Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Demon Possession-That's Crazy Stuff, Right?

I have been challenged.

I am reading "Revolution in World Missions" by K.P. Yohannah.  (Get it free here.)  He is the founder of Gospel for Asia.  His organization is doing amazing things.  They are building schools, finding sponsors for missionaries, women, and children, building Jesus Wells (clean water), providing farm animals to villages, they have a radio ministry, they are helping in flood relief efforts, and running Bible colleges.  All of this in the name of Jesus.  This book is his journey on the mission field.  He has been beaten, stoned, received death threats, seen thousands come to Christ, and witnessed miracles and cast out demons.

And I'm only on Chapter 2.

Cast out demons.  Ummm... that's all fake, right?  Or at most it's what used to happen.  You know, back in Bible times.  Christ and many of his followers cast out demons, but everything I've seen as far as miracles and demon possession goes looks fake.  I've seen the televangelists and I just want to scream when they start asking for money for some holy prayer towel or special prayers from them, as if they possess a special favor with God that He would hear their prayers, but not the prayer of the one in need.  Those "pastors" have fraud written all over them.  It's the same deception and manipulation as the selling of indulgences.

I have never seen demon possession or miracles like you read about in the Bible in person.  Sounds downright scary.

As I read the pages of this book, I think of the people I know who have said that they witnessed these sorts of things first hand.  I'm incredibly skeptical, even though I trust that these people are telling me the truth.  I just don't know if they saw what they think they saw.

I think about the missionaries I've read about who say they are doing healings in the streets and it's always accompanied by speaking in tongues in a way that I don't find Biblical, although I trust their sincerity.  Something is happening, I'm just not ready to say they are speaking in the "tongues of angels."  Should I not accept a reality that includes demon possession and healings because I do not accept the reality of tongues today as I see in scripture?

Ugh!  These are big questions for someone who has gone to a Baptist church since birth!

A large part of why I want to go on a mission trip is because I want to see for myself if what I read and hear about is true.  I am a highly skeptical person, I think because of how many times I have believed something and found it to be false.  Our world is surrounded by lies.  Nearly every advertisement lies.  Nearly every politician lies.  Hollywood lies continually.  And I have to admit that when email was new and did not exist, I fell for a lot of urban legends and jaw-dropping, fabricated lies.

Is poverty as bad as the media reports?  (Speaking of lies, I failed to mention the media!)  Are the stories they tell the exception or is it common?  Are people in poverty really as happy as people tell me they are, despite their ghastly circumstances?  And are there really miracles and demons cast out in other countries?  Is it really, truly like what I read in the Bible?  Are we more progressed in the USA and know better than to believe this or have we, swimming in our riches and comfortable lives, regressed into spiritual apathy and powerlessness?  

I was once a part of a Baptist church that was full of people who were ready to experience Christianity differently.  They were ready to do things that they saw as Biblical, even if it meant that other Baptist churches in our association would call us heretics.  (As far as I know, they didn't.)  It probably sounds like child's play to those in charismatic churches, but we decided to lay hands on a woman who had been experiencing back pain for years.  She laid on the pew many Sundays because of the pain.  She was tired of trying this and that and experiencing little or no relief.  And so we prayed.  The entire congregation gathered around her, laid hands on her, and prayed.

Within 2 weeks she received a call from a doctor, saying they had a new treatment.  She experienced incredible results!  It was thrilling to see God work!  She wasn't healed instantly. She wasn't healed completely.  But I find it hard to believe that it was all a coincidence or that our prayers were like a placebo effect.  It was God, I know it!  I cherish those times.

I don't want to spoil the story, so if you have a chance to hear Francis Chan speak on what happened with his ministry event in San Francisco with Trader Joe's, DO IT!!!  My jaw literally dropped.  It wasn't Jesus turning 5 loaves and 2 fishes into a meal for thousands...with leftovers...(Matthew 14 and 15) but it was no doubt supernatural.  It was God!

And Francis Chan says that miracles are happening and he says that he is seeing things like they did in the Bible, like he always wanted to see today, but figured they were all in the past.  He, like me, wondered if those things still happened today and he has discovered that they do!

Whoa!  Really???  This is a new thing to him.  When I read his books and hear his words I think, "You are reading my mind!"  He had the same questions, the same thoughts.  What exactly is he now experiencing?  Does he mean all of it or just the obvious Divine intervention?  Is he telling the truth?  I have no reason to doubt that he is.

And here I am once again, just like when I started this whole journey, full of questions with little answers.  And I have to admit that it's scary to ask these questions.  I don't want to play the fool and find out that, once again, I have been lied to.  And I don't want to find myself with answers that I don't like.  I may find out that everything I have believed so far is true.  Or I might not.  Or maybe I'll find out I'm asking the wrong questions.  I just want to see it for myself.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What If I Never Go?

I think the thing I have battled most over the last year is the knowledge that I may never get to go on a mission trip.

I believe from the bottom of my heart that God has put this desire in me and I know without a doubt that He is calling me to go on a mission trip.  But God hasn't told me where.  So many times in scripture Jesus explained things to his disciples and they almost always took it to mean something physical while Jesus was trying to teach them something spiritual.  I picture Jesus banging his head against the wall saying, "C'mon, people!  Don't you get it?"  What if my mission trip is not on the physical world map, but in the familiar - but mostly uncharted- territory of my heart?  

What if I never actually go on a mission trip?  What if the sacrifice God wants of me is to let go of my desire to see first hand all that I have learned and to be physically present with the children of India or somewhere else?  What if the money I would spend on a mission trip is the money that God is asking me to give away?  That does make the most sense.   After all, the amount of money it takes to buy plane tickets alone for our family is enough to build a school house, sponsor almost 18 children for a year, sponsor one child all the way through adulthood, buy 7 Jesus Wells, provide 54 pairs of milk-producing goats to be divided among several villages, or a blanket for 625 cold children.  Logically speaking, going on a mission trip is completely contrary to my greater desire to change a life.  

If I preach sacrifice, I need to be willing to do it myself.  

I may never get to go overseas on a mission trip.  I may never be the one to hold the hand of a child who needs someone to show them love.  I may never have that mission trip experience I hear others talk about and that I long for... and I need to be OK with that.  

What if I never go?  If I'm going to do this Christian thing for real, I need to be willing to accept whatever God's answer is to that question.

It's been a year and I'm still struggling with that one.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ridiculous Blog Post (Rewrite)

I got notice today that I am now a blogging partner with Gospel for Asia.   I'm pretty excited about it, in a solemn way.  I have learned so much this past year about India.  What started as a simple read of a book that was highly recommended by friends turned into a burning desire to go to the "least of these" on a mission trip.  God has been working on my heart and my mind and it has lead me to this point where I feel I must do something or resign myself to living as a hypocrite.  I know too much.

In my searching and researching, I came across another book, "No Longer a Slumdog."  It was written by K.P. Yohannan the founder of Gospel for Asia.  I'll tell you more about that at another time, but as I learned more about K.P. Yohannan's ministry, I discovered a list of ways one can help.  What a wonderful list!  There were many simple things...easy things...on the list that made me feel as though I sincerely could make a difference.  One of them was to become a blogging partner.

Being a blogging partner for Gospel for Asia is not "THE" thing I have decided to do; it is what I know I can do right now.  I don't know where this burning desire to help people, especially children, overseas (or even if it will be overseas) will lead me, but I invite you along with me as I figure it out.  Maybe you'll figure out a few things about yourself.

Here is a post I wrote on the MyPoorHusband blog in November of 2011, just over a year ago.  I entitled it, "Ridiculous Blog Post," because it was a post of a serious nature on a blog that was not.  It was written not long after I read the book recommended to me by my friends.  I have grown much since writing this and I am anxious to share it with you.  I figure this is the best place to start.

Ridiculous Blog Post

I read a book several months ago called, "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  Very challenging book.  It left me with a lot of hard questions and really no answers.  There is a part in the book that has haunted me.   This isn't a direct quote, but the idea is that we ask God why there are starving children in the world.  But perhaps God is asking us the same question.

Hmmm... as I type on my Macbook, listening to one of my 8,000 songs I have purchased throughout the years, my belly full after eating out and trying to ignore the Klondike bars in the freezer while my children lay peacefully in their beds, warm and safe in a house that has plenty of room for every person to have their own space.

I don't know where that leaves me.  I don't know what my responsibility is to others in this world whose children are sleeping in a trash heap tonight after eating whatever they could find and drinking water that is full of things that could possibly kill them.  What am I to do about children in India who are being picked up by evil people who will cut off an arm and a leg of a defenseless child, then send him out to the streets to beg money for his master?  What is my responsibility to the 10 year old girl who is putting on a sexy outfit and makeup, waiting in fear for the next man to come into her room?

I want to jump off my couch, get on a plane and go rescue that little child.  All the children. Yes, I want to rescue all of them.

There is a possibility of our family going to India in the future to work in an orphanage.  There are two details that remain to be worked out and that is which orphanage to go to and the other is how-in-the-world-are-we-going-to-get-there? That's a pretty big detail and while there are things that make me hopeful, I'm not counting my chickens (or plane tickets) just yet. In the meantime, I am doing a lot of reading about India and I am realizing something - I am very naive! And that scares me because that means I really don't know what I'm getting myself into.

But the more I find out, the more I feel the need to help. When I read that they are having re-naming ceremonies for girls who were named "Nakoshi", or "Unwanted" at birth, I realize that I have no idea what it is like outside of my own comfortable world.  When I read that India is considered to be the second largest "child flesh" industry hub in the world, I feel sick.  So sick that after my initial physical response, my secondary response is to emotionally turn my head the other way, to go back to my happy place where MY children are safe and MY children are loved, nourished, and wanted.  Yes, just stay here and make sure I do my part by keeping MY children out of harm's way. Good enough.

That lasts for about 5 seconds and then my heart breaks and I feel scared and I feel like I MUST do something.  I must make a difference.

But how? It's too big for just me or even a large group of me's.  Look at all the organizations out there who work and give and give some more and it seems that the problem of poverty and abuse in the world is just as strong as it ever was. What more could I possibly add? After knowing what I know, what is my responsibility?

Should I throw a few more dollars into the offering plate? Fill a few more shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child distribution?  Sponsor a child overseas?  Bring a child into our home and spend the thousands of dollars to adopt them?  Move to India and spend the rest of my life giving a few children an opportunity to get out of the life they currently know?  Start a movement to end it all?  Give my life to affect change in the world?

Do you see where I am going with this?  I could do any one of these things, but what is it that a fellow human being should do?  I'm not asking what's the minimum, I'm asking where does my responsibility to the children of the world start and the responsibility to my own children end?  Should my children have to have a lower level of education so that a child in India can have one?  Should my children go without toys at Christmas so that someone else's children can have dinner on Christmas?  Can someone complete this thought for me because I am having a hard time even forming the question.

God doesn't say that it's wrong to have, but He certainly has a lot to say about having a hard heart toward those who have not.

At this point in my life, I am seriously at a loss. I do not have an answer other than I know I must take care of my own children (how that's defined, I don't know) and that what is expected of each of us is different. Maybe my realm of influence lies right here in my own country. Maybe that's exactly where God wants me and I got lucky because I don't have to go out into a scary world to make a difference. Maybe I am exactly where I can make the most difference. Then again, what if He is asking me to do more than I am willing to do?

I am hoping that a trip to see with my own eyes what life is like outside of the wealthy U.S. of A. will help me process these questions and that my eyes would be open enough to understand the answers.  I hope that one day I will sit down to write another ridiculously serious blog post and be able to tell you that I know exactly what it is that God wants from me and that I will wholeheartedly abandon myself to it, whether it be a stronger commitment to where I am now, a less comfortable way of living, or a life with new horizons and greater sacrifice.