The Apostle Peter wrote to the Christians who at the time were undergoing untold persecution reminding them that they were pilgrims, people that are going through this world and soon they would be in glory with their Lord! In times of persecution and trouble, it is possible for one to lose sight of who they are leading to an identity crisis and so Peter likewise reminded them of who they were in Christ; a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God (1 Peter 2:9-10). As sojourners in this word, I would like to share insights on how we can make a lasting impact in the communities where God has placed us (Acts 17:26).
Clear vision for where we are going: For everyone who has taken a flight before knows that before takeoff there’s flight information that is given to the passengers. Actually one is able to know the distance, time to be taken, temperature and even altitude at which the plane will be flying. I believe this is done to prepare everyone on board for where they are going. I believe if we are going to have tremendous impact in our communities and generation at large we need to have clarity of vision for the Bible says in Hosea 4:6, “…my people perish for lack of vision.”
Concern and burden for our communities: Many times when I speak to youth I ask them, “What keeps us awake?” I am aware that many of our youth spend countless hours on things that do not necessarily benefit them or those around them. They might be fun and promise temporary pleasure, but they do not lead to positive impact in their lives and in their communities. The Bible points out that Jesus, “… had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). Are we moved by the state of our families and communities? The Apostle Paul was grieved and filled with sorrow about the state of Israel and desired that they be saved (Romans 9:2-5 and 10:1), God said to Moses that He had seen and heard the misery of Israel (Exodus 3:7), John Knox knelt in prayer and cried out to God, “Give me Scotland or I die!” For instance are we moved when we learn that 16 women die in Uganda while giving birth or when we read that an estimated 14 million people in our nation have only one meal a day? What concerns us; do we have the burden and conviction to change things?
Creativity (Thinking outside the box): I believe that as Christians, the Great Commission given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ points us to a global cause that we have; for we are to “go out into all the nations…” It was C.S. Lewis that remarked, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” His was a challenge to think anew and create solutions to problems in our communities. Most times when people quote Deuteronomy 28:13, they merely think of being number one in exams, business or the best person in a given field. However, I believe God was looking at something beyond that. The head is where the brain (thinking for nations), the eyes (seeing for nations), ears (hearing for nations) and the mouth (speaking for nations) are located. The challenge of our day is that most of our youth have alienated themselves from the art of thinking. The Bible tells us that transformation comes as a result of the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). This is where transformation starts!
Utilizing the available resources: The bible tells us in Ephesians 5:15-16, “not to live as unwise, but as wise; making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” I believe we need to make use of what we have to create what we do not have. In Matthew 14:13 Jesus used a boy’s lunch of two fish and five loaves of bread and fed more than 5,000 people; when God responded to the cries of the people of Israel, He asked Moses, “What do you have in your hand” (Exodus 4:2)? If we are to make a lasting impact in our communities, we must use that which God has given us to go to the next level. What do you have in your hand?
Stronger partnerships: Over the years, I have come to learn the fact that we are all uniquely gifted and as a result each one of us has something to contribute to the national grid of power and influence. Luke 5:5-7 is one of those portions of scripture where we see the profound results of partnership; Simon had caught a great harvest at the word of Jesus however, he didn’t have enough capacity to make sense of this harvest and he signaled to his partners! In 2016, Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote (Africa’s richest man) signed a $100m partnership to address hunger in Nigeria. Such partnership undoubtedly will transform the community and help improve the livelihood of people.
Being intentional and having a mindset of long-term impact: I believe if we are to impact our communities, we have to look at building processes against events. Why would it take Jesus, the Son of God, to start ministry at 30 years of age? Why would God take Moses through the desert for 40 years before he could embark on his mission? Why would Jesus invest 3 years of training and equipping the 12 disciples before He could entrust them with a global mission of evangelism? I believe all this has to do with process. The tragedy of our time is that most of us are so event minded – doing things for now without thinking beyond today – and this has made us ineffective. To produce fruit that lasts (John 15:16), we must focus on processes that will build and empower the youth to get to the level where God has called them to be.
Lastly, we have to be firmly decisive and focused on our assignment: We have got to decide on what future we want for ourselves, our children and their children’s children. I read a story of Christopher Columbus and his team of explorers , that when they arrived at what we today call America, they looked back at where they had come from and also looked at where they had come and they chose to burn their boats. They did that to avoid the temptation of ever going back to where they had come from. I believe we must decide to let go of our sins, immorality, pain, misery and mediocrity and choose not to go back to the very things that held us captives. Hebrews 11:25 tells us that, “Moses chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”