Thursday, 19th – Sunday,
22nd August 2004
ABIA STATE, NIGERIA.
*Evangelist Emmanuel Ogbonna (Host).
Deaf Liberty Gospel Ministries (Aba, Abia State).
* Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise.
Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission (Enugu, Enugu State).
*Evangelist Kenneth M. Yali Diouf.
Reconciliation Ministry (Port
Harcourt, Rivers State).
PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED!
The fifth (5th) Life Transformation Convention for the Deaf held in the town of Aba in Abia State (Nigeria). Emmanuel Ogbonna first initiated the annual evangelistic convention, which is now jointly organized by frontline leaders in the deaf community. Then this initiative of great weight suddenly earned the response of Kenneth M. Yali Diouf, Uche Nwode G. Promise, and Enyioma Amakwe in South Eastern Nigeria. The ultimate goal of this noble gospel work, since inception, has been to gather young and adult deaf people at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ so they could be taught about God, Jesus and values for living.
convention is not a denominational annual event. As such it is open to all
deaf persons, particularly youths in any denomination within and outside Abia
State. Consequently the Holy Spirit has been using the 4-day annual event to
break down denominational barriers and prejudices, and healing mutual
relationships that have been damaged and embittered along denominational
lines. A further proof of the involvement of the Holy Spirit is the increasing
number of deaf youths from other denominations attending and ambitiously
taking active part in the teaching and preaching work, singing of songs of
praise and doing other worthwhile activities.
(Catholics attended!) They are learning to know Jesus more and to get
instruction in sound doctrine leading to salvation.
· God said, “I will gather others…I will lead them in paths they have not known… I will make crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them” (Isaiah 58:6; 42:16).
19th August 2004
More than two dozens of deaf youths arrived from Umuahia, Enugu, Aba, and Port Harcourt. Only one person came from Bayelsa State. Members of the Deaf Liberty Gospel Ministries were on the campground in time to tidy up the environment and settle all necessary logistics and facilities in place. The level of commitment and discipline on the part of our host was very commendable. Most campers arrived in the afternoon and after nightfall.
Prior to suppertime, the presiding host had all the campers gathered in the conference hall of the Trinity College of Ministerial Arts (venue of the convention) in order to brief them on the purpose of the retreat/convention. Camp laws and rules were read out in sign language. Among the rules enumerated was the need for all to attend all teaching and preaching sessions, to desist from immoral behaviour, fighting, tribalism, denominalism, and the wearing of indecent/sexually provocative dressing.
After prayer of thanks and praise to God the congregation trooped to the dining hall for supper before retiring to their dormitories for the night. (Financial contribution from the leaders themselves and several kindhearted Christian individuals through the convention organizers went into providing free feeding to the youths. Some of the youths are jobless and poor people. Attendance gradually rose to between 80 and 120 people by the end of the convention.)
20th August 2004
awakened between 5.a.m. and 7.a.m. by the dormitory wards and prefects, the
people were again soon in the conference hall for the day’s corporate
devotion. (Breakfast was skipped throughout the camping period except on
Sunday morning. The campers were entitled to only lunch and supper. The
withdrawal of breakfast was intended to gently and systematically drill
willing youths and leaders in partial fasting). A member of Christian Mission
for the Deaf (Abia State branch) led the corporate devotion.
He said the topic of the devotion was David Praises [GOD], and led the people to read from 2Samuel 22:1-4. A question put to all listeners for personal meditation was: “Think of life today. Have you praised God yet?”
followed immediately after. The topic under consideration was the work of
character transformation by the Holy Spirit. Campers were taught in three
separate groups about the initial ministry of the Holy Spirit which usually
starts with: (a) Conviction for Sin; (b) Conversion of Sinners,
and (c) Christian Character.
Mostly deaf students taught Bible study under the supervision of Pastor Josephat Okechukwu of the Deaf Christian Assembly (also known as the Deaf Global Missions, Enugu). Those being taught followed their teachers word for word because the Bible study outline was well documented in the convention handbook. At the end of today’s Bible study the supervisor engaged in a brief recapitulation/review exercise in order to assess how much the deaf young people had assimilated. The exercise was also intended to create opportunities for the youths to ask questions as well as for doubts and errors to be erased from their minds. (Question asking opportunity also arose during corporate devotions!)
Before lunchtime, Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise of the Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission, Enugu, delivered a sermon on the subject of hell. “Is there hell?” was the topic of the sermon with Luke 16:23 and 2 Peter 2:4 as the lead texts. The humble pastor appealed to the youths to escape from hell by repenting of their evil deeds and offensive lifestyles, and turning to Christ for forgiveness. He told them that God would not accept unrepentant evil youths into the kingdom of heaven and that such unholy offenders would end up in the eternal fire with the devil. Other doses of scripture were ministered to the youths, particularly where Christ himself spoke of the imminent horrible experience of unrepentant sinners. Laminated printed reports clipped from local newspapers of three separate individuals who had visions of both hell and heaven were later set before the youths to read for themselves.
Immediately following Uche’s soul disturbing and frightening ministration came the teaching on conviction, repentance, and conversion by Kenneth M. Yali Diouf. Eight (8) youths came out to the altar to surrender their lives to Christ.
program for the day ended with intercessory prayers for Deaf Ministries, our
sponsors, and Nigeria as a whole.
21st August 2004.
A member of the Gospel Outreach to the Deaf Mission, Enugu, who had miraculously escaped a ghastly motor accident on his way to the convention venue led today’s corporate devotion. The key scripture that graced the day’s devotion reads as follows: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house (temple) of the Lord”(Psalm 122:1). Of course, the entire 122nd Psalm was read, but the first verse was the one upon which much stern emphasis was put. The deaf youths were told to cultivate the habit of being glad in their response to invitation to go to church to hear the word of God, and to attend programs like this one. In expostulating further it was said that church attendance would mark a turning point in their lives as experienced by a tempted and erring Asaph in the Bible. The young people were guided to read Psalm 73:1-2, 16-17, 28. The youths were at one point enjoined to reject sinful and discriminatory denominationalism and be glad to participate in healthy conventions like this geared toward their spiritual and moral up building and growth. It was also in a forcible manner explained to the people that if they knew they belonged to God, then they should see their physical bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. This temple, therefore, should not be defiled through fornication drunkenness, adultery, gluttony, etc. The youths were given 1Corinthians 6:19, Hebrews 9:3, John 17:23, 21 and Isaiah 56:7 to read and ponder thereon.
Pastor Promise delivered lectures on Marriage and Married Life. Captivated and excited youths plied him with millions of questions and he endeavoured to answer them.
Pastor Josephat Okechukwu afterwards got all to sit under his preaching as he deliberated on Acts 10:38 to disclose how God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit to do good and save the captives of the devil. After Pastor Joe came our host who set before us Luke 4:18 – Anointed to Preach! showing how one could not do any result oriented and convicting preaching without the unction of the Spirit. He challenged the audience to open up to God and receive the Holy Spirit for service in the vineyard of God
the early evening of this Saturday, God miraculously opened the way for us to
present for viewing the new film by Mel Gibson about the suffering, death, and
resurrection of Christ. Film show was not found mentioned on the program
timetable. One of the leaders who watched the film for the first time just a
few days to the program suggested the viewing. Consequently the impromptu
mentioning of the need to have the deaf watch this film sparked a mild
disagreement among the leaders. This was because not all the leaders had yet
seen this film enough to understand how it could have a powerful life
transforming effect on all viewers. Despite the confusion we feared might
happen in not adhering to our host’s insistence on keeping rigidly to the
timetable, we went ahead one step at a time toward actualizing our desire to
show the film.
God readily used the chaplain of the Trinity College of Ministerial Arts to make the necessary contacts on our behalf and the film operators arrived punctually. And there was the film showing! Not one person missed the film. Everybody remained in the conference hall, glued to his or her seat, eyes widely opened and firmly riveted to the screen. A holy attentiveness and solemnity engulfed the whole place as people watched Christ going through the agony of hard praying, betrayal, persecution, rejection and condemnation at the hand of wicked men. Viewers groaned, uttered sighs of pain, and banged desks. As the nails pierced Christ’s hands, people sighed and groaned. Some winced in fright and heart brokenness. Some shed tears. They sympathized with Christ.
After the film was over a pastor was seen hitting his chest. When asked what effect the film had had on them several people bared their minds.
“It is an awesome film,” said a hairdresser. “People need to repent and accept Christ quickly.”
“I could not sleep well last night,” said a lady deaf teacher. “I was awake in bed most of the night.”
“I want to suffer like Jesus,” said a male student.
“Jesus suffered so much,” said a lady. “We must fear God and repent. I have seen this film, I fear. I have seen Jesus. I will go and repent.”
“The soldier pierced Christ’s side with his spear…” said an elderly deaf man. “Water and blood stained the soldier. Then he suddenly fell to his knees looking up to Christ on the cross. What a power there is in Jesus!”
In fact almost all minds and hearts were heavily upset! Many became obsessed with the film for many hours on end all of the following day. The Christ they have been told had suffered so much for them became a living inescapable reality through the film. Life styles will be turned round for good henceforth.
22nd August 2004.
The impact of the previous night’s film show was still fresh on many minds. Some were seen talking about The Passion of the Christ early in the morning. By half past eight (8:30 a.m.) morning service started with songs of praise and thanksgiving and prayer. Then came Bible study and recapitulation/review, which closed with, “Now if any man(woman) have not the Spirit of Christ, he(she) is none of his” (Romans 8:9).
The last sermon on this final day of the program was titled: He (Christ) Must Reign Till….(1 Corinthians 15:35, Acts 3:19-21). The preacher, Brother Kenneth, showed the kingship of Christ, beginning with Christ’s ascension and his promise to return to earth soon. The preacher showed the youths how that they should be ready to make themselves available to God to use them for evangelistic purposes, good deeds and holy living till Jesus returns. After all Christ had said, “Occupy till I come! Feed my lambs! I come quickly!” Otherwise Christ would grind them to powder (Matthew 21:44) if they choose to be his enemies. Constant reference throughout the sermon was made to the film by way of showing the youths that what Christ went through was for their redemption and that Christ’s ascension was a journey to a far country (heaven) and a return is certain as shown in the parables (Matthew 25: 14; Luke 19:12, 20:9).
After offerings, our host rose to thank all who worked hard to keep order in the camp. He expressed regret that the ladies that did the cooking could not be opportune to attend all teaching sessions because of the nature of their work. He prayed God’s blessing over them. Then he announced that Pastor Uche Nwode G. Promise had agreed to accept responsibility for the hosting of the next convention in Ebonyi State (Nigeria).
Camp was dismissed.
The King (Jesus) will reply, “I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for
me” (Matthew 25:40). Amen.