Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Whose God is Bigger?

I had a really interesting talk with our friend Arlen King recently. He shared some insight into Animism that I thought you would also find interesting. One of the ways ministry is different here from in the States is the foundation of beliefs or world-view that the people you are trying to minister to start with. In the States you have the Atheist or the Agnostic. Here we have the Animist. When the Atheist or the Agnostic hears about Balaam's talking donkey, their first reaction is incredulousness. There's no way a donkey can talk. An Animist doesn't question whether or not it happened, their first question is "What did the donkey say?"

The Animist is happy to pay lip service to our God. They don't mind learning about Him and praying to Him and throwing Him into the mix with all of their other gods. And when a crisis comes (ie. a sickness or a drought) they might even pray to our God first, but if they don't get the results they want, they run right back to their other gods because they might not help every time but just in case let's talk to the witch doctor.

Their question isn't whether or not our God exists, but whether or not He's more powerful than their gods and they're going to follow and serve the one that helps them the most.

This is why we constantly see things that really bother me in the indigenous churches here. For example, when a baby is born the custom is to tie a red string around its wrist. They do this solely because the red string protects the baby from evil spirits and the evil eye (cholic). The people in churches here would tell you if you asked that God protects you and you don't have to wear something to protect yourself from evil spirits, but as soon as you walk away they'll put it back on the baby...just in case we're wrong.

That's changed a lot of our ministry outlook here. When you teach the Ten Commandments in the States you teach #1 Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. #2 Thou shalt not make any graven image... and in the States we skip over those parts or take them in other directions such as worshipping money, or a new car or a house. But here those are as real as they were to the Israelites. There really are other gods people will add. There really are idols in their houses that they pray to as gods, and not the Catholic statues, but actual Mayan gods.

This has opened the Old Testament up to a whole new level for me as a teacher. I just started teaching the life of Elijah and when we talked about the ravens feeding Elijah last week, it wasn't hard for them to believe and really not that special. More of like an "of course God sent him food with birds, he had to hide." This Sunday though I am teaching about the showdown with the prophets of Baal. The words of Elijah to the people of Israel are just as applicable to our people here, over 80% of whom have not accepted Christ personally despite bringing their Bible, memorizing verses, attending faithfully and doing homework about the Bible Studies each week. He said to the people, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him." Or in other words "How long will you be paralyzed by indecision?"

Now, I know that signs were for the Jews, but I believe God wrote them down more for the Kekchi than the American. Pray about next Sunday, that God will speak to their hearts and that more people will make a decision for Him.

*Tomorrow night is our special service in Kekchi for our Bible study in Santa Rita. Please pray!*

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...