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Churches have not come to replace hospitals, says this American preacher

Posted by By UCHE USIM on 2005/11/20 | Views: 4252 |

Churches have not come to replace hospitals, says this American preacher


Bishop Jerome Stokes, the general overseer of Church of the Redeemed of the Lord (CRL) in Baltimore, USA has warned all real and potential pastors of churches to ensure they hear clearly from God before going ahead to set up churches as the Christian ministry is not a business enterprise.

Bishop Jerome Stokes, the general overseer of Church of the Redeemed of the Lord (CRL) in Baltimore, USA has warned all real and potential pastors of churches to ensure they hear clearly from God before going ahead to set up churches as the Christian ministry is not a business enterprise.

Stokes, who was in Nigeria to attend a leadership summit organized by Grace Assembly, Lagos made this declaration in view of many churches that have sprung up worldwide, with iniquities on the upward trend.

He told Daily Sun that many people should not be deluded into believing what people told them. ďSome people get deceived when a friend, acquaintance or a relation tells them that they are good in public speaking and as such they can carry people along when they speak in church. Before you know it, they float a church. That is not at all what ministration entails.Ē

Stokes stressed that for a man to be a full Christian, ďhe ought to, apart from hearing from God, be lover of humanity because of the responsibility associated with it. He should also be both a hearer and doer of the word.Ē

Stokes spoke about his Christian career, the challenges therein, his vision, advice to pastors and more.
Setting up the church
According to Bishop Stokes, his church had a humble beginning. ďWe started off in November 1985 in Baltimore with 12 members. Today, weíre over 6,000 members. Right now Iím a full-time pastor in CRL.Ē

Calling
Unlike most pseudo-pastors that run into the ministry due to its flamboyant nature, Bishop Jerome Stokes almost avoided it despite the heavy heavenly signals he got signifying that God had called him.
He puts it this way: ďWhen I was 16 years old, I had the burden to be faithful to God. Then I had already given my life to God. In fact, I grew up in the church and Iím soaked in church doctrines. When God initially called me, I ran from it. I hated it because of the responsibilities attached to it.

These responsibilities border on helping people, especially those in need and as human, we have myriads of needs. So, whenever I think of these responsibilities, I run away the more.
In a bid to avoid heeding the call, I personally enrolled to do my MBA programme. Even before this time, I was working in a computer firm in USA and that was after my first degree.

Half way into the MBA programme, God pressed me to heed His call. And I knew at this point, I could no longer run. I didnít have inner peace until I changed and I must stress here that from the day I accepted the call, everything in my life changed

So, I transferred from the University to St Maryís Seminary, Baltimore.
Due to the years of procrastination, I started off the ministry at the age of 38.

Trials
I must say that I had my fair share of challenges. Indeed there were trying times I felt like backing out. But the big questions were what happens to the congregation? Will I because of temporary setbacks run away from heavenly responsibilities? And the big answer was no. That is why I laugh when people think the church just a money-spinning and glamorous business. I remember I once told my wife I was going to quit when there were too many problems around, especially from the congregation.

I mean, I said I couldnít continue and she really encouraged me strongly. But deep down in my heart, I felt like pushing the ministry forward but the pressures outside were much. In fact at a point, we both felt the same way. We felt like abandoning the ministry just to reduce the stress. But I remember the words of God that He told me earlier. He said he had put in me the characteristics of a pastor and I got re-invigorated.

Belief in miracles
I believe in miracles. I define them as the temporary suspension of the laws of nature. All my life, Iíve seen the Lord using me to work various miracles. Personally, Iím a living testimony myself.
I remember I was once diagnosed of psychodylisis that attacks the lungs. We kept on praying and after a while, I went for a medical check and was told it was gone.

Also, my sister had asthma and cancer. The doctor said she will live only for four months more as it were then. We prayed fervently and when she went back to see the doctor he checked her up and told her the cancer was gone. He confessed that it was equally a miracle. Another was the healing of a lady with a bad valve. The doctor said she had a bad one and after we prayed, the doctor said she had a new one.

Arenít those miracles? I mean I could go on and on.
But I must stress that people should not hide under the healings in the church to avoid going to hospital for medical treatments. Churches have not come to replace the hospitals. I always tell pastors to stop making people think the church can handle all categories of healings.

Healings and miracles are product of oneís faith. That is why God said in the Bible that it will be unto us according to our faith. When you tell a man of poor faith to come to church rather than hospital to receive healing and he does not, it will be a crime because you denied the man the chance to receive orthodox help. Oneís manís faith is not equal to the othersí.

Moreover, I donít try to convince hard-minded people to believe in miracles. I always tell them to open up their hearts so that God can come in. People donít believe in miracles until they experience it.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.