Simon Pettit
Remember The Poor

Newfrontiers owes much to those who have gone before us and prepared a way for us to walk in and one of those people was Simon Pettit. At the Newfrontiers international leaders conference in Brighton in 1998 he very humbly presented to the conference an impassioned preach based on Galatians 2:10 for the church to Remember the Poor. This was truly a movement changing word and many who weren’t there to hear him speak are now involved in work which is the ongoing legacy of this message as it birthed something of God’s heart for the poor into our movement.

This sermon re-focussed our outreach, generated further conferences, think-tanks (Act 2000) and a huge number of local church initiatives across the world. It brought together the work of social action ministries and embedded them as apostolic and evangelistic priorities.

Simon wasn’t preaching into a void, he served amongst churches across the continent of Africa from his own church base in Cape Town for over 15 years before his death in 2005. From years of serving in nations where the contrast between rich and poor could not be more pronounced he found that the church could not simply preach a message of hope without directly serving those who were poor.

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Speaker 1 – Simon Petit
Well, it is a tremendous privilege to be here, thank you so much for coming back for this session. Some of you may have looked at the title and thought to yourself, what is this going to be all about but praise God, you're here!

It's such a privilege to be addressing leaders and particularly to be addressing leaders from so many different continents and nations. If you're here from Africa. Won't you stand if you're here from Africa? Praise God. Praise God. Praise God. Hallelujah. Amen. Amen.

I want to bring you a greeting. From my own family and from my own church back in Cape Town. Many are praying for this time while we're together over this conference, there's some here with us, but others are praying for this time together. It's wonderful to know, isn't it? As we gather as leaders, our churches and our people are praying for us that we will receive an impartation from God. Isn't that a privilege?

You know, sometimes we moan about being leaders. Well, perhaps you don't, but sometimes we do. Others do. They moan about being leaders, but what a privilege. Not only to sit and listen to ministry, but to know we're being rooted for and prayed for by our people. What a privilege, praise God.

Let's turn, please together to the New Testament, to the book of Galatians and I'd like to read to you some verses, and perhaps highlight one that's less familiar to you from Galatians Chapter 2.

Paul says this in Galatians 2 verse 1 - Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Amen.

Now we've got a great prophetic theme for this conference. Sitting there in the congregation looking up at this magnificent stage, the way that it's been so creatively put together. But reading this, this prophetic slogan as it were for the conference, it's both a daunting and yet, magnificent task that God has set before us, prophetically to equip leaders to change the expression of Christianity around the world. That means that we're not just interested in the statistics, of the progress of World Mission, we are interested in those things.

We want to know about how many people are becoming Christians around the world. We, we love to hear about what's happening in many of the other nations in the world and what's happening here in the UK in terms of gospel progress, but exciting as those statistics might be, we also want to know what kind of Christianity is being expressed as this gospel goes forth, and as churches grow in the many nations that we represent.

It was the expression of Christianity that was uppermost in Paul's mind when he made this journey that we just read about with Barnabas and Titus up to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles there. Even as you read these verses two centuries later you can feel the burning passion, that's in the heart of the apostle Paul, for the purity of this gospel, which he tells us he received by revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ.

If, as seems at least possible, this visit is the same one we read about in Acts 15, for the Council of Jerusalem, we are reading about here, one of the great turning points in the history of the early church. In fact, we can go so far as to say one of the great turning points in the history of the church, for if the Council of Jerusalem had not resolved as it did, we would be in a very different expression of Christianity today.

Sometimes you know when you read the book of Acts, as I encourage my folks to do, and I'm sure you do as well, as leaders, to read it almost like a novel, the exciting spread and the exciting story of the progress of the church. You come to Acts 15 and you think what's this here for? It seems almost like a kind of tedious interlude in the unfolding story of revival.

Yet I want to suggest you, brothers and sisters, it was a matter of life or death, for the true Gospel of grace. And seeking to serve the Lord as I do on the continent of Africa, I can say loud and clear that battle is still being fought! We're still fighting for the Gospel of Grace in Africa, and if you're a leader here this morning from the continent of Africa, let me urge you to redouble your commitment to a gospel of grace, a gospel of the grace of God. So many of our people are being brought under the bondage of legalism, so many of them in the name of the gospel that they once received from missionaries are binding people up in legalism even as thousands and thousands are being saved.

Brothers and sisters, this was a hot battle, and as the apostle stood their ground against the infiltration of legalism into the gospel, this battle, which as we read on in Galatians 2 about Paul having to even oppose Peter to his face; it was a battle that that seemed to go on and on.

We witness the power of the Holy Spirit shaping the mission of the church. Determining what shape, what expression of Christianity the church would have in those early days. Paul says of his visit to Jerusalem in v2 of this particular passage, he says that he went because of a revelation that was given to him. Then later on, we read that as the apostles grapple with these issues, he says they saw that I had been entrusted to preach the gospel, not a different gospel, but the same gospel, the Gospel of grace! I had been entrusted to preach the gospel to the Gentiles just like Peter had been entrusted to preach that same gospel to the Jews.

So, as they wrestle with these great theological issues, a whole new understanding. Of the nature of apostolic ministry began to emerge as these Jerusalem apostles saw on Paul's life what he had already recognised himself that grace had been given to him to preach the gospel among the gentiles. He said in Romans 1:5: "through him and for his names sake we receive grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles, to the obedience that comes from faith.”

We read that they acknowledged their essential unity in extending the right hand of fellowship, that's partly what this conference is all about an understanding of Apostolic Ministry as promoting the unity of the church. That's part of what we're here for Amen. That’s part of what this is all about, they extended the right hand of fellowship and at the same time they acknowledged that the Holy Spirit had assigned him different lanes to run in, different spheres of ministry to work in with this glorious gospel of grace!

What it seems they didn't need fresh revelation about is verse 10. It seems that as they concluded their discussions as they resolved these great decisions about spheres of ministry, as they came down firmly in conclusion that it was a gospel of grace to be proclaimed, we read, they came to a conclusion, that nowadays in the church perhaps would surprise many. All they asked me to do, was that we should remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do!

I want to suggest to you, brothers and sisters, as we get into this message this morning that the reason why they did not need fresh revelation about this was that it was already established, as an apostolic priority. It was already established in their hearts and minds as that which is central to apostolic ministry. The apostle Paul was completely one with the Jerusalem apostles in having a burden and a passion for the poor!

Now Terry began this conference so magnificently yesterday with a word about table turning and I want to suggest to you this morning that here is a massive table that still needs turning in so many churches today. Here is a table that still remains to be turned, here is something that Jesus himself was outraged by, something that even in that very passage that Terry was preaching on in Matthew 21 was burning in the heart of Jesus as he not only had passion and zeal for his church, but was outraged by the exploitation of the poor. Here is something that still seems to be largely absent from so many of our churches today.

I did a bit of a study in preparation for this message, I got hold of as many books as I could find on the apostolic and there are many of them. You're probably aware that apostolic ministry is in, that the prophetic word that's going out all around the world is that we can speak about Apostolic Ministry again, we can speak about Apostolic Ministry. It's the coming wave!

Yet I have to report to you that not in, not one of those books was there any mention of the poor. Not in one of them! Despite the increasing emphasis in Christian literature on the role of the apostle, it would seem that we may still be in need of fresh revelation. Because there's no mention of something that Paul says, “I was eager, I was eager to do it”.

Now, one of the reasons why the other apostles could urge Paul and Barnabas to remember the poor, is that they themselves already had a track record in caring for them. In fact, if you could subtitle this message, (it wouldn't have fitted into the brochure). The title is Remember The Poor taken here from Galatians 2:10 but my subtitle would be this “the Apostolic burden for the poor”. The Apostolic burden for the poor and they had already exhibited that in their ministry, if we turned back to the book of Acts. Perhaps you'd like to turn there with me from Galatians 2. If we turn back to Acts 2, we can see that from very early on in the history of the Jerusalem Church, there was a remarkable level of care for those in need.

We're only in chapter 2 when we find ourselves in verse 45 where it says speaking about all the believers being together, having everything in common. It says “selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” This is the early, early church over the page in Acts 4 in that wonderful verse, verse 33 says “with great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” But I want you to notice how verse 33 is sandwiched in between 32 and 34. Look at what verse 32 says. “All the believers were one in heart and mind, no one claimed that any of his positions was his own. But they shared everything they had.” Then look at verse 34 “There were no needy persons among them.”

There were no needy persons among them in this Apostolic Church, this church that we were just hearing about in the last session, a revival church, is an Apostolic Church, well here is the first Apostolic Church and in the midst of great power, miraculous signs and wonders being performed by the apostles, we also read of a remarkable level of care, for the poor and the needy among them. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there seems to have been a direct connection between that care and the rapid growth that the early church experienced; it seems to have been a key factor.

Barnabas, the very man we're reading about accompanying Paul, in this passage in Galatians 2, we read at the end of Acts 4; this man Barnabas heard the prophetic word, as it were, that was going out in the church and in v36. Joseph, who the apostles called Barnabas, sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. What were they doing with it? What were the apostles doing with that money that was brought to their feet? Well, we're told in v35: “it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” It seems to me that Barnabas had already learned very early on the truth that we find in the Old Testament Proverbs 28:27 says this “He who gives to the poor will lack nothing. He who gives to the poor will lack nothing but he who closes his eyes to them, receives many curses.” Barnabas had heard that in his spirit, and was already acting on it in these very early days of the church.

Then we come to Acts chapter 6 in exploring this first apostolic church and I found myself reading Acts chapter six with new eyes recently. I have preached about this passage, I've said very much what Ken said last night about how the apostles didn't want to be distracted from the work of prayer and the ministry of the word and that is so but brothers and sisters, in our eagerness to make the point that the apostles did not want to be distracted, that they wanted to delegate this responsibility, we must not overlook the fact they were doing it! You've got to have something to delegate, some of us are hearing the last bit of this truth without the first bit! We haven't got anything to delegate! It says in Acts chapter 6, that there was a daily distribution of food that the apostles were involved in somehow. Now, I don't think it was because there was no one else that they could have asked to do this. We know there were some fine men and women in the church. We know that. But there was something in their hearts, there was something that they caught, there was something they had to delegate. I don't believe that this was a sighing with relief, “thank God we got out of that responsibility” there was something in the hearts of the apostles that led them in the early church into a daily distribution of food amongst the most marginalised groups in society, this group, the widows.

I want you to notice as well you know this passage, so I'm not, reading it to you; that the people they chose to delegate to were of the highest calibre. They didn't delegate to a few fringy people on the edge of the church. They didn't just say this is one of our mission ministries that we've got happening out there on the edge. They chose men full of the Holy Spirit and faith, full of wisdom, men of the calibre of Stephen and Philip. Why? So, it could be done excellently, so it could be done with excellence, they delegated and you find in verse seven of Acts chapter 6 that Luke again makes the connection between this distribution, this care for the poor and for the needy and the still further rapid spread of the gospel. I don't believe, the next chapter 6, was a washing of hands. From some tiresome peripheral activity, it was a wise delegation of something that James says, in James one; Is the very heart of true religion. “True religion” James says, “the kind of religion that God our Father finds acceptable...” How would you finish that sentence? I challenged my church that once, I said if you didn't know that verse and some of them didn't, but if you didn't know that verse, how would you finish it? “True religion; religion that God our father finds acceptable...” How would you finish that? I wouldn't finish it like James. “Caring for widows and orphans in their distress, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.” That's how James defines true religion.

You see, brothers and sisters, the gospel is good news to the poor! It just is! You can spiritualize it, you can try and get under it, over it, round it. You can explain it why but it is, it just is. I'm so grateful to God that for these last eight years I've been living in Africa. I'm so grateful to God, I'm so grateful for that prophetic word from Priscilla. Because it's so true, the world is Afro-pessimistic. Do you know that's actually a kind of term they use in the United Nations, World Bank or these other places? The world is Afro-pessimistic. Why? Because there's so many jolly poor people there! One thing we have not lacked in Africa, one thing we are not short of, is the poor but by this definition, brothers and sisters, we should be Afro-optimistic because the gospel is for the poor! It's good news for the poor! That's what Jesus said. It's good news, Terry said yesterday for the have nots for the are nots, not just the ones from Toronto but the ones all around the world, for the nobodies. Jesus said the anointing of the Sovereign Lord was on him to proclaim it, I believe that same anointing will be on us, as we begin to proclaim it, good news to the poor.

So, when we read the Apostle John speaking of this apostolic burden, we read him in his first letter, chapter 3:16-19. He says this “this is how we know what love is, this is how we can define love, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”. “If anyone” this is John, don't you love the Bible's practical nature? Just in case you're still wondering what that means, John says this; “if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him”. That's a staggering statement! I believe John in that verse is expressing a deep-seated apostolic conviction about the nature and the outcome of saving faith.

James, you can always trust James, can't you to put it even more bluntly! Yeah, if you're ever wondering what the rest of the New Testament means, turn to James. James says this in James 2 “what good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds; can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food, if one of you says to him, go, I wish you will, keep warm, well fed but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it, what good is it” and it's the same passion as the apostle Paul expressed later when he's writing to the Galatians, when he urges them not to grow weary in doing good. If you're here this morning and you work with the poor, let me underline it again for you “don't grow weary, in doing good! Don't grow weary in doing good, it does weary you!

I remember driving home one night from church and it was pouring with rain, you know, in Cape Town in the winter, it's a bit like England in the summer. It rains and it's cold and I was driving down the main road and I saw this guy just kind of on the road there and he was kind of sitting in the gutter and he didn't have much clothing on and he obviously was a street person and I drove right past him, as so often you do. As I got home, I just felt God compelling me to do something about it. So, I said to Lindsey, “I've got to go back to that guy and I went round, I got a coat for him, I thought, I was literally following scripture, I got a blanket, I got some food, I went back. I couldn't find him! I searched around, it took me about half an hour. Eventually I found him, I'm soaking wet, I go up to this guy and I give him some food and he takes it off me and then I give him the coat and he feels it, puts it on. I give him the blanket, he feels it, gives it back to me!

Don't grow weary, don't grow weary, don't listen to all the scare stories, don't listen to people who say to you they're not grateful anyway. That's not what we're in it for! That's not what it's all about! Paul said, “therefore, as we have opportunity” and listen to me, I've discovered this, there's plenty of opportunity, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers”. You might say, “well, I don't even know where to start, there's so many poor people around”. Why not start in your church? Why not look around your church a bit, you might say, “but I live in England”. So, what, you've got poor people in your church! Look for opportunity to do them good. You might say, well I'm afraid that they might take advantage of me; they will! They will take advantage of you, but so what?

We spent a long time wondering, should we give things to people on the on the traffic lights, should we be doing this? Should be doing that, what if they ripped me off, so what, so what? They will rip you off, that's that. You might as well accept that from the beginning. “But as you have opportunity, do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers!”

Brothers and sisters these were the apostles writing, this is the heart of the apostles, this is, this is what's coming out of these men's hearts! The reason why the Jerusalem apostles, (this is my second point, this is just for John Lanferman and this is my second point). This is why the Jerusalem apostles could ask Paul and Barnabas to continue to remember the poor because they had already demonstrated their eagerness to do so! They've already demonstrated it!

You turn back or forward if you're still in book of Acts turn to Acts 11. This is one of my very favourite passages, all the people who work with me in Cape Town now I love Acts 11. For me, the latter part of the 11th chapter of the book of Acts is the emerging of an embryonic apostolic movement and because in South Africa and in the work that we do together with Terry and the others in Newfrontiers, we're in an emerging situation, we've only really been going for four years, praise God. We were born in this renewal and we've been in it since then but for four years we've been going, so we see ourselves as embryonic in that sense, so this chapter interests me, the latter part of Acts 11 and in this remarkable story of the establishing of what we sometimes call the Antioch base. How many times have you used that in your preaching? The Antioch base? I've read so many things about the Antioch base and not one of them mentions the poor, not one of them!

Here's the Antioch base, this is a remarkable church, some would say that God's favour was on in such a remarkable way, and its evidence as you read through the passage, there were a number of firsts for this church. Look at the firsts; it was the first time the gospel on a large scale crossed cultural and racial barriers. This was the Apostolic extension of what had happened to Peter in the household of Cornelius. Just look there at verses 20 and 21. Look at that, “some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Syria went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus and the Lord's hand was with them”. I heard someone preach not long ago, I like this, I don't know if it's legitimate exegesis, but I like it. They said this is how it should read “the Lord's hand was with them.” You get the subtle difference, not the Lord's hand was with them, but the Lord's hand was with them. He was with them why with them? Because they leapt over man made barriers. That's what Apostolic ministry does, breaks through barriers that men have made and it says: "I won't, I won't be stopped by them the gospel is not chained. The apostle Paul says “we are not going to hold back” and these men from Cyprus and so many, we don't even know who they were, but they seem to have been trained in an apostolic household and they burst through barriers, began preaching to Greeks also that was the first in Antioch. It was the first time we're told in verse 26, that the disciples were called Christians. They're always going on about Christ. They're just like that one Jesus Christ, that we've heard about, we might as well call them Christians. First time they were called that was in Antioch.

We're told that it was the first time the Jerusalem Church sent out one of their key men, Barnabas, on an apostolic mission. I'm not talking now about Peter and what he got up to, we know that after he'd been to Corinth he had to go back and explain what he'd done. Speaking here about Barnabas, man born and trained in their household sent out to do a work. It was the first time you see the apostolic and the prophetic working hand in hand. The Bible says that as they established their apostolic foundation, some prophets came down to Antioch from Jerusalem, Agabus, and bought this word about a famine spreading, throughout the Roman world. Now I think you hear about that in almost any message on the Antioch Church but here's one you don't often hear.

It was the first apostolic act of this church, the first mission of this church, the first sending from the Antioch church, was to meet the needs of the poor in Judea. You look at that, at the end there, it says that once they'd heard that prophetic word, the disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea, this they did! We know there were times when Paul had to stir some churches up because they said they would and they didn't. But this they did the Antioch church sending their gift, to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Now let me suggest this to you; one of the ways you can tell if a church has truly been built on an apostolic foundation, on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets as we're told in Ephesians 2:20, that our churches are to be built on a foundation of the apostles and prophets. One of the ways you can tell, is to see how the people respond to the prophetic in their midst. How did they respond? What do they do? Are we off from one of these things again, going on about famines and things like that. If there's going to be a famine, we'd better look out for ourselves. If this problem is going to come over the whole Roman world, hang on, we're in the Roman world. Maybe we better look after number one.

Now I want to suggest to you that if a church has been taught and taught Apostolic priorities and passions the way they respond to the prophetic will reflect that. It will reflect the passions and the priorities on the hearts of those who've laid the foundation and here you find a church in Antioch, responding to the passions that is on Paul's heart on Barnabas's heart. Barnabas has already demonstrated it, Paul’s not even called Paul yet and yet he's already demonstrated it. Writing later in the Book of Romans 15:27 Paul says this speaking about a gift that's coming, another gift, a further gift, by the way to the poor in Jerusalem, coming from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia Macedonia, we know are very poor area itself. It says they were pleased to do it but listen to this, “and indeed they owe it to them for if the Gentiles are shared in the Jews spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.” You see, for Paul, he's not sentimental about this, it's not as we say in South Africa, “ach shame the poor”. It's not like that, no, no, there's a responsibility here! There's a particular responsibility towards the poor in Jerusalem there's a specific responsibility that Paul saw the churches having towards those who brought the gospel to them but there's a general responsibility to the poor in our midst, and the poor beyond our borders, as it were, that was burning in Paul's heart.

They heard it in the churches where he laid in the foundation. So, when Agabus stood up it says and through the spirit in Acts 11 predicted a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world, the disciples in Antioch did not start laying in extra cans of beans, they didn't get down to the nuclear shelter and check that their stocks were up to scratch. The Bible says each according to their ability, they gave in order that that gift might be taken to the poor in Jerusalem. They were an apostolic people shaped by Apostolic passions. I believe that with all my heart.

Now it's so important, brothers and sisters, and perhaps I'm addressing here, prophetic people and apostolic people in particular, I'm perhaps addressing those here who would see themselves or be seen by others as having apostolic ministry, but also those who would be seen as having prophetic ministry. This is really at the heart of what I want to say this morning. It's so important to see that a heart for the poor is not just a prophetic burden! It's so important that we see, that you see, we know that throughout the Old Testament the prophets were burdened about the poor. Just because we read them with late 20th century eyes, we mustn't miss, we mustn't spiritualize prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos. Listen, you have to put asbestos on, if you're going to read Amos these days. Fireproof suits! We know those prophets thundered against the exploitation and the neglect of the poor.

We can see here that the very first person other than Jesus who was called a prophet in the New Testament, stood up in a church and predicted a severe famine would spread throughout the Roman world. I don't know if you'd like that as your first prophecy. I'd rather have a flower picture myself than that, but he stands up and says there's going to be a severe famine. But listen to me, this concern is not to be a kind of voice in the wilderness! I even struggled bringing this word to this conference, if I hadn't had some prophetic reassurance this morning, I think I would have really battled to stand up here and preach. I was looking at the topics and you know, I knew what I wanted to preach about, I want to preach about signs and wonders and miracles. But I felt God shutting me into this verse, I felt God saying “no, you, you must preach on this”, but in your heart you, you kind of get a feeling, well isn't this a little bit kind of peripheral? Aren't we trying to build the church and we trying to reach the nations aren’t we trying to do something here?

Listen, if we leave a burden for the poor, solely with the prophets, I believe that's where it will stay! It will stay on the edge of church life. Now, please this is not to insult prophets! I know my own life has been dramatically, we as a movement, Newfrontiers has been dramatically shaped by prophetic words but it was shaped by prophetic words as they were received by the apostles and acted on! Our sense certainly in South Africa and I'll say this for the benefit of those and they are here even, they're. Sometimes our prophets get very, very frustrated, because they feel no one's listening to them, no one's listening to them! They're, they're like a voice in the wilderness, they feel like they're crying out and they're saying, listen, look at this! Look at this! Look at this! Sometimes our response is to say, well, we've got our social work people doing it, out there!

But brothers and sisters, I believe that is what is handicapping us right now! In reaching the masses in our world today. Listen to this, the vast majority of people in the world and when I say world, I mean the whole world, I don't mean the western world. The vast majority of people in the world are poor, so if we're talking about changing the expression of Christianity around the world, if we're talking about equipping leaders from many nations to change that expression, we must talk about the poor! We must! They make up the majority. If we are going to see a great end time revival, if we are going to see the masses swept into the church, we must remember the poor we must!

What's more, we must be eager to do it, this eagerness of the apostles to remember the poor, I believe, brought ministry among the needy right into the centre of the mission of the New Testament Church. It wasn't social work, it wasn't political activism, although both of those things at times might be necessary. It certainly was not proto-communism. The Communists took something, ruined it, totally destroyed it, and then left us suspicious. Why? Because the church wasn't doing it! The church wasn't doing it and this eagerness, was right at the centre of the new church and its mission.

Every book I read these days about church growth speaks about the homogeneous principle speaks about how, if we're going to reach people, we must reach people who are like us. I'm just so glad the apostles didn't read those books. I'm just so glad, instead, they had visions on rooftops in Joppa. They had encounters on the road to Damascus and so the early church discovered just like churches have discovered throughout church history that in revival God is pleased to save the poor and he's pleased with those who reach out through every man-made barrier of culture, race, class and income to serve the poor with the good news!

That's what Wesley and Whitfield discovered, that's what so many they had to cross their own, out of their own class context, their own racial context, their own cultural context, to discover that God was there as well! Hallelujah! In great power and great manifestation, praise God! Do you know we've got people here at this conference, I doubt if they'll ever be on the front cover of a magazine, but we've got people in this conference here right now who are seeing hundreds, if not thousands of people, won to the Lord. Did you know it? We've got people here from our own continent of Africa who right now are seeing thousands, won to the Lord, in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Places which, if you view them certainly from South Africa, even from South Africa, they look like a disaster.

There's a, there's an African World War hotting up in the Congo right now but in the midst of that, hundreds, thousands of people are being won to Christ. Why? Because someone said we are not going to be put off by what we read in the newspapers. Praise God! Maybe they don't even read newspapers, we are going to go to the poor.

Brothers and sisters, wherever you look throughout Africa, throughout Asia, throughout South America, the church is growing most rapidly among the poor, as it has done throughout church history. Now, that was my second point, John.

Let me read to you, I just want to read to you talking of not reading newspapers. I want to read to you a couple of articles from national newspaper in South Africa. This is a newspaper called the Sunday Independent. I think it's got something to do with the one here, but it's a national newspaper. Listen to this, this article is called:

A Little Box and a button of land is a miracle called ‘my own home’  - By Dave Larsen
This month Jongilanga Boy Blou and his wife Elizabeth celebrate their first anniversary living in their own home. The house is the first they have owned. On the farms where both worked for most of their lives, the labourer’s cottages didn’t even have toilets. “We used to have to go in the bush,” Mam’khulu says with a laugh. Now, however, the Blous have their own bathroom with toilet, basin and bath. On July 7, this year, Tatam’khulu, as Blou is affectionately called, a veteran of both the first and second world wars, turned 97.

To the average passer-by the bleak stretch of land sandwiched between Guguletu and Manenberg, tow of Cape Town’s most violent areas, may seem nothing special. Numerous box-like houses dot the former apartheid buffer zone. To the Blous and other members of the Tambo Square squatter community however, this land is the realisation of a 15-year dream.

That they are living in homes now with solid walls, floors and roofs is nothing short of a miracle to a community that has withstood years of torrid living. The community had it’s genesis when backyard squatters from Guguletu began to live in the bush in an area now known as KTC, to bring their homelessness to the attention of the authorities. They were so harassed by police that some lived in holes in the ground, prevented from putting up their shacks. After a struggle of more than a decade, squatting in various areas, however, the Tambo Square Community became the first squatter community in Cape Town to win houses for themselves.

The transformation is not over, however, Angela Kemm, a community-based church worker from Jubilee Community Church spends her time helping people move into and live in their homes, encouraging them to maintain them and pay rates. Kemm began to visit the people of Tambo Square in January 1992. It took five months for people to trust me, she says, to stop thinking I was a police spy. She arrived at just the right time, although the community had won itself land in 1990, they'd hit a dead end as far as finding funding for housing. Kemm was elected onto the housing committee and, together with a lawyer, the housing project moved forward. They weren't afraid to get help when they needed it, said Kemm. Before Angela came, we had no houses, said Lydia, a member of the housing committee at the time and presently Vice chair of the ANC for Tambo Village. Her prayers really did help us in what we were doing. There were several occasions I watched the whole dream, take wings and fly off Kemm recalls but I was convinced God had said he would give us the houses.

Then there's the rest of the article but it finishes like this “when the sun is out Tatam’khulu can be seen pottering around his garden in front of his whitewashed house. The grass is lush green and the flowers are in full bloom at the back. His vegetable garden yields lettuces, carrots, pumpkins and maze. A smile lights Tatam’khulu’s aged face. He doesn't need any committee to tell him to beautify his peace of paradise.

Tatam’khulu and Mam’khulu and Lydia they're members of our church and they became Christians through Angela Kim and the team that worked with her. Angela is here with us, praise God. Where are you, Angela? Yeah, you're up there! Praise God! They became Christians out of a background of racial hatred and of a background of abuse, of being oppressed. They were the poorest of the poor. What in South Africa we sometimes still call squatters.

Now, as that battle has been fought and won by people from the church, in the church, from the church, it's amazing what's happened in the council plan for Tambo Village. There are three sites that have been set apart for churches, you know, like when they built New Towns, pub, church, you know the thing that they did here in England? Well, there's no room for a pub on the council plan, but there is for three churches. Where some so-called African independent churches have tried to get in onto those sites, this is what the community have said “even those who are not yet saved, they said, we don't want any other churches, we just want Jubilee. That's our church. That's our church”. Local ANC organiser not just Lydia, but another ANC organised, not yet saved who said “but they're our church, they're our people, we want them here!”

Jesus said “let your light so shine before men that they will see” what, “your good works and glorify your father in heaven.” Now we're getting ready to plant a church there in the coming days, praise God!

Let me just read extracts from another one. How are we doing, nearly, nearly there. This one's called from the same newspaper a bit earlier on. Revolutionary farming takes back the land - For three years running, the average maize yield in the field adjacent to a shop or primary school was six tonnes, a hectare almost treble what the field used to produce before Brian Oldrieve and his team came to help the children practise a new form of agriculture. Oldrieve and his team came to the school from Hinton Estate, a large commercial farm across the river from Chishiwe. When Oldreive began to manage into the estate in October 1982, the farm was on the verge of bankruptcy. There was a near complete breakdown in soil structure and water runoff and erosion were unacceptably high by the 1990s. However, Hinton had become the second largest privately owned farming concern in Zimbabwe, the estate had 15 profit making crops in a row, spanning some of the worst droughts Zimbabwe has suffered. Oldreive attributes the turnaround in fortune to the grace of God. A dedicated staff and a conservation farming method known as zero tillage.

In 1993, it was estimated that from Zimbabwe's communal farming areas alone, Z$ 10 billion of nutrients were lost from the soil each year through sheet erosion. Helpfully, that says about 2.7 billion Rand that already help you! It virtually eliminates, zero tillage, virtually eliminates erosion by preserving the soil structure, leaving the residue of the previous crop on top of the soil as a mulch cover, which protects it from rain damage. You enjoying this? You're getting an agricultural lesson here as well, yeah! Go back to your garden and do this. Oldreive estimates that if zero tillage was implemented across the board in commercial and small-scale farms in Zimbabwe with sound management, it would treble national yields.

Just to double them would bring our people out of poverty and turn our economy around says Oldreive. That true development can only occur if people are approached holistically, he says. Poverty is a spiritual crisis; we have to deal with the whole person and not just with their work life by encouraging hope. Although there are no simple answers, Oldreive has been radical in his commitment to sustainability. He's given up managing Hinton and has moved to 800 hectares of land near the town of Bindura, acquired by an ecclesiastical trust to establish a model of sustainable empowerment. The project is being led by Pete Dreyer who is here today, who pioneered the acclaimed development initiative in Pietermaritzburg Project Gateway? Dreyer believes development is about getting behind people and encouraging them to bring the skills they have to the table. It's not an attitude of we're coming to show you what to do, he says but rather, we're coming to join you for the long term.

It seems that there are those who really want to be joined already. The project has identified 100 influential people from 8 farms who will participate in workshops aimed at providing skills ranging from management to character development. With sub-Saharan Africa losing its market share to developing nations in South America and the east this initiative, if it works, could make a massive contribution to the competitiveness of a region that is more than 65% dependent on agriculture. Now, Brian Oldreive says, poverty is a spiritual crisis. Poverty is a spiritual crisis! We have to deal with the whole man. When they first attempted this, they ran up against witchcraft and they found they had to do spiritual warfare because before they could start to plant seeds. You see, we have to deal with the whole man, that's exactly what Brian and the team led by Pete Dryer are doing today there in Zimbabwe having pioneered Project Gateway, which has gained the attention of local and regional government in KwaZulu Natal and our nation.

Pete and Hetti have moved to Zimbabwe to help plant a church that's not only just going to reach people with the gospel, but is doing something about the grinding poverty, that's symptomatic of so much of our continent. Now, I believe both of these things that I've read to you this morning are living expressions of the Kingdom of God coming to the needy people. They both began with prophetic vision, but they have become part of the apostolic vision of our local church and our movement of churches, as we believe that God is calling the church in our generation to make a real difference to the lives of real people in Africa today. Whether it's the church in Africa, or in arrow (Harrow), we need to get an understanding that when we care for the needy, when we preach good news to the poor. When we seek to develop the God-given creativity of poor people, when we equip people with the skills, they need so they can make godly choices for themselves and for their families. When we promote enterprise with financial help, those aren't just the work of aid agencies or the government it’s part of the Apostolic calling. Of the Church of Jesus Christ.

I’m finished with that other than to say, that Jesus is the one who came preaching good news to the poor, freedom for the captives, the recovery of sight for the blind, the release of the oppressed. The Bible says that when he looked out on the crowd, you might say, but there's so many poor people, doesn't the Bible say the poor always with us? Yes, the same Jesus, who said that, says the Bible said he looked out on the crowd and he had compassion on each one of them! Each one of them, not just on the masses, but on each one of them. You might say there's so many poor people, what can we do? Well, you might find that but start with one! Start with one! You might say what difference will that make? Make a lot of difference to him, or to her!

Peter, in that message to Cornelius said that Jesus was the one who went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him. He went around doing good. He was the one who made a regular practise of giving to the poor, even though he had so little. I found an amazing verse in John 13:29 where it's speaking about Judas and Jesus saying to Judas go and do what you've got to do and it says the disciples misunderstood him. They didn't know what Jesus was saying, it says in that verse they thought that Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the feast or to give something to the poor. What does that tell me? It tells me that Jesus understood the Old Testament teaching about giving to the poor, and did it, even out of his own lack. It was Jesus who said you're the light of the world, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven. He's the one he's going to ask us on the day when we stand before him, when we say when did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink. When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? And he will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did it for me. You did it for me. Matthew 25 needs to be written over all our churches, needs to be written over our ministries, over our lives, whatever you did for the least of one of these, you did it for me, you did it for me and I saw it, I saw your compassion.

Brothers and sisters, if we're going to equip leaders, who will in turn equip churches to change the expression of Christianity around the world, we must make sure, that like the first apostles, we follow the example of Jesus and we remember the poor! Amen.

If you’re working with the poor, if you're a pastor or a teacher, if you're an apostle, If you're just someone who says, well, I'm just an ordinary person in the church, but you are working with marginalised people in your church. I want you to come down to the front right now, please. Quickly. Can you come quickly? You might be working with the handicapped. You might be working with people in different racial groups. You might be working cross culturally, whatever you're working come quickly to the front please, because we want to pray for you and we want you to pray for us. We really do.

You may be planting a church amongst poor people and you've got discouraged already. You may say, I believe everything you've said, Simon, but it's still, where do we start this? Things like a piece of string, where's the end of it.

You might say, well, but everybody in our area is poor. You might be saying, I don't know any poor people but I've got a burden and a heart just like the one that you've spoken about. Praise God. Look at this. Where did all these come from, Lord? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

Speaker 2 – Sam Poe – Prophetic Word

Last night when we first met I. I felt the Lord gave me a prophetic picture that goes with this word that Simon just shared. I saw a mighty outpouring of anointing coming down upon His people, just like a there was huge black clouds and it was like just an outpouring of rain, just a huge outpouring of rain and I knew it was a release of a new anointing upon the people of God.

And I in that moment, I was saying, Lord, are you going to do that here? In these meetings and He indicated to my spirit that it really wasn't something that would happen right in these meetings, but it would come, as we reach out and begin to take steps to undo the heavy burdens of the poor.

I believe that the prophecies that have been coming in recent months concerning a mighty release of the miraculous and signs and wonders and the power of the spirit coming upon the people of God, not just in renewal, but in mighty demonstrations that will touch nations, is going to come within a context of reaching out and extending our souls to the poor and to those that are bound and those that are afflicted. And within that context, there's coming a mighty outpouring of the presence of the Lord upon the people to do exploits and to do mighty demonstrations of power and show forth his glory. And it's as though his glory will literally follow us as we reach out, we must take the step, but as we take the step, his glory will be a rear-guard. It will follow us!

Speaker 1 – Simon Petit
Yes, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Angela, I’d like you and Peter come, I'd like you to pray over us. Just want to pray for a release of that anointing and many here who've got discouraged many here who've come to the point of growing weary and well doing. Many here who've felt despair rising in their hearts and saying, God, what do we do? Looked out on the masses had compassion on them, but not knowing what to do then. I believe the Lord is wanting to release an anointing on us as that word said, “not just as we hear about these things, but as we go and do”. I believe that firstly the Lord wants you to feel his pleasure, He wants you to feel the pleasure of God in what you're doing, because sometimes you know we, don't you remember that famous movie, Chariots of fire, when he was trying to explain to his sister about running on a Sunday and he said “I only know this, but when I run, I feel God's pleasure.” I feel sometimes, God wants us to feel, His pleasure in what we're doing and you know, you don't often get those kinds of things do you. Mother Teresa was seen as an absolute kind of almost icon but God is not doing that now. He is raising up a church, not just one or two individuals in nations that will receive awards and accolades. She was an amazing woman, but that's not what it's about, it's about a church, an Apostolic Church with a burden for the poor, I'm going to pray for this anointing to be released over us right now, and I'm going to get Angela and Pete to come and pray. Whatever's on their hearts over us so you just reach out right now. Reach out right now. We'll pray the anointing of God.

Lord, we know, Lord, that you're pleased with those Lord. You've got a heart for the poor. Lord, Lord, you are pleased with them and right now, Spirit of God, I ask you, release your pleasure over these men and women, Lord, release your pleasure over them. Lord God, even though so often with people like these, Lord, they stand and they say I'm not doing enough, it's not enough, Lord right where we are right now at this point, Lord help then to know and feel the pleasure of God. Pleasure In who they are and in what they're doing and in the burden that you've placed on their heart, help them to know, Lord, they're on the right track. Help them not to feel I'm on the edge, I'm peripheral, this is not important. Lord God help them to know this is at the heart of things, good news to the poor. Oh God, Lord lift burdens here right now, lift burdens here, right now, oh God, lift burdens, burdens that are not from you lift them, Lord God. Things that others have placed on them, lift them off them, Lord in Jesus name. Put a passion Lord in them, not just to be do gooders, but to do good, to do good, to bring gospel. Bring the gospel to the poor. Please don't let anyone here, just be a social worker Lord without the gospel, oh God, please Lord, the gospel is good news, Lord, the Gospel is good news. Oh God release that anointing over them right now, I pray in Jesus name that they will have a burning passion in their hearts, Lord. To bring good news to the poor, good news to the poor, Angela you. Come here. Oh God. Come, Lord Jesus.

Speaker 3 – Angela Kemm
Yes father, you've proved to me that one person with God can do anything and Father want to pray for this whole congregation that you come by your spirit and fill each one to overflowing with the passion for the poor. Good Lord, you have showed me signs and wonders. Things that other people read about and hunger after. We just see it on a daily basis. Because your heart is for the poor. And Father, I want to pray release on this whole congregation for a passion, for a passion, to see the poor, get their dignity backlog. Lord, that that prophecy that time that is this morning that Africa is not going to come with a bowl. And ask but that. The streams will flow out Father. But that applies to everyone. There are people who are poor in the UK. I've seen them. They are the poor in the UK and Lord. I want to pray for the church in the UK, that's helped me so much in my ministry, in the poor, to the poor and I pray for the church in the UK, that you would release an anointing on them to go out to find their poor, to see their poor, even their people on the dole system. They are so poor they have no dignity. Lord, give a passion to restore dignity to people in the name of Jesus. And then signs and wonders. Lord not just helping the poor, but the gospel to be preached and to see thousands and thousands and thousands saved Lord because people don't like the poor, but we love the poor Lord because your heart is for the poor and the poor gets saved so easily. If you want your church to expand. Go to the poor. They are ready to receive the gospel because they have no one else for nothing else. Thank you, Jesus.