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NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER’- BISHOP CHARGES THE CLERGY ON SOUL-WINNING WAR By The Revd. Canon Oluwambe Toriola and Folu Koyi

NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER’- BISHOP CHARGES THE CLERGY ON SOUL-WINNING WAR By The Revd. Canon Oluwambe Toriola and Folu Koyi

The 1st session of the 8th Synod of the Lagos West Diocese commenced on Thursday, May 20, with a Holy Communion service which had in attendance 11 guest bishops.

 

In his opening sermon, which was hinged on the synod theme, “We are more than conquerors,” (Romans 8:37), the Rt. Revd. Abel Ajibodu, Bishop of Ile-Oluji and a former Dean of AVMCC, said, matter of factly, ”you cannot be more than conquerors if you don’t face a battle; you cannot be described as a winner without a contest”

 

He acknowledged that times are hard, and so urged the clergy to remain steadfast in the faith to keep their flock.

 

But he said, “You cannot be more than conquerors if you don’t face a battle; you cannot be described as a winner without a contest.”

 

Bishop Ajibodu noted that hunger was currently a matter of global concern, and was no less so in Nigeria. “There is hunger in the land, and this situation has made the faith of many to wax cold! The battle to win back souls and retain the flock therefore, he said, must be fought on the basis of “no retreat, no surrender.”

 

Using Apostle Paul’s ministry as a model for church leaders, he said Paul always herped on prayers.  His Epistle to the Romans,  although  the longest, most theological, and arguably, the  most spiritual of all his epistles,   affirms his desire to preach the gospel among the Romans and serve them.

The sermon pointed out to some lessons to learn from Paul’s ministry,  namely his concern for people’s welfare and commitment to finding solutions to their problems and challenges.  According to the preacher, it was for these reasons that Paul solicited material aids from Macedonian and Achaian Christians for Jerusalem Saints without allowing the shouting influence of the rich people in the Jerusalem Church to blind him to the problems of the poor among them. He admonished   priests  to identify the Macedonians and Achaians among  them for the benefit of the poor, even in the supposedly rich parishes.

Bishop Ajibodu further admonished the clergy to be mindful of the nature of the Church as typified by the Ark of Noah with all kinds of creatures, both clean and unclean, and thus,  like Paul, call always for prayers to overcome the ever-mounting challenges to their ministry from within and outside the Church. Such intercessory Prayers of the Saints, according to him, are needed by all Christians to enhance our victorious living so that we can be more than conquerors.

“To be more than conquerors, we need to be rescued from the unbelievers’ opposition outside the Church  and the subtle attacks from sceptics within the Church,”  he said.  He advised the Clergy and laity to work in unity since unity is an indispensable requirement for warriors to conquer their enemies.

The Bishop said that Paul had a two-fold purpose in writing the Epistle to the Romans.   First, to clear the air over misgivings and damaging rumour about his ministry and second, to teach the need for Christians to be united and avoid dissension”. The lesson from this, according to him is that believers should not think it strange if they experience persecution, dangers and perils in their life and ministry. Troubles and calamities, he said, do not suggest abandonment by God. He therefore rode on Paul’s persuasion and admonition in verses 37-39 of the 8th chapter of the Epistle to assure the Church of God that in all the adversities and vicissitudes of life, “we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus.”  He noted, however,  that the source of our victory is Jesus‘ vicarious death on the Cross, hence the need to cling to Jesus and be connected with him who is the giver of that victory.

Speaking further on the theme, Bishop Ajibodu cited David, King Jehoshaphat of Judah, Elijah and Gideon as examples of biblical conquerors we can learn from.    All these, he observed, were able to conquer because they depended on the power of God alone for their victory.”  “So, to be more than conquerors, we need to run away from sin and the growing tendency of our days to seek evil power for spiritual achievements and victory. The preacher disclosed that God is depending on the Church to rescue the country from her overwhelming challenges.

Using the words of popular hymns Onward Christian Soldiers and O My Comrade as anchor, Bishop Ajibodu  encouraged the congregation to seize the opportunity of the 1st Session of the 8th Synod to renew their commitment to God as he bade all the peace of God in a typical Pauline style in Romans 15:33.

He ended his message by giving seven conditions under which the church can be “more than conquerors”:

  1. We must be in Christ, as there can be no victory without Christ. – John 3:16.
  2. We need to forsake our evil ways.
  3. We need to look inward (examine our problems holistically to find solutions to them).
  4. There should be brotherly love – Romans 13:8.
  5. We must do our work as unto God and not unto men – Col 3:23
  6. We need prayers – I Thess. 3:1.
  7. We need to be united as a church

 

The guest bishops at the opening service included:   There were 11 bishops at the opening service of the synod, which number could have been more but for the fact that two other dioceses within the Lagos Ecclesiastical Province – Remo and Lagos Mainland – were also having their synods simultaneously.  This was stated by Bishop Odedeji while appreciating the guest bishops, namely:  The Rt. Revd. Festus Sobanke (Omu-Aran);  The Rt. Revd. And Mrs. Abiodun Olaoye (Osun North);  The Rt. Revd. Prof. Olubayo Obijole (University of Ibadan);  The Rt. Revd. Rufus Okeremi (Immediate Past Bishop of the Ife East); The Rt. Revd.  Michael Oluwarombi (Yewa);  and The Rt. Revd.  Dr. and Mrs Iwabiolorun Oluyamo (Ijesa North).  Others were:  The Rt. Revd. Dr.  Kayode Adebogun (Suffragan Bishop, CANA);  The Rt. Revd. Samuel Ogundeji (Abeokuta);  The Rt. Revd. Dr. Akin Atere (Awori); The Rt. Revd. Abel Ajibodu (Ile-Oluji); and The Rt. Revd. Adegoke Agara (Ido-Ani, and Immediate Past Dean of AVMCC).

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