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22 December 2017

How can we be true transformers through the gospel?

How can we be true transformers through the gospel?

Alliance staffers Lucy Olofinjana, Gavin Calver and Yemi Adedeji look at how to become all round transformers – sharing our faith alongside practically helping our communities.

"Understanding of the community you are in is vital," says Yemi Adedeji, director of the Alliance's One People Commission, a body committed to celebrating ethnicity and unity.

"We need to transform in unity by understanding each other's situations," Yemi continues. "Going into each other's worlds in our gospel sharing work, we need to have a shared heart for all people to meet Jesus."

And this is exactly what happened at the recent Alliance staff conference, where 20 young children from RCCG Living Faith Connections in Barking, London were on retreat at the same venue. "At their request, they asked us if we could pray with them to become followers of Jesus," says Yemi. "By the end, we all went away transformed." 

"Alliance staff members of all ages, ethnicities and classes prayed for these kids and it was a beautiful moment," adds Gavin Calver, director of mission. "It was a great time of blessing and a true representation of what the Alliance stands for. Taking part in the Great Commission and striving to represent every age, background and ethnicity."

Lucy Olofinjana, unity programmes manager agrees: "This is exactly what we've seen through the stories we've been sharing at greatcommission.co.uk – Christians and churches loving those around them, pointing people to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. And as people encounter the love of Jesus and hear his truth from others, we're seeing lives transformed across the UK." 

Says Gavin: 'We truly transform lives through the gospel when we play our part in fulfilling the Great Commission - always the counterpart to the great commandment of loving one another.

Transforming by unity
Says Lucy: "There are countless stories of Christians and churches pointing people to the love of Jesus. Whether its Kwame and his church, Trinity Baptist in London, talking with people about Jesus on their local streets, Christ Church Southport bringing good news to bereaved elderly people, or Blacon Central where families  ave opened their adjoining homes to local friends, and have seen several baptisms taking place in their shared garden."

Alex had always suffered from low self-esteem, ending up in children's homes and then prison as his behavior spiraled out of control. But, through the unified love of his local church in Glasgow, he was introduced to God. "I had very low self-esteem because of the lifestyle that I was living, and these people [in the church] helped me build my self-esteem back up.

Alex has seen his life change radically: "I've changed, I've become a much better person, I take pride in my children… and try to guide them with being a right good example… Jesus has brought all that into my life".

Gavin and Yemi share some practical tips for seeing the gospel transform lives in our own communities: 
First, get going! In the Great Commission in Matthew 28, the Greek which we translate "therefore go" is a mixture of tenses. It's past, present and future. Jesus is saying, "Wherever you have been, wherever you are and wherever you are going, make disciples." But you need to 'go'! It was as Jesus's followers fell down in total adoration of him, lost in wonder, love and praise, they were inspired to go on mission. So the first part in transforming lives is to get going. And says Yemi, it is this passion for the gospel which inspires us to transform: "In working together, we have to feel that faith is contagious and share in the ministry together, from whatever background we are from."

Second, focus on disciples not decisions - we are called not to make decisions, but to make disciples. An altogether tougher task! The Great Commission is always directed outwards, to the unreached. Jesus met a downtrodden woman from an unreached Samaritan tribe, who probably worshipped another God. He reached out to her in a conversation that engaged her world, but was also quick to direct the conversation onto her knowing the person of Christ and the transformation that comes by following him. Says Gavin: "Every location is a sharing opportunity
– the cinema, the bank, the playground and our workplaces; locations where we live Jesus, show Jesus and help others to walk like Jesus."

"When this seems hard we must remember that, nothing shall ever rob us of Jesus' "presence". He adds, "Matthew gives the assurance that this baby to be born would be Immanuel (God is with us, Matthew 1:23), and closes with the assurance that He is still with us, until the end of time. 'And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.' (Matthew 28: 20)."

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