Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Playing with the Spirits

This may not be a popular post, but here's some PERSPECTIVE from Ghana...

Here in Africa, we live in a world where we try to share about the One True and Living God. We attempt to educate people with Truth from God's Word. One of the challenges we face is the mixture of Christianity with tribal religions. Worship of idols and sacrificial offerings are common place. The use of curses, juju (black magic) and witchcraft are known. Some of the stories we have been told have brought us to tears. Literally. Pastors work diligently to help people recognize the need to depart fully from things that are not of God in these practices. People can not call themselves a Christian if they still participate in the practice of worshiping other gods.

Recently, there was a festival for the gods of Ghana. One night, our car was surrounded by people in a frenzy worshipping a local god - a gold idol carried on the shoulders of the people. Traffic was halted and it seemed like at least one thousand people were celebrating in the streets. Men walked beside our car carrying guns, and people knocked on the windows of our blocked car. The darkness of oppression could be physically felt. Evil - something not of God - surrounded us! Since moving to Ghana, this is one of the only times I have felt afraid. While driving, my hands were visibly shaking. Evil.

Recently, there have been FB posts about Halloween in America. Fright Nights and Zombie Celebrations seem to be something that Christians are participating in. Where is the fascination with evil and death coming from? Blood and gore? Haunting spirits? Fright Nights? Witches? Friends, it is not of God! It frightens me to know that Christians in America would take part in some of these things. Do you realize what spiritual powers you are invoking? Why is there such fervor around death, murder, spiritual powers, etc??? Where is the intensity for desire to celebrate evil coming from? Do you realize there is witchcraft happening in America too, and children are being used in ritual practices? I know this firsthand!


As Christians, I implore you to diligently ask God to search your heart about participating in some of the things that clearly depict the evil of our enemy - anything to frighten - fright walks, scary caves, etc... (our God calms, protects, and comforts), anything glorifying death - zombies (our God is the God of LIFE), anything celebrating the murder of human life (our God is the Giver of Life) anything dabbling in spells, curses, etc... or speaking to the spirits of those who have died (our God has warned us not to participate in such things), or anything that does not glorify God - DEPART FROM IT, and GUARD THE HEARTS OF YOUR CHILDREN! Parents, YOU ARE THE WATCHMEN ON THE WALL for your household!

Living in a culture where I am continually aware of the spiritual battle raging over me, my focus has intensified toward what is not from the Lord. Yet, many things are no longer seen as "evil" but cloaked in the desire for "fun" and "entertainment." Twilight books are best-sellers and Halloween is the second highest retail holiday in America. As a Christian, this is what frightens me and causes me to tremble.

So, while children in the USA trick-or-treat in their new $30 costume, we see naked children in the market. While kids there enjoy their bag-load of candy that will last for months, we hold children who have not eaten any food for days. While people there celebrate being frightened - and even pay money to be scared out of their wits, we comfort people who are afraid a curse has been placed on them - because that is reality. While people dress their children up as witches and wizards, we have witnessed the reality of witchcraft and the detrimental evil it causes - even years later.

This post is not sent in judgement or condemnation. It is a cry of intensity from my heart. A plead to "TURN AWAY! COME BACK! FLEE FROM EVIL!"

Celebrating some of the things listed above is akin to worship. Part of your life is given, part of your monetary resources are given, part of your attention is given...and once given, it is gone. Our life, our time, our money, our focus are all offerings. I pray Christians will not become like the idols - with blind eyes, deaf ears, and mute mouths. However, the contrary action is for "you who fear the LORD," to "bless the LORD!"

"The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
They have eyes, but do not see;
They have ears, but do not hear,
nor is there any breath in their mouths.
those who make them become like them,
so do all who trust in them!
O house of Israel, bless the LORD!
O house of Aaron, bless the LORD!
O house of Levi, bless the LORD!
You who fear the LORD, bless the LORD!"
(Psalm 135:15-20)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Plight of the Orphan

Guest Blogger:  Mason Beebe, age 16 yrs.

What is our ultimate goal as Christians? What is the most important piece of our faith? In His word, God asks us to do so much it is overwhelming. And it is so easy to get caught up in whether we are or aren’t doing these things. But I think the biggest and most important part of our faith is our relationship with our Holy Father. This relationship is what will drive us to do the things that God calls us to do. If we truly have a relationship with God, our service to Him will be out of love for Him, rather than doing just so we can get to heaven.

     About a month ago I left to spend three weeks in an orphanage in Bolgatanga. We live in Accra which is in the very southern part of Ghana, and Bolgatanga is in the very northern part of Ghana. Basically the entire country of Ghana was between where I was in Bolga, and where my family was in Accra. It was so hard to be away from my family. My brothers have become my best friends, and not having them around was depressing to me. It was in the midst of this hardship that I found my true need for God.

     Even though my soul was in turmoil, I was able to minister to the kids in this orphanage in tremendous ways. Even though most of the time the children drove me crazy I was able to love them in a way they do not often experience. Living under the same roof as these fatherless children gave me a whole new perspective into their lives.

     At this home there are two small boys maybe 3 or 4 years old named Bright and Marvin. When we first arrived in Bolga these two boys cried about everything. It seemed they had learned that no one wanted to listen to them cry, so they could cry to get what they wanted. And the older kids catered to them when they threw a fit. This got under my skin, and I began being rather harsh with Bright when he would start crying. One day when he was crying about something silly, I bent down to reprimand him. As soon as my face was on his level I almost couldn’t speak because I realized that he looked very much like my little brother Godwin.

    Realizing this gave me a whole new perspective. I would not treat Bright that way if he was a part of my family. And this is when my role in that home really hit me. These kids have no one to stand up for them. They have no mother or father to defend them from mistreatment. This is the plight of the orphan. Not simply that they have no one to tuck them in at night, but they have no one to raise them in the ways of God, no one who will help them in times of trouble, and no one to encourage them when they are hurting in their soul. It was hard enough for me being away from my family for three weeks. I can’t imagine being without a family for a lifetime.

     It was amazing to see how much just my being there impacted the kids. There were a couple times when I left the house for a little bit. When I returned one of the kids would see me and run out to greet me, followed by the rest of the mob. It reminded me of the times when my Dad would get home from work and I would run out of the house to give him a hug. I did not feel like it at all, but I am probably the closest thing to a Dad these kids have ever known.

    I know you are probably just waiting for me to bust out the story about something amazing that happened while I was there. Well, honestly I don’t have any incredible stories. My ministry was loving on the kids in simple ways and the biggest one was just by being there in the first place. Leading devotions, playing soccer, walking to church, taking them to the hospital, telling them goodnight, and going on walk to name just a few of the ways in which I was able to minister.

     So how does the first paragraph of this blog post fit in with everything else? As I said earlier being in Bolgatanga was extremely hard. I was able to truly feel my need and dependence on God. My relationship with God is what got me through that trip. There were many times when I was ready to pack up and go back to Accra. But God gave me the strength to get through the trip, and he gave me love to satisfy my needs, and then even more to share with those children. It was hard, but Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for me. I was making a small sacrifice for Him.

     Please don’t think I am trying to hold myself up as an example of how every Christian should live. I am messed up. I struggle with sin. It doesn’t always feel like God is with me. I am not special. I hope you read this post and are challenged to dive into God’s Spirit and be engulfed with a love for Him. Because that is where any form of missions needs to start. If we aren’t doing it because we love God and we want to glorify his name, we are doing it in sin.

     There are 153 million children in this world who have no earthly father. They have no earthly being to love them, care for them, defend them, or raise them up. But our God is so good. He has not claimed the rich and powerful, but he has claimed these children as His own. He has said that He will love them, care for them, defend them, and raise them up. Isn’t that amazing? Just thinking about that puts a smile on my face. This world is not without hope. And God offers us a chance to play a part in redeeming this world. Don’t you want to be a part of that? Is that not the most amazing and fulfilling duty we could ever be asked to do?

     I don’t want to see the church rise up and love orphans if they do not truly love God in their hearts. For that is at the very center of what we believe. There is a passage in Matthew that talks about the day of judgment and how there were people that did works in the name of God, but that was not enough. God wants us to love Him, so that when the road gets rough, we don’t give up and quit, but so that we draw from His strength and love to keep pressing forward.

“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:3-4