Thursday, 12 October 2017

Nabeel Qureshi (1983-2017)

“Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”

The lines above are part of the verses of the famous hymn “Abide with me…” written by Henry F. Lyte, in 1847. As I think about the life of Nabeel Qureshi who went to be with the Lord on the 16th of September 2017 after fighting stomach cancer for a year plus, I cannot help but remember the words of that hymn writer “Change and decay in all around I see”.

He served the Lord only for eleven years and died at the age of thirty four. But those years were full of dedication and commitment to the Lord Jesus. As Dr. Ravi Zacharias wrote in Christianity Today, a day after his death, “Nabeel came like a streak of lightning, brightened the night sky, and has returned to the One who gave the power to do what he did.” He commented during his funeral service that Nabeel "… was like a racehorse. You couldn't stop him. Even in the thickness of his illness,".

As a lover of the works of Dr. Ravi, I got to know about Nabeel Qureshi through RZIM, since he worked with RZIM. I began to watch his programs and debates including his famous debate with the Islamic Scholar Dr. Shabir Ally on "Who Is The Real God? Allah or the Trinity?". I could not help but thanked God who I felt had given us one of the people to help in the work Dr. Ravi Zacharias is doing. How wrong I was. Apologetics is a side of the ministry that needs men in our time.
We cannot query God on why He has to take His child home but we indeed mourn.

We thank God for Nabeel’s testimony and believe that God will use it to touch more people, especially Muslims, to commit their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ. May the scales that fell off Nabeel’s eyes continue to fall off the eyes of the spiritually blind in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Please pray for the family he left behind, Michelle and their daughter.

You can watch the whole eulogy here
God bless you all.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Following Hard After God - Book Review by George A. Lane

Many thanks to Andy Lane for this review of my book - Following Hard After God - Discover how to make the pursuit of God your life time affair. Have a nice read.

Having a close personal and ever increasing relationship with God is the most essential need for believers.  All other aspects of our faith walk as Christians depend on the spiritual growth and grooming that results from this relationship with our Heavenly Father.  In Following Hard After God, Chris Ekwedam provides a view of how we must adjust our desires and actions in order to become Seekers of God.  This is a view that will not be found in the rituals and dogmas of religion.  While it is ever so important to repent “from” sin, an even more important aspect of repentance that is often not adequately emphasized is “Turning Toward” God to truly seek His will for our lives.  Here in this book, Ekwedam takes the other approach to illustrate the importance of turning toward and following after God, and so the necessity of turning away from our selves, worldly influences, and sin becomes obvious in comparison.

In each chapter, the reader is challenged to consider the many distractions, both from worldly influences as well as our own human natures, which draw our attention away from this relationship that we most desire and need.  Perhaps the most important challenge is to put away the many various inadequate images of who God is that we are trained to imagine by religion and social conventions: images that limit our faith and access to God as the source and supply for all our needs.  Realizing that this is a process, a lifelong journey, to learn who God truly is and who we truly are to God, Ekwedam admits, “My aim is not to give you the A, B, C, on how to quench the thirst of your soul and satisfy this great desire that you have; my intention is to help you kick start the journey.”

Following Hard After God is certainly among the most clear-cut and direct discussions of this topic that I have ever read.  It makes an excellent text for the introduction to any curriculum of Biblical / ministry studies.  I refer to this as an introductory text because it is much better to begin the Journey with this understanding in hand than to correct bad study, worship, and Seeking habits once they have been formed.  And likewise, it is a great book to give as a gift or to recommend to those we are inevitably in a position to assist and encourage on their journey with God.

George A. Lane

Chairman, Advisory Board - Vision Bible College Support Society
Project Manager, Vision Bible College Campus Development Project

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Going beyond the Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes as a Panacea for abandoned Children

There are Orphanages that are doing a great job in giving care to abandoned children especially children born under uncertain circumstances. There are other 'orphanages' run as an enterprise where the owners are there, not because they have any burden for abandoned children, but just to enrich themselves. Most of them are not registered and operate without authorized license. They are the ones that engage in the so-called baby industry racket. Individuals and groups visit them and donate money, food and sanitary items only for the items to be diverted for their personal use.

Now, is anybody asking where the children that grow up in some Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes around us end up? Where do they end up when they turn ten-eleven years old? Most of them end up in the streets while the Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes continue to bring in more babies and continue their activities. I read a piece by Sarah Zylstra on Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage, and I found it interesting how a ministry was able to evaluate their activities and change their approach. The purpose of this discourse is to make a case for Adoption; it should be the end goal for Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes especially as it concerns the little children below the teenage age who do not have any real families to call their own.

The best environment for a child to grow and develop is in a family home. One of the greatest gifts the family gives to a child is IDENTITY. The Orphanage and Motherless Babies Homes cannot give this gift to a child. A child that has no identity enters into crisis early in his/her teens. Only very few come out of this crisis without developing hatred, anger, and resentment against the society and established authorities.

Another gift the family gives to the child is the opportunity to receive TRAINING both as per education, values and morals. Most of the parents seeking to adopt babies belong to the middle class. They can give the child minimum education. Cultural ethics and morals are taught the child in the family which prepares him for the life ahead.

The next gift the family gives is that of LOVE AND SUPPORT. The chances of a child who did not receive parental love to become aggressive and violent later in life are very high. These are the fabrics that hold the society together to ensure the continued survival and existence of our specie. 

We live in a country where scarce data is kept. Most research works are bogus and not addressing real problems. We are not able to plan and forecast. We are just reacting to life’s immediate situations; hence we are not able to appreciate these societal problems and their consequences both mid-term and long-term.

The point is that as the light of the world, Christians have to do things that work; things that bring real transformation to both lives and the society.  It is good to run Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes, but it has to be only a holding point. Efforts should be made to put every child from an Orphanage or Motherless Babies Home into a family home. We may not be able to put every child into a family home, especially grown up ones, but we can reduce this number and pray that those that remain in Orphanage Homes receive God's touch.

Why should many Orphanages and Motherless Babies Homes be filled with little children when many couples are looking for children to adopt? Why should a couple seeking to adopt a child pay through their nose when actually they are not just adopting to meet a need in their lives but also helping to build the society by giving the child a future? Many questions, right? But it is only in answering them sincerely can we have a paradigm shift that we need. God bless you.

Abandoned Street Children - The Church’s Response

Our cities are littered with children who are abandoned by their parents and care-givers. Most of them live in Motor Parks, uncompleted buildings and under the Bridges. Others street-hawk or are used by their supposed-to-be guardians to service their own families and are abandoned later when their services are no longer required. But how did they come to that point?

Causes of abandonment of children include:
1. Unwanted pregnancies by young adults who cannot carter for their children when they are born. Our African societies do not have much sympathy for any girl that makes the mistake of getting pregnant before marriage. They do not put any serious responsibility on the shoulders of the man who impregnated the girl. As a result, some of the girls, especially those living alone in cities, will hide the pregnancy from their parents and relatives but throw away the baby once they are born. Others will live with the baby for some time but when they grow up, they are abandoned by their mother who is not able to care for them properly by sending them to school. Some of the women who have the fear of God or are advised properly consult with some Christian Hospitals or Social Welfare, early enough, to take the babies for adoption after birth. Absence of social security systems in the country only worsens the situation.

2. Poverty of parents who give birth to high number of children which they do not have enough resources to take care of. This makes them to either send the children out as early as at seven years old to learn a trade or to be a house-maid to some families or give them out in early marriage. More often than not, these children end up in the streets, as these actions of their parents are not to their best interests.

3. Pregnancies by lunatics, female beggars and disabled people who give birth to children around our society. Most of them will not allow anybody to take their babies from them, thus the children grow only to walk away to fetch for themselves once they are above seven years old. Social work by churches and religious bodies is not robust in our societies.

4. Religio-culturally motivated abandonment is a problem that is widely spread in the Northern Nigeria. These abandoned children are popularly called 'Almajiris'. It is true that the religio-cultural system has a way of attempting to care for these children; however, statistics have shown that most of the children end up in the streets because they are not equipped with the education that can carry them on through life. In fact, the reason Boko Haram is having enough available recruits every now and then even after each time they are decimated may not be far from this fact that there are a lot of abandoned grown up children who are within reach.

5. Exploitative and ignorant "Motherless babies homes". These also help to throw children into our streets. How? When the children grow up to eight – ten years old, they tend to become uncontrollable. The only thing the Orphanage will do is to push them out; hence they go out with that frustration and become dangerous in the society.

The church can take up the issue of abandoned street children as an opportunity for evangelism. We can build Orphanages to take these grown up children out of the streets. We can develop social support projects in our churches. What are the practical ways your church is impacting their communities? Does your church have schools for their communities? Are they mission schools or just business establishments? Does your church have skill acquisition projects? Do you have any program for the street children? 

If you have met any of them during evangelism, you will agree that the Gospel they understand must deal with both their spiritual and immediate physical situations. Let us do our part because these souls matter too.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Please pray for these kidnapped Missionaries

Gloria Argoti, a Columbian Nun who is in her 60s, was kidnapped on February 7th when assailants broke into her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali. 

Ken Elliott, was kidnapped in January 2016, along with his wife Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. Jocelyn was released a month later but her husband is still in captivity.

Beatrice Stockl, a Swiss, was  kidnapped on January 15th by al-Qaeda's Ansar al-Dine terrorist group from her home in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the second time in four years that Beatrice has been kidnapped by militants. After the group seized control of Timbuktu, she was accused of proselytizing Christianity, held for ten days, and warned that she would be executed if she tried to return to Timbuktu. Despite the threat, Beatrice returned to Timbuktu in 2013 after French troops liberated the city. In January 2016.

Jeff Woodke, an American Missionary working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). He was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th from the town of Abalak in northern Niger. So far, little is known about Jeff's condition or whereabouts, other than news that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. On July 11th, a video was released by Els Woodke, expressing her despair, as well as her desire to be in touch with her husband's kidnappers.

Pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit on these brethren no matter what they go through. May God help them to remain faithful. Pray that God may touch the hearts of their captors so that they will release them unconditionally to their families. May the ministry of the Holy Spirit also console the families and friends of the missionaries, reminding them of God's promise to be a "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). In addition, please pray for the protection of the country's other foreign mission workers so that needed humanitarian aid can continue assisting the suffering people of Mali.
More information on these and the persecuted Christians around the world can be obtained here. Make sure you say some words of prayer no matter how busy you may be. Encourage your church to pray for the persecuted.