A Report on Africa Arise Conference & AU's Prayer Breakfast for African Heads of State (January 24-30, 2017). By Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD Just in case you miss the thrust of my report, this is what I want to say: “Success without a successor is failure. True leaders train others to succeed the...
|“NOT EVEN HALF WAS TOLD”--Part 2 of Dr. Pipim's Ethiopian Report||| Print ||
Part 2 of the Report on the Ethiopia Prayer Breakfast for the Diplomatic Community, September 2015.
Thanks for your prayers, I’ve safely returned from Ethiopia, where I was invited to speak at a special Prayer Breakfast for the diplomatic community in Addis on September 13, 2015 (see Part 1 of report: http://tinyurl.com/pvtfa6l).
This particular assignment, more than any in recent times, has not only opened my eyes on a number of issues but has also confirmed to me the necessity of reaching out to influential leaders of our societies. Words cannot fully capture the experience. As I review the positive outcomes of the Prayer Breakfast, I almost have the same feeling that the Queen of Sheba had when she visited King Solomon in Jerusalem.
The Queen of Sheba
When the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, she was literally stunned by the rich blessings of God upon the young King of Israel. Several Bible translations describe her reaction in these words: “There was no more spirit in her”(1 Kings 10:5; NKJV, NASB, NRSV). Other versions of the Bible render herreaction with the following expressions:
“shewas overwhelmed” ( NIV);
“therewas no more breath in her” (ESV);
“ittook her breath away” (HCSB];
“shewas breathless and awed [by the wonder of it all] (AMP)
“Itleft her breathless and amazed” (GNT)
“shewas overwhelmed. She was also amazed” (NLT)
In the language of today, the Queen of Sheba was blown away by the tokens of God’s blessings upon Solomon. She was so overwhelmed that, when she regained composure from the breathlessness of Solomon’s riches and wisdom, the Ethiopian Queen told Solomon:
“Thereport I heard in my own country …is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; inwisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard (1 Kings 10:6, 7,NIV).
“Not even half was told!”
That is how I feel right now, as I reflect on my recent trip to Ethiopia to speak at the Prayer Breakfast for the diplomatic community. Words cannot fully capture it all. In an earlier report titled “Ethiopia Is Stretching Her Hand” (see http://tinyurl.com/pvtfa6l), I shared some testimonies of how the program impacted several people. As impactful as it was, I cannot even begin to share the marvelous ways God answered our prayers in Ethiopia. I am deeply humbled by the responses to the Word of God by people who are perceived as having little interest in spiritual things.
In addition to the testimonies I shared in Part 1 of the report, I’ll add a few other developments. As a result of reaching out to the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa,
—I was able to visit a number of Ambassadors who shared the silent pain of their personal burdens—pains that are often hidden from mortal sight as they courageously conduct the affairs of their nations.
—These leaders of our nations are human. For, in addition to carrying the weighty burdens of the crisis-ridden world, they, like every one of us, also carry their own personal burdens. I became convicted of the necessity of constantly lifting them up in my personal prayers.
—In fact, the silent pain some of them bear and the tears often shed behind closed doors are some of the experiences that inspired this week’s thought nugget “WOUNDED HEALERS.”
—I’m reminded of EGW’s statement in MINISTRY OF HEALING, p. 158:
“All around us are afflicted souls. Here and there, everywhere, we may find them. Let us search out these suffering ones and speak a word in season to comfort their hearts. Let us ever be channels throughwhich shall flow the refreshing waters of compassion. MH 158.2
“In all our associations it should be remembered that in the experience of others there are chapters sealed from mortal sight. On the pages of memory are sad histories that are sacredly guarded from curious eyes. There stand registered long, hard battles with trying circumstances, perhaps troubles in the home life, that day by day weaken courage, confidence, and faith. Those who are fighting the battle of life at great odds may be strengthened and encouraged by little attentions that cost only a loving effort. To such the strong, helpful grasp of the hand by a true friend is worth more than gold or silver. Words of kindness are as welcome as the smile of angels.” MH 158.3
—As a consequence of this recent outreach to “the wealthy, worldly, and well-educated” class of society, there are additional requests to further share the Gospel with larger and very influential secular audiences.
—There is also a huge demand for more published works and audio/visual messages. And several of them are requesting the outreach postcards (message cards) that our EAGLESonline organization is currently developing. They want to share them with others because, though short and easy to understand, they offer value-based leadership training unlike any others.The MCards inspire, challenge, and encourage.
—But this interest in hearing the Word of God is not just coming from adults in the diplomatic community. Even their children have become beneficiaries. For example, there was an impromptu request, on the very last day of my visit to Ethiopia, to speak to High School students at a prestigious International School. The invitation stated:
“Our Year 13 students (last year of secondary school, before university) are from at least 14 different countries (Ethiopia, Kenya/Yemen, Sudan, Holland, DR Congo,UK, USA, Nigeria, Swaziland/South Africa, Angola, Malawi). [Their] Parents are diplomats, Embassies, UNmissions, AU, EU, Business, Staff teachers,…”
The letter suggested that I was at liberty to speak on any of the following topics:
-Being the change makers, The hope of our continent and the world.
-Their role in the future of their nations.
-The need of a change from within, a renewal of their mind.
-Knowing and understanding who they are so that they may be confident and choosewisely their role model.
The invitation concluded: “The Lord will guide you as you will be speaking and impacting the lives of His children tomorrow. I know HE will use you powerfully and the livesof these young people will be changed forever…Stay under His blessing.”
Initially, I was to speak to just some 40 senior high school students in this prestigious international school. But when word of the event got out from attendees at the Prayer Breakfast, some 80 students showed up at the hastily organized meeting.
The above experiences convince me that there is a great work to be done for the higher classes of society—just as much as (if not more than) we do for the lower classes. We need more people to engage in this labor for our fellow brothers and sisters. I’m reminded again of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that “the fields are white….”
Fields Are White
For far too long, we have neglected the higher classes of society, thinking that they will not be receptive to the Gospel. We've also bypassed those who share the gospel, thinking that they do not need encouragement and support in the trying positions they occupy. But this is a great mistake.
Without getting into much details, I can testify that there is a huge influential class (both secular and religious) who long to do God’swill and who are doing the very best they know how—and doing so with earnestness and dedication rarely seen among those of us who claim to have it all. When we search them out and share the everlasting Gospel with them, they’ll not only be receptive, but will also be ambassadors of God’s truth in these last days.
I recall, for example, one of my post-Prayer Breakfast visits with a youth activist and leader, who attended the event and had requested me to pay a visit. Although earlier, he gave an impression that he was not interested in religious things, it became obvious that he was only reacting against dysfunctional religion. Though he had earlier told me “I love Jesus, but not Christianity”—our conversation eventually ended on a spiritual note. In fact, we had a Bible study that lasted till 10pm! (We began the meeting around 3 pm!)
As I reflect on the impact of my recent “mission trip” to Ethiopia, I am reminded of the following Bible passages:
“And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16).
“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:36-38; Luke 10:1, 2)).
We have an obligation to share the gospel with the “wealthy, worldly, and well-educated” (3Ws)—just as we must share it with “the least, the lost, and the lonely” (3Ls). If we believe our message and the signs of the times, we shall make a genuine effort at reaching out to these oft-neglected classes of society. We shall prayerfully search for ways to reach them. And we shall take bold decisions to go where they can be found, instead of waiting forthem to come to us. How can we fishers of men catch fish, when they neglect to fish where the fish is?
The Need to Reach OutTo the Higher Classes
Here are some statements from E.G. White on the necessity ofreaching out to an oft-neglected class:
“We talk and write much of the neglected poor; should not some attention be given also to the neglected rich? Many look upon this class as hopeless, and they do little to open the eyes of those who, blinded and dazed by the power of Satan, have lost eternity out of their reckoning.Thousands of wealthy men have gone to their graves unwarned because they have been judged by appearance and passed by as hopeless subjects. But, indifferent as they may appear, I have been shown that most of this class are soul-burdened. There are thousands of rich men who are starving for spiritual food. Many in official life feel their need of something which they have not. Few among them go to church, forthey feel that they receive no benefit. The teaching they hear does not touch the soul. Shall we make no personal effort in their behalf?” (6T 78.3)
I find it very sad that we’re making little effort to reach out to “the neglected rich.” Missionary outreach and evangelism tend to be directed at only the poor masses, forgetting that the influential in our midst need the Gospel of salvation. It is our responsibility to search for them—in much the same way we do when we cross oceans to spread the Gospel in some faraway lands. Here are some thoughts from Christ’sObject Lessons, pp. 229-231
“We are not to wait for souls to come to us; we must seek them out where they are.…There are multitudes who will never be reached by the gospel unless it is carried to them….The message is first to be given “in the highways”—to men who have an active part in the world’s work, to the teachers and leaders of thepeople” COL 229.4
“Those who stand high in the world for their education, wealth, or calling, are seldom addressed personally in regard to the interests of the soul. Many Christian workers hesitate to approach these classes. But this should not be. If a man were drowning, we would not stand by and see him perish because he was a lawyer, a merchant, or a judge. If we saw persons rushing over a precipice, we would not hesitate to urge them back, whatever might be their position or calling. Neither should we hesitate to warn men of the peril of the soul”. COL230.3
“None should be neglected because of their apparent devotion to worldly things. Many in high social positions are heartsore, and sick of vanity. They are longing for a peace which they have not. In the very highest ranks of society are those who are hungering and thirsting for salvation. Many would receive help if the Lord’s workers would approach them personally, with a kind manner, a heart made tender by the love of Christ. COL 231.1
Through our EAGLESonline organization (and its two Centers of Leadership Development (www.EAGLESonline.org), we’re making personal efforts to labor for the neglected class of society. We solicit your prayers and support as we develop outreach resources to bring hope and encouragement to the thought leaders of the world. Our goal is to roll out some new resource materials by the middle of November—just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please pray for us. Will you?
So Much More To Share
Oh, there’s so much to share about this trip to Ethiopia. I have not even told half of the amazing things God did during this outreach in Addis. But I cannot resist mentioning that I had the privilege of spending some two wonderful hours with the Ambassador of my home country of Ghana. He missed out on the Prayer Breakfast, but some of his colleagues who were there let him know about it.
Naturally, I had to pay him a courtesy visit. How could I not? The Embassy of Ghana in Ethiopia is home. And the Ambassador (HisExcellency Mr. Albert Yankey) made me feel really at home! Though it was the first time we ever met, it seemed like we had know each other for a years. We had a wonderful conversation. And as we went over some of the materials on the MCards (the special message cards designed as postcards), he also, like those who had attended the Prayer Breakfast, was inspired and moved by the messages on the Message cards. In fact, he wants to share them with others.
We ended on a note of prayer, with the promise of a future visit.
During my brief trip to Addis Ababa, I was given a tour of the Headquarters of the African Union, an imposing edifice generously donated (built for Africa) by China. One of the stops was at the office of the Deputy Chair, an unassuming public servant who played the role of MC (Master of Ceremonies) at the Prayer Breakfast.
While there in the African Union building, it was a blessing to get to meet and pray with some other African Ambassadors and also a prominent minister of another denomination who has graciously extended invitation to participate at a major event in the future.
But one of the lasting memories of the trip to Addis Ababa was to stand at the monument honoring the leading visionary of Pan Africanism: Dr.Kwame Nkrumah. Through him, Ghana (my home country) became the first African country to be independent from colonial rule. At our nation’s independence, he said: “the independence of Ghana is meaningless, unless it is linked with the total liberation of the continent.”
Thus, he articulated a vision of African unity—a vision that was also shared by Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. In May 1963, the Organization of the African Union (OAU) was formed. It’s the precursor to the present African Union (AU), which comprises 54 African states.
I find it noteworthy that, although the statute of Emperor Haile Selassie, an Ethiopian and East African, could have been a fitting symbol to welcome all to the African Union, instead the leaders of Africa chose a Ghanaian and West African (Dr. Kwame Nkrumah) to welcome visitors to the Ethiopia.(There’s more to unpack, but I leave this observation here for now).
It is also equally significant that on the inauguration of the OAU, Dr. Nkrumah (who was not religious) quoted the passage from Psalm 68:30: “Ethiopia will quickly stretch outher hands to God,” seeing in that passage a prophecy or mandate for Africa to unite. To unite against foreign domination, to unite for freedom, and to unite for stability and prosperity. The outstretched hand of Nkrumah and the passage from Psalm 68:30 was interpreted as a call for true freedom. That was in May 1963.
In 2013, five decades later, during the Jubilee celebration of the founding of the AU, I had the privilege of being invited by the current Chair of the African Union (Her Excellency, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma) to the United Nations office of the AU in New York to share my vision of the kind of Africa we want to see in another 50 years—if time would last that long. I was part of the Consultation of the African Diaspora on the AU’s “Agenda 2063.” I want to believe that I was included in this group because of the book Africa Must Think, which was published in the same year of the 50th Anniversary of the AU.
It was an honor to be asked to share a vision for a continent, which from its birth, had sought to be united and free—an ideal that was ably articulated by Dr. Nkrumah of Ghana, when he invoked Psalm 68:30 to conclude his inaugural speech for African Unity.
On September 15, 2015, on the heels of the Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash), it was another honor to stand by Dr.Kwame Nkrumah’s statute and renew my own pledge to work for the freedom of the African people. But the freedom I seek is not merely political or economic, butalso spiritual. Jesus said, “And youshall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. …Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36).
The freedom I strive for has been aptly articulated by my fellow Ghanaian and co-author of our book “THE TRANSFORMED MIND” (subtitled, “Changing the World by Being Changed”). Using Ghana as her launching pad, Dr. Joyce Aryee speaks to all Africans when, in chapter 3 of that book, she wrote on the subject of “True Independence.” She argued:
“Ghana has been granted independence by those who colonized our shores, but is yet to gain independence from the Devil who colonizes the hearts of men. The independence we need is not from the colonial administration of Britain, but from the colonial administration of sin. We have the former, but without the latter, we’re still under colonial rule.
“We would not be truly independent as a nation until we have become truly independent as a people. The finest of our government’s policies will not help move the nation forward, if the best of our population remain stagnated in the mediocrity that has become the rule in this generation. Liberty is not experienced on paper; it is set forth in the mind.”
As I’ve also articulated in chapter 9 of our TRANSFORMED MIND, and later in my book AFRICA MUST THINK, Africa needs “mind liberation” because “The heart of the African problem is the African heart. This heart must be changed from within.” That is the beginning of true freedom.
True freedom or independence is the transformation of the human heart. It is freedom from the slavery of sin. It is being set free from our warped mind-sets and selfish hearts. It is what our Lord Jesus refers to as being “born again” by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3–8).
What Africa needs is not simply more educated minds, butmore transformed minds. Not merely mind improvement, but mind replacement. Such a “mind replacement” or “mind liberation,” can only be effected by the Lord Jesus Christ.
More learning will not get us that freedom. It is not more words that we need, nor seminars and workshops about new advances, but first and foremost the true spirit of liberty that is found only in Jesus Christ. He alone can give that true freedom that we need, because He alone has it. He says: “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John8:36).
Not even half of this truth has been told! But may the Lord use the experiences associated with this year’s Prayer Breakfast for the diplomatic community to spark or fuel in you the search for true African freedom.
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, PhD
September 19, 2015