By Joseph Ametepe
I would like to share with you some of the pictures of the ministry I have been privileged to carry out in the past.
• Two years after the Lord called me into full time ministry, He opened the door for me to minister in the country of Lebanon which is on the continent of Asia. The opening of this door, not only confirmed God's call to me, but it also revealed to me the general direction of the ministry He had graciously given me. My first visit was in June-July of 1995. This was followed by another visit in October-November of 1996. I ministered mostly among African churches. Some of these churches were part of indigenous Lebanese churches. It was so refreshing to see believers from Africa worshiping with their brothers and sisters from Asia. During my visits, God gave me the privilege of preaching His Word in four different churches which were in and around the city of Beirut, namely at Hadeth, Zalka, Bikfaya and Bjourzhammouth.
• My mission was very clear. First, I was to preach the Word of God in the churches. Second, I was to prepare and equip the believers (especially those God had chosen to serve with me) for the work of service. The preparation of these believers were mostly in devotion to prayer and the study of the Word and participation in the ministry of strengthening believers and in the sharing of the Good News to the unsaved. Through this preparation, the team became more devoted to God and was deeply challenged to continue serving Him. Third, I was to proclaim the Good News to those who have not heard. This involved going from house to house with the saving message of Jesus Christ. We followed the pattern and principle established by the Lord Jesus Himself. He went where the people were to present the Good News. Our Lord's apostles adopted this pattern and principle of going where people are to share the Good News.
• God brought much fruit from this work. He glorified Himself through my visits to Lebanon. Many believers who were backslidden were restored to Him and those who were walking with Him were further encouraged and strengthened in their faith. He also brought honor to Himself by drawing several unbelievers to Himself through the saving message of the cross of Jesus Christ. These began their life-long discipleship with the churches who took responsibility for their discipleship in Christ.
• Personally, I drew closer to God and learned to depend more on the Person and power of the Holy Spirit. I am still learning this lesson in my present ministry.
The Definition of Ministry
• Ministry is a privileged-partnership with God through the Holy Spirit and with Spirit-filled born again believers in serving the Person of God Himself, the people of God and the people of the world in love, in order to advance the redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ to the glory of God.
• Please notice that in this definition, ministry is both a privilege and a partnership. Furthermore, it is a personal act of service to God, His people, that is, the Body of Christ, and to the people of the world. It is carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of glorifying God.
• It is a privilege because God chooses in His grace to bestow on redeemed sinners the blessed honor of service in His kingdom. There is nothing we could do to deserve or earn this honor. It is purely due to His marvelous and matchless grace. It's all about His grace. It's all about His favor. It's because of His doing, that we, who are savingly related to Him through the blood of Christ could approach the holy and righteous God to serve Him and His purpose in this world. This is an incredible privilege and honor bestowed on mortals.
• It is a partnership because God invites believers in Him to be His fellow-workers. This is awesome. God, who is altogether holy, all-wise, all-knowing, all-truthful, all-powerful, almighty, and all-sufficient, needing no one to assist Him, chooses to call us into His service to be His partners in advancing His redemptive purpose. This is amazing. The Holy Spirit deeply impressed this truth on Apostle Paul's heart. Twice, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he brought it to the attention of the believers in the church of Corinth.
• "We are God's fellow-workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9).
• "Working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Corinthians 6:1).
• In Mark 16:20, we read:
• "And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed."
• Also, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, the Bible says:
• "We sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow-worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith."
• Clearly, these Scriptures reveal that ministry is indeed a partnership with God, a working together with God Almighty Himself. He did not leave us here to do our best without His partnership and presence.
• Ministry is not only partnership with God, but also partnership with other believers who love God and desire to honor Him. Paul was blessed with both partnership with God and other like-minded believers who served God's purpose out of love for Him. He had partnership with Epaphroditus, whom he described as "my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier" (Philippians 2:25). He also had partnership with Euodia and Synteche, whom he described as "my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life" (Philippians 4:3). Philemon, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke were among Paul's fellow workers (Philemon 1, 24). Prisca and Aquila were also his fellow workers in Christ Jesus (Romans 16:3). Clearly then, ministry is partnership with God and other like-minded believers who are brought together by God to serve His purpose.
• It is a personal act of service. Each and every single believer has been gifted and equipped to serve in the kingdom of the Great King. Serving God, His people, and the people of the world is a personal responsibility for each believer. No one can excuse himself or herself from it.
• Please, also note that the power for service is provided through the Person of the Holy Spirit. Reminding the suffering first century believers (who were scattered in what is now modern Turkey), inspired Apostle Peter clearly presented to them that God is the One who provides strength for our service.
• "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11).
• Finally, notice that the purpose of ministry in our definition is the glory of God. Ministry is not about our glory. It's not about our fame. It's not about our honor. It's not for our praise. It's all about the glory and honor and praise and fame of the all-sufficient God.