Christian Books Worldwide: Lending a Hand to Pastors
By: Deji Yesufu
In 2002 I was in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, for my National Youth Service (NYSC). I attended a Deeper Life Church and had the opportunity of attending church in the State Headquarters of that Church situated in Jimeta. From time to time, branch churches of the Deeper Life will converge at the State Headquarters for meetings and there we will have pastors from those churches come also. There was a particular pastor that drew my interest. He was short, stout and he had this powerful manner with which he manned the pulpit. You could see grace and godliness exhume from his preaching – and there was something simple about him. Another thing was that he had a good command of the English language as he spoke. I learnt later that this pastor was a carpenter by profession and he did not have any formal education. This dear man of God taught himself to read, write and then speak such powerful English simply by reading the Bible Study manual that the General Overseer, W. F. Kumuyi, wrote and distributed to the churches under that denomination.
I entered into Christian ministry for two reasons: first my realization that there is a preponderance of false converts in our churches. Many churches in Nigeria do not preach the gospel and in the process many people who profess to be Christians have not heard the gospel and what they hold as the Christian gospel is a deficient message that is unable to save their souls. Therefore, my foremost pursuit in ministry is to see men soundly converted to the Christian faith. The second reason why I have opted for the ministry is because of the death of true pastoral ministry in our nation. If there has ever been a time that I believe God yearns for shepherds for his flock, it is today. God’s people are essentially sheep without shepherds in our nation and they are largely vulnerable to attacks from wolves. I have entered into ministry so as to help people comprehend the Christian message and also shepherd God’s people. I pray daily that the God of heaven will give me the wherewithal to fulfil the ministry that he has committed to my hands.
One of the ways I have found help in ministry is through the kind gestures of Christians in the Western world. From 2017 to 2021, I underwent a four-year intensive seminary training that was fully sponsored by churches in the United States. And now that I have commenced ministry in earnest, I have encountered Christian Books Worldwide to aid my work. On the 17th of March, 2022, I received a package in the mail from this organization. They sent me five books and one Bible – all of it bound up very neatly in the package. I had been expecting it because Pastor Olawale Akinrogunde, who is involved with this ministry, had informed me that the first set of books had been dispatched and we should be expecting to receive them. They came finally and they have since been a breath of fresh air to me. In this essay, however, I want to do a brief review of one of the books they sent me: “Pastors and Teachers” – written by Derek Prime. “Pastors and Teachers” was first published in 2003 and the author himself died in 2020. So that what you learn from the book, although it is not God-breathe, is clearly wisdom from his experience as a pastor in the United Kingdom.
“Pastors and Teachers” is a handbook of practical ministry for pastors in the church which Christ must be the head of. Derek Prime does not venture into anything controversial in the book. Instead he brings his experience in ministry to the table of a pastor who may be new to the pastorate and needs all the experience he can gather from an older minister. Prime touches on all the vital aspect of Christian ministry: he shows us the importance of a call to ministry; the vital place of character as a pastor; the supreme centrality of a devotional life and prayers; preaching; pastoral care; worship; etc. Prime is extremely practical and he has the ability to touch on virtually every aspect of pastoral ministry he is writing about. Prime commits the whole of chapter 12 to the subject of delegation. He writes on page 201:
“A less unworthy reason for failure to delegate may be our fear that the task may not be done well. Some people are afraid to trust others. We may be over conscientious and concerned lest in handing a task over the person who does it may not do it efficiently. If pride on our part is behind that concern, then we must recognize it and put it to death. If our fear is justified, we must major on giving the person all the help we can, with built-in safeguards to ensure that if problem develop, they can be handled without undue difficulty. It may well be that we can do a task better than the person to whom we entrust it, but how else will he or she learn if we do not provide opportunity. It is by learning that he or she will not only cope, but even end up doing it better than us.”
I could almost print that chapter out as booklets and hand it over to many of the churches that I am working with here in Nigeria. The inability of the reformed group of churches to grow and thrive in our nation Nigeria is due almost entirely on the fact that leading reformed churches in this clime have a fear of delegation. There is a tendency to think that if churches are planted and “experienced” people are not placed over them, those churches will soon lapse into heresy. While we understand the dangers of putting untrained and inexperienced persons to lead churches, there is equally a graver danger with not sending missionaries out at all. So that large swathes of the country are without Christ and without the gospel, and we appear to have no concern for this. Prime does not agree with such modus-operandi. He believes that a time comes when less experienced people in church should be given duties to do and in the process they get better at what they are doing.
The only downside of Derek Prime’s book is that it appears to be too “suggesting”. This is what I mean: Prime will list out for you practically what and what you should do when you are in the church office – almost to the point of suggesting when the minister should eat and sleep. Now, I understand that this may be helpful for a new minister and for pastors who may find themselves doing ministry in more developed climes like Britain. But for ministers in third world nations in Africa, those suggestions may not be workable at all times. Of course there can be room for adaptation and little compromise here and there – but the challenge with a book that is quite practical as Prime’s book is that it leaves the minister with little or no initiative to do things in other ways. Those pastors who are used to being dictated to, will simply follow Prime’s suggestions to the letter and things could prove difficult to adopt to other climes that are not English. Besides this little let-down, Prime’s book is a powerful work on practical ministry and I recommend it heartily to God’s servants.
Like that pastor that I met in Deeper Life Church, Yola, twenty years ago, a man can be self-taught in ministry if he finds the right books to read. Christian Books Worldwide have come to lend a hand to the minister as he serves God’s people in pastoral ministry. The pastor will however have to exert himself a little bit, though. Because the danger with receiving books from foreign donors is that these books can just help line the pastor’s bookshelf and give people the impression that the man of God is a studious person. If the minister does not exert himself and do the hard work of reading the books, they will profit him nothing. The books will remain in that place until some fellow stumbles on them, read them and they revolutionize his life. This is the blessing of writing books, publishing them and having them distributed to the nations. The Christian Books Worldwide will hope that the ministers these books are sent to, read them and they profit their ministry. If the ministers do not read them, God has a way of leading an unknown individual to these publications. Such a person will read the books and God will use him to bring Christian life and ministry to the community where he lives in. Whichever way you cut it, God wins and Christian Books Worldwide wins also.
If you are a man in Christian ministry and you desire to have books that will equip you to serve Christ and his people, I heartily recommend Christian Books Worldwide to you. Go to their webpage here and reach their contact person there.