Today has been a much better day if you were wondering. I had plans to go to this village called Dunni with that missionary that I mentioned named Tommy Harrison. He is from Alabama - well on the Georgia, Alabama border and he has been coming here for many years. His wife died not too long ago and he pretty much lives here. He goes home about 6 weeks out of every year. He really is an amazing older man - I learned a lot from him this morning. So anyway, I went out to Dunni with him - it took us about an hour away. It would have only been about 20 minutes but the road was unreal and we stopped to take lots of different people to different villages - people that otherwise would have had to walk hours and hours to get to their destination. Tommy wasn’t on any sort of schedule although they were waiting on us when we got to Dunni to start church. The villages are so small that when you drive up - they know and so they can just carry on with life and when the kids start yelling, “salminga” - everyone knows that the white people have come to start church. So anyway, first we sang some praise songs. The songs were about telling Satan to go away because we don’t want a part of him, God has made a road for us and not to be afraid, wanting Jesus to come because He has life, there is no medicine man or witch that has the power of God, heaven is a fine city - I will someday live there, I’m dancing because I am happy, and if it weren’t for the Lord Jesus, I would be lost. I LOVE their songs. They are so applicable to their lives and culture. Which brings me to the purpose of this blog today. First thing I want to write about is the method of missionaries establishing churches around the world and how much damage is done. Someone said that missionaries have done more harm than good as far as church planting goes. We try so hard - way too hard to push our culture and beliefs on these people and completely disregard that the Holy Spirit is alive and working and not allowing Him to reveal Himself to them the way He sees fit. There is this cultural boundary that a lot of people cross. A church is to be established for what purpose? To spread the word of God. So we say that spreading the Word is our purpose, but yet a lot of missionaries will try to tell people how to do things and why their ways are wrong. Sure, we can teach the people to build water wells, how to wash their hands and the importance of it, how to read and write - give them skills. But you can’t change the way they do all of that. If you do change the way they do things, as soon as you leave they will go back to their old ways. You see, especially here - the people are very into traditional things - especially the men. So - you can come here and build a church, teach them how to build in the process, and teach them God’s Word but if there is no discipleship or friendship formed, it will be all for not and that church will fall apart. So it’s interesting when short term missionaries have a goal to plant churches because it takes so much tender love and TIME to get things going in the right direction. This area has been evangelized for about 50 years now but before that, they didn’t know who Jesus was. SOMEONE had to come here and lay down the Truth and then allow the Holy Spirit to come and do His work in a way that is perfectly appropriate and cannot be messed up by human decisions. That’s where we should draw the line. People have got to be discipled and get discipled but at that point - they may not see things the exact same way you do - because of those cultural differences and isn’t it so wonderful that we serve the only God who transcends ALL languages, all boundaries, and has no boundaries! It’s a good thing it’s not up to us. If we tried to teach these people God’s Word just the way we understand it and expect them to understand it the same - we’re crazy - it just doesn’t work like that. An example, the scripture that says if a man doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. We see little of this in the states and it’s usually confined to homeless shelters but here - LITERALLY if a man doesn’t work he will starve. There are no homeless shelters and there is little mercy from one family to the next. He will starve and die if he doesn’t work and so this scripture may seem a little more clear or relevant to the people here. Also, stories about sorcery and other witch activities in the Bible, that we may have never been taught - are taught here all the time because that is the culture. There are witches and sorcery and all kinds of strange traditional things going on. In Nilerigu, we are somewhat sheltered from a lot of this although not all of it. Way out in the villages far away, it’s more obvious. So I guess after all this rambling - I should say my view of church planting/missionary work is totally different than it was. Another glorious thing about this is that it would force you to relinquish any control you might have over things to the Lord whenever you are restricted to only teaching God’s Word and not saying anything else. That was the very first sentence out of Tommy’s mouth this morning; “Everything I am about to tell you came directly out of Ephesians chapter 1 and is God’s Holy Word not mine.” This way, he is not responsible as long as he doesn’t let his flesh intercede. The Lord totally blessed him this morning too with some receptive people and even a few very profound questions. One lady told him that she didn’t understand in the Bible when it says that if you have broken one commandment you have broken them all. I think it’s James 2:10. She was having a hard time with this and Tommy explained to her that if one little thing went wrong with his truck - like a flat tire - the whole thing wouldn’t run and likewise, when you receive forgiveness after repentence from the Lord - He forgives ALL your sin - not just the most recent one. :) Glory to God for that too! That was a hard question to answer but he did a good job - I don’t know what I would have said. And this lady’s second question was about prayer. She was unsure that the Lord really heard her - she didn’t know how to tell and she was unsure of how to pray. So Tommy encouraged her for a moment and when the morning was over she gained spiritual confidence in the Lord, stood up and prayed for all of us. She was so outgoing and seemed to be liked by all. I just prayed and prayed for her that the Lord would rise her up and give her the ability to be a leader which is all these villages really need…a leader. The men were totally absent - out farming I am sure of it. Tommy said this morning that last time he talked with the men he told them that in the Bible it says that when Jesus returns 2 will be somewhere together and one will be taken and the other one left. He told them they better get ready because when that happens they will be at a loss and won’t survive without the women. The women cook, clean, take care of the kids and house, nurse, take the kids to the hospital, go to market for the family, and even farm. If the men were without the women they truly would be lost. Typically the men are very stuck in tradition and don’t come to church often. It is a sad reality because like I said, these villages are crying out for a leader to teach them because no one can read or write but there is no one to lead - not one man in a lot of villages who are willing to sacrifice some things and learn for the sake of their community. On the flip side, there are some villages that have a pastor and sometimes that pastor gets sent off to school in Tamale which is a few hours away but when they return, then that village will have a leader. Interesting isn’t it.
Alright friends - I am going to go on a little hike. It’s super hot right now but it’s one of the last chances I will get to do this so I am doing it. It’s really only a hill I am going to hike up but it’s something to do and I will get to see some of the beautiful farm land. It is all savanah out here - and really when it starts raining more, from what I hear, it is even more beautiful than it already is.
My heart is healing from Friday and I truly appreciate those of you who have read that blog and prayed for me. I am not sure I have been that desperate for help and encouragement as I was on Friday. I hope to not ever have a day like that again but I know that with the Lord all things are possible - and we will not be defeated but instead claim victory over our enemies like fear, doubt, destruction, and sorrow. I refuse to give into Satan’s scheems to take me off track and break my heart. The Lord allowed it all to happen to help me see some things and open my eyes. As He always does, He turned darkness into light and takes a terrible situation and somehow makes sense of it all. Praise Him who is in control and praise Him for not allowing me to have control when I think I want it.
We need Jesus to protect us from ourselves…do you realize that? We are our own enemy. Our flesh has evil desires and without Him stopping us, we would destroy ourselves! I have definitely seen the repercutions of that. I don’t know how to spell that word and I’m too lazy for spell check - so forgive me!
Much love to you all. Have a wonderful Sunday!