“If people lack self-worth, it will reflect how they treat others. We can’t redeem the world without dealing with self-worth.”
HOPE – THE GREATEST GIFT YOU CAN GIVE
Following a visit to meet children helped by Compassion UK in Tanzania, Rev Celia Apeagyei-Collins was inspired to reflect on issues surrounding questions of leadership, potential and hope. She shared her thoughts with Kate Sharma
Rev Celia Apeagyei-Collins’ leadership qualities are immediately apparent. She’s confident, eloquent, and has a wonderful ability to connect with people. But was she a born leader?
“Everyone is a potential leader,” states the native Ghanaian with utter conviction. “But society often teaches people that they are worthless, and that their potential is never realised.” Celia came to the UK with just the money in her pocket and the clothes on her back. She washed dishes, cleaned toilets, and generally worked her fingers to the bone to scrape a living. But her strong, unshakeable faith taught her that she has eternal worth in Christ. Her life’s work has been to help others understand their worth, and to realise their full potential.
Rising to become Principal of the Word of Life Bible College in North London, Celia has gone on to sit on numerous boards; initiate and support worldwide development projects, and establish the Rehoboth Foundation. Despite holding so many positions of authority, Celia’s ethos is one of servant leadership. “Leadership has little to do with position, and everything to do with service and influence,” she says. Through the Rehoboth Foundation, Celia is not only concerned with raising up godly solution-oriented leaders, but enabling everyone to fulfil their own potential, in whatever circumstances they are living.
It was this passion that led her to travel to Tanzania with child development charity, Compassion UK. “I saw kids from the worst of environments, but they truly believed they could achieve anything,” she says. During her trip, Rev Celia took time to meet sponsored children and their families; encourage the staff, and even help serve lunch at one of the projects. What most impressed her about the work was the holistic approach which, along with teaching children the skills they needed for adulthood, also helps them to understand their own worth and identity in Christ. “God gave us all a sense of identity,” she explains. “When the devil tempted Jesus, it was all about His identity, because it’s crucial.”
This powerful combination of skills and self belief is one that Celia believes will change nations. “We need to put the reins of the future back into people’s hands. No one can excel beyond their expectations. The greatest thing we can do is to empower them. We can change the history of a nation by making sure that its citizens are in the best place to add value to that nation,” says Celia. “If people lack self-worth, it will reflect how they treat others. We can’t redeem the world without dealing with self-worth.”
In Tanzania, Celia visited communities where the children were frequently told by the world that they were worthless, but through the intervention of the local church, project workers and their sponsors, they were hearing a different message: one of truth, love and, ultimately, hope. “I visited a Compassion project, where there was an after-school club, and the kids were given mentors. I strongly believe in mentoring. Life was made to be relational. When you train someone to make good choices, you arm them for life.”
The hope brought to the children in these projects is clearly having an impact, not only on them, but on their families, too. “One of the homes we visited was just a mud hut with newspaper for wallpaper,” recalls the pastor. “The family had nothing. I put myself in the mother’s shoes, and thought how fearful it must be when you know you can’t do anything to change your situation. But this mother carried herself with such dignity and hope. Her daughter was her hope, simply because she was sponsored through Compassion.”
Pastor Celia is excited about the transformation taking place in the lives of sponsored children across the world, but she’s also excited about the opportunity Compassion gives for each Christian in the UK to live out God’s will in our own lives. “Everything we have, we’re custodians of,” she says. “God opens up doors of opportunity for us. So many children across the world have their potential locked up in a prison called poverty. Every Christian has an obligation to unlock that door.”
With Pastor Celia, you get a sense that anything is possible. Where others see challenge, she sees opportunity. Perhaps her philosophy is summed up by her assertion that “Hope is the greatest gift anyone can give.”
Pastor Celia is encouraging more Christians to give hope to children and families this Mother’s Day, by sponsoring a child with Compassion UK. To find out more, visit www.compassionuk.org or call 01932 836490