Lessons Learned from an African Pastor

The following was found among a young African pastor’s papers after he was martyred for the cause of Christ.

“I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of His and I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

“My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I am done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.

“I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, or first, tops, recognized, praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.

“My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.

“I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.

“I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

“I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.

“I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He’ll have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear!”

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Story of Two Fishermen

Ruth Rieder in Covenant by Sacrifice tells a story of two fishermen on the reservoir. Caught up in the excitement of the trip, the men neglected to put down the anchor as they reached their favorite fishing spot. Unmindful of the subtle undercurrent of the water, they began to fish. Hours quickly passed; suddenly one of the fishermen looked up. To his horror, the boat was drifting dangerously close to destruction. He shouted a warning to his partner, and they began rowing with all their might, seeking to escape the deadly rapids that lay just ahead. After a furious effort, they made it safely to shore. The fishermen were shocked that they drifted so far. It had happened without notice. The danger went undetected until it was almost too late.

The writer of Hebrews warns, “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1, NLT).

The King James Version admonishes us to “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). It is as if the truth could slip out of our hands, and we could slip out of His grace. I can’t allow that to happen. Neither can you!

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Keep the Sand out of Your Shoes

Ruth Rieder in Covenant by Sacrifice related the story of a man that met an overland traveler, who had walked on foot for a long distance. He was interested in knowing what the greatest difficulty the traveler had encountered was in his long journey.

He suggested that perhaps the mountains on the trail had been the greatest barrier, but the traveler assured his questioner it was not that. Then he suggested that perhaps the swollen streams, which cut across the road, presented the greatest hazard, but it was not that. After a little the traveler said, “What almost defeated me in my journey across the continent was the sand in my shoes.”

Rieder points out that life is forever tripping over small things. It is not the big diversion that will send you down the path of compromise. It is usually just the subtle curve in the road. More than likely the giant assaults of the enemy will not destroy our consecrations. It will probably be nothing more than…little foxes. (See Song of Solomon 2:15.)

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Boiled Frog

Stuart Piggin in Firestorm of the Lord said Satan likes to threaten us. ”I will cool you insensibly, by degrees, by little and little. What care I … though I be seven years in chilling your heart if I can do it at last; continual rocking will lull a crying child asleep.”

George Barna in The Frog in the Kettle explained the drift in this way: “Place a frog in boiling water and it will jump out immediately because it can tell that it’s in a hostile environment. But place a frog in a kettle of room temperature water and it will stay there, content with those surroundings. Slowly, very slowly, increase the temperature of the water. This time, the frog doesn’t leap out, but just stays there, unaware that the environment is changing. Continue to turn up the burner until the water is boiling. Our poor frog will be boiled, quite content, perhaps, but nevertheless dead.”

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Signs of a Drifting, Dying Church


1. Churches drift when they fail to pass on the truth to successive generations.

2. Churches drift when they move away from their foundational doctrines.

The trend is for church denominations to drift (or move) away from their foundational doctrines over time. It does not have to be this way. Drifting can be prevented. It must be prevented.

John Wesley once said, “I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist…But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having a form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case, unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline which they first set out.”

Hold on. Before casting a judging eye on another’s church, there is a question for consideration. Could this same thing be said of your church?

3. Churches drift when they move away from soul winning.

L. R. Scarborough, a Southern Baptist once said, “It is found that so long as the heart of an institution burns hot with the fires of soul-winning, it is not likely to drift in its theology.”

4. Churches drift when they concentrate on maintaining the organizational structure.

Arnold Cook said, “As a result of their position on the aging side of the life cycle, congregations are being sustained by their management rather than fueled by their vision. Generally, the more aged the congregation, the longer it takes to produce lasting change.”

5. Churches drift when seminaries and Bible schools fail in training the leaders.

Timothy Beougher and Alvin Reid in Evangelism for a Changing World cautioned, “When a denomination’s theology changes, that change almost always begins in the seminaries that train its leaders.”

6. Churches drift when Satan lulls us into sleep rather than the church experiencing revival.

Revival means “to bring back to life.” As believers backslide they become a corpse. Revival is imperative.

 7. Churches drift because their leadership drifts.

Arnold Cook in Historical Drift stated, “Organizations don’t drift, only their leaders.”

There is a backsliding in the pulpit before there is a backsliding in the pew.

8. Churches drift when there is the lack of vision.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Proverbs 29:18).

9. Churches drift when there is a desire for the world (and to be like everyone else).