On the street, 14th February 2015

DSCI0570There is no other purpose for the Church of Jesus Christ on earth than to spread the message of the Gospel to others.  Regardless of opposition, weather, and the apparent lack of interest by society at large, our primary mission, as believers, is to preach the gospel and make disciples of those that become believers.

It is utterly futile to try to make disciples out of unbelievers.  Many do not have a problem with this and try to fill their meetings with as many people as possible so that many churches have a membership made up of both believers and unbelievers, some even made up of more unbelievers than believers!

Today John had a conversation with a man that was arguing for a church being “a place where people can come together“.  John tried to explain what the nature of a church was with him, that a church is not a place but rather a group of believers.  Even though he said that John was right he still could not disengage himself from the concept that a church is a place where people meet.

It was for this reason that the first translator of the Bible into the English language (first from the ancient texts), William Tyndale, did not translate the Greek word ἐκκλησία ekklēsia as church but congregation.  Tyndale understood how the general understanding of the church being a religious system tied up with buildings and religious activities that occur within those buildings.  So in order to avoid any misunderstandings he decided to use an alternative word to convey the true meaning of the Greek word ἐκκλησία ekklēsia.

Our Dutch brother, Jeanot, was approached by three women who were not English.  Jeanot is deaf but is able to lip read, however he was having difficulty because of the ladies’ fluency.  He brought them to John.  They were here on a visit from the island of Malta where, according to the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul and his companion Barnabus were shipwrecked.  Unlike most Maltese these ladies were not Roman Catholics.  They were encouraged to see the team delivering the message of Jesus Christ onto the streets.  John explained how that most churches do not preach the Gospel any more and that they have bought into Canterbury and Rome’s initiative for Evangelisation.  One of the ladies said that she was a Catholic when she came to faith however she soon realised that she could not remain a Roman Catholic because, as she put it, “Rome has a different God and a different Gospel.

DSCI0569Miguel was approached by a gentleman who was wearing a distinctive red jacket.  He was a Street Evangelist and part of an organisation that is seeking to unite churches to share the Gospel as they understand it.  This group is part of the Charismatic movement and is linked to the ecumenical Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association.  We do not share this vision of uniting with others to spread the Gospel if others are involved with ecumenism and are promoting false teaching such as Word of Faith/Prosperity, the acceptance of Roman Catholicism, Liberal Theology, Charismaticism, et al.  Nor do we consider it a good thing to take new converts and steer them towards any churches involved with such things either.

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.  One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.  Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.  They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:10-16)

Amélia was approached by a man who handed her a leaflet.  It was written in Portuguese and she soon identified it as being from the notoriously controversial Brazilian cult The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).  She challenged him about this group’s financial exploitation of people and how they encourage people to sell their homes and give the money to the group.  He denied that this was true however we have a Portuguese friend who has a family member who is involved in the UCKG who was pressured into doing this very thing.

As the team was making their way home they were approached by a man who was inviting people to attend a meeting of Victorious Pentecostal Assembly.  This particular group had been find by the British Broadcasting regulator OfCom for breeching standards of broadcasting by claiming to be able to cure people with terminal illnesses and incurable diseases such as cancer, HIV and AIDS.

A few years ago this same was exposed nationally for selling, as a cure for Cancer and HIV/AIDS, a one litre bottle of blackcurrant squash and a 500ml bottle of olive oil for £14 – despite them costing less than £6 in supermarkets. For the full story click on the following link:
http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2012/news/undercover-probe-exposes-church-offering-cancer-cure/

Both these groups exploit people financially and both groups are led by people who are enriching themselves by targeting weak and vulnerable people.  Tthe American Business Magazine, Forbes, reported that UCKG founder Edir Macedo:

is one of the world’s richest religious leaders and a prominent media baron in Brazil. Last year he also became a banker. Raised Catholic, he converted to evangelical Christianity in the early 1970s. In 1977 he founded his own denomination in Rio de Janeiro, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which grew into one of the biggest, most controversial religions in BrazilIn July 2013 he finalized the acquisition of a 49% stake in privately-held bank Banco Renner, whose interest rates are among the highest in Brazil.

Forbes reports that he has amassed a fortune of $1.1 Billion!
http://www.forbes.com/profile/edir-macedo/

The Victorious Pentecostal Assembly (VPA) sells “Annointing Oils and Goods at over-inflated prices and it is claimed that once blessed by a pastor they can cure a host of serious health conditions.

http://alexomokudu.org/shop/flying-ninja/

The church’s founder, Pastor Alex Omokudu, who lives in a £1.8million mansion in Hornchurch, Essex, has also regularly appeared in television adverts claiming, “doctors do not have the answer – we have got the answer. We have got the answer to healing.”

According to the church’s most recent accounts (available on the UK Charity Commission’s website) the VPN paid £103,291 to Light Academy Ltd for “TV advertising and evangelism“.  It just so happens that the sole director and shareholder of Light Academy Ltd is Patricia Omokudu who is none other than Alex Omokudu’s wife!
http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends26%5C0001116726_AC_20130331_E_C.PDF

Such groups must be challenged whenever they appear on our streets in accordance with the Apostle Paul’s own instructions.  They must be rebuked publicly:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. (1 Timothy 5:20)

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