Saturday, September 28, 2013

Break Every Chain

Yesterday afternoon, we had the privilege of attending a pastor's conference in the bush.  Luke was invited by one of the pastors that we work with to share.  It was a pretty lively conference attended by guys that even drove in from Lusaka.  But it wasn't the conference that was the most impactful part of our day.  It was a time of prayer that we had afterward.

After the conference, we were told about a young woman (Yvonne), who had gone mad.  She lived in a house less than 100 yards from the church.  She had become so violent that she was being chained to a pole in her house to keep her from harming herself or others.   

In the West, we're more prone to see a person like this and say that she has some disease or mental disorder.  And I'm not saying that some people have real disorders and real diseases.  But I'm telling you that some people are also possessed and she was possessed.  

Based on what we learned from the family yesterday, it actually started several years ago when her, her mother and her brother were all bewitched by some of her family.  She had done something to offend some of her relatives.  So, at the funeral of her grandfather, they put a charm that the witchdoctor had given them in with the body.  Shortly after, both her, her brother and her mother all went mad!

And if this story wasn't believable, we also noticed some other evidence in the writings she had made on the wall inside of her house.  Yvonne, who had no idea what a pentagram was, had engraved one on the wall just above where she sat.  When we asked the grandmother if she knew what the symbol meant, she had not clue.

Because of her state, we didn't know what to expect when we (Me, Luke & 3 other Zambian Pastors) walked into the house.  We knew that we had Christ's authority, but we just didn't know how she would react.  As we walked through the low-hanging door and our eyes were able to adjust to the dark room, we saw Yvonne sitting there.  And as we walked in, she just started weeping.  

I wish we could say that we prayed, she shook violently and then sat up clear-minded and speaking coherently.  But she didn't.  As we prayed for her, she actually became extremely relaxed to the point where we had to gently lay her over on some bedding nearby.  When we asked the grandmother if this was usual, she said that it wasn't.  So, I believe that Friday was a first step.  I believe that God wants to set this woman and her family free from the Satanic oppression that they are facing.  

Would you believe with me?  Would you please pray for Yvonne and her family?  We will be going back to this village in the next few months to show the Jesus Film at the church.  We're planning on visiting with her again then.  Please pray that her physical and spiritual chains are broken and that this young woman will be freed to live a full life in Jesus!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Needing a Little Reminder

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."

If I'm honest, I'm a person who is much more comfortable with concepts and ideas, with doctrines and theologies.  I'm an introvert by nature.  Kind of an oxymoron - an introverted missionary, huh?.  I'm a processor.  I love to strategize, connect the dots, figure things out.  But with relationships, I a novice.  I struggle.  I'm comfortable with sharing surfacy things, with shooting the breeze about sports, but exposing the inner-man is something I'm not good at.  I struggle with intimacy.

As I was on Lake Kariba, one of the biggest things that God impressed upon me was that Jesus is a not a book, he's not a bunch of rules, or a bunch of good deeds (caring for orphans, the needy, etc.).  He's not some theological concept or sound docrine either.  Jesus is a person.  And my highest calling in life is to experience Him in a personal and intimate relationship and share that experience with others!  I knew this in my head, but I just needed a little reminder that this reality needs to sink down to my heart.  Maybe my reminder can be yours today as well!

Jesus desperately wants you to experience Him today!  Will you?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Like a Radio

As we shared from God's word with the community, I had something happen to me that hasn't ever happened before.  As I looked around the crowd, there was a young man who I sensed was deeply hurting.  I didn't see anything physically that would make me think he was hurting.  I just sensed it in my heart.  And the more that I looked at him, the more I actually felt his pain.  At one point, I actually felt the pain so much that I was literally crying myself. As all men do, I pride myself in not crying.  So, I knew God was trying to show me something. 

As I sat there I prayed about the best way to handle the situation.  I didn't want to embarrass him by addressing him in front of the group.  So, when we were done, I just shared with the group that God had shown me that someone in the group had been hurt deeply and that God wanted to bring emotional and Spiritual healing.  

When we asked if that word that I received was for someone, he came forward. He was set free that day and I was encouraged!  Encouraged, because it was confirmation that the word the Lord gave me for this young man was, in fact, from him and not just something I drummed up on my head.

I heard something recently which I think really applies to this story and be an encouragement to all of us.  Think of a radio.  Music is always playing from a radio station.  It doesn't stop.  But we cannot hear the music unless we have our radios turned on and are tuned into the right station.  The Spirit of God is much like this.  If you're a Christian the Holy Spirit lives inside you.  And he's not a quiet spirit.  He is speaking all the time.  Sometimes it's just that our radios aren't turned on (we're not available to Him) or that we're tuned into the wrong frequency.

But that's not God's desire.  He wants us to be switched on and tuned into Him!  He wants to speak to us more and more.  Don't you want to hear him?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lion Kill

About the lions, while we were on Lake Kariba, we parked the boat in one of Zimbabwe's national parks at Elephant Point.  We decided to take a walk in the bush, just to explore.  As we were getting close to where the shore ended and the bush started, Bruce heard something that sounded like a hippo in the near distance.  So, he pulled out his Binoculars and when he did, he saw a pride of 11 lions (adults and cubs) about 200 yards away.  His demeanor quickly change.  He told everyone to slowly walk back to the boat without turning our backs to the lions.

So, we slowly walked back to the boat hoping not to peak their interest.  When we got back to the boat, and knew we were safe, we rode around to where they were.  The lions were on the shore of the lake eating something, but it took us a few minutes to figure out what.  Eventually, we saw a foot stick out of the pile of hungry lions and determined that tt was a baby hippo.  That's only the second time since being here that I've witnessed lions just after a kill.

As we sat there watching them fight over this baby hippo, we knew we had been pretty safe during the experience, because they wouldn't have left a kill to bother with people.  But, earlier, as we were walking back to the boat, I wasn't a happy camper ; ).

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Jealous

Yesterday afternoon, Kerri, Elise and Avery boarded a plane to head to Johannesburg, South Africa.  They, along with another friend who's already down there, will be attending a worship conference.  The church that originally planted Mazabuka Community Church invited them down a few months back.

As a missionary, am I allowed to say that I'm jealous?  Jealous for the worship that they will be experiencing and yes jealous for 1st world civilization (restaurants, good roads, etc.).  They will return on Monday, but I'm super excited for the opportunity that they have to build relationships, learn more about worship and just have fun!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Does It Still Happen?

I know this is a touchy subject in some Christian circles and seen as craziness by those who are not Christians, but I'll share on it anyways.

The past two weeks were truly an amazing time of ministry.  Firstly, God did a lot to soften this hard heart of mine.  If I'm honest, I think that I was getting a little burned out.  And I'll share a little about that in a later post, but I wanted to process on blog, some other things that God impressed upon me on this trip.  The following story is coming from me, a Christian who traditionally is more reformed in my theology, who believes in the demonic, but if I'm honest, equates much more of this world's and my problems/ailments to cause and effect or a battle against our sin-filled human desires.

So, without further adue...

This past week, in the fishing village of Nakatundu, while we were sharing and teaching, I noticed a young man in the back who had been there the previous year.  In fact, God had done a lot in his life during that trip.  So, I was eager to find out how he had been doing.  But when I looked at him, he wouldn't make eye contact and quickly disappeared after the first visit.  During our second visit, we asked if anyone needed prayer and he was one of the last to come forward, still having a somber look on his face.  I asked him how he had been doing and how we could pray for him and the only thing that he said was that he had a pain in his chest.  I sensed something was not quite right with him, but didn't know what it was, until we prayed.

As my friend Shaun and I layed our hands on his chest to pray for him, I experienced something that I haven't experienced before.  His chest began to move underneath the skin, like something was trapped and was trying to escape.  And it wasn't the type of movement that a person could do on their own.  This thing was literally crawling and jumping underneath the skin.  I've seen people opressed and possessed by demons before, but have never had one manifest as I was praying for someone.  Well, this demon was manifesting.

And the way it was happening was in such a way that the young man we were praying for could not have been faking it!  It wasn't happening before we laid our hands on him.  Immediately, when we laid our hands on him, it happened and continued for a short time.  Then, through the authority that we have in Jesus, Shaun and I told it to leave this young man and it did.  The movement stopped and the pain in his chest went away!  We didn't scream or struggle against it (as you see happen in some movies).  We just said in a quiet and calm voice to leave.

As I stood there processing what had just happened, God reinforced a truth that I had known for many years:  It was as if God himself was telling me, again, that I am His son, a son of the King!  And, as such, I carry His authority.  He has literally given me authority in this world.  Not because of anything of myself, but because of Jesus in me!

He was also showing me that a lot of the problems that I would chalk up to the explainable, might be caused more by the unexplainable or the demonic.  Now, don't hear what I'm not saying.  I'm not saying that all sickness, disease, hardships, etc, are caused by the demonic.  I'm just saying that maybe more of them can be attributed to the demonic than I admit.

And if that's true, how does that change how I minister to people?  How does it change my dependence on the Holy Spirit to get to the root causes of problems instead of just dealing with the surface?

I try to imagine what the solution would have been if this same young man came to me in the States and said he was suffering from chest pains.  What would I have done?  Would I have even dared to pray for him first before offering advice?  Would I attribute the cause of his issues to the natural or at least consider that they might be attributed to the supernatural?

These are just some of the kinds of questions that God has me asking myself from this experience.  Maybe He's asking you some of the same?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Wonderful 10 Days

Lake Kariba 2013

The past 10 days have been so refreshing.  I cannot tell you how much I needed to get away, to be encouraged and built up and to just spend some time sharing God's love with our Tonga friends on Lake Kariba.

I'll be blogging shortly with some of the experiences/insights from the trip (walking up on a pride of 11 lions eating a hippo and hurriedly walking back to the boat so as not to be desert, hearing God confirm his love for me through some of my friends on the trip, seeing God show up and change many lives, etc.), but I won't share all of them right now.  I just wanted to take the opportunity to quickly post some pictures of our time on the lake.

Additional link for slideshow: CLICK HERE