Remember the Poor by Simon Pettit

Remember the Poor – Message of the Month

Simon Pettit

At an international leader’s conference hosted in the UK in 1998 an unsuspecting family of churches was about to undergo a powerful and lasting shift.

It was a moment that has left a younger generation of leaders saying things like, ‘I wasn’t there to hear Simon’s sermon, but I sometimes feel like I was, such is the ongoing legacy of that one message.’

It was a sermon that re-focussed the outreach of the Newfrontiers family of churches, and has generated conferences, think tanks, and a myriad of local church initiatives across the world.

It effectively united so-called ‘social ministries’ to the apostolic and evangelistic priority of a church-planting movement.

Simon Pettit preaching in Blantyre, Malawi

Simon Pettit and his family left England in 1990 for Cape Town, South Africa to lead the team at Jubilee Community Church. He served in South Africa and Africa for 15 years, before his sudden death from a heart attack in 2005.

This message comes from those years of living and learning in a context of contrasting wealth and poverty. He quickly realised that the church cannot merely preach a message of hope but must directly engage with the needs of the poor.

Some, while not doubting the need to serve the poor, questioned whether Simon’s exegesis of Gal 2:10 was correct. Did the apostles in Jerusalem intend a general care for the poor or were they only referring to the poor in Jerusalem? A fine answer has been given to that question here.

Simon’s legacy is not confined to one church, of course, but to the whole family of Newfrontiers churches. However, the multi-racial Jubilee Community Church in Cape Town, the local church where he learnt and taught, and which has continued to remember the poor in so many ways, remains the jewel in his crown.

Many of us still share the pain of losing Simon, not only in Jubilee, and South Africa, but also in Africa and in many other parts of the world. We feel Simon’s sudden departure was the loss of a genuine father in the faith.

I hope the inclusion of this message will stir you to ‘remember the poor’ where you are.

For audio you can listen or download here

For a pretty rough but still watchable video click here

Simon joking around just before speaking at City of God Church, Accra, Ghana

© 2012 Lex Loizides / Church History Blog

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11 thoughts on “Remember the Poor by Simon Pettit

  1. I listened to it yesterday. 14 years have not diminished the impact of the message. I still have the Newfrontiers magazine summarising the preach but not the same impact as listening to the real and whole message.

  2. Pingback: Remember the Poor by Simon Pettit

  3. Reading this post was a real encouragement. Simon has a lot of things to say that are very relevant in the church then and today. It made me think of a friend’s situation: he outreaches constantly in the U.S. but has had a burden on his heart to live overseas in China and go out and minister to the Chinese underground churches. I think his burden is part of God’s will for him and that it is a tangible thing that will happen; it’s only a matter of time. However, serving the world’s poor directly by living in another country is something many are called to and few answer to. Some serve and further the spread of the word of God by living simply and in truth in their native countries. I believe careful prayer, discussion, and discipleship is imperative to seeking out God’s will in this context. For me personally, I have long dreamed and prayed of an opportunity to outreach and live, teach, and minister to an oppressed people, specifically in Central and South America. While I have wanted to be a part of mission work, I know that it is up to God’s plan, not mine. I need to be willing to relinquish control over my desires for my future. Anyway, what Simon is saying in his message is a real reminder of the work God is doing in many Christians’ lives and a tangible message to me personally. Thanks for posting!

  4. What a wonderful legacy he left us in South Africa, lovely man and a lovely family, to them our love and best wishes.

  5. I found Simon’s message inspiring. I have great respect for missionaries like Simon who do not merely remember the poor, but rather dedicate their lives to helping the poor. The world we live in makes it difficult to leave our own bubble and dedicate our lives to serving others. For the most part, our world today encourages the opposite. While serving ourselves is important, it is more important to serve others. In remembering the poor, Simon was able to help himself. I believe that this is an important message and example that we all can emulate, since most of us are not missionaries like Simon. Today, many people leave their legacies of wealth, fame, and success. I wonder what a difference it would make if we all, as Christians, strived to leave legacies of remembering the poor, like Simon did.

  6. What Simon did was amazing. Leaving everything behind and going to a new country to teach the Bible, not everyone can do that. I believe this demonstrates God’s will. God is touching every single person’s heart in different ways and different times. I came to America to pursue knowledge, I never thought about Christianity, until God brought me to a Christian high school and opened his arms to welcome me. I believe God called me to learn more about him so I can share with others, teach others, and help others. God is awesome.

  7. This really reminds me of the passage in James 2:14-26 which says that faith without works is dead. A lot of times we get caught up in preaching the message when we should be directly making a change and doing deeds of the things we teach. I agree that we can not just be preaching about helping the poor when we do not do anything in our part to help them. The passage also mentions if a brother or sister is in need and is near death, is our faith alone going to save them? No, we will have to take action in order to save them. Telling them to have faith and not doing anything about it will not save them. We must follow in the footsteps of Jesus who not only spread the Gospel but helped whoever was in his path. This article really rebuked me because I do not do as much as I should for those around me when I know that I should. Living in America alone is a privilege. Having food on my plate as much as three times a day is a blessing that not everyone has. I need to remember this as I think about my fellow brothers and sisters who are not in the same situation as I am. Simon Pettit and his family made a change in the world that I hope to someday make as I strive to do better for others. Thank You for sharing this message, it really touched me.

  8. The apostolic and evangelistic priority of their church-planting movement was very inspirational. It is always encouraging to see people go out and do what is commanded of them in Matthew 28:19
    (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,). All do often do I others along with myself cling to a lukewarm lifestyle in which we do simply what our society has made the standard of Christian living which includes little more than attending a church, giving whatever one is comfortable giving, and serving whenever one is comfortable with serving God. This theology which Francis Chan describes as “serving leftovers to a Holy God” can be very sickening and unfulfilling, which is why i find it so refreshing to read of someone “going out of their way” to do what God asks of all of us. There is no better ministry than one that practices what it preaches, of course, the main focus of any ministry should be to help the church to go out and make deciples, which is why I was so pleased to read that Simon’s legacy is not confined to one church, but to the whole family of Newfrontiers churches. Of course, there still is the possibility for the church members to feel that since their church does such a great ministry for the church, and they give to their church, that they have fulfilled their calling, so i would hope that they are wary of that. Now, i would hate be interpreted as saying that we are called to work for our salvation, for that is simply untrue. I interpret the term called used in Mattew 28:19 in the same way that my dad might call me to take out the trash, not doing it wont make him love me any less or affect the gifts which he has already given me, but it is something that he expects of me and would greatly appreciate that i do for him…now the punishment that would likely follow me refusing to take out the trash is not very much alike to what would happen if i refused to fulfill God’s calling, but i would have hoped that you were able to understand what im saying despite that. Anyway, what Simon conveys in his ministry is a beautiful example onto us all of how God can work through us to further His kingdom. Thanks for posting!

  9. After reading this article, I feel really encouraged and impressed by Simon’s message. I realize that a Christian’s responsibility and job are not only on minding our own spiritual life but also have a concern and an attention for others. Under one religion: Christianity, one creator: God and one same mission: to follow our Lord, we are one family. We have the responsibility to preach, inspire and take care of our fellow brothers and sisters. We are currently living in a turgid society; we are used to the lifestyle of being selfish and commit to individualism. There are not many people like Simon, who is willing to contribute to, sacrifice and serve for others. This message is really inspiring; it makes me want to make a change. It is important to make sure I’m on the right track following God, but it’s also significant to reach out a helping hand to others who struggle, suffer and having troubles with figuring out religious problems.

  10. Reading this really made me think about my view on the matter. I always thought that preaching the Gospel’s message of hope was what would suit best to the poor but honestly never thought about it in the light of just serving the people and then they will follow. These people saw God in this man and will forever be changed. I know it is important to live a life of Jesus but it sometimes gets lost along the way. This man really gave everything up and walked with the Lord.

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