During the opening session of the 2nd annual Pokot Outreach Ministries Pastor’s Conference, Reverend Kiokio Mwangangi powerfully pointed us to the Jesus who builds, owns and protects his church (Matt 16:18).
As I looked around the large classroom, more than 90 Pokot pastors were laser focused on what Rev. Mwangangi had to say. Hearing the pastors admitting faults, talking about new ideas, confirming truths, and laughing loudly reminded me what this is all about.
Each evening of the conference the pastors would give updates on what has been happening through the churches in their region. These pastors face many hardships like the lack of clean water, funding, housing, children’s school bills and transportation, all the while attending to their pastoral duties like weddings, funerals, preaching, Sunday school, the church building and much more. I felt as though I was in the presence of the early church as it was beginning to gain momentum all across the known world.
The work of Pokot Outreach Ministries (POM) is extensive and spread out all over the Pokot region of Kenya. Many of these pastors never see each other except for conference like this and they each celebrated in hearing about all that God is doing across their land.
These pastors reminded me of Nehemiah 4:19-20 because they knew it was God who would see them through. God will fight for them, God will build the church and protect them as they help to advance the good news about Jesus.
Still many of the pastors were visibly convicted as Rev Mwangangi reminded them not to be consumed with building, owning or protecting their church, as that is the job of Jesus alone. It can sometimes be hard to remember who is building, who owns and who protects the church when you have so many concerns to address every single day. As I heard this, I too was convicted of all the plans and possessive statements I have made about my church and my ministry back home in Michigan. What a relief to know that I am not the builder, owner or protector of the church!
Near the end of the conference, one of the lead organizers of the conference who’s name is Reuben told the pastors of his hope to be sent out by POM as a missionary to the South Sudan. As I saw all the pastors cheer and affirm Reuben I realized that they know on a far deeper level than I, who it is that builds, owns and protects his church and they were just happy to be a part of it!
As they closed the four day gathering with communion, song and prayer, I was reminded of the verse that was shared with us the previous night after we had watched some video’s of all that has been done in and through the Pokot to advance the Gospel in the last few years. “Therefore, dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain “ (1 Corinthians 15:58).
As you assess all that is going on in your life and begin to feel spread out like the church in Pokot, remember what we have learned both from Nehemiah and the pastors of the Pokot. It is Jesus who builds, owns and protects his church and you and I are able to be a part of it. So whatever part it is that you have to play in building God’s Kingdom remember that ‘your labor in the Lord is not in vain.’