This Sunday we had a wonderful Holy Communion and thanksgiving service. Our senior Pastor Richmond Leigh celebrated his 70th birthday. Pastor Tony Kadiri preached from the Book of 1 Corinthians: ‘Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ’ (1Cor 11:1; NKJ). He said that Apostle Paul did not say like many of our church leaders: ‘Do as I say but do not do what I do’. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul said: ‘Listen to me! Look at me! Do what I say and also do what I do’. These are the words of a true Christian leader. These days there are very few leaders worthy of emulation. We need to see Christ in our pastors. We need to follow their examples. These days there are so few genuine good examples to follow. We are not to follow theology, common sense or science. We are to follow Christ and Him crucified! Because Paul’s life is patterned after Christ he is confident to invite us to follow him, to imitate him. The problem in the churches today is that many leaders have lost their vision. They shifted their focus from Christ to men or money. These so called ‘men of God’ are not responsible. There is a proliferation of hirelings and false prophets in the vineyard of the Lord. These hirelings lead the flock of Christ astray. They lead the sheep into the pastures meant for the goats. The sheep eat grass that is meant for goats and they start behaving like the goats. These false brethren preach wrong doctrines and offer another ‘Christ’. Multitudes are deceived. There are so many ‘celebrities’ in the churches. These people are no longer accountable to Christ, the Head of the Church. They have pushed Christ from the center to the periphery.
But Paul was a man of the Spirit. He trusted Christ as the head of the Church who said to Peter long ago: ”And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Apostle Paul was not among the first 12 disciples who saw Jesus face to face. He became born again thru the direct revelation of the resurrected Christ (Gal 1:11-18). Paul was an expert of the law. After his conversion he became the Apostle of grace. He was not converted or trained by man, but by Christ Himself thru the Holy Spirit. He wrote three quarters of the New Testament.
Pastor Tony Kadiri announced to the congregation that the senior Pastor Richmond Leigh (fondly called ‘Tali’) is 70 years today. He said that Pastor Richmond Leigh is of the order of Paul. Tali also got converted thru a crisis experience. Tali is a true man of God, a true shepherd. Tali is a truly humble man. He has died to the flesh and to the world. His only desire is to know and serve Christ crucified. Jesus was humility personified. As Tali imitate Christ in this humility, we the children can safely imitate Tali. Often Tali says: ‘I don’t want to cross that line’. He is careful not to take the glory that belongs to God alone. In the past, Tali was a successful medical doctor. As a politician he rose to the national level. But after he got converted he left all the glamour, wealth and fame to follow Christ. He has put his hands on the plough and did not look back. Such a man we can safely follow. Tali is a worshiper of God. Like his ‘mentor’ King David, Tali often says: “I will not offer anything unto the Lord that cost me nothing” (2 Sam 24:24). Tali started building this sanctuary at the age of 64. Many men at that age are ready to retire. But Tali dressed with jeans and came to the site daily to supervise the building of the house of God. We did not ask for any loan and there was no building committee. The Holy Spirit directed the work until Father’s House Bible Church’ building was finished.
Tali is man of faith. When we were building the church he often said: “I’ve counted the cost” (Lk 14:26-33). Pastor Kadiri said: ‘I thought that he had some millions in the bank…’ But what Tali meant was that Christ Himself is ‘the cost’. Christ is sufficient! That is faith! Tali’s spiritual children have also connected with his vision! Thru this faith in Jehovah Jireh they have built their own houses. Tali is a worshipper! He loves to praise and worship God. Like Daniel, he has ‘a spirit of excellence’ (Dan 5:12). Tali is a loving husband to Malia (Pastor (Mrs) Lia Leigh). He applies the Biblical principles of marriage (Eph 5:22-31). When Tali says that he is ready to lay down his life for his wife Malia, as Christ did for the church, he is not joking. As couples we imitate them. We testify that many people’s marriages have improved as we imitate them. Tali is a loving father to his children and grandchildren, both natural and spiritual. He is wise, gentle and strong with us. He is an encourager. But he is not afraid to chastise when we need correction. Tali gives all glory to God. He often says: ‘I have no power of my own… It is Christ in me that does the work..’ Tali is a anointing teacher and a preacher of the Word of God. In this area, he is of the order of Paul. For example, under his leadership we study the Book of Romans for years. Our lives have changed. We testify that revival is in our midst. Sometimes, younger people misunderstand Tali’s humility and accessibility. They become disrespectful to him. But he always reacts as led by the Holy Spirit. Like a father, he patiently endures many things. No matter the provocation, he perseveres in following Christ. For him, there is no going back, no going astray. It is Christ to the end! Many successful men live double lives. But Tali has only one life to live! This scripture written by Paul represents him the best: ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Phil 1:21). These things we have observed. These things we have seen. We testify that Tali is a true father in Christ and a godly mentor to us all. On this special day, we celebrate Christ in him. Happy birthday Tali! To God be all the glory!
(In the picture, Pastor and Pastor (Mrs) Richmond Leigh, kneeling before the Lord as the pastors and the congregation pray for them)