A case for travel ministry - Evangelist
And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. - Acts 13:15 KJV
The above scripture seem to support that even before the New Testament the Jews welcome travel ministers into their synagogues. It is not clear whether Paul and Barnabas had introduced themselves or that the synagogue ruler discerned who they were, but we cannot but marvel at the humility of the later in allowing a visitor share his pulpit.
I have benefited from this kind of gesture, having worked among Assemblies of God Churches. In those days you can just enter a church and the pastor will discover you are a gospel minister. He will readily call you to the altar. It will most likely turn out that you will have the opportunity to preach that Sunday. In a situation the church has other programs lined up; the pastor will allow you to say a word of prayer for the church.
Soon some miscreants began to take advantage of this privilege, supposing that godliness as a means of cheap material gain. (1Tim6:5) and who worship their appetite as god (Phlp3:19). This really created problem for the church, in that some who became pastors were there because they failed in every other area of life. Some who became evangelist came in because of the honorarium they expected to get.
Stories abound where travel evangelists took advantage of the magnanimous gesture of the host and duped the members of huge sums of money. There are also occasion where the pastor invited an evangelist and tried to use him to extort money from the flock. When the evangelist refused, he turned him out and lied against him in his absence, so that people hear all kinds of unconfirmed bad report about the evangelist.
One time a man who linked me to churches as I visited his country came to my hotel room and asked for his share of the money collected in the last program we had. When I told him how much our host gave to me despite the fact I paid my hotel bills and travel cost, he did not believe and forced some money out of me. He was later to discover it was the host that kept back the money collected. I don’t know how they settled.
There are also travel ministers who seem to specialize in working where others have worked. They get into a gathering and try to teach them what their pastors were not teaching them. These do not go out to unreached people and when they come they plant confusion among the believers. Apostle Paul struggled a lot with these kinds of people. The letter to Galatians and 2 Corinthians were focused to deal with the negative influence of these groups. All these contribute to the distrust pastors have for travel ministers. It is not ruled out that there are occasions the travel minister actually brought a fresh revelation that can help the church but the pastors are afraid that if the congregation learns that truth, then they will lose their means of livelihood. Most genuine travel ministers carry charismatic gifts and the responses of host ministers are at times not different to that of the Jewish leaders against Jesus Christ.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation John 11:47-48 KJV
Away from the bad news, let’s consider our brothers who visit from Australia, Europe and America. Andy Lane told me that the impression he had about churches in Africa is that of very remote. That was when I took him to a seven thousand capacity church. Some travel ministers from the West come with the mind set of those who had visited in the nineteenth century. Most parts of Africa have passed that level. We love you and wish that you visit but that impression is wrong.
Travel Evangelism is Good
Travel evangelism is good both for the local church and the evangelist. When the local church hosts the right kind of minister, it brings freshness and revival. It is also an opportunity for the host pastor to rest and be preached to. The evangelist himself may be a pastor in his home. It is opportunity for him to talk to fresh set of audience. From the scripture we read, it is an age old practice in the church.
There are two principal challenges in this relationship. From the angle of the visiting minister, some evangelists behave as if the host pastor allowed him his pulpit because he had lost his “Anointing”. In some cases that may be the case but not always so. But even if he had lost his anointing, he was the one that gathered the people for the evangelist. It is wrong for the evangelist to talk him down. The evangelist should remember that after he has gone, the congregation will still remain under that pastor. If I have some word of knowledge that can hurt the pastor’s reputation I don’t share from the pulpit. I call him later and then pray for him. I agree with those who opine that you should have been a pastor before you can function well as an evangelist.
Let me share this experience. The revered man of God Brother, Gbile Akani, visited Port Harcourt city to run a conference. So I decided to attend since I have never heard him life in spite of reading his books. In an interactive session he held just for ministers, I made to contribute something and he said something like this, “Hey, sit down there. Instead of remaining on the subject, you are saying something else. These are the kind of people who go about copying messages they will go and preach somewhere”.
He did not know me, I may not be as “BIG” as he but I know I am not in the league of those who go copying messages. That scene became a landmark in my ministry. I told myself, “Emma, you see, you may enter a city and another Emma is sitting in the congregation. So watch how you talk”.
Another thing the travel minister can do is to see the possibility of sharing pulpit with some ministers that may have different gifts in the land. This is for those who operate like PNUR and trying to break new grounds. This goes specifically for our brothers from the West. Most times the people gathered with mind picture of Renhard Bonnke and Benny Hinn. When they come and all you have WORDS, though they don’t tell you but they are not impressed. We call it Grammar preaching and Grammar does not go down well with us in Africa. It is true some of our brothers are following that example but go see the kind of congregation they have. So bringing in ministers with power gifts will help your meetings and keep it from being boring. The spiritual realm over us is very hostile, so we need to cleanse it all the time through power gifts.
For the host minister, it is needful to point out that you note that your guest has problems and perhaps borrowed to come to you. I have been to churches where after ministering for days, my host will tell me he will see me later. In some cases I never hear anything from him after. Some of them who sent something later, sent what is not worthwhile, even though I raised a large sum of money in that meeting. There was even one case where I had no money to pay the taxi that carried me. To God’s glory, the driver asked me not to pay because he was blessed in the meeting. What would I have done if he had asked for his money?
Something happened in my city few years ago. An evangelist and his host were quarreling over the money raised in a program. The guest minister had told his PA to flee with the large sum. When confronted, the evangelist said that the pastor invited him every year for that special program. It was a five days program, at the end of which people gave to support the church and for the evangelist’s up keep. For the past five years, the pastor gave him only ten thousand Naira which could barely pay his transport. The people did not know what happened after. So on this particular year, he prepared to teach his host a lesson. He came in with a PA with a clear instruction. So immediately they took the money into the pastor’s office, his PA went off with the whole money. When asked like how much the total sum could be, they said, more than seven hundred thousand Naira.
In some cases, the people give more when there is a guest minister, the guest minister should be kind enough to share with the host. In some cases, I let the host have a larger portion. That is if I discovered he needed the help more than I do.
It is observed that because of these discrepancies some pastors block their congregation from visiting ministers. The result is that people who had needs he had no gifts to address suffer in the church. Soon they begin to wander from place to place seeking help. Most often than not, they fall into wrong hands.
Let us cooperate to help the flock under our care.
Emma your brother @PNUR
Emma N J Nwosu is the international President of Prayer Network for Universal Revival PNUR www.pnurnigeria.org