When it comes to doing God’s will, we tend to think of something like a plan. It usually has a step one and two and so on. Sometimes it even involves timing and structure. I think when God thinks of His own will He sees a battlefield- to which we cringe. I think the only ‘plan’ involved is charge, reclaim and give Him the glory. Perhaps He looks down at our outlines and carefully laid supplies and sees in our faces a bit too much self confidence. With a gentle hand, He often sweeps away our ideas and grasps our hands with a firm and eternal grip. There is a humility in it- it is all about humility. In this being able to admit we are weak and unable to handle even the smallest attack, Jesus must come. It says in Ephesians 2:2 that Satan is the Prince of the Power of the air, that he dwells here among the sons of disobedience. This is our greatest risk- that we will turn away and follow the Prince of disobedience. He knows the face of the earth and every nook and cranny’s weakness. Although strategic, he has no new methods. To travel is to see him at work in the lives of many but it is also to see God working on a greater and more powerful scale to redeem those He loves. As we bring our message of holiness to the nations, one of our greatest prayers is that we would not succumb to the enemies attack and instead fight to bring
light to the dark places no matter the circumstances. The fight is different in every nation, from Singapore to South Africa, there is no neutral ground. Here we explore some battles, the strategies and the victories.
I watched two specific people walk in and sit in our session, here on a breezy open rooftop, the setting sun warming the home-bound traffic. One was a youth worker and the other a student. One a Christian, the other a pre-Christian. One hungry, one not. This session was catered to Christians, but held at the main Singaporean YMCA and about a third of our small audience were unaware of what they were in for. It was a hard session, the warfare was raging and our team confused. During break, I talked with the student, heard her problems, her pain and doubt. She drank deeply of what we said, cried when we explained the beauty Christ saw in her and left with more questions than when she came. I didn’t get a chance to speak to the youth worker. He was on his phone during the break, left early and knew all the answers. And yet he had no peace. It’s these kind of events, even though they may not go down in our history books as the most successful, that speak deeply to me. I see the enemy working in these two individuals so clearly, its almost tangible and to be quite frank, it makes me want to punch something. He pushes the student down in her thoughts and encourages those around her to do the same. He dampens the fire of the youth worker and distracts him with the world’s trinkets while whispering in the team’s ears, speaking of failure and wasted time. Yet the student left with a hope and a glimmer in her dark world- her choice to walk towards. The youth worker left with the Ever Present Resource that he never knew He had access to- His choice to pursue. We walked out of the building with the choice to keep fighting back the dark. All these options are are placed in our reach by grace. In Singapore, the greatest attack currently upon the church and governmental stance on the homosexual agenda. With it’s highly westernized, yet traditional culture, elite technology and societal norms, Singapore sets the standard for much of Asia. Alongside the average issues found in most western churches, like attendance, passion and cultural relevancy, Singaporean churches find the need to deal with other issues. Challenges include multiple religions in one family, government endorsed materialism and a growing sense of postmodernism. As we bring the message of holiness and purpose, the opposition is nearly always passive aggressive. Discouragement is our greatest opponent and when God moves someone to speak up about how we have impacted them with His message, it means the world to the Team.
Going into Australia, someone told us to think of the United States 50 years ago and to prepare what you would tell those alive then- before technology had such a vice-like grip on society, before media set out standards and relationships were more often whole than broken. What would I say to a teenager going into the 21st century? Not to say Australia is behind the times- on the contrary, it’s flying into a new generation altogether, artsy and full of life and passion. The options are endless for the ambitious youth of this budding nation. But the heaviness of expectations and sometimes the absence of expectations leaves a spirit of lack, depression and even suicide lingering in the hearts of the youth. While the parents and youth are hungry it’s a fickle hunger, that longs for something to fulfill it, but enjoys it’s own opinions along the way. Strangely similar to the US in so many ways. But the remnant of innocence and a fresh start lingers in the atmosphere of the church and the attacks of the enemy focus strongly on this. From what I’ve seen, depression is a huge issue among the teens and young adults. We also worked our first children’s program there which revealed much about the instant-gratification syndrome running rampant in so many westernized countries. Despite the resistance, the Lord moved in powerful ways, opening up eyes to the lies brought in by media and the testimonies of lives redirected and the exposure of God were more than encouraging. Now that we understand where the needs are, in parenting as well as youth life, I believe we can share with them what we have learned in those areas and show the youth how their influence can indeed shape their country and in turn the world.
Lies are deeply embedded into the very culture of Africa. The enemy has worked there for millenniums, creating strongholds especially in the area of sexuality. In South Africa the modern ‘social issues’ are not as much social as they are spiritual. Deeply held and morally disgusting, values have declined to a point where AIDs and STD’s are rampant with an entire generation practically missing, compensated by a million or more child led homes. The desperation for money and resources has created an incredibly hurtful absence of vision and hope. With racial discrimination no longer at a forefront, instead retreating to a steady boil on the back burner, corruption has taken a astronomical toll at a once thriving economic structure. Despite, or perhaps because all of this, the hunger and response to God’s message of holiness and purpose is astounding with an encouraging amount of men leading the charge. They were the ones taking the notes in the sessions and asking the questions afterwards. Revivals leading up to our time there spurred especially the men to take an active and healthy role in their homes, leading the charge in integrity and cultural transformation. Leadership in the church and schools were also very responsive, buying book to start libraries within their churches and institutes and asking when we would return. While the attacks were constant, the enemy really has no new ideas; just old methods with new disguises. With steady intercession and a team that is truly a gift from God, we were set up to work in many of the schools throughout SA and had a return for a 6 week period of ministry lined up for Generations of Virtue by the time we left. With a deeper understanding now of how society works, what the issues are, the trigger points of cultural relevancy and the simple and incredibly helpful asset of friends in-country, I believe God can use GOV to work wonders in that country within His timing.
After three continents and seven countries, you’d think we’d be used to it. You’d think we’d recognize it immediately and that it’s familiarity would warn us. The enemy’s interference seeps into every event and while difficult, it’s in a way encouraging. The enemy doesn’t bother with things that aren’t doing great things for God. We speak on it and pray about it- yet in the moment, the temptation to ignore it or succumb or even side with the attacks is overwhelming. This too, is part of the attacks. The ultimate victory rests in Him and to work for Him is to work in assurance. The point is, where we cannot, He can, in every way and always. To see life as a battle can be exhausting or invigorating. To live life with purpose involves plateaus as well as mountain peaks, but to see the enemy defeated in the lives and hearts of individuals is enough encourage the most depressed. The moment when you discover victory in the apparent defeat and hope in what hurts, we discover freedom. And surprisingly enough, this is freedom from plans. From structures prone to fail and timing all wrong. When our plan of attack is backed by the Lord, victory is assured.
“Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God and lovingkindess is Yours, Oh Lord, for you recompense a man according to His work.” . Psalm 62:11-12
(This post is an installment of a 5 part blog series written in response to a community service learning ministry trip. The topics are in relation to what was learned, experienced and observed during that time.)