With Archbishop Ben Kwashi
Wednesday 9 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. He and his wife Gloria have six children. Here the New Horizon Media Team brings you a summary of what he had to say at #NH2023.
Let me thank the brothers and sisters of New Horizon who by faith invited me here and I am so happy to be here. This is one of the trips I have made alone this year. I spoke with my wife Gloria twice today and she said to greet all of you. Last time we were here with you, she remembers the young men and women who were standing in the rain to conduct the traffic.
I want to thank you. I was sick – and many prayers were prayed all over the world. I’m grateful to God that I am alive. During the time of that first cancer, the Lord told me to move out of being a Bishop so we are moving out in faith to where we can look after more children. We have adopted 72 and have several hundred in our school. Do pray for us.
When I was asked to speak one of the things that came to my mind is the difficulty of the children of God in a political world, especially when we are not in control of the political powers. The children of God become victims of the political systems. But listening to bishop Fanta yesterday I was greatly encouraged. By the way it is official that my name is Ben Coke (since my schooldays). So when I met with Fanta, I said, “Brother did you know that I am ‘Coke'”
The choice for our three days is the book of Habakkuk. I am trusting the Lord has a word for us. The picture that the Bishop showed us towards the end yesterday was the picture of fire spreading across this land. I pray that God will break through with fire in this nation.
Habakkuk lived in a time of violence and corruption. King Josiah had pulled the nation back to God but when his son succeeded him, the situation went from bad to worse.
Prophesying at this time, Jeremiah said, “You have eyes and hearts only for your own dishonest gain and for practising violence.”
Internationally, it was a time of great uncertainty for Judah. We do not know with certainty who he was but Habakkuk was called a prophet of God. He was clearly a man who knew God. He knew the God he was dealing with. I want to beg you to get to know this God. Believers need to get to know God our Father personally because when dangerous days come, only those who can trust such a God will survive.
Habakkuk knows this God personally and he had a strong conviction of believing in the God of the scripture. You cannot know this God except through His word – He has revealed Himself in his word. I encourage my people to read through the Bible once every year. You will see all kinds of stories there that are all about us and our relationship with God.
Read the Bible and you will maintain a consistent relationship with God. Habakkuk knew what it was to wait on the Lord. He knew who he was complaining to. He went to the Lord and he spoke to God about his concerns and the problems that he saw. He complained only to God. He knew the Lord so well that that was who he turned to. I have so many questions that I want to ask God, face to face.
Habakkuk knows the God of creation, the God of salvation and redemption. Who was I that God would care for me and save me? 48 years ago my life changed. The God of redemption.
The problem that Habakkuk had, like us today, was the tendency to think things will get better just when we pray. In our own countries in the last two months, about 50 miles from Jos, over 50 villages have been sacked, over 350 people have been killed, more than 20,000 people have been displaced. Today in the few minutes we have, I would like us to look at the cry of Habakkuk. Tomorrow we will see the response of God and on the third day we will look at songs of praise
First of all, it is okay to cry.
Secondly, when we cry, God answers -God is amazing.
Thirdly, God comforts.
It is Okay to Cry
Crying and tears is part of our humanity. God sees our tears. He shares our pains but He answers our prayers and He comforts us. A day will come when Jesus will wipe away all our tears. No more crying. In that day, it will be over. Until that day, we will cry.
Habakkuk says, “How long will I cry for help?…” God sees all this today as the church is made to suffer. In my part of the world and over 20 years of my ministry in Jos, all I have seen is violence upon violence. Life has become so cheap. There is so much injustice, strife, conflict and suffering. And the worst is when the law is paralysed and justice is perverted. The earliest casualty of bad leadership is the breaking of the law. Next follows a progressive corruption until it becomes an accepted practice. Will things get better?
Some would say just give up and join in with evil. Some churches have compromised. I cannot help but be concerned about the future of my grandchildren. Who will teach them the gospel? What sort of pastors will they have? This is the time when we need to take up the cross boldly. If persecution comes, let it come. This is a time for us to teach the present generation so they will teach the next until Jesus comes. Habakkuk never lost hope even though he could not understand what God was doing.
I was in England in 2006, the day I was to return home, I was asked to stay longer. I talked to Gloria on the phone and shortly afterwards she heard people trying to get into the house. They broke in and did unspeakable things to her. After 3.5 hours, half blind, broken ribs, etc she was taken to hospital.. I rushed back the next day and I saw her in hospital. The police had cordoned off the house but I stayed there and that night I cried and cried and for the next three months I spent time crying. I was trying to think how I could look after my wife and our daughter. I said, “Lord it should have been me”. I heard a voice, “do you have friends?” That voice said to me, “Do you realise that 24/7 people around the world are praying for you and Gloria?”
It is okay to cry my friends. When you cry to the Lord, you will get answers.
God says, “Look and see.” God is calling Habakkuk to take his eyes off his own problems and to look what God is doing.
One night, Gloria woke me up to ask what do orphans need. I said, “food…clothes… etc.” She said, “You are wrong… orphans need a father and a mother.” Now we are caring for hundreds. God answers and shows us something new. He will show how He plans to bless others and to bless you too. We do not understand God’s ways. But He will make His plans known to us as we follow Him, day after day.
This is the difficulty that we believers have faced. Psalm 73 tells us how this wonderful God works. He is a God who judges. He will judge the wicked and He will bless the righteous. One of the joys that I have is that when I got to know Jesus, I asked, “Do you think Jesus will truly forgive a sinner like me?” When we turn our lives to Jesus, He clothes us with his righteousness. That is the Saviour we have.
The evil in Nigeria today is huge. In most cases, the Muslim militias kill in the most gruesome manner – slaughtering men, women and children with knives in the dark. They take girls as young as eight years old and turn them into sex slaves. They show no pity for the aged and the weak. They destroy harvests and plunder homes and property. And the government watches on offering words of condolence but there are no arrests or court cases. The international community say that this is a clash between farmers and herders. That is a lie. These are villagers that are sleeping at night and evil people come to kill them.
They answer that God gives may not come immediately but God answers. He calls us to wait and wait patiently. “Be still and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations”. God answers prayers and He calls us to wait on Him. He is crying with us. He will wipe away our tears. He calls us to trust Him and to walk with Him.
Isaiah says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
Brothers and sisters it is that same waiting that Habakkuk takes upon himself. Waiting on God in fasting and total submission and learning from God. Turning your whole hearts to God. Not giving up but thriving in a bad situation. This type of waiting gives you wings to soar. It gives you the ability to persevere. Despite all we see. Despite all we hear and know. Never give up. Wait on the Lord.
Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation but take heart, I have overcome the world.”
Friends, Jesus has overcome the world. He has conquered death. He has conquered the devil. In His death, He shattered the power of death and hell. He set all who come to Jesus free. When Jesus has already overcome, we have nothing more to fear.
When I had cancer I thought I was going. I didn’t. When they came the second time to make an attempt on my life, Jesus saved me. Each time I told the devil, I’m going to work harder now. Friends, Jesus has already conquered the devil. It doesn’t make sense for us to be afraid or to be discouraged. Tonight, I want to invite you to rededicate your faith to be on fire again with Jesus. To love the Lord more than ever before.
The world is not going to get better. Africa is in a terrible state. Tonight I’m inviting you friends, don’t be afraid of death. Don’t be afraid of suffering. I’m inviting you to accept Jesus, the one who has defeated Satan, sin and the world. If you are not ready now with Jesus, when suffering comes, you won’t know what to do. Get ready!
Today is your day of salvation. No longer present a gloomy face. The Lord will give you joy. Please pray with me. God is able to bring joy from the ashes of suffering, from the difficulties of life. It is the joy of the Lord that gives us strength. He alone can turn our circumstances and situations to good.