Outreach Committee

Saturday, 05 September 2015 17:29

In 1997, what used to be the Evangelical and Outreach Committee was split into two - the Evangelical Committee and the Outreach Committee. Those who had been demanding greater evangelism were grouped into the Evangelical Committee with Mrs. L. Olatoye as Convener and Mrs Olunuga as Secretary. Later, the Church Council appointed the Assistant Minister. The Rev. O.O. Mewoyeka, to be the Chairman of the Committee. The Outreach Committee continued with the following activities:
(i)    Prison Visiting
(ii)   Hospital Visiting
(iii)  Wednesday Bible Study and Prayer Meetings

On the fourth Sunday of every month, members of All Saints' Church Prison Visiting Group conduct worship at the Agodi Prison from 10a.m. to 11a.m. There are usually two services - one in the male section and the other in the female section. Over the years we have always had more female volunteers than male, at a ratio of about five to two.

The order of service is usually in the hands of the inmates themselves. We come in as visiting preachers. In this role, we have the opportunity to give them hope for their future lives and to counsel them, with a view to effecting a change of heart before the day of their discharge so that the dog may not return to its vomit. A warder once told an inmate as he struck him on the back of his head with his hand: "What do you think you are here for? You are here for punishment, not for ...". The Prison Visiting Group do not visit Agodi Prison to add to the punishment of the inmates. Our role is to give them care and encouragement. We work with the Welfare Department of the prison.

When we go to the prison to preach to the inmates and you find a female prisoner with a baby, we realize that prison visiting needs more than preaching the word. We have had to provide money for baby food, medicine, uniforms, repair of broken septic tanks, fees for surgery, funds to purchase materials for hand work, supply of uncooked food stuff, etc. In view of this, we do not participate in providing money for the purchase of Church needs or for Easter or Christmas celebrations. We also declined to join a Nigerian Prison Fellowship which requires contributions to the administration of a nation-wide body. We are satisfied to be of help in Ibadan.

When prisoners are discharged, the responsibility of the Department of Prisons ends with letting the prisoners out of the prison gate. Transport fare home? Money for the next meal? Initial grant to settle back into society? None of these is government business. It is the responsibility of the families of the discharged prisoners - as well as their friends and well-wishers. We count ourselves among their friends, following the instruction of our Master who said: "When I was in prison, you visited me. "

The Hospital Visiting Group was established some twelve years ago (1977) as a sub-committee of the Outreach Committee. The aim of this Group is to reach out to the sick in hospitals through visits, prayers and preaching the word of God. The Group was pioneered by the late Mr A. A. Babalola who served as the Chairman until October 2008 when be was called home to meet his Creator. The members of this committee are Mrs M. O. E. Abayomi, Mrs Oguntoyinbo, Mrs F. Oluwole, Mrs Atanda, Chief Mrs Raimi, Mrs Fasola and Mrs O. F. Fatoyinbo.

Three government hospitals were chosen as our targets. These are the State Hospital, Ring Road, Ibadan; Jericho Nursing Home, Ibadan; Oni & Sons Children's Hospital, Ring Road, Ibadan. Each of them is visited every quarter.

The Church has been able to contribute to the development of these hospitals through the donation of incubators for premature babies and a 7.5KVA generating set for the Children's Hospital. On a few occasions we were able to bailout patients who could not pay their hospital bills after being discharged.

About 13 of us meet in the Church from 5.30 to 6.30 p.m. on Wednesdays for Bible Study (first three weeks of every month), and for lectures and symposia (fourth week of every month). The last Wednesday of the month is designated "Minister's Day". On that day, the Minister prepares for us any ministration he deems fit.
For Bible Study we usually choose one book of the Bible to be studied, chapter by chapter. Members volunteer to take two or three chapters at a time after the Minister has given an overview of the book. Recently we finished the book of Daniel before taking a seven-week break just before Lent. We were fortunate to invite Professor Femi Kujore of the Methodist Church, Bodija to take two chapters and to round off for us with an overview of the book of Daniel. He had studied this book in detail in the course of the national Bible Quiz Competition of the Methodist Church Nigeria for 2008 which his team of three won. Professor Kujore was 77 when he decided to join in this competition. A retired professor of Classics from the University of Ibadan, Professor Kujore lost his sight about ten years ago. What he has been doing with Bible Study since then is simply amazing.

After Easter, we began the book of Deuteronomy, As the Venerable G. B. Daramola had retired at the end of March, the overview was given by the Rev. O. O. Mewoyeka. Princess Egbedeyi led us in the study of the first two chapters. Each leader has about thirty minutes. Questions and discussion take about fifteen minutes. Then the Minister takes prayer requests.

We have ventured into three Deutero-canonical books: Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclestiasticus and Esther. As the majority of our members did not have editions of the Bible which contained these books, (which is mandatory for Catholics), we had to buy seven copies of the Good News Bible (with Apocrypha) from St. Paul's Book Store, Oke Padre, Ibadan. It was informative for our members to find that there was nothing occult about the books of the Apocrypha.

It was also instructive to hear Professor Kujore analyse the difference between the classical and the dispensational interpretations of passages of scripture which speak about the end time or about the Messiah. He was a dispensationalist! Every adult who studies the Bible must make a decision about the import of the 'Messianic Psalms" (e.g. Psalm 2) and about prophecies of the future (e.g. Isaiah 7) concerning the child who would 1 named "Immanuel": was it a prophecy to be fulfilled within five years or within a thousand years or both? That is, did these prophecies refer to Jesus of Nazareth alone? Or to him in the first place? Or to some other time and situation in the first place concerning Psalm 2 and Isaiah 7, Professor Kujore has admitted the validity of the classical interpretations.

Isn't Bible Study enough in a Church? Why lectures? Why symposia? Aren't these secular? These questions are what led to the separation of the Evangelical Committee from the Outreach Committee. It is like the argument about whether praise worship and drums befit All Saints' Church. We eventually made room for both. So we had a lecture on "The Ecumenical Agenda". The intention was to remind ourselves of the tradition that our Church is supposed to uphold: we are an ecumenical congregation. What does that mean? About two years after that lecture, a group of seventeen members of our Church circulated a document with the title: "Observation of Imminent Collapse of a Successful Ecumenical Experience at All Saints' Church, Jericho GRA, Ibadan". This was in May, 2009. This document can be examined in the Archives of the Church.

From the lecture on "The Ecumenical Agenda" one item was Selected “for further study”. It was the complaint of some indigenes of Kwara State about the intention of the government of the State to acquire their land for allocation to thirteen farmers from Zimbabwe who had left Zimbabwe rather than accede to Mugabe's insistence on redistribution of land. To study this problem, we planned to send four members of our Church to see the farms which the Zimbabwe farmers were establishing in Kwara State. Eventually, only Professor Lufadeju was able to go, on his own expense. Then we invited Professor Segun Oke to speak to our group on the cassava exporting project of the Obasanjo government of which he was the national adviser. He opted to speak on "Farming as a profession". He was requested to address the congregation on this subject. After his address, all those who were interested were asked to consult Professor Oke.

A group emerged from this exercise: "All Saints' Church Cassava Processing Group". It was registered as a cooperative with Mr A.A. Babalola as the Chairman and Mr. Ogbogu as the Secretary. The group got land on lease at Kuta near Iwo, got agricultural engineering equipment fabricated by a company in Ibadan, got a bank loan after failing to get the amount allocated to it from the Government Cassava Processing project in spite of actual listing, produced cassava cakes and garri for about six months and then ran into business difficulty.

What concerns us in the above matter is what can emerge out of "Wednesday Bible Studies and Prayer Meeting". Note the struggle between the traditional concerns of the Church and the ecumenical concerns of Christianity. A lecture on "Radical Protestantism and Dissentient Academics" led to the founding of All Saints College. The shoe box library at the Wednesday Bible Studies led to the founding of the Library of All Saints' Church. We Christians are taught that:
 In the beginning was the word. And without it there was nothing that was made. (John 1:1ff)

The Wednesday Bible Studies and Prayer Meetings are dedicated to exploring the power of this idea and to equip its members for the priesthood of the word, which is distinct from the priesthood of the sacraments. One of the lessons of Protestantism is the idea of the priesthood of all believers - a priesthood shared by the clergy and the laity. To leave it all to the clergy is neither Protestant nor ecumenical.

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