Archbishop Ben Kwashi is featured in Living Church this week. He is a bishop in the Anglican Church of Nigeria and an evangelist with theological substance. I have personally heard him speak and can vouch for his abilities as a dynamic, engaging speaker. Ability is one thing, what about content? Here is an excerpt from an address to the recent Lausanne Conference, as published at Living Church (H/T Titus One Nine):
"The gospel calls for a decision that each person must make, and such a decision will determine the eternal destination of that person. Such a decision, when made, must bring the believer’s life into conformity with the eternal truths of God, of his Son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. God’s word is truth, and every one of his righteous ordinances endures forever (Ps. 119:160). Therefore anyone who receives and believes the gospel must speak the truth at all times, to all people, and must do so in love. To live in truth is also to insist on standing for justice for the oppressed and on giving justice to all people regardless of their race, religion, nationality or gender. It is significant that it is the gospel’s power which manifests God’s righteousness in us and also empowers us to live righteous lives in such a manner that even unbelievers will acknowledge that righteousness is being practiced by believers of the gospel. Those who do not believe the gospel understand very well when they see people practice righteousness and live in holiness."
But there is more to this gospel man. ++Ben Kwashi can testify to the amazing power of God in the face of deadly threats to his life.
"In February 2006 a band of people reportedly hired to kill me came to my house. Believing that I was there although I was in another country, they tortured my wife, Gloria, from 1:30 to 3:30 a.m. They left Gloria half-dead and blind. Our son Rinji was left unconscious and our little boy Nanminen had a broken mouth. Through the miracle of medical science, Gloria healed thoroughly and regained her sight in five months.
The next year the attackers were back: this time they met me. They took me downstairs to the field outside my house, where they were going to kill me. They changed their minds and decided they would rather kill me in my bedroom. They brought me back to my bedroom and I pleaded with them for an opportunity to pray. They agreed and I got on my knees to pray. A few minutes later my wife was holding my hands in prayer.
A few more minutes later my son Rinji walked in. I screamed at him, “What are you doing? Why are you here?” He said, “Daddy, they’ve gone.” We got up and brought the whole family together and we praised the Lord until the police and the soldiers came, and throughout the day it was a song of praise.
We have witnessed the massacre of Christians; the destruction of churches, Christian businesses, and property; and the disruption of normal life, time and again. But in all this we remain undaunted for the gospel.
I know that I will die someday — how I do not know — but until then I am fully persuaded beyond any doubt that I have a gospel to proclaim. I have a gospel worth living for and a gospel worth dying for."
Sometimes less than complimentary things are said about the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Yes, it's true, negative things have been said about this church and how it deports itself in its mission and gospel work. It may help to think of Ben Kwashi when you read or hear these things and ponder what we know of the context in which the gospel is preached in Nigeria. To do so is to face death.
Here in Kiwiland we can look forward to ++Kwashi coming to a major conference in the life of our church, the Common Life Mission Conference with the theme Shaping the Church for Mission, 19-22 July, 2011. It will be good to have a Nigerian Anglican episcopal leader encourage and inspire us.