20 October 2014
Archbishop calls 40,000 to be ‘reconciled reconcilers’
by Ayoola Bandele
The Archbishop of Canterbury rallied 40,000 Christians to renew their commitment to prayer, reconciliation and evangelism on Friday.
Archbishop Justin Welby joined the thousands gathered at Redeemed Christian Church of God's (RCCG) Festival of Life all-night prayer meeting at the Excel centre in London.
The archbishop, accompanied by his wife Caroline, united in prayer wiith Pastor E A Adeboye, the general overseer of the RCCG and various other church leaders from different denominations in an all-night prayer for the nations.
RCCG, which was founded in 1952 in Nigeria, is among the fastest-growing denominations in the world.
Pastor Agu Irukwu, senior pastor of Jesus House in London and who heads up the 720 RCCG churches in the UK, is a member of the Alliance's One People Commission.
Speaking on Friday night to a gathering of predominantly Nigerian Christians, Archbishop Justin Welby - who has visited the African country some 75 times - said: "No force, even the economy, even terrorists, can resist the Church of prayer. So my first priority is a renewal of prayer and I bless you and thank you and I appreciate you because you come and pray."
In his greetings to the attendees, the oil executive turned the head of the Church of England said: "What a privilege to be with you. I appreciate you, this church and the general overseer with his wife who is an example of devotion to our Lord Jesus. You inspire us."
Focusing his message on the parable of the prodigal son, he said: "God gives reconciliation to the Church so that we pour it out into the world. We are the people who must be reconciled reconcilers. We are in a world that cannot deal with difference –you're either with us or against us and if you're not with us we hate you. And Jesus says 'love one another, love your neighbour, love your enemies'. It's the hardest command. But when we obey, the world is changed around us. Let the reconciliation flow amongst us. If you are not reconciled with someone else in the Church, set it right. Put an end to it. Love."
The Evangelical Alliance's One People Commission was launched in 2011 to break down barriers between Christians from different ethnic minorities.
Pastor Agu Irukwu said: "Today is a historic event." He acknowledged the Archbishop of Canterbury as the head of Church of England but affirmed the him also as the head of the black Pentecostal churches too. He said: "We ought to apologise to the Archbishop too because we also had our prejudice" and he encouraged everybody to pray for the Archbishop. Rev Yemi Adedeji, chair of the Alliance's One People Commission, who is also an ordained Pentecostal pastor, acted as the lay reader for the event as he led the congregation. He said it gave him great pleasure to be a part of the united front for Christ.
The Festival of Life saw the launch of three months of prayer throughout the UK using a specially-produced prayer calendar published for HOPE Together by national Christian broadcaster UCB, and distributed free to churches of all denominations throughout the UK, including the 40,000 RCCG members gathered at the Excel Centre.
Roy Crowne, director of HOPE Together, said: "We have so much to learn from the black majority churches about fasting and praying. Last year I was a guest at a prayer event in Nigeria with more than a million people praying. HOPE is thrilled to be working with the 720 RCCG parishes in the UK to spread the hope Jesus gives. When Christians pray, things change. We hope that thousands of people will join us over the next three months as we pray for the UK."
In his closing remarks, Archbishop Justin Welby said: "[The Church should] have the confidence that there is no better decision that any human being can ever make at any point in their life in any circumstances anywhere in the world than to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. And when we have a Church that prays and is reconciled and reconciling and that tells people confidently about Jesus, then the dawn will break, hope will rise, our countries will be transformed and the empty threats of economies and terrorists will be utterly and finally overthrown. To God be the glory."
Other church leaders in attendance included Pastor Siew-Huat Ong of the Chinese Church in London, Andy Frost, CEO of Share Jesus International, and Baronness Elizabeth Berridge. Everybody prayed in agreement that the Chibok kidnapped girls in Nigeria will be released and returned home and be reunited with their families. Prayers were also said for the Church of England, black majority churches in the UK, The Archbishop of Canterbury, the general overseer of the RCCG and the congregation gathered.