With Archbishop Ben Kwashi
Thursday 10 August
Archbishop Ben Kwashi is well known as a preacher and evangelist throughout Nigeria, Africa, England, Ireland and the United States. He was ordained in 1982 and 10 years later became Bishop of Jos. In January 2008, he was presented as the Archbishop of Jos Province in the Church of Nigeria and is currently moving into a new season of ministry. He and his wife Gloria have six children but have also adopted over 70 orphans and provide a school for several hundred. Here the New Horizon Media Team brings you a summary of what he had to say at #NH2023.
I thank God for this privilege of being together with you and I thank God for the morning sessions when our brother Tony Horsfall has been helping us to draw our hearts and minds to come to God as we are. One of the things that I’ve learnt with God is that asks you to come to Him as we are, but when we come to Him we will never be the same.
I will take my stand at my watch post, says Habakkuk. This is the picture of the prophet as a watchman and particularly Isaiah talks a lot about this position. I would like to take us through this passage in three sections and tonight I would like to invite us all to take a stand.
Take a Stand to Watch
The watchman has a huge responsibility. The watchman warns of danger. The watchman announces good news. If the watchman fails, the fault is his. If he warns the people and they ignore the warning, the fault is theirs (as Ezekiel says).
I believe the last two days, our brother Tony has been serving as a watchman – giving us a warning. Those of you who haven’t been able to come – get the tapes or read the summaries – to see what God is saying to us.
To watch is not only the task of the official watchman. Every believer is called to watch. Habakkuk in chapter 2:1 is not watching for the approach of human enemies. The enemies are already there. He is watching and he is listening to hear from God and know how God will answer his complaints.
The enemies are all around. If you are watching, you will know that we need God now. No matter how long Habakkuk will wait, he will continue to watch. As we hear the news, we are to stick to God and watch.
Psalm 5:3,“Oh Lord, in the morning you hear my voice, I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch”
Where I live we have to wake up at 4am whether we like it or not because our Muslim brothers through the minaret will blow a call for prayer. I’m so used to it that at 4am, I wake up where ever I am in the world. If those who we are seeking to evangelise are calling for prayers, then why should we be sleeping? At 4am, I get up and have my personal devotions and then at 6am I wake the children for our morning prayers as a family. We must watch. The difficulties that have come upon us have not given us an opportunity to sleep.
I have been waiting and watching for the day when killings will stop in Northern Nigeria. Only a few days ago, a few kilometres from Jos, 17 people were killed. There is no alternative, if we turn away from God where shall we go? He alone has the answers. Our salvation is in Him alone. So we must take a stand.
To love and not hate.
For truth, righteousness and justice.
Jesus begged His disciples to take a stand and watch in Gethsemane. “Remain here and watch with me.” After an hour, He returned to find them sleeping and He asked, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” They fell asleep. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Followers of Jesus are always to watch because no one knows the hour, nor the time, nor the day. As well as watching for His return, they should also watch their own lives, making sure that they are living in accordance with His word. We must watch our families too. We must watch everything around us.
At one time each one of our six children was having difficulties. One day, I said “I can’t do this” I kept praying and fasting. One of the nights in the cold season of Jos, I was sweating as I was crying to God. “Lord help me, I want my children to be believers”. Gloria asked what was wrong. “Is it our children?” she asked. I said, “Yes”. She said, “Ben, you are a huge sinner. And I am a huge sinner. We were saved by grace. Do you really think that our children will be angels?”
God answers prayers. We have nowhere else to turn. We need to watch and pray for our children. The watchman watches the events internationally, nationally and locally. He does not have the answers but He turns to God.
Whenever you watch and you have no answers, turn to the Lord.
The prophet waits until God answers Him. It is a little over 40 years since I watched the first slaughter and the destruction of Christian properties in Nigeria. It hasn’t stopped but I have not stopped praying.
Take a stand and Listen
Then the Lord replied to Habakkuk. The Lord says, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
The righteous shall live by faith. God will always respond to our cries. There are so many testimonies in scripture of those who cried to the Lord. Hannah wept before the Lord and prayed for a child. God answers prayers. In the last few years, I have found out as I waited on the Lord that God has His own plans, He is sovereign and He will always do what is good for His children. He is a loving God. He is a kind God.
When we prayed for God to take away the evil, the killings increased. There was a time when over 500 people were slaughtered in one night. The Catholic bishop and myself visited the people who were left behind and we had a mass funeral. People cried until they could not cry any more. And we told them to forgive. I’ve stopped praying for the Lord to stop it. I’ve just simply started praying for revival.
Here we see that the prophet is so confident about God, that he knows that evil will not last forever. God has the final say. God says, just wait. One day you will see the end of this. But while you are waiting go on working for righteousness.
Our human righteousness is like a filthy rag before God. We cannot work righteousness on our own. People can say, “Oh he is a good person.” But before God, no one in righteous. Even if you don’t do any of those negative things, God knows your heart and mind. We cannot hide anything from God. We cannot work our own salvation. We have to depend on the righteousness of Jesus, who paid the price for our sins on the cross.
He literally took my sins, my evil thoughts and He took them away. On that day in Lagos when I surrendered my heart to Jesus. It was my decision as I heard brother Dominic share the gospel with me from John 10:10. Tears began to run down my cheeks. The cigarette I was holding that day, was the last cigarette I ever smoked. A few months later, I went back home to see my mother, to apologise and beg her forgiveness.
When I left home, I was trouble. When I returned, I said to my grandmother, “I want to serve the Lord.” She said, “That is not news because we’ve been praying for you”
No matter where you are in the world, the righteousness of God works righteousness in us. If you have faith in Jesus, that is what will happen. The troubles you’ve been crying about, looking for solutions will have an end.
When you turn your life to Jesus, write it down. If you are praying and reading your Bible, write it down. Write down what you learn. God is speaking God. He will talk to you through the Bible. Read your Bible. Read it daily.
The righteous shall live by faith. A life of righteousness cannot be compromised at any time. All the more in these evil days. We are blessed to be where we are. Always remember that. Please do not complain. God in His divine sovereignty has a plan for why each one of us has been born and put where we are.
He has a plan for us, that is why we are here. Would you take the time tonight to think about that? Before this conference is over, seek the Lord. God has a plan for your life. Seek it out. Ask Him to speak to you. He will speak to you.
You may be carrying so many problems. Tonight you can lay them down. The righteous shall live by faith. No man on earth can help you only God can through Christ.
Take a Stand (don’t be neutral)
Don’t be neutral, take a position. There are five woes coming on those who reject the love of God. One day will be a day of judgement. God promises that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
As a teenager, in my heart, I was rebellious. My mother prayed and tried to set me straight. My father, a schoolteacher tried but he couldn’t set me straight. Until the day I met with Jesus. I never forget when I came back home and told my father. He got up and raised his hands in worship to the Lord.
An old lady in the village had gone to collect firewood for the stove. A young man with a truck drove past. He saw this old woman and offered to help. She climbed into he back of the truck and as they were travelling, he looked back and saw the old woman was still carrying the firewood on her head even while she was travelling in the back of the truck. He stopped and said “Mama put down the load.” She said, “You’ve been helping me, I don’t want you to have any extra load to carry.” Don’t keep carrying your own burdens when Jesus offers to take them from you and give you rest. Today is the day of salvation. Let us pray.