By Fred Opiyo and Simon Muia
Pictures by Caxton Kimeu
The Sunday 27th January was an awesome worship day as Nairobi Christian Church had its homecoming service in Umoja. The service was graced by the East African Church leadership who had come for the East Africa Church Leadership Conference held in Nairobi. The church was packed to capacity as the choir led the congregation in singing powerful praise and worship songs.
The opening prayer was led by Evangelist Paul Nthei from the Kisumu Church while the Eastern Bloc teens’ leaders, Tony Obiero and his wife Belinda introduced and welcomed the congregation. The newly appointed Dar es Salaam church leader Brother Joachim Palangyo shared the communion message from the book of John 8:2-10. Joachim taught the congregation that while the adulterous woman deserved condemnation and death according to her accusers. Jesus never accused, rebuked, embarrassed or condemned her. Instead, Jesus showed her grace, forgave and gave her a second chance to repent and turn away from her sinful life. In the same way, He does not condemn or shame us even when we are in sin. He called disciples to learn from Jesus and to repent.
This year the ICOCEA theme is BACK to the Basics which was the title of the message. Evangelist William Auki preached from the book of Revelation 2:1-7 based on the letter written by the Apostle John to the church in Ephesus telling them that he knows their deeds, their hard work, and their perseverance. What he held against them was that they had forsaken their first love. Jesus still knows our deeds today – he knows our walk with him and that we often forsake our first love, and need to go back to the things we did in the beginning. Ev. Auki reminisced how after being baptized in 1991, he had the dream of baptizing 100 people in one year and how fired up he was preaching in the streets of Nairobi Central Business District. He urged older disciples to be careful that we don’t kill people’s faith before they even begin their journey. He reminded disciples to ask ourselves where our love for God is today. Evangelist Auki called the disciples to rekindle their first love.
Three ways To Rekindle Your First Love:-
1). Know the State of Your Heart – (Mark 12:28-30).
The teacher of the law had noticed the good answer that Jesus had given but wanted more clarification and asked Jesus about the greatest commandment. He was probably expecting many answers but Jesus gave him only two. Love God with everything you have, all your heart, your mind, your soul and all of your strength. God requires 100%, not 50 or 75%. Do we know the state of our hearts? He urged disciples to go back to the basics and rekindle their love for God. David beseeched God to search his heart and to create in him a pure heart (Psalm 139:23, 51:10, 17) because he was broken in spirit. A broken heart is what God desires. Are we ready for our hearts to be exposed? The congregation was encouraged not to be afraid to search their hearts.
2). Know that Your Heart Will Be Tested
Genesis 22:1-2. Abraham was tested. We too should be ready to be tested so that Gods glory may be revealed. Though Abraham, the father of faith, faltered in his faith when he lied about Sarah being his sister, God did not leave him (Genesis 16:1-2, 12:10-13). When we falter, this does not mean that God has left us. He wants us to rise up and walk with him so that he can continue to walk with us just like he continued to walk with Abraham. Peter also faltered but Jesus pulled him up and didn’t let him drown (Matthew 14:22-31). God’s desire is for us to rise up whenever we fall. He wants to save us until we become men and women of faith, the Evangelist continued. Our Lord Jesus holds us up and brings us back when we fall so long as we fix our eyes on Him. Even when you are tested, God is faithful. He will always provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:11-14).
3). God Wants to Know What is in Your Heart
Genesis 22:12. Abraham honoured and obeyed God; he did not keep kept back his only son from God. God tests us to know what is in our hearts and to see if we will honour, fear and obey him. When push comes to shove will you stand the test? God tests us to know what is in our hearts. Job was tested and was able to maintain his devotion to God and his integrity. God never told Abraham that he would be tested, and he will never tell us that he is testing us. When we face the challenges of life, will we give in to bribery, or cut ungodly business deals? What about honesty in our marriages (for marrieds), and godliness and purity (for the singles)?
The sermon concluded by urging the congregation to remember that our faith is more important than gold and must be proven genuine. We must go back to the basics. Our hearts must be right and pure. A pure heart will see God. Let us allow God to work in our hearts and go back to the love we had for Jesus at the beginning of our journeys.
The service ended with Evangelist Mike Odwallo making several announcements. The most important was new leadership postings and changes within the East Africa family of churches. Ev. William Auki and Eunice Mbuva who continued to serve on a volunteer basis with the Church during some down times were returned back to the payroll. Samson and Judy Monda returned to Kenya from Dar es Salaam to serve in the Southern Bloc. Samuel and Eunice Mbuva also returned to Nairobi from Mombasa to serve in the Eastern Bloc. Polycarp and Fatma Ageta took over from the Mbuvas in Mombasa while Edwin and Evelyne Mahiga were appointed to lead the church in Eldoret as full-time ministers.
Lucy and Benjamin Elibariki took over from Joachim and Eva Palangyo in Arusha Tanzania. Joachim and Eva are now serving in Dar es Salaam. In Kakamega, Judah and his wife Irene Imali took over from Paul and Nancy Wesonga who relocated to take on a secular job. From Nairobi, four single disciples are being sent to serve for one year as interns in the Addis Ababa Church in Ethiopia. The interns were selected from among those who had shown interest in this opportunity to serve, evangelize and spread the word of God in a new and exciting environment. Elders in training, Antony Mwanza and Jeremiah Oginga offered special prayers for all the leaders and the entire ICOC fraternity. The service ended early in the afternoon allowing a rich fellowship time for the disciples. To God be the Glory.