The need for believers to grow spiritually from mere converts to true disciples of Jesus Christ was in focus as Faith Baptist Church Port Harcourt observed her Discipleship Emphasis Sunday with the theme, "Growing into Spiritual Maturity through Discipleship." 1Peter 2:2.
Coordinator of the Outreach Ministries, Dn. Bisi Adeosun defined discipleship as developing a personal, lifelong, obedient relationship with Jesus Christ where He changes the believers' life into Christ-likeness, changes the believers' value system and helps him/her to serve Him more effectively. He said discipleship involves faithfulness, availability and teachability on the part of the students.
Giving an overview of the courses, Dn. Adeosun said the discipleship classes begins with the New Converts class, which as the names implies, teaches the fundamentals of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is for new/young believers.
The Baptismal Class teaches biblical principles and basic Baptist doctrines, preparatory to being baptized and admitted formally into the Baptist family as a member.
Follow the Master class is a 12 week course that encourages the young believer to have a deeper and closer walk with the Lord as it trains one on how to observe "Quiet time" and witness to others.
Serve the Master class is also a 12 week course that overhauls the believer's value system in service to the Lord. Master Life class is a year long programme that helps identify spiritual gifts and how to use it(them) to edify the body of Christ.
Experiencing God class is a 3-month course that helps the believer establish an intimate relationship with God. One significant lesson learnt here is identifying where God is working and joining Him to work there. In His Presence helps the believer develop a well balanced prayer life and teaches one how to effectively pray for others.
The classes are in progression as a successful completion of one class enables one to go onto the next.
A drama sketch by the Drama Ministry buttressed the essential role of discipleship in properly understanding and applying scripture in everyday living as a witness to being a true Christian.
Rev. Dr. Nkem Osuigwe in a message titled, 'Growing to Maturity through Discipleship' said the ultimate purpose of Christianity is to be like Jesus Christ as He is the model all should focus on. He charged the congregation to drop sins of the flesh that are inimical to love like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander while encouraging them to desire the word of God as food. He further enumerated the benefits of discipleship as:
As many made commitment to enroll in the various discipleship classes which would commence soon, those who have passed through the classes from Follow the Master to In His Presence were recognized. Their certificates would be given to them in due course.
It was an atmosphere of joy and gratitude as children of Faith Baptist Church, Port Harcourt, workers in the children's department as well as their parents and members of the church had a special service to thank God in the Annual Childrens' Thanksgiving service.
With special presentations in songs and dance in various Nigerian languages, the children and workers showed their appreciation to God for keeping them alive from last year's thanksgiving to this year without any loss recorded among them.
Leader of the Children and Teenagers Church, Rev. Mrs. Elizabeth Ibude, presenting a scorecard of the ministry, said God had truly been faithful as they had experienced tremendous growth with numerous testimonies of God's grace and mercy in their lives, especially seen in the excellent academic performance of the children passing from one class to another.
Rev. Mrs. Ibude also appreciated God for the success of various programmes held by the children's ministry that had yielded many positive results like the Holiday Bible School, which had children within and outside the church in attendance. Also, many of them participated in the Annual Regional Musical Workshop organized by the music ministry of the church as some of them displayed skills in playing some musical instruments.
As part of activities marking the thanksgiving week, the children had a successful prayer and fasting programme and visited some elders in the church (those from 70 years and above) and shared their biscuits and other goodies with them as they also wanted to grow to a good old age.
The service also featured the promotion of children of about 12 years of age to the teenagers church, with gifts presented to them. Some in the Glorious Voices choir were received into the Anointed Voices choir of the Teenagers' Church. They were charged to be active and committed to the Teenagers' Church as it would build and equip them with necessary skills and knowledge to be responsible young people who would be a blessing to their generation. Those promoted would begin worshipping with the teenagers' church from January 1st, 2016.
In a sermon taken from Luke 17:11-19, the Assocate Pastor of the church in charge of music, Rev. Dr. Isaac Ibude, charged the children and the congregation to cultivate the attitude of gratitude as it perfects their blessing. He listed desperation, humility, cry for mercy, perseverance, faith and obedience as desirable characteristics God desires to see to meet the needs of His children. He said the appropriate response to God's blessing was timely and heartfelt appreciation as giving thanks assures one's salvation, blessing /healing and set a seal on the blessing.
The service came to a crescendo as the children filed out one after the other to individually and collectively present their thanks offerings, led by the pastors and diaconate with the support of parents and other church members, with some giving anticipatory thanks offerings.
In another development, two baby boys were added to the Faith Baptist family as Babies Uwazuruike and Ezeanya were dedicated to God, a testimony to God's continuous blessings to the church.
At the close of the service, the children shared their biscuits and soft drinks in joyful fellowship as they took memorable pictures of the celebrations.