As I watched the Centenary celebration service of The Apostolic Church held in Penygroes tonight, my heart is full—so full that I could hardly type these words. I type only because I hope that in so doing, I will lighten the burden and give expression to what God is saying primarily to me, and secondarily to whom it may concern. I hope to be able to capture them in 7 bullets:
- I HAVE A FAMILY TREE. More than ever, tonight, I felt like I belonged to a family with a history. As I heard again the stories of Pastors D.P. Williams and Andrew Turnbull, as I learnt that the first Missionary Office of TAC was in Bradford (where I now study in a Bible College because The Apostolic Bible College is no longer in existence) I felt like I stumbled on a chest that contained photos that told my family tales from time immemorial. I felt like I’m part of a river winding through a great canyon. How true is the saying that “knowing where you came from says much about where you are going.” Little wonder the Bible started with Genesis… “God wants us to know from where we came, for learning that will teach us much about the place we are going.” (Max Lucado, 2004)
- DESPISE NOT THE DAYS OF LITTLE BEGINNINGS. To think that a movement that is now manifestly present in about 100 countries around the world started in a tiny dot on the map spear-headed by a man who was just about 10 years in the faith at the time speaks volumes! Has the Bible not said that “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world?” (1 John 5:4). “Don’t be afraid to start small”. Those were God’s exact words to me in February 2012 as I stepped out of Gombe State in Nigeria as a young man ready to “start living”. Perhaps, He’s saying the same to you today…
- IT’S OKAY TO GO WEARY, BUT DON’T STAY WEARY. To be honest, weariness happens with life. Ask every Pastor called of God—they’ve had moments when they almost gave up. And the same can be said of any genuine child of God. And I think often time, the devil finds us most vulnerable at our moments of weariness such that rather than do what the weary should do, we find ourselves losing our confidence in That which brought us hitherto in the first place. As I stand to look from without (in a manner of speaking) the oriental view of TAC (especially in Nigeria where I come from), I find a picture of a weary congregation and more painfully, weary ministers. The only thing more painful is that many have mistaken their weariness for productivity or efficiency when it is in fact, mere busyness. And this can as well apply to you (as an individual, or an organisation; whatever eyes you might be reading this with). But in all sincerity, (as Pastor Daniel Jenkins read the Scriptures) I felt the Lord saying, “It’s okay to be weary, but don’t stay weary”. Has the prophet not spoken that “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength?” Has Jesus not called in clear language “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest”? Embrace His restoration. And when He restores, don’t expect Him to give you back what you lost; He restores in dimensions consistent with His limitless creativity. Whatever part of your ministry/business has gone weary, don’t expect Him to restore the modus-operandi. Opening yourself up to God’s strength and rest is positioning yourself for His creative ideas that will revive your viability and vitality and give you more rest and greater impact. I write by the Spirit of God.
- REPOSITIONING FOR GREATER IMPACT COMES WITH ITS EMBARRASSMENTS; SHRUG THEM OFF! I could see a form of disappointment on the face of some people in the failed initial attempt to connect live with the Ghana Church while the programme was on. Leveraging on technology for a greater impact is a great thing but the devil wants to discourage the attempt despite the fact that it had been tested to work last night. The good thing is it eventually happened at a later time in the programme. And I think the same is true for all of us in different ways. When Peter stepped out of the waters, that was a repositioning that was to launch him to a whole new level amongst the apostles, but then came the embarrassment that the venture attracted. What I don’t know, however, is if Peter ever tried water-walking again… But for you, this much is sufficient: to walk on the water, you need to get out of the boat!
- DON’T JUST “DO” IT, “TEACH” OTHERS TO DO IT AS WELL! Wasn’t that Jesus’ pattern? “…the things which He began both to DO and to TEACH…” Powerful message from Pastor Eric Horley. That was a timely word! And that’s what leadership and discipleship is all about—and that’s, in fact, what our calling is all about. Don’t be so big on “doing” that you forget to teach—you tend to shorten your life span by so doing and lose the coming generation to those who are doing what you fail to do—teach! That’s why, in some parts of the world, The Apostolic Church is tending to become more of a church for the elderly and less a church for the youths… And don’t be so big on “teaching” that you fail to “do”; otherwise you become practically irrelevant to your community and outsiders will label you as being hypocritical—and rightly so!
- NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE! Oh, I also love the “We Believe” song that was rendered during the service. You need to listen to the real song to appreciate it more. You can watch it here. I’m proud to say that the composer of that song is actually one of my lecturers in my Bible College, Matt Hooper.(And on a lighter note, I wondered if the people that picked the song also knew that the composer wears a tattoo and is a pastor…lol). But, hey! That’s all that matters on the long run—what you believe! What do you believe? We believe in God the Father, We believe in Jesus Christ, We believe in the Holy Spirit and He’s given us new life. We believe in the crucifixion, we believe that He’s conquered hell; We believe in His resurrection and He’s coming back again….
- YOUR DESTINY IS GREATER THAN YOUR MEMORY. That’s the take home for me tonight. That come what may, my destiny in God is greater than my memory. That my yesterday is incomparable to my tomorrow. That eyes had not seen, ears had not heard, and neither has it gotten to the hearts of men the things God is preparing for me and for you.
These are the things the Spirit of God ministered to me from being a part of this centenary celebration. pray it blesses you, too.
Joseph Kolawole Ola
Life Church College, Bradford