What can a pastor of one of London’s fastest growing churches learn from a small group of believers struggling to make ends meet in the heart of Indonesia? Well, quite a lot, as Pastor Kingsley Appiagyei discovered on his recent trip to visit the work of the child development charity, Compassion.
Having grown up inGhana, Pastor Kingsley is no stranger to poverty, but the slums of Jakarta took his breath away. “The level of poverty was overwhelming,” he recalls. “But then to see what Compassion has done to bring life and hope to these people was extremely challenging; so vivid and real.”
Pastor Kingsley Appiagyei has a huge ministry, to say the least. His CV includes being Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church inWest Norwood(with over 2,000 members); overseeing 18 church plants around the world; a year as President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain in 2009; not to mention an extensive preaching ministry and numerous outreach projects. But Pastor Kingsley was humbled by the heart of the pastors he met in Indonesia and their infectious outpouring of love.
“Indonesiais 80% Muslim, and the Christians are only eight per cent, but the harmony that exists is amazing. And the other thing we can learn from them is that you don’t need millions to do church. You just need a genuine heart and a passion and love for Jesus.
“It’s not about money. It’s not about how sophisticated your buildings are. The buildings we saw [inIndonesia] were nothing to write home about, but their passion for Jesus, and the joy to see the poor helped, is so infectious.”
Pastor Kingsley was so inspired by his visit that he returned home to encourage his own congregation to sponsor children through Compassion. A tough ask in the current climate, and one that many pastors might shy away from, for fear that the level of giving to their own church would be compromised. If anything, Trinity Baptist Church’s support for the very poorest of the poor has only served to unite the church more strongly in their desire to see God’s will done on earth.
“Psalm 41:1 makes it quite clear that ‘Blessed is the man who helps the poor’,” continues the Pastor. “Times are tough, but I don’t think that should have any negative effect at all. It’s 70p a day! According to the UN, a child dies every three seconds because of poverty and preventable diseases, so for me it’s a great honour to be connected with Compassion.”
TrinityBaptistChurchis already engaged in a great deal of outreach within their local communities ofWest Norwoodand Croydon. Their partnership with Compassion is an extension of this, as the church seeks God’s heart to change lives for the better. Perhaps this is best reflected in the very personal and powerful meeting that Pastor Kingsley and his wife, Cynthia, had with Rolando, the child they sponsor inIndonesia.
“The most shocking thing was that the father of Rolando was on the verge of becoming a Jihadist. But, through the church, Rolando’s older sister had been sponsored. When the man saw the genuine difference that Compassion makes, he began to see the change in the girl, and started going to church. Through Compassion, that life has been transformed.”
Having seen many other individuals, whose lives have been changed forever through sponsorship, Pastor Kingsley is now an ambassador for Compassion. “One of the mandates that God has given to the Church is that we should be our brothers’ keepers. If a third of the world lives in abject poverty on less than $1.25 a day, we should ask ourselves a very simple question: ‘What would Jesus have done?’ He tells us, “I was naked and you clothed Me; I was hungry and you fed Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.” And when we do it to these poor people, we are doing it for Him, and it’s a mandate I would want to encourage other pastors to take.”
“It’s a dream come true that we could be connected with an organisation that shares my dreams and aspirations, and makes it work and produces results.” Kate Sharma
To find out more about the work of Compassion visit www.compassionuk.org or call 01932 836490