The leader of one of Nigeria's most influential churches has urged Pentecostals to understand the true purpose of their power. Sam Adeyemi, Senior Pastor of the 20,000-strong Daystar Christian Centre, said that God wants big churches to use their size, influence and wealth to end the suffering of the vulnerable and poor.
He was interviewed as part of 'The Jesus Agenda' 9-week course, produced globally by Micah Challenge, Christian Aid and Compassion. The aim is to see Christians inspired to help end extreme poverty in Africa and across the world through advocacy and social action.
Pastor Adeyemi said: "When I look at the Bible I see God giving power to people so they can empower others, so that you have equality in society. When God gives wealth to you He wants to use it to lift the vulnerable and the poor.
"Now is the critical moment when we must ask ourselves 'So what's this all about? What are the large numbers about? Now we have access to resources: financial, material, so what is all that about?' Because if we don't, we will abuse those resources. What God's done for the Church is not for the Church, the whole thing is for the sake of humanity."
The church mobilised 5000 people on a Walk for Light - a peaceful demonstration highlighting the power supply issue that impoverishes countless Nigerian families. Using their power and influence to organise and talk to officials, they exercised their right to talk on behalf of others.
Pastor Adeyemi's comments are also reflected by the work of City of David in Lagos. The Redeemed Christian Church of God congregation feeds 50,000 people every Sunday, pays the salaries of local teachers, feeds prisoners, builds schools and advocates to the government on behalf of the prisoners.
Encouraged by these stories, Joel Edwards, International Director of Micah Challenge, said: "I'm convinced that real and lasting change only happens when Christians go beyond powerful preaching and acts of kindness to advocacy - the risky business of speaking out on behalf of those who have no voice."
The Jesus Agenda is part of Micah Challenge's wider plan to mobilise Christians to remind world politicians to keep their Millennium Development Goal promises made in 2000 to halve extreme poverty.
For more information see thejesusagenda.org
Micah Challenge, an initiative of the World Evangelical Alliance and Micah Network, is a global movement active in over 40 countries whose aim is to encourage Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the Millennium Development Goals, signed by 189 countries in the year 2000 which committed to halving world poverty by the year 2015. See www.micahchallenge.org for more information.