Agents of Change by Kay Taiwo and Olu Taiwo by Kay Taiwo and Olu Taiwo - Read Online

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Agents of Change - Kay Taiwo

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Impact

Introduction

In an ever-changing culture, one certain truth remains; Jesus Christ is the answer to every human heart.

John 3:16 and 17 NKJV reveal:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

God loves the world. Jesus died for the world. So how will the world know how much love He has for it? The answer is the Church. The Church is not a social club or a building where we meet weekly; it is the living representation of the invisible Christ. The Church is the family of God; it is full of individuals who responded positively to God’s amazing grace.

Problems arise when the Church does not know who it is and why it exists. Confinement to the four walls of a building insulates us from the world around us. We were not called out for isolation but impact.

In the first century Church, the impact on the culture was so undeniable that their detractors identified them as, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too" (Acts 17:6).

These times call for intentionality. We must wean ourselves from our addiction to the four walls of our Church buildings and become the agents of change. We must be the light to this dark world.

Agents of change are not preoccupied with darkness. They are preoccupied with being the light.

1 Peter 2:12 shows us:

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

We are Christ’s ambassadors. When Christ ascended, He gave the world His best. We are products of His grace sent forth into the world to tell it that the struggle is over. God has not called us to perform. He has called us to participate in His amazing grace.

The body of Christ is a diverse group with a plethora of gifts, talents, and abilities. These gifts must be yielded to the Holy Spirit.

Romans 12:3-15 KJV reveal:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

We must understand the times.

And they helped David against the band of the rovers: for they were all mighty men of valour, and were captains in the host. For at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God. And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war, and came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the Lord. And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.

(1 Chronicles 12:21-23, 32 KJV).

This passage conveys astounding truths often quoted out of context by focusing only on the children of Issachar. The truth is, the mention of the children of Issachar does grab the attention of any casual reader; they had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do… When isolated, we see the children of Issachar as people of understanding and of wise application of knowledge based on their ability to discern what needed to be done. The fact is that they are mentioned among an impressive and elaborate list of men; all of whom were men of war.

And these are the numbers of the bands that were ready armed to the war…

(1 Chronicles 12:23).

The children of Issachar were like the ‘others’ in that they were counted among the warriors — though small in numbers, only two hundred men. The difference is that they had an extra ability to assess seasons, diagnose the challenge, and then act accordingly; they were nimble to address critical issues facing their time. This ability was a God-given endowment that rested on this family.

The challenge of our day must incorporate some of these elements: a spiritually engaged mindset that relies on the wisdom of God, the grace of God, and adaptability to change without compromise. We must know both what to do and how to do it. Possessing ‘know how’— knowledge of what to do, and how to do it are some of the greatest challenges the Church faces today. For decades, playing catchup has been our modus operandi. The secular world interestingly mimics the children of Issachar as they have repeatedly shown that they understand the times and demonstrate that they know what to do.

Grace indeed saves us not our works; yet we must square this fact with the also essential truth, that we are created in Christ Jesus to be skilled workers who are empowered and destined for good works (Ephesians 2:10).

The world responds and gravitates to what they can first relate to, and then what is perceived to be an answer to a lingering problem. Therefore, we must not only be great historians, but we must also be great storytellers. Jesus used parables to convey His message to His audience. The spiritual truth embedded in those stories opened their eyes to God’s love for them.

Our message will cease to be relevant if we don’t know how to communicate it. We need to yield to the Holy Spirit to make us mouthpieces of God in this generation.

I remember a pharmacist I practiced with years ago who counseled patients with a heavy emphasis about the terrible side effects of the medication they were about to take. This pharmacist wondered why the patients she counseled often refused to take this particular medication. Her emphasis on the side effects and not the purpose of the drug discouraged the patients from taking a medication that would benefit them. A lot of why we fail in spreading the message of truth lies in our approach, not the message itself.

We begin this book by giving an orderly account of our journey in the Faith up to the present time of this writing. All of us are on a journey. Where are you in your journey of faith in Christ? It is important for you to be able to identify where you are.

Every chapter has a definite purpose: to bring light to a truth that will ignite understanding and faith by the Holy Spirit.

Our heartfelt prayer is that you will be empowered to arise and shine because your light has come.

Grace and peace,

Kay and Olu Taiwo

1

Our Journey from Salvation to Answering Our Callings to Ministry

Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

1 Thessalonians 5:24

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

In this chapter, we will share our testimony of God’s faithfulness in our journey so far. If you study the patterns of your life, you will be able to see the faithfulness of God in His dealings with you.

Everyone goes through a process – a journey – and seldom do you find any process that is just one straight line from Point A to Point B. There are many decisions along the way. That’s life. But it is through God’s grace that we can navigate through the various twists and turns in life, and our personal experiences are no exception. We too have been through that process, and we are still going through it.

Joseph had a dream, and it was only with time that the light came on, and he was able to see that what he had gone through wasn’t just for him. He was an agent of change who God used to preserve a remnant. There are many occurrences in our lives, full of implications for us, which at the time they occur we may not fully grasp what is happening.

Our Move from the USA to Nigeria

We were born in Brooklyn, New York; we are first generation Americans. Our family roots are from the West African nation of Nigeria. In l978 our mother became homesick and wanted to return to Nigeria after a decade in the United States. As young boys, we were excited about going to Nigeria for the first time even though we did not know what to expect.

We embarked on this great adventure in 1978. Although Nigeria was starkly different from America, we adjusted quickly to the culture, food, and people.

The year 1986 would prove to be the single most significant year of our lives. God had planted the seeds of salvation in our hearts on several occasions, but the full harvest was not reaped until this particular year in school.

Olu and Kay Taiwo (Circa 1975)

Salvation Experience, 1986: A Divine Setup

In 1986 we were both part of the Science Club at our secondary school. Every week we paid the required weekly dues, which the Science Club used for experiments and projects. On this fateful day, we didn’t have the money for our dues.

In Nigeria in those days, if you didn’t have the money for your contributions, you were punished. So we hid in a classroom. We tried to avoid the Science Club, and I remember that we hid in a classroom with a fellow student. He said, Wait a minute. Why are we hiding here? Why not just go over to the Christian Club? They take offerings, but they don’t require you to pay dues. So we went to the Christian Club where we heard the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, and we gave our hearts to Him. This event was a dramatic turning point in both of our lives.

What if that student had pointed us elsewhere? God had set us up for a divine encounter. And it is also evident that God has a great sense of humor considering the circumstances that He used to bring us to salvation.

In Acts, chapter 9, the Bible shows us that the Apostle Paul had his orders to arrest the Christians and bring them bound to Jerusalem. Paul’s core value was truth even though he was blind to the Gospel. With great zeal, he moved forward to stop the Christians that he perceived were undermining the truth of God. Then, on the road to Damascus, God visited him. The revelation of Jesus Christ transformed his life.

God’s plan from the beginning of the world was to get us into His Kingdom, and He used an unconventional way to do it in our case. Perhaps you are reading this, and you are looking at your life story, thinking to yourself, I can see the hand of God in my life. I can see a pattern that I never even thought was God, but in the details, I can see God.

Many people say that the devil is in the details, but I beg to differ. God is in the details! He knows the end from the very beginning (Isaiah 46:10).

God is the One who has orchestrated and planned our lives and mapped them out. He is the Grand Architect of our destinies!

At the time of our salvation, we attended an Episcopal church (also known as an Anglican church). It did not take long for the impact of our salvation to manifest itself in our fervor and zeal.

One day our neighbor across the street who attended the same Episcopal Church warned us, Guys, I just came out of a meeting, and your names came up. She said that it was brought up in the meeting that we prayed too much. We had caught the attention of the vicar (the Episcopal title for the resident pastor). This event would mark the beginning of many such encounters. In fact, one such encounter was rather dramatic. One Sunday morning at church, while the service was on, there were about fifteen to twenty of us in an upper room in the church building praising and praying to God. While we were engaged in intense prayer, we saw the vicar and two other persons show up at the entrance of the door. Apparently, the minister and his entourage exited the service during offering time to inspect our activities. At that precise moment, the young lady leading the prayer uttered the words, We bind the devil… The vicar angrily confronted her asking, Who is the devil? Who is the devil? The lady had no answer. Needless to say, that meeting ended abruptly, and we would never meet there again.

1987: Learning Leadership at our School Christian Fellowship

In 1987 in Nigeria, God’s Word was spreading rapidly across the south as young people in the hundreds, and even thousands embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Parents became concerned and nervous as they saw their children dissatisfied with the traditional institution of denominationalism. Such was the surge of young people coming to Christ that threatened Islam.

This threat seemed to escalate in northern Nigeria.¹,² The invasion of Christianity resulted in an unfortunate course of events, leading to a violent protest that led to the killing of several Christians and the burning down of over one hundred churches.

Fearing that this violence would spread to the schools, the Nigerian government placed a ban on every religious Association on campuses across the country.

Our school’s Christian Fellowship president explained that the Fellowship would stop and resume in a year’s time (in 1988).

My brother, a few friends, and I expressed our concerns about the negative impact this would have on the new converts from Islam. For many of them, the Christian Fellowship was the only source for receiving teaching from the Word of God. The Christian Fellowship president, however, maintained his casual stand.

So we started an underground Fellowship on the school premises after school hours. One day a teacher walked in on the Fellowship, took our names, and threatened to report us. Students were jumping out of windows. Thankfully, the teacher never reported us. With our cover blown, we sought other channels to keep the Fellowship active.

About six of us concerned brothers in Christ decided to meet weekly to keep ourselves stirred up spiritually. Before long, we were meeting at an Assemblies of God church on the outskirts of our school. Our numbers grew to ninety people. The reward for our diligence was the fact that, despite the ban, our numbers continued to grow. Our numbers now exceeded what we had before the ban.

In 1988 the ban was lifted. Our Fellowship resumed on the school grounds with a regular weekly attendance averaging 125 to 150 students.

This experience taught us the importance of foresight. Every form of foresight begins with insight. Foresight is stifled when insight is shallow.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Jeremiah 1:5-7

Jeremiah’s meeting with God gave him some personal insight. This insight produced foresight regarding his future ministry. By introducing Jeremiah to his true identity and purpose, God successfully expanded his horizon.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines horizon as 1) The line marking the apparent junction of earth and sky; 2) Range of outlook or experience.³

So the Lord broadened Jeremiah’s outlook. God’s viewpoint differs from our perspective. Perspective means the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.

While Jeremiah’s view was limited to his constrained societal conditioning and way of thinking, God’s view came from a divine, eternal perspective. God will use the vision for your future to blot out the nightmare of your past average existence. Jeremiah was timid in speaking the Word of God and facing people. These inbuilt constraints were revealed to him by God. (See Jeremiah 1:7-8.)

It is imperative that we learn to live our lives by seeing them from God’s point of view.

At the Assemblies of God, we conducted revival meetings and saw believers strengthened in their faith as well as classmates coming to Christ. God gave us foresight. The Holy Spirit was at work using the little we knew.

We’ve written a very insightful book, The Vision Guided Life: God’s Strategy for Fulfilling Your Destiny. But even back then in our teens, we saw a vision on display. The year 1987 foreshadowed what God would do in our lives in the years to come.

We were on a national talk show where the interviewer said, I can tell you guys are people who appreciate process. And I must say that’s the truth. We do understand the process. We are not just instantaneous microwave-type people. We think about process a lot. We want to convey that things don’t happen overnight.

During the summer, we would map out areas of Fourth Avenue, Third Avenue, and Second Avenue in Festac Town in Lagos, Nigeria. We had a long holiday, and we decided to use it to win people to Christ.

Our goal was not just to preach but convert about 100 to 300 people to Christ. So we would create our Gospel tracts, map out different areas, and go out and reach the people.

My sermon outline from 1988

Gate of former Assemblies of God (our Fellowship venue during the ban from 1987 to 1988). Picture courtesy of Francis Nwandu.

1989: The Call to Ministry

In 1989 a significant thing happened. We each received our call to the ministry.

Olu: I received the call when I was in the living room in Lagos, Nigeria. I knew that this was God’s call, but I prayed: God, I don’t want to go on my own and do my own thing. I want You to confirm that You have called me. God accommodated my lack of understanding by answering my honest prayer.

He brought confirmation from all angles. In 1989 I was part of the evangelism group in our church. We were fasting and praying, and we went into a circle while the minister in charge of evangelism prayed. We had fasted and were breaking the fast, and he was laying hands on each person and praying. Then he came to me.

This prophetic utterance wasn’t a new word to me. Instead, it was a confirmation to me. The minister laid hands on me; he said, I perceive that God has given you a teaching ministry. Something within me broke because that was confirmation of what I had already received from the Lord. I was ecstatic and left that meeting changed.

Kay: While in Nigeria on May 31st 1989, I was in prayer around 5 am in the morning, I was strongly compelled to open to Jeremiah 1 verse 5 where it reads,

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

When I read this passage, I sensed something special about a calling to ministry. When we returned to the US in 1990, we made it a habit to avoid sharing these personal experiences. Fast forward to 1992 or 1993 during a prayer meeting in New York, an older woman who led the prayer gave prophetic utterances over people in the outreach group. She gave different prophetic utterances to others in the circle that appeared general in nature. But when she came around to me she uttered, You called him from his mother’s womb… That line, …from his mother’s womb is a paraphrase from Jeremiah 1 verse 5 confirming again the word I received in 1989. I have about twelve other prophetic utterances spoken over me that I could cite here but will spare the details for the sake of space.

1990: Military Coup attempt in Nigeria

On April 22, 1990, my brother and I had an experience that underscores the importance of being vigilant.

This event took place in Nigeria, four months before we came back and settled again in the United States. My sisters had already traveled back to the States. My brother and I woke up that day and had about a five-mile walk to church.

As we left the house, we heard radios blasting all over the place. What was going on? We could not tell. As we kept walking, the whole place was empty. It wasn’t until we got to the marketplace where the public transportation was that we realized that something was wrong because it was so quiet, like a ghost town. It was eerie.

When we finally got to church, there were a handful of people there, and the pastor broke the news. There had been an attempted military coup. The pastor said, "Wow! Look at the group of people who came. You