Coping With Career & Devotion To Christ.
A Speech Delivered In Atlanta Georgia, On March 18, 1998 At The Fund-Raising Diner
Organized By Celestial Church Of Christ North Atlanta Parish.
Greetings : to all, and a special one to Pa Zannu, with reminisces to encounter in Nigeria.
As a Christian and career person, one whose career is constantly being re-shaped and re-directed by God, I couldn't pass over the opportunity to add my personal experiences to the rich reservoir that the speakers before me have already created. It is indeed a pleasure for me to be in the company that I am in tonight.
I want to begin by saying categorically and unequivocally that as Christians, our careers, whatever they may be, must and should be Christ-centered. Failing to understand this fact, means failing to understand a very fundamental principle which is, that all that we are is by the grace of God. And the Bible speaks about this. For example, we are admonished in the 3rd chapter of Proverbs to trust the Lord with all our heart, to lean not upon our own understanding, and God shall direct our paths. Then the 103rd. Psalm urges us to bless the Lord with all that's within us. The emphasis is on all - everything - our careers, possessions, and everything that God has endowed us with. Therefore, tonight, I say to you, without a doubt, that the way that we conduct our careers is sometimes an indication of how we are doing in our devotion to God. I shall elaborate on this throughout my presentation tonight.
Even though our topic is well defined for us, I hope that I can leave you with something from my own walk with God, to take home with you. But first, let me provide you with some contexts.
I came to Celestial Church of Christ nearly three decades ago, at a very critical time in my life. I was a senior in high school, and as with all young people at that stage of life, I was filled with anxieties about life after high school - will I go to college, and who will pay for it? It was at that time that God called me to this great church. I did not know very much about the Bible, and I did not know anything about salvation. But in Celestial Church of Christ, I found just the church that I was looking for - a place where I immediately felt accepted; loved, and where I began to learn things about God that I did not know existed. More importantly, I found a church whose mission was ( and still is ) salvation of the lost souls. I couldn't be happier.
I thought that I might share with you something that captures the essence of Celestial Church of Christ when I came. The best description that I found was in the lyrics of a song that we rendered shortly after my arrival at the church during the Easter season in Nigeria.
O give me a home
People who have spent as much time in Celestial Church of Christ as I have, and who have experienced the love of Jesus Christ as I have will be quick to point out that the key word for Celestial Church of Christ is grace. It is grace - the grace of God that propels the church. And all that we are enjoying in the church is by grace, not by merit. And tonight I attest to the fact that this grace of God has not diminished.
It was in Celestial church that my world collided with that of a great prophet - in fact, in my own opinion, the greatest that God ever sent to this world and particularly, Africa - Rev. Samuel Oschoffa now deceased. I will tell you more about his mission later. In Celestial I was able to learn God's will for my life as God charted the course for my life including my career. I found a ministry that was designed to help young people become whatever they wanted to become. Such was, and still is the spirit of love and oneness with which Celestial Church of Christ was founded. I will return to that in a moment. But first, I want you to know that there is a well established tradition by God, of using professional people or people with careers or career aspirations to do his work. We will now look at some of them.
Who are these people?
It is a known fact that when God touches you, your life is never the same. You are about to meet a select group of ordinary people whose lives took a different turn when they began to balance their career goals with their new priorities in Christ Jesus.
At the tender age of 12, the youngest of 8 sons of Jesse, David was tending to his father's flock as a shepherd when the prophet Samuel announced to him that he was to be anointed king over Israel. God used his skills as a shepherd boy to oversee a very difficult group of people - the Israelites.
Deborah - the only woman to serve as judge in Israel, provided such wise counsel that led to a major victory for Israel - the defeat of the Caaninites who had oppressed Israel for a long time. Deborah was a judge and a spiritual counselor.
Elisha was one of the most powerful prophets to ever live. He was also the founder of the School of the Prophets at Ramah. His vocation was the training and educating of young people to keep their minds from becoming polluted by society. He continued as a prophet and educator for 50 years.
Gideon was the judge of Israel who defeated the Mediannites - one of Israel's greatest enemies. He was secretly threshing his crops - presumably as a farmer - when God called him to rescue Israel. Gideon was a judge, farmer, and a man of God.
Jacob who worked for his father-in-law for 20 years to secure the love of his life, was a shepherd by profession. God changed his name from Jacob to Israel - a name that was more consistent with his calling and mission. Jacob was a shepherd who became the progenitor of the nation of Israel.
Then, there was Joseph a carpenter by profession , who received a special visitation that changed his life for ever. He went on to become the father of the Savior - Jesus Christ.
To Simon and Andrew, both of whom were fishermen, Jesus said, "come ye after me, and I will make you fishers of men. Fishermen ( spiritual and secular ) and evangelists they remained for the rest of their lives.
And last but not the least, the Rev. Samuel Oschoffa, a carpenter, the founder of Celestial Church of Christ, and in my opinion, one of the greatest prophets of our time. His, is a story of how God used an ordinary man, uneducated, to build a church, Celestial Church of Christ, whose head is Jesus Christ himself. He lived his life as carpenter, prophet, and shepherd. When I him in his home in the Republic of Benin, West Africa, in 1970, he was in his workshop. We had just arrived for the annual Christmas convocation. His pastoral robe was hanging by a nail, and he has a pair of Khaki shorts and a T-shirt. He was repairing some broken chairs. I marveled that he took the time off from his pastoral duties to repair chairs. I didn't make the connection then. I do now. Pastoral duties do not rub us of our God-given talents and skills. Rather, the skills serve as tools for evangelism.
As I promised earlier, this takes me now to a very brief history of how Celestial Church was founded. You have just seen a visual collage of some aspects of the church. Now let me put a little history behind it.
What is Celestial Church of Christ and how did it begin?
On the night of September 9, 1947, the founder of this church - Rev. Samuel Oschoffa - received a special visitation. A certain light came from the east followed by a special appearance by a winged structure, whose entire body was covered with fire. He brought the following message to the Reverend:
Since then, the church that I know - Celestial Church of Christ, has been, and will continue to be in the business of saving souls. Salvation was the dearest thing to the soul of Rev. Oschoffa. He talked about it, preached about it, and enjoined others to be about the business of saving souls. Some of his happiest moments, in fact, were those times when the church filed out in long processions to evangelize in open air spaces so that non-members can see the glory of God and partake in it.
It is well documented that by the time of his death in 1985, Rev. Oschoffa, through the power of the Holy spirit, had brought back to life two or more dozen people, and healed more people than anyone can document. Equally, many have received career and vocational advancement than can ever be fully documented. Not to talk of the many that have borne children, who had been declared incapable of doing so. By the time of his death, Rev. Oschoffa had fulfilled the promises of God as recorded in the last chapter of mark's gospel which reads:
Today, under the leadership of Rev. Alexander Bada, the church is moving on, and God is still in charge.
What do we learn from the lives of Oschoffa, David, and the others that I have just
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