Mission Malawi – Chapter Eight
Customs in all cultures can bind people and often allow for the word of God to be compromised at one point or another. “This is a hard saying…” and can only be revealed by the Spirit of God Himself. We tend not to receive such words because of trying to hold on to our ‘old ways’. God needs to be seriously sought for confirmation of these deep sayings. On many occasions we saw the Word of God take back seat because customary ceremonies were being fulfilled. Christians were attending these ceremonies not for any other reason than fear of what others would say or do if they did not attend.
A normal Sunday service in a large denominational church was cancelled and visiting missionaries from another country were turned away because a funeral service was being held in the community that day. It is sad that the church should bow to the rules of men.
Generations of witchcraft have allowed dark spirits to invade the church. Those who say they are ‘born again’ believe they are on the way to the Kingdom of God. Jesus said unless you are born of water and of the spirit, you will not enter the Kingdom. This is more than just being born again. Those who are born again only receive ‘sight’ of the Kingdom (awareness of God, the sinful nature and the Devil), not entry to the Kingdom. What we saw was that those who were not totally born of water and of the spirit, brought traditionalism into the church.
Singing and worshipping was very much along traditional lines, only the words having been changed to make them ‘Christian’. Darkness was still present, deep in the hearts of those attending. A person can only truly worship God in the spirit, by the power of God’s Spirit.
We found very little worshipping in spirit, all was done by man’s will and power. Certain (scriptural) phrases and lines were used over and over again at nauseum, to stir the congregation into a frenzy of yodeling, screaming and chanting sheep, using the same format, week in and week out. Few had their hearts and minds on God, but were thinking of other things. Meanwhile those leading the service were enjoying the feeling of power which they held as they manipulated and ‘amused’ the congregation with their ‘antics’ while preaching.
“….One day as Titus and I labored in the garden, he began to share some interesting thoughts and observations with me. He said that he had noticed that most white people were able to look after material things better than the average Malawian. He said that generally, whites were able to manage businesses better as well as other situations and he wondered why it was like that. I marveled at this statement and knew it could only come from one who had been truly born again. It was not said with malice or mockery, neither from a racial point of view.
We began to share much about our races, European and Traditional African – the fact that we were both ‘Africans’ having been born and bred on the continent. Was it in fact possible for the two races to hurdle the culture barrier and live successfully under one roof and what was the answer to his question?
Needless to say our time in the garden was much longer than we had planned. We shared about the curse of Ham in the book of Genesis which spoke of Ham’s descendants being ‘servants of servants’ and the fact that this led to the African continent being born into ancestral worship. “Does this mean all traditional Africans are cursed?” he asked me. I said, “…if you think about it – we are all cursed until we turn to our Lord to be saved!”
I explained that Jesus came to the earth to restore back to us everything that was lost originally in the Garden of Eden. Therefore it doesn’t matter which culture, color, race or country we come from, we all have the same opportunity to know the Lord and be released from our past – whatever that is.
Generally speaking, this would account for the observations Titus had made – some people appeared better adapted to certain functions and other people to other functions. However, this finding in no way entitles one to be superior over the other. God intended all to be equal and He is the judge of men’s hearts, irrespective of which race they come from. The teachings of the New Testament in the Bible continually warn that there must never be discrimination.
So, as for our discussion, we talked on as the African sun got hotter and hotter. “Even your skin is better suited for indoors”, quipped Titus.
The Lord showed us that the only way for two races to live together in ‘harmony’ would be through Christ Jesus. Men have been trying for centuries to create peace and harmony with little success.
In African counties where the war for freedom has been won after many years of struggle and senseless loss of life, there is now a, “shoe is on the other foot” attitude. This type of attitude may rarely been seen in the open and even less rarely admitted, but it nevertheless is present.
It is this way because the heart of man holds onto unforgiveness and cannot be changed by systems of men. It requires deep change from the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ gave each human being a new heart, one that truly desires to do the things of God, not just talk about them.
If we, as humans can come away from our reliance on culture, we are then in a true position to ‘love our neighbor’. Not with a sloppy kind of human love, but the real love that Christ has for us. A love that cares whether or not somebody gets to the kingdom of God. For that purpose, we should be prepared to lay our lives down. Are we really in a position to do this now?
God has done much in our hearts while we have been here, in order that we live the way we do. It hasn’t been easy and there is still much to be done in all our hearts, but now we begin to see that through Jesus, it is definitely possible to live and work together in real peace….”
As human beings, we have a great need to be ‘entertained’. The world would term this ‘escapism’ – to take our mind off the things which burden us. Sadly, this has inadvertently crept into the church today as many dote on the ‘performing’ pastor. Congregations grow in the belief that the word of God is attracting many, but instead the sinister undertone of the flesh is ever increasing. People are drawn in by acting, instead of being pierced by the truth of the Word.
If we find ourselves saying, “What a wonderful personality, what a fascinating person, He has such insight!” then what opportunity has the gospel got through all that? It cannot get through because the attraction is to the messenger and not the message. If a person is attracting others through his personality, that is his appeal. If his life is totally laid down for the Lord, then the appeal becomes what Christ Jesus can do. The danger is to glory in men, but Jesus said that we should serve Him with all our heart and that He only, should be lifted up.
“….The Pastor that worked together with us for eight months, side by side, sharing good and bad times together, we later discovered had reported us for “abusing human rights”.
It turned out that he was disgruntled about not receiving, what he felt, was a fair wage out of the small food business. His true heart was revealed when his brother disappeared with one of our bicycles (in “lieu” of wages). His heart was more intent on gaining worldly things, than the things of God. We are never in a position to judge others. That is the sovereign work of God. The Lord showed us that people’s actions stem out of a trust, or lack of trust in God, something we all suffer from.
In this particular case, the ‘Pastor’ simply could not fully believe that God would supply all the needs of his family and consequently tried to do everything in his own power, becoming afraid when he could not see things ‘coming together’ as he felt they should. However, this was a man who was teaching and preaching the word of God, many times sharing things which were not testimony in his own life. The object of sharing this example is not to judge or ridicule this ‘Pastor’, but to expose the truth of the situation as it currently is…”
It is not the intention of this article to criticize precious brethren in Malawi or anywhere else in the world. God brings us to places, among people, and into certain situations to accomplish His definite purpose through the spirit in us. Our part is to use intercessory prayer in everyday circumstances and to bring people God puts around us, by His grace, before His throne.
“….After own little food business was closed, due to ‘red tape’ formalities, we became a little concerned ourselves. We prayed and God has used faithful and obedient brethren to support us. We firmly believe in working with our hands as Paul did, so that God can bless us with our needs, but now for the first time we are “solo” as it were, still working with our hands each day, but not in a ‘money earning’ job, so to speak. It is now living by trusting in the Lord, for the first time….”
On September 26th 1994, in answer to a word which was given to us while we were still in South Africa in 1993, our faithful brother Jacob Arthur came to join us. What a great blessing to have him with us, we are so grateful to the Lord for allowing him to come and help us; it’s been nearly six months without ‘likeminded’ fellowship.
The Lord has blessed us once again and we have been able to have electricity connected to our home. We realized just how much we had taken for granted the electricity in our houses back in South Africa. To be able to have electricity at the touch of a switch and running water in the house at the turn of a tap….surely a great blessing.
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