once we do so. It is also vital that we commit our marriages into God’s hands that He might strengthen us to be obedient to His will in our conduct, choices and decisions as we continue on the journey each day. We must realize that we will be unable to live out our marriage relationship the way God expects us to, nor to see the good fruits He has promised, except we live a life that is personally submitted to the dictates of His Spirit, and He alone can continuously fill us with the grace and power to do His will. The moment we remain outside the covering and influence of His Spirit in all we do and say, we become liable to act and speak in the flesh, rather than by the Spirit, and this can have a negative influence on our relationship with our spouses. Constantly committing our relationship into God’s hands means that we invite Him into our days to help keep us in check by the power of His Spirit. This is a crucial catalyst for a successful marriage relationship. As we all can imagine, from here on we can mention a thousand and one other points we can take up in prayer. However, I want us to keep our focus on praying for our marriages in this article.
Apart from the freshness that a daily routine such as this can bring to our prayer lives, it deposits strength into our trust and reliance on each other
To achieve this, I thought to take the liberty of adding a practical tool to kick start your prayers for your marriage in 2008… 1. Pray for each other that you will both draw closer to God in a personal relationship and that this will reflect on your relationship with each other. [Ephesians 1:17-19, Isaiah 40:6 -8, Matthew 6:33] 2. Pray that God will impart you with wisdom so that you may both apply it in dealing with everyday challenges you face. [Colossians 1:9-11] 3. Pray for the preservation of unity in your marriage, that God will bless your home as you remain obedient to His will. [Psalms 133:1-3, Ephesians 5:31] 4. Wives - Pray that your husband will be able to love you as Christ loves the Church. [Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19] 5. Husbands - Pray that your wife will submit to you as unto the Lord. [Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18] 6. Pray for the gift of patience and all the manifestations of the fruits of the Holy Spirit in your lives and marriage. [Ecclesiastes 7:8-9, James 1:4, Galatians 5:22-23] 7. Pray that God will place a hedge of protection over your marriage. [Hebrews 1:13-14, Zechariah 2:5,Psalms 34:7] Yes you guessed right, above is a list of prayer points and supporting scriptures to stand on as we fight to keep our love for God and for each other alive. May God make this the most fruitful year you have lived as a couple and may He give you numerous testimonies to share of His faithfulness as the year unfolds. As usual, we are keen to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com with your comments, suggestions or thoughts. Till next month.
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Effective Church Membership W
elcome to this month’s feature on BANT (Building A New Tabernacle). In February we looked at the culture here at Jesus House, with a key focus on a culture of excellence. This month we are going to look at another strand of BANT: Effective Membership, not the Multicultural strand as previously mentioned. This will be discussed in the months ahead. What do we mean by Effective Membership? Christian fellowship is a key aspect of Christian life. The word ‘fellowship’ is derived from the Greek Koinonia, whose primary
A commitment to membership is more than a list of items to tick off; fulfilling the requirements is an indicator of the state of our hearts as members of this church. 24 OUTFLOW
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meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of Koinonia is in Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Koinonia embraces concepts conveyed in the English words, ‘fellowship’, ‘association’, ‘community’, ‘communion’, ‘joint participation’, ‘sharing’ and ‘intimacy’. By extension, it refers to the share one has in a joint relationship. Its essence, therefore, is for believers in Christ to be united in love, faith and mutual encouragement. We acknowledge that everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour is a “positional member” of the universal Body of Christ and should be given the opportunity to use their God-given gifts and resources to serve Him and further the establishment of the Kingdom of God. However, we also believe that God calls “positional members” to grow by becoming “church members” in a specific local fellowships united by common Biblical beliefs and a common sense of mission (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:25-31; 14:12,26 Hebrews 10:24,25). Membership at Jesus House Membership is more than just a formality, it is a personal and public acknowledgement of your identification with Jesus House as a local body of believers, and as your home church. It means that you are in agreement with Jesus House - its doctrines, culture and mission - and that you have chosen to belong to Jesus House as your community of believers that you have decided to love, uphold, serve and shape. It also means you submit to the leadership and are willing to be shaped, challenged and sent forth to serve by them. In a nutshell membership is: • a personal commitment to Jesus House which is always voluntary • about family, being there for one another • about purpose, identifying with the vision of the church & joining hands in committing to that vision • about faith, living it out & growing in it
Jesus House: A New Look, A New Drive, The Same Church • about discipleship; learning the tools that will help you pursue God • about community, being fully integrated into the church body How do I become a member? To become a member of member of Jesus House, you must fulfil the following requirements: • Have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord & Saviour • Be baptised by immersion or working towards baptism by immersion • Have attended Jesus House on a regular basis for at least 3 months • Live in the United Kingdom If you have met the above criteria, you are eligible for membership at Jesus House. If you have not met the above criteria and you would like to be a member, please do not be discouraged. We would be happy to discuss your options with you. Membership Process Being included on the Jesus House database does not make you a member. If you wish to be recognised as a member of Jesus House, it is essential that you fulfil the following: • Attend a New reception • Fill a membership form
MEANINGFUL Membership: THE COMMITMENT After attending the New Member evening, if you find you identify with Jesus House, its doctrines, culture and mission, and decide to become a member, there are certain things that set you apart as a member. We truly believe that joining a church is not an act of conformity but a voluntary commitment to: • the vision of the church • supporting the church financially • be submitted to the leadership of the church • participate actively in the life of church • fellowship with others via life groups • pray for the church • spiritual growth as a Christian by attending as least one Spiritual Growth class a year This commitment is more than a list of items to tick off; they are indicators of the state of our hearts as members of this church i.e. how we choose to serve and worship Him as part of this local body. Groupings within the church We acknowledge the different groupings within the congregation at Jesus House and respect the individual’s right to choose their level of commitment. Although everyone is encouraged to be a member, we
recognise that not everyone who attends Jesus House is one. The different groupings are as follows: • Partners – Those who do not reside normally in the UK and therefore do not attend Jesus House regularly i.e. Jesus House is not their home church, but they identify with & support the Vision at Jesus House. • Guests - This group includes people who have just started coming to church or who have been invited to a special occasion i.e. baby dedication, or attend church usually on special occasions such as Easter, New Years Eve, etc. • Congregants – Attend the church every so often or fairly regularly but are not necessarily committed to the church. They simply want a place to call their church & worship God in. • Members – Those committed to the vision of the church; who voluntary sign up for membership & all it entails.
Other Benefits We appreciate that as individuals we are bound to have needs, and as a church we are here to meet the needs of people in times of joy and crisis in order to offer prayer, support and practical help. However, due to limited resources, there are certain services that are available only to those who have committed themselves to the church as parishioners of the church via membership. Benefits available to all Attendees/Congregation • General Pastoral Care Support • Counselling Services • Visits: Home, Hospital, etc. • Non-Character references e.g. Attendance references (where there is evidence) Benefits only available to members
Membership is more than just a formality; it is a personal and public acknowledgement of your identification with Jesus House as a local body of believers, and as your home church. They are committed to the church in terms of regular attendance, the giving of tithes & offerings and active participation in the life of the church, • Volunteers – Committed members who from time to time help in supporting the work of the ministry. • Workers – Committed volunteers who have dedicated their time to be carry out the bulk of the work of the ministry. Due to their commitment the Senior Pastor makes a personal commitment to ensure their spiritual, emotional and general well-being by meeting with them regularly. • Leaders - Deeply committed workers who have been placed in positions of authority and given responsibility to facilitate the work and lead people. Spiritual Benefits of Membership • It identifies you as a genuine believer (Eph 2:19; Rom 12:5) • Provides a spiritual family to support and encourage you in your walk with God (Gal 6:1-2; Heb 10:2425). • Gives you a place to discover and use your gifts in ministry (1 Cor 12:427) • A place where your gifts are stirred up, God’s purpose for you can be discovered and your potential maximised. (1 Cor 12:4-27) • Places you under the spiritual protection of godly leaders (Heb 13:17; Acts 20: 28-29) • Gives you the accountability you need to grow (Eph 5:21)
• Communications from the Senior Pastor • Character References (where appropriate), including Attendance etc • Full Access to Pastoral Care Support through Baby Dedications, Naming Ceremonies, Home Going Services Wedding, Thanksgiving Services and Other Celebrations. • Birthday Cards • Invitations to Members’ events • Welfare Support • Full support of Ministry through spiritual development • Discounts on Jesus House Facilities & Conference/Events • Quarterly Newsletter • Access to the Members area of the website Please note that pastoral care support for Baby Dedications, Naming Ceremonies, Weddings, Thanksgiving Services and Other Celebrations are available to Members only. We are committed to ensuring that members grow and mature spiritually through discipleship (both formal & informal). Pastor Agu will be shedding further light on Effective Membership this month, and if there is any additional information you would require on this theme, please contact Tomi Ayodeji on 020 8438 8285 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Kemi Olutunbi, Church Administrator
Accept No Substitute PASTOR FUNKE ADEAGA with contributions from Pastor Chizor Akisanya
am yet to spot the first daffodils heralding the start of spring; however I am sure that by the time this article is published they will be springing up all over the place, especially with the kind of weather we had in January. You may be wondering what daffodils have to do with anything. I particularly look forward to seeing them as they remind me of ‘hope’ – they (daffodils) are often the first sign of the turning of the seasons; after the bleakness of winter comes the blossom of spring. According to Archbishop Desmond Tutu “that which seems dead in winter, is resurrected in spring” (God Has a Dream: A vision of Hope for our time). So, at this time of the year, I am filled with hope – the ability to look forward to tomorrow, believing that it will be better and brighter than today. My thoughts of hope led me to an issue that I have noticed is prevalent amongst us ladies. It is this; I often wonder why we tend to settle for less than God has in store for us. In my experience this applies to every area of our lives but the one area on which I wish to focus on concerns relationships between the sexes. Sadly, I often come across women who are in relationships or contemplating a future with men who are wholly unsuitable. However, because of a fear of being “left on the shelf” they are willing to settle for ‘Mr Wrong’, in the misguided hope that he will, by some stretch of the imagination, be transformed into the proverbial knight in shining armour. Undoubtedly, the average woman desires to be married and not only married but to be married to her Prince Charming. For some ladies, this quest for a life partner is seemingly effortless and ends exactly at the right time and the right age: she finishes school, starts work and shortly after, the wedding invitations go out in the post. Nine months later, Junior comes along, just like clockwork! For others it is not that simple. You wait, pray, fast and do everything you can to make yourself ‘findable’…all to no avail as the waiting continues. With the passage of time, the temptation to settle for anything and anyone increases.
For most women, it is seldom the case that there is a dearth of male suitors, the issue is identifying the one that is God-ordained... What happens while one is waiting for a life partner? How does one whittle out the “chaff from the wheat?” How does one keep hope alive and not give in to the temptation to marry anyone at all costs? For most women, it is seldom the case that there is a dearth of male suitors, the issue rather is identifying the one that is Godordained, particularly as God-ordained sometimes appears to be at variance with our perceptions and desires. Here are 10 tried and tested considerations that can assist in navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of relationships and making the right choices. 1. The first and by far the most important is a very basic question. Is he a Christian? If you cannot answer this in the affirmative with confidence and without hesitation then there could be a problem. Remember that the Bible warns us against being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6.14). Elsewhere it also asks “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3.3) 2. Do not make a decision based solely on what you see. Ask yourself this question; who is Mr X without the trappings? Would he be the same person without the high-flying job and its mate26 OUTFLOW FEBRUARY MARCH 2008 2008
rial offshoots? Would you still find him as attractive without all the extras? If you are interested only in what he can provide, will your interest wane if he is unable to afford these creature comforts? 3. How does he treat money? Is he determined to acquire wealth at all costs? Is he generous? Tight-fisted? Irresponsible? The bible says that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6.10 NIV) but it also says that money answers all things (Ecclesiastes. 10.19) – in other words, money in the hands of a prudent and generous man can bring joy and pleasure to many. 4. Does he pray? Can he pray? Is he willing to learn? Does he take charge of situations or does he crumble in panic and despair at the slightest pressure? Is he prepared to take his rightful position as the spiritual head of the family? (Proverbs 24.10 – “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small” – NKJV) 5. Is he willing to submit to spiritual authority? When you suggest that you would like him to speak to your pastors what is his reaction? Is he accountable to anyone? Is there anyone that you can report him to? If there is no one to whom he willingly submits himself, then you may have problems in the future. . (Proverbs 12.15 – “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” – NKJV). 6. What sort of friends does he have? “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” – Proverbs 13:20. The bible also says “bad company corrupts good character” – 1 Corinthians 15.33. 7. How does he treat people, particularly family members, parents and siblings? Is he kind, caring, generous or self-absorbed and dismissive of people? (Proverbs 12. 18 – “There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” - Amplified version) 8. What are his views on parenting? Does he want children? Do you agree on how they are to be raised? The bible adjures us to “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it” – Proverbs 22.6 – NIV) Consider this question; how can you train up a child in the “way he should go” if neither parent is agreed on what this way might be? 9. How does he treat you? Is he constantly putting you down; is he condescending and disdainful of you? He ought to be mindful of you, anticipate your needs and be determined to guide and encourage you to achieve your purpose. (see 1 Corinthians 13.4 – 8) 10. Does he put pressure on you to enter into a sexually intimate relationship before marriage? If he values you he will be willing to wait until he has put a ring on your finger and declared publicly his commitment to you. (Proverbs 6.32 – “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul” – NKJV) Sincere answers to these questions will save most people the pain of engaging in relationships that ultimately lead to disaster and disappointment. It is often said that no ‘man’ knows what is on the heart of another ‘man’, but the bible records that God sees the hearts of all ‘men’. It therefore makes sense to put our hopes concerning relationships and spouses in God alone. He alone knows the right time and who or what is best for each person; choices made out of desperation can only lead to ruin. Therefore, ladies, as we look forward to the appearance of daffodils, to ‘a turning of seasons’, and as we wait expectantly for the manifestation of our hopes, let us be wise and not settle for less. Don’t accept any substitutes, accept only God’s best for you. Your future is worth waiting for.
Esthers Community Page Beautiful: ‘Pleasing to the senses or mind aesthetically’ (Oxford dictionary).
ost ladies can identify with this definition. It seems that the ability to beautify oneself is a genetic female trait - girls are soon tuned-in to ‘beauty’. With my two children, it’s already obvious. My daughter started wet-finger-brushing her eyebrows ‘to make them smooth!’ at age three, and once queried “Mummy, are you sure this is in fashion?” after dressing her for church. The world tries to define beauty in various ways - stature, complexion, facial features or lack of etc – obviously not quite sure of what being beautiful really is. Hours are spent pulling and tugging (the pain of braids/weaves/relaxed hair… ouch!), shortening, lengthening (think nail extensions and the 24-hour postapplication-pain that follows), and every other action imaginable (and some unimaginable). Some go further - cutting off, adding in, suctioning away different parts of the body, all to be beautiful. The problem is that the definition of ‘beautiful’ changes as often as we blink. One day, light skin is beautiful and efforts go on ‘lightening-up’. Then dark skin is better, and well-earned money goes on ‘darkeningup’. Long hair is ‘in’, and investments in hairgrowth paraphernalia grow at an alarming rate, but halfway through the growth phase, short hair suddenly becomes more beautiful. Amazingly, some follow the pingpongs of these definitions of beauty like a career-calling, being ‘tossed about with every wave of doctrine’. It’s not just in the world that beauty has value. In the bible, there are stories about ladies who were lovely to look at, had beauty treatments, braided hair and used perfumes and cosmetics. Queen Vashti, predecessor to Queen Esther, was lovely to look at, and on one fateful night, the king wanted her, just to display her beauty. Then imagine Queen Esther’s many-monthslong beauty session – with perfumes, and beautifying oils and milk, preparing for one day with the king! Ruth, already beautiful, I imagine, made herself even more beautiful with perfume and nice clothes just to be noticed by her future husband. Need more convincing? Sarah (Abraham’s wife), Bathsheba (who later became David’s wife), and Tamar (David’s daughter) were also described as beautiful; Sarah and Bathsheba, so beautiful that Kings fell hard with just one look at them. Job’s daughters were said to be the most beautiful in the whole land. How about that? So really, God is interested in us being beautiful, just as in every detail of our lives and person. Only, His perspective and definition is totally different from ours. What then is His perspective? Our inner disposition
– gentle, gracious, holy and a peaceful spirit, timeless and incorruptible – is His definition of beautiful. Certainly not just the external appearance – long swinging glossy-tinted hair, braids that sometimes reach down to the ‘waist’, shade of complexion - which will definitely fade with time regardless of how much we fight it (the wrinkles will surely come). God prefers that we spend time cultivating our inner beauty such that He is enthralled by it, and those ‘beautiful’ Biblical ladies had it. They were submissive to authority God placed over them and
One day, light skin is beautiful and efforts go on ‘lightening-up’. Then dark skin is better, and well-earned money goes on ‘darkening-up’. were respectful, obedient, unpresumptuous and committed women. Sarah was so submissive that she called her husband ‘lord’. Ruth was committed, respectful and obedient to her mother-in-law and Esther was submissive to authority (first her uncle, then husband) and prayerful, mobilising a nation to fast and pray.
makes us truly beautiful. We must also be alert to the stuff that make us ‘ugly’ - wrath, jealousy, worry, hatred, unforgiveness, and sin of any kind. They do affect our inner beauty and amazingly impact hugely on the external. This doesn’t mean we should completely ignore our external appearance for as God’s ambassadors, good presentation is also important. Eating healthily, exercising and resting properly, and making sure that our clothing, make-up, hands and feet, hygiene and posture all glorify God, is crucial. Let’s just put the first things first. Our priority should be that God sees us as beautiful ladies by His definition. In the eternal long run, ‘Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman that fears the Lord is to be praised!’ Make that appointment. Start today and cultivate that inner beauty. It is worth the effort! References to bible passages that refer to beauty, and stories about some of the ladies mentioned in this article: Esther 1:11, 2:3,9,12; Ruth 2, 3:3; Ps 45:11; Proverbs 31:30; 1 Peter 3:3 –4; Gen 12:11,14; Gen 14:16; 1 Sam 25:3; 2 Sam 11:2, 13:1; 1 Kings 1:3,4; Job 42:15; Proverbs 23:7; Proverbs 4:23; Matt 12:34; Acts 8: 9 -21; 1 Peter 3:3 –4; James 1:23-26; Ps 90:17; Heb 4:12; Col 3:16; Rom 15:4; 1 Peter 5:7; Proverbs 4:9; Rom 12: 1-2; 1 John 5:17; Phil 4: 6-7; 1 Peter 3:6
God’s Beauty Salon So how exactly do we get this kind of beauty? It is kind of similar to cultivating (despite the pain we suffer) our external beauty by regularly going to get our hair, nails etc done. Inner beauty is achieved by cultivating it in God’s beauty salon. And guess what! It’s free of charge and we won’t need to raid the medicine chest for painkillers after a treatment. His beauty salon is open 24/7, with a never-engaged 24-hour ‘help line’. He is always waiting for us to call and is always ready to help. His top beauty treatment is the beauty lamp guaranteed to clear up all the defects in our lives and transform the darkness of our hearts into the light of His beauty. All we need do is make daily appointments to visit His salon and to apply the beauty tips in His beauty manual to cultivate that inner beauty. His active word in us is what
Be Beautiful ‘DETOLA PHILLIPS
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The Final Destination
Recap: Samuel and his friends were holidaying in Costa Rica. On the morning of Saturday the 7th of July 2007 the seven of them left the capital city San José on a trip to a beach town called Quepos, little knowing that this particular road trip would change the course of their lives forever. Daniel, Belinda and Brenda had lost their way early in the trip and returned to San José, while Afua, Dami, Deji and Samuel had continued on to Quepos.
eji and Samuel sat in a small jail cell in Jacó, a small town near the Costa Rican mountains, where they had been lured to by a gang who had led them to believe it was a police station. They tried to make light-hearted conversation to keep their minds of their predicament. “How are things going with you and Afua?” Samuel asked. “Well, I’m not sure,” Deji responded. “What’s the problem? She’s smart, beautiful, intelligent and Godfearing. Everything a guy could want in a woman.” “You’re right. But I think I had always imagined I’d marry a Nigerian.” “So what if she is Ghanaian? My dad is from Equatorial Guinea.” “Enough talk about me. Have you made a move on Dami yet?” Before Samuel could answer, a series of explosions shook the building. In the midst of the chaos they found time to consider it odd; minutes before they had been wondering whether their predicament was somehow linked to the July 7 bombings in London exactly two years before. After a ten-minute shootout outside their cell came to an abrupt halt, about a dozen men in black burst into their prison cell and led them back to the reception of the building, which they now knew was actually a drug cartel operation fronting as a police station. There, they were reunited with Afua and Dami, who hugged them with a deep sense of relief. An uncertain air still persisted between them; they didn’t yet know the intentions of this mysterious new group of men. As the four friends stood contemplating their fate with their new captors, the scar-faced drug baron, a picture of invincibility only an hour ago, emerged from a room in handcuffs, flanked by four heavily armed men. They led him into a black van with tinted windows. On the sirens went, and the van left hurriedly, escorted on its way by two black police vehicles. “Buenos Dias, ladies and gentlemen,” one of the men in black addressed them. “My name is Officer Miguel Barbosa. I am the Director of the Special Operations Unit for the San José Police Department.” They all nodded mutely; they were still trying to process all that had taken place.
“We’d like to thank you immensely for helping us apprehend Señor Córdoba. He’s been on our most wanted list for a long time and you helped lead us to his hideout. Our country owes you a great deal of gratitude. For now, you’re free to return to San José to rest but please do come into the police station tomorrow morning so that we can take your full statements.” To return to San José they had to navigate the dangerous bends on the high altitude mountain roads. It was nearly 5pm, and as they ascended into the mountains a burly mist descended upon them. They could hardly see ten metres ahead of themselves and Samuel was moving the jeep along at barely 5mph. He was very careful to stay in the centre of the road – a tiny slip towards the right would result in a freefall of thousands of feet. The local drivers, undeterred by the driving conditions, were speeding past them and overtaking at dangerous bends, despite being blind to oncoming traffic. Samuel let each one through, cars and trucks alike. “Guys, do you think everything that has happened today is connected to this puzzle we’re trying to solve?” Dami asked, breaking the eerie silence that had filled the vehicle. From the Boeing 777 plane they had boarded for Costa Rica, to their room number at the San José Marriott, plus various other signs they had encountered on their journey that day, it was clear that the number 777 was intricately linked to their collective destinies. Afua had had a dream the night before, in which they had until 7pm to figure the riddle out. And so far the seventh verse or the seventh chapter of the seventh book of the Bible was the best clue they had to go on. “They probably are,” Deji responded. “I am a bit surprised that we weren’t held for questioning immediately or that we didn’t at least get a police escort back home”. “That’s true,” Afua added. “Seeing we don’t have a Bible on us, does anyone know what Judges 7:7 says from memory?” “We should be asking you that,” Samuel said, making eye contact with her through the rear view mirror. “Can’t we check on the internet with one of our phones?” “We’ve been out of any Wi-Fi network range since we left San José in the morning,” Deji responded. They passed a signpost reading 7km to San José and Deji checked his phone just to be sure. There was no coverage. “Samuel, I think you need to step on it,” he exclaimed after noticing the time, “It’s seven minutes to seven!” Samuel put his foot on the gas while Deji constantly rechecked his phone, waiting impatiently for the precise moment it would reconnect to the internet. Five minutes later, just as they approached the city centre, he got connected.
An uncertain air still persisted between them; they didn’t yet know the intentions of this mysterious new group of men.
“Guys, do you think everything that has happened today is connected to this puzzle we’re trying to solve?” Dami asked, breaking the eerie silence that had filled the vehicle.
“Quick, where do I need to go?” “Try Biblegateway. Dotcom,” Afua responded frantically. “Type in Judges 7:7 and hit search!” “I’ve got it! The LORD said to Gideon, ‘With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.’” “What does that mean?” Dami eventually asked, after silence again engulfed the jeep, before a shrill noise pierced through the air. “Is that the alarm for 7pm?” Samuel asked as he looked back at Deji. Dami screamed before Deji could answer. “Samuel, look out! There’s a...” In the split second that Samuel had taken his eye off the road, a car jumped a red light at the intersection and was about to collide straight into the left side of their vehicle. Samuel managed to swerve out of the way but the vehicle skidded, hit the central reservation and was thrown into the air. They seemed for a moment suspended in time. And then there was impact. The jeep hit the floor and rolled over several times before coming to rest in a ditch by the roadside. Samuel tried to look up as he felt a warm trickle across his face but all he could see was bright white lights. When he opened his eyes he was in a white room. He looked down and saw that he was wearing a white robe. When he tried to move he found he couldn’t, and just when he was beginning to wonder if he was in heaven, and why his head hurt so much if he was, he heard a familiar voice. “How are you feeling?” It was Dami. He turned his head and saw her sitting at his bedside. “Where am I?” he asked as he tried to sit up. “You’re in hospital,” she responded. “Don’t try to get up. You were hurt pretty badly.” She gently placed her hand on his arm to restrain him. “How long have I been here for?” She hesitated before she responded. “A couple of days. You were in critical condition, but your progress has been great.” His head was still throbbing. “How about Deji and Afua, how are they doing?” “They’re fine. They escaped the accident with minor injuries. We’ve been taking turns to sit with you.” He closed his eyes for a moment and then looked up again, glad she had been the one at his side when he roused from his slumber. “How about you, how are you feeling?” “I was pretty shaken, but I’m doing okay.” He smiled as their eyes met. “I’m glad you’re okay.” She smiled in return before Samuel’s penetrating gaze made her feel slightly self-conscious.
“I’ll be right back,” she said, looking away. “I need to let the nurses know that you’ve woken up.” “Wait…before you go, there is so much I want to say to you that I thought I’d never get the chance to, what with the day we had on Saturday.” He placed his hand on hers and squeezed it gently. Before he could continue, he felt something metallic on her ring finger. He lifted her hand up to meet his line of sight. She was wearing a silver wedding band. “How long did you say I was unconscious for?” he blurted out, as she pulled her hand away in a somewhat delayed reflex action. “Don’t worry yourself with that,” she responded as she got up to leave. “I’ll go and get the nurses.” “No, wait!” He looked to his right and saw a newspaper sitting on the coffee table. “Could you pass me that paper?” She was hesitant once again. “Please pass me the newspaper or I’ll get it myself!” he said, raising his voice slightly as he started to become distressed. She passed him the broadsheet and his eyes shot straight to the top right hand corner. Tuesday July 7 2009. His head was spinning. He closed his eyes as he struggled to digest what he’d just seen. He looked up at her again. He tried to speak, but the words wouldn’t come. She held his hand again as his vision blurred again and he drifted into unconsciousness. *Judges 7:7 (New International Version)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASHADE
grew up in Lagos, Nigeria in a family of seven children. I hold a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Ogun State University in the Western part of Nigeria and an MSc in Information Systems Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am married to Tunde and have two wonderful boys – Ayomikun and Ayomiposi and I currently work as an IT consultant. I have always had a love for books and developed a keen interest in reading from an early age. My favourite book is the Bible, which has proved to be an invaluable source of knowledge in my life. I also try to read a lot of personal development books; authors like Dr. Myles Munroe, John C. Maxwell, Robert H. Schuller, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Dale Carnegie, Susan Jeffers, Michelle McKinney Hammond and Stephen R. Covey have greatly inspired me I believe that the idea of writing for children was something that God laid on my heart. This really came as a surprise to me, given my unrelated professional background, and I never saw myself as an author. However, the impression was so persistent that I finally realised that this was definitely a project that God wanted me to embark on. One of my favourite scriptures says that we should “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). This scripture motivates me immensely as I realise that the more children can learn about God, the greater their chances are to succeed in life. Unfortunately, they have access to so many negative role models, therefore it is critical for children to recognize that there are many positive role models in the Bible that they can emulate. My primary goal through my writing and teaching is to help raise confident children who are able to utilise their God-given gifts. The title ‘Stars in God’s Eyes’ reflects the fact that every child is a STAR to God. As I work full-time, and I also have my home to look 32 OUTFLOW MARCH 2008
after (as well as being involved in Church), to achieve my goals I have had to cope with fewer hours of sleep, less socialising and certainly less TV. I stayed up late on many occasions so that I could concentrate after my children had gone to bed. I generally tend to be very focused but this project required even more focus than usual. There were so many new things that I had to learn, so I just took one step at a time. Ultimately, to accomplish anything in life, you need to commit your work into God’s hands daily to bring it to fruition. Despite the challenges what kept me going was the firm conviction that this was God’s idea, so I knew it would succeed. I sought the opinion of Pastor Agu and he was a great source of encouragement. He believed in the project and urged me to see it through. Before I finally sent it to the printers, I did a pilot scheme with about twenty children between the ages of 4 and 11 to ensure that my language was simple enough for them to understand and the illustrations clearly portrayed the
My primary goal through my writing and teaching is to help raise confident children who are able to utilise their God-given gifts. messages in the text. I must add that my husband played a very important role in bringing this project to completion in so many ways, some more obvious than others. I owe him and my children a depth of gratitude for encouraging and accommodating me during the 18 months it took to complete the project. The Story Book is based on very ordinary people like us, who walked in God’s Hall of Fame. The stories are retold with colourful illustrations to give children a clear understanding. Each letter of
the alphabet is associated with a Bible personality. There is a lesson summary at the end of every story to encourage them to make the right choices. There is also an emphasis on the rewards that come from being obedient to God and having faith in Him. The Colouring Book serves as an activity book for the younger ones. It engages their minds and activates their vivid imagination to bring the characters to life by using their own colours. The Bible Memory Verses make use of an alphabetic approach to teach children the Word of God. The verses follow the themes of Praise, Promises, Proverbs, Prayers and Positive Affirmations. As they read these verses over and over again, they will begin to learn the words by heart. The goal is to inspire them to develop a keen interest in His endearing Word. Many parents and children have provided positive feedback, and that makes it all worthwhile. However, I am very mindful of the fact that the Ministry has its real challenges and there is still a lot of ground to cover. My mantra is that you should ‘Catch Them Young’. As long as a child is rooted in the Lord from the onset, there will fewer mistakes made as he/she goes through the inevitable challenges of life. [To this end] I implore parents to invest in good Christian books for their children. My advice is that no-one should ever give up on their dreams. Learn to maximise your time by doing constructive things. Even when relaxing, ensure that you are fully re-energised at the end of it. Do your
homework by researching your chosen topic so that you will always make informed decisions based upon the best choices available to you. Prior to my decision to self-publish, I did my research on every option available. Self-publishing is the most demanding because of the multi-faceted roles of being the author, publisher, project manager, marketing and sales manager, yet I find it to be the most fulfilling and rewarding because of the control that you have over your manuscript, time and finances. I am currently working on a project for babies and I’m trusting God that it will be widely embraced by mothers. I would like to write more books and design gift items that carry the message of the gospel. I am also looking forward to when the publishing company will employ staff and publish books by other Christian authors. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I cannot over emphasise the need to rely solely on God in embarking on a project of this nature, or any project for that matter. I’m convinced that as long He put the idea in your heart, He will
make available the provision to bring it to fruition. Abiola Obileye’s books are available from Pages bookshop, Jesus House, Wesley Owen (Harrow Weald), The Centre Bookshop, Lombard Street, City (Bank Station), KICC Church Bookshop (Waterden Road, Hackney), Glory House Church Bookshop (Barking Road, Plaistow), New Wine Church Bookshop (John Wilson Street, Woolwich), Glorious Beginnings Bookshop (Willesden Green), Cornerstone Christian Bookshop (Finchley), Jubilee Church Bookshop (Manchester), Grace Outreach Church Bookshop (Old Kent Road), Trinity Chapel Church Bookshop (Stratford) and online at her website www.hephzibahpublishing.com, Amazon.co.uk, WHSmith.co.uk, bookshop.blackwell.co.uk
ARE WE ALL
GUILTY? ADANNA BANKOLE
They are everywhere.
They sell millions of newspapers and magazines; from well-known monthly publications to downright obscure - and not to mention, trashy - weekly glossies. They blaze fashion trails, and society blindly follows. They inadvertently dictate how people should dress and look, and as a result, the fashion and cosmetic surgery industries continue to see percentage growth in double digits on both sides of the Atlantic, as societal aspirations to conform to the standards of beauty they set increase. I welcome you to the age of celebrity, where everyone wants to be famous and a fortnight of inappropriate behaviour in the company of strangers, beamed into millions of living rooms across the nation, is guaranteed to make you a star’. The first impression you get from celebrities is of glamorous lifestyles and wanting for nothing - well, nothing that money can buy anyway – still one can’t help pitying them. The way I see it, they are ordinary people just like the rest of us; and oftentimes, not even that. They are seldom equipped to deal with, and adequately respond to, situations that the rest of us take for granted, and many have never had the opportunity to live in a well-adjusted fashion. Those of us who are not subject to the ‘privilege’ of fame are free to deal with the ups and downs of everyday life without having to justify every reaction, facial expression, spat, decision or mistake to a critical audience. But we, the unprivileged public, seem more than happy to play the parts of prosecutor, judge and jury when it comes to those in the spotlight, even when their failings are no different from ours. Don’t get me wrong: I am not suggesting they are blame-free in the circus they often find themselves in - far from it. But it does appear that we are quick to put them on a pedestal, only to savagely tear them 34 OUTFLOW MARCH MARCH 2008 2008
down and shred them to pieces when the mood takes us a short time later. What we don’t realise is that this whole process, while providing ‘good sport’ for us, may have a more devastating effect than is immediately apparent. I put it to you that by tacitly supporting and providing an environment where the famous are idolised, constantly hounded and subsequently pulled down, we are jointly liable for the sorry state these poor creatures end up in.
...We, the unprivileged public, seem more than happy to play the parts of prosecutor, judge and jury when it comes to those in the spotlight, even when their failings are no different from ours. Cases in point? Look at Amy Winehouse, a gifted songstress who obviously has many, many issues to resolve. As if that isn’t bad enough, she has to battle her demons under the eagle eyes of the paparazzi, who shadow her every move in a bid to give us a running commentary on what Amy has done today, where and with whom. Or spare a thought for the unfortunate Britney Spears, whose descent from child prodigy to twice-married mother of two with a destructive predilection for alcohol continues to be well charted, not just in gossip columns, but also in the mainstream media.
And then, there’s the tragic story of Heath Ledger, a talented young actor who hadn’t even peaked, found dead in his Manhattan apartment in January. After winning critical acclaim for his performance in the controversial film Brokeback Mountain in 2005 his star was clearly in the ascendancy, with a string of award nominations and offers for lead roles in several blockbusters following. However, Ledger, originally from Perth in Australia, was said to have found it difficult to cope with the trappings of fame. Extensive tests finally described his death as ‘accidental’, attributing it to an overdose of six different types of prescription drugs. There are also countless actors and singers, all with varying degrees of success, who embark on nature-defying diets, fitness regimes and what can only be defined as culinary stunts to achieve impossibly perfect physiques, all in a sad bid to stay at the top of their game. Whether it’s Beyoncé embarking on a maple syrup diet for her role in Dreamgirls - she reportedly lost twenty pounds in just ten days - or members of the Desperate Housewives cast who are alleged to favour the use of ‘natural’ appetite suppressant pills, entertainers continue to explore more bizarre ways of staying in shape...to entertain us. So the question is, are the likes of Ledger, Spears and Winehouse responsible for their respective fates? Definitely; I am a big believer in people taking their destinies into their own hands. But we must stop and question whether it is worth it: the implicit creation and support of a culture where entertainers feel so pressured that they risk their families, health, and very lives, simply for the ‘show to go on’. So, please spare a thought the next time you pick up a newspaper and thumb through to the gossip columns. Somewhere, somehow, it could cost someone a lot more than you could possibly imagine.
Your Health And You
STRESS AND FATIGUE TINA EDGAL
ood health is an indication of a balance within the human body; proof that the various facets of the human entity - the spirit, the soul (the mind, intellect and emotions) and the body - are correctly aligned. This balance, or harmony, is evidenced in a sense of well–being, characterised by high–levels of energy, a zest for life, a merry heart, and a calm confidence that no mountain is too high to climb. Malfunction sets in when this harmony is upturned, with common stress-triggers including fear, anxiety, work–related pressures, relationship breakdowns, bereavement, financial challenges, loss, and debt burdens. Other major causes include guilt, failed expectations, terminal diseases, planning and executing a major event, traffic jams, receiving constant nagging and criticism, and stress from excessive multi-tasking and being unnecessarily competitive. Additionally envy, bitterness and unforgiveness poison the mind and body. Stress and fatigue are the body’s ways of letting us know that we are doing something which isn’t good for it, that a person’s energy is being overstretched in excessive concentration on certain facets of life to the detriment of others. When there is a “pull for attention” from the different areas, as in a tug-of-war, tautness and tension results in the body and mind. Then stress and fatigue sets in. Unpleasant manifestations of stress and fatigue include, but are not restricted to, depression, low self–esteem, persistent feelings of tiredness, poor concentration, poor memory, sleeplessness, short temper and inability to perform basic tasks. Acute stress causes stimulant abuse, schizophrenia, high blood pressure, heart and mental ailments, suicide and even murder. Whatever the cause or level, the first step to coping with stress and fatigue is accepting that: 1. It makes for a calmer life if you realise that there are certain things, situations and persons you cannot change. A cat does not dialogue with its fleas. 2. If you cannot shake off irritants from your life, get help to do so. Seek medical, spiritual, financial and legal advice. 3. If personal lifestyle changes are necessary, affect them as soon as you can. Change what you put into your life, into your body, your spirit and into your mind and you would change how you feel, what you think and how you look. To maintain these changes you would need the help and counsel of the Comforter. Take the stress–inducing challenges to Him for direction and peace of mind. Our moments of stress can actually be the periods during which we enjoy the benefits of a life of prayer and faith in God. You should be your own best friend by taking your life into your hands and making the necessary amendments. Decide to love and pamper yourself back to a state of all–round good health. Say good and nice things to yourself daily. Exercise regularly. Give yourself a treat. The occasional sauna and full–body massage with warm aromatic oils do wonders to relieve stress and fatigue. Most of all, know when to stop; pack a bag and go for a well-deserved holiday! Have a stress–free day.
Stress and fatigue are the body’s ways of letting us know that we are doing something which isn’t good for it... OUTFLOW OUTFLOW FEBRUARY MARCH 2008 35
The Awakening A PIECE BY ‘LANRE IROCHE
I need to grow up, to quit my pity party, to smile more, to laugh more, to relax, to trust, to hope, to have faith, to believe, to expect, to see, to want, to desire, to know, to be.
have kept so much emotion bottled up in my lifetime, hardly showing appreciation for the people who matter. I have lived as a victim of fear and dismay, always entertaining expectations of the worst, never believing that all is and will be well. Always waiting for the guillotine to drop. I’ve been living a life where mistakes are harshly judged, my mistakes and others’, where my expectations have been unrealistic and unfair. I have not seen in me what others see, so I’m not able to give them what they need. Always internalising, never expressing outwardly. Always scared. Always scared. I am a Christian. And I sit in the midst of non-Christians…and it’s okay. I observe their empty conversation…and it’s okay. The world hasn’t come to a stop because I spent some moments in the company of those who don’t share my beliefs. I realise at that point that I don’t have to be anybody other than me; who I am at any given time. I’ve heard all the talk about who I’m supposed to be, but the important thing for now is to be who I am, is it not? Or am I not to find and face my challenges? Or am I to pretend I don’t have any? To meet situations and circumstances head-on? Or to deny their existence? To look for solutions in the midst of adversity? Or to denounce adversity as a problem for others? To focus on my intended destination? Or on where life could take me? I choose not to be scared anymore. I choose not to. I choose to live life as I see life. I choose to make decisions and to stick by them, unless I choose to make another decision, and then to stick by that one. Some of these decisions will be harder to make than others, but this is not an opt-out clause. A decision still needs to be made. I need to grow up, to quit my pity party, to smile more, to laugh more, to relax, to trust, to hope, to have faith, to believe, to expect, to see, to want, to desire, to know, to be. I need goals. I need to set them thoughtfully, prayerfully. I need to document my prayers, my conversations with God, since I choose to believe that He is. I am standing on the edge of a major turning point in my life, and I can choose which way it is headed from here. I can return to the norm of my life or I can plough ahead, facing whatever life brings my way, addressing whatever issues may unfold, believing not that I CAN, but that I WILL. I must cease to quit, I must cease to give up. I must cease to talk when action is required and to act when a word is the order of the day. I must crave discernment, I must seek wisdom, wherever I may find it. I must open my eyes and crave understanding. I must learn to learn. I must thirst for knowledge, setting aside childish dreams and ways, and plough forward for something more meaningful. I must assess myself honestly and realistically, assessing my options with clarity and information. I must discover my purpose and my ultimate destiny. I must embrace discipline and necessary routine. I must find a way.
36 OUTFLOW FEBRUARY MARCH 2008 2008 OUTFLOW OCTOBER 2007
The Voice of One
THE VOICE OF ONE … (Matt 3.3) BY JOHN ZACH
TEN THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO “ARRRGGGH!!!!!!” Patience is a virtue. At least that’s what the Bible makes clear. However this Christian walk is a trying one and the straight and narrow seems to be getting even straighter and narrower the longer you walk along it, or attempt to do so. I have listed ten things below that are guaranteed to try the patience of all but the most pious believer: 1) People exercising their right to go to an early grave lighting up and inhaling tobacco and then spewing the smoky residue in your face as you walk past them on the street, oblivious to the fact that you might have asthma; 2) Opening a door in a public place for a person who struts past you without even noticing that you exist, talk less of saying ‘thank you’; 3) Walking into a carpeted area only to discover that you’d inadvertently stepped on someone’s carelessly disposed off chewing gum, which has transformed into glue and is matchmaking the sole of your shoe with the carpet; 4) Standing behind someone on a bus or train who discretely breaks wind (or airs their views) and then looks away innocently whilst you gasp for breath and wonder why transport authorities don’t provide gas masks as standard equipment; 5) Running after a bus whose driver waits until you’ve reached the doors before closing them in your face and pulling away from the kerb ignoring your pleas and heaving chest; 6) Being ‘blessed’ with a brand new 4x4 only to find that it emits in excess of 225grams of Co2 and therefore qualifies for the proposed £25 per day congestion charge. Little wonder they were so keen; 7) Rising to your feet on public transport for an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a woman of any age who publicly turns down your offer but subsequently
rushes for the next available vacant seat as if their feet were killing them; 8) Going out on a blind date with a person who spends all evening talking about their undying fascination with themselves and their world and expects you to be just as interested in picking up the bill; 9) Eating across the table from someone who slurps their soup and eats with their mouth open, making a clicking noise with their tongue as they eat; 10) Women who think it’s stylish for guys to see their belly buttons and love handles every time they raise their hands to say “hallelujah!” And in case you thought the road couldn’t get any straighter or narrower, the bible encourages us to ‘Count it all joy’ when in the midst of diverse adversity. NEWS FLASH: “Health Secretary Alan Johnson is setting out plans to change Britain’s “sick note culture” into a “well note culture”. When I saw the above news item I began to brainstorm over ways to assist the Government in tackling the problem of excessive ‘sickies’, especially the variety that occur around bank holidays, festive seasons and major events like Wimbledon and the FA Cup final. After hours of meditation I came up with a solution. Why doesn’t the Government have an online National Sick Note Offender’s register listing all the details of those whose sick notes fall around the aforementioned seasons and events, and then pass a law making it illegal for them to leave their homes on sick days except in an ambulance? In addition it would be a good idea to electronically tag them so that their movements can be monitored. Unless such drastic measures are undertaken all I can say is good luck Alan! I am the voice of one…
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Stars In God’s Eyes Abiola Obileye
Published: February 2006 Pages Section: Childrens Corner Stars In God’s Eyes is a collection of Bible stories about ordinary people who walked in God’s hall of fame. The stories are retold with colourful illustrations, to give children a clear understanding. Each letter of the alphabet is associated with a Bible personality. It aims to give children positive role models to learn from, while planting seeds of faith in their hearts. There is a one-line lesson summary at the end of every story, to encourage children to make right choices. Every child is a star in God’s Eyes! This book is great for use in Sunday schools, Bible clubs and Christian schools. It can be used for family devotions. It will certainly make a fantastic gift for every occasion such as Birthdays, Christenings, Christmas and Easter.
Eggs-Traordinary Easter Andy Robb
Published: 2006 Pages Section: Childrens Corner The funny thing is, most people who think the Bible’s mega mind-numbingly boring have never even read it! Crazy or what?! Imagine turning down a triple whopper chicken, cheese and yoghurt burger with gherkin and custard relish just
because you’d never tried it.... On second thoughts that wasn’t such a good suggestion. But you get the point? There’s so much stuff in the Bible that you won’t be able to look at every bit of it but the bits chosen will hopefully make you start to realise that the Bible maybe isn’t quite so boring as you thought. Have fun! The Boring Bible is a successful children’s series. Crammed full of cartoons, jokes, the young in heart of every age will learn more about the Bible from reading these than any number of sermons or commentaries. Particularly suitable for ages 7-15.
The Case for Easter Lee Strobel
Published: 2004 Pages Section: Christian Living How credible is the evidence for, and against, the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Focusing his awardwinning skills as a legal journalist on history’s most compelling enigma, Lee Strobel retraces the startling findings that led him from atheism to belief in the biblical New Testament story.
Lost in His Glory Sonnie Badu
leaders of our time, a songwriter and composer, arranger. His unique blend of intimate worship, high class visuals, and his energetic style of ushering congregations into the presence of God is affecting lives worldwide. ‘The Worshipper’, as he is popularly known was called by God at a very tender age. His testimony even at the age of 24 is one of struggle and triumph. He can be simply described as ‘a man after Gods own heart’. Growing up in Ghana, Sonnie has worked alongside some of the top Gospel artists and Ministers of God all over the world. When you speak with Sonnie it is clear that one of the things that sets him apart from his peers is the simplicity with which he administers deep revelations of God. Worship touches the heart of God, and an understanding that this is the one thing God cannot do for himself is what makes Sonnie a servant and a friend of God. For Sonnie Badu, it is an honour and privilege to stand and lead God’s children in the art of spiritual intimacy. For Sonnie, man was created purely for the purpose of praise and worship. Therefore, the more you fulfil Gods desire, the more He fulfils yours. ‘...And these signs shall follow them that believe’, Mark 16:15. Sonnie Badu’s ministry houses the presence of God and where God’s heart is, His hand will be. Testimonies of healing and breakthrough follow him wherever he sets up to praise, for more information see, www.sonniebadu.co.uk.
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Released: September 2007 Pages Section: Audio Minister Sonnie Badu is one of the chosen worship
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