Tortillas Have Helped Stave Off My Depression

I have been angry.

It’s hard to put into words how good – how liberating – it feels to be able to write those four words and admit them not only to myself, but to the world at large. I have spent the last 18 months or better mired in anger, resentment, disappointment and directionless-ness… the ingredients necessary perfect cocktail for a tall glass of Depression. Or at least for the brand of depression I suffer from.

On the outset, I present as a fairly “happy” gal. I find humor in the most unlikely of places and before the ascension of Tang Hitler to the throne, my social media pages were places that friends would visit for frivolity and fun. One friend admitted that the only reason she keeps her Facebook page active was so that she could see what peculiar brand of craziness I was going to post about during the day.

It’s all been a front. Underneath the veneer, I am an incredibly depressed person and it doesn’t take “much” for that depression to manifest. I am a person who functions best – or at all – when there is a obvious and tangible need for my energy and physical body to operate in a specific space. For many years, I didn’t have that in Atlanta. My life took on some form of significance just before our move and at long last I began to enjoy life in the city. Hitherto, people have tried to console me with platitudes like, “You’re a mother! Your life has great meaning to your kids.”’ , and the like. But in my heart of hearts, I know that I was not put on this Earth to give birth to children and watch over them until they grow. That was never in my life plan.

I think Mark Twain described my dilemma best with his quote: The two most important days in a person’s life are the day they were born and the day they discover why.

I don’t know if I was born to do ministry in South Africa, but I do know that I was certain in my heart that moving here was step in discovering my why. I moved here seduced by the idea that each of my mornings – or the vast majority of them at least – would be filled with meaningful work that would positively impact the lives of others in a godly and guided way. Instead, what I was confronted with was the same mindless idleness and mundane rituals that were the hallmarks of my early days in Atlanta. The ministry for which we were meant to serve is in hibernation, if not in its sarcophagus. For more than a year, I have had nothing to do and the quality of my children’s education has been placed in peril. In short, as far as I have been concerned, we had gone through the trauma of uprooting our family, severing bonds and shouldering the expense of leaving an established life for a phantom of a Christian ideal.

On the other hand, my husband is happier than a polar bear in ten feet of snow so it hasn’t been a total disaster. There’s always that outlier.

I have already confessed to you that I have been angry, and now it is time to admit that I was on the verge of madness. And I don’t mean that cute kind of crazy where a woman shaves off her hair and runs to the nearest bar in a mini skirt in a desperate bid to unleash the wild alter ego she’s kept a tight lid on. I mean the cold, immobile, unfeeling insanity where there are no voices in your head – not even your own – where you have vision but see no color, where laughter sounds hollow and forced and you then you realize that that strange sound is your own voice, where you stare at a wall for hours content to watch dry paint go drier.

By the time I got to THAT point, I realized I needed to do something. But what?

I started baking.

And then I tried to sell my stuff to local restaurants.

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And when that didn’t work I applied for a stall at a local market.

And when white folk at that market told me that my chocolate ganache was delicious but they don’t eat flour or sugar, I made gluten free chocolate chip cookies with besan instead of wheat.

And when they told me that the gluten free stuff was great but what they * really * wanted was something savory, I took 3 weeks off to contemplate where the intersection of my budget and skills was and I came up with fajitas.

And now I sell fajitas and taco bowls on the Garden Route to people who line up and clamor for them and am at the most calm and centered I’ve felt in almost 2 years.

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Did God send me to South Africa to make fajitas? I truly doubt that. But right now, tortillas are a staff in my hand. They are dry bones in my army. They are the only things that are keeping me going (and thank you Holy Spirit for the inspiration). I don’t know how long this sense of grounding will last, but I am grateful and humbled by it.

There’s a lot to be said about missions abroad and self-care and accountability, but it’s not something I’m ready to talk about at this point. This is me just checking in and more importantly, being honest. Never let seduction – even if you believe it to be ‘Spirit-led’ – be your guide.

It’s time to AWAKE!

Pastor Grant has been a busy bee!

While his wife was away getting her skull cut open, he partnered with local psalmists, musicians and artists to hold monthly gatherings where prayer and worship are the focus. His wife missed the previous sessions because of reasons, but she’ll be there this week for sure!

Will you? 😉

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Resisting the Urge to Perform African Missions

There is a common phrase among certain activist circles that says, “If you really want to discover who a person is, send them to Africa.”

There’s something about coming to Africa that draws out either the very best or worst in a person – or at the least – their truer motives where missions are concerned.

There are a quite a number of foreign missionaries living in this small municipality of 49,000 coming from afar afield as Germany, Austria and America. There are also native South Africans from bid cities like Jo’burg and Cape Town who have settled here in Plett and its environs who function as ministers in various capacities. After Michael and Nicole (temporarily) left the city, we replaced them as the ‘only’ African Americans in town. (I put ‘only’ in quotes, because there’s one other African American gent named Virgil who lives here as well, but he’s been such a permanent fixture for so long that he’s been adopted as a local.)

We haven’t had much opportunity to spend a lot of time with our European counterparts, as frankly, schedules and personalities don’t always align. We’ve spent a lot more time fellowshipping with the other Americans in the area: a family of four and two interns who moved here from Virginia and Tennessee. We spent the 4th of July and Thanksgiving together, as well as some random beach days. As fate would have it, one of the young ladies needed a space to rent and lived with us for 6 months until she found something more permanent. It was in that time that I got to observe her heart for missions and was incredibly touched by what I witnessed.

Let’s be honest: A lot of people – not just Americans – come to Africa motivated by pity. They look at this massive Dark Continent, populated by war lords, starving children and entrepreneurial women who make ends meet against all odds. Spurned by a savior mentality, they hop on the fastest thing smoking with delusions of grandeur. Why, in just two weeks spent as a volunteer shelling out porridge at XYZ shelter, you can transform a whole community! Your American/British/Australian presence alone will make a difference in the life of a man/woman/child enamored by your white skin – or in my case – a cool American accent. Oh…and you’re bringing Jesus to boot!

It’s the big sell. This is the narrative that gets offering plates returned to the back counting office with a little more heft than they would on a typical Sunday morning. The romantic idea that a young man/woman, armed with nothing more than their guitar and a song in their heart can run over to Africa and win it for Christ is a very comforting one. But the reality is much messier. It takes years to make an impact, and a lot of us foreigners don’t have the stamina to see the course to the end. So we fake impact. We fake it by posting pictures of ourselves surrounded by grinning brown children, swathed in dingy brown clothing on Instagram. We fake it when we return to the States with testimonies that exaggerate events in order to elicit an “ooohhh” response from the congregation, further adding to Africa’s alluring mystique and making the returning missionary seem more heroic than he/she truly deserves.

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The reality is that as I am typing this, I am seated in a quaint café, surrounded by the scents of scones, freshly squeezed ginger and hot apple pie. When I return to my car, I will be greeted by a gust of ocean breeze. The reality is, there is very little that the American missionary is doing in Africa that they cannot do in Flint, MI or Ringgold, GA. If you want to make a real impact, take a quick 3-hour drive to Ringgold or Dalton and preach a message of racial reconciliation. Or shoot, stand up to your own racist/misogynist/whatever family and challenge their views at the next gathering. I promise the impact will have an immediate ripple effect. Most of us are too scared to rock that particular boat because the consequences are impacting on a deeper and more personal level. A prophet may not have honor in his own town, but s/he owes it to the town to try to bring the word anyway.

But I digress: Back to this live-in intern, whom we will refer to as Amber* for the duration of this post.

Amber is a white woman in her 20s who has faced a dilemma over how she should present her work in this mission field. As I mentioned before, I am impressed with the integrity she has demonstrated in the process. Like we do, she keeps up a social media presence to let her home church know what she’s been up to over the course of the last two years. In that time, she admitted that it’s been hard to post pictures because, “everything is so beautiful here.” It doesn’t look like true African missions.

“And plus, everyone I work with is so…white,” she admitted. She jokingly added that while she does not post pictures because of the whiteness of it all, she has refused to embellish events or go into the townships and pose with little Black kids, even though she is aware that doing so would likely come with a greater monetary reward at the end.

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Barbie Savior. Source: Instagram

Her apprehension to post pictures of herself in a beach resort town on hikes in verdant mountains with white kids is understandable. That’s not what African missions looks like. To the average believer, that looks like a two-year getaway in paradise. And yet, this is where the Lord has placed her because that’s exactly what’s needed. Her non-judgmental compassion is needed at the pregnancy crisis center where she works twice a week. Her big sister presence in necessary for little girls who need someone they can relate to. Her athleticism lends itself to youth program in a town where the average church attendee is well over 40. (Or still in pull-ups.) And like her, most everyone she ministers to is white. It’s all still “African missions” because like God’s kingdom as a whole, Africa herself is incredibly diverse.

Nevertheless, this concept of performance – and the need to resist it – is something I admit I struggle with as well. Last night we spent 4 hours fellowshipping with an Afrikaaner woman – a single mother of four – who was really going through it. You name it, she’s enduring it: from a broken marriage, to her name being trashed in town as a whore, to facing eviction in a few weeks. Marshall, another couple and I sat and listened to her pour out her heart. She was very frank about how shattered she was feeling, often fighting back tears as she spoke. By the time we finished conversing with and praying for her, she admitted she was feeling a lot better. That night, she left a message with the couple who had accompanied us, telling them how much she appreciated our presence and how she felt like she had found a sister in me. In ME.

Meanwhile, all the while, I couldn’t shake how bizarre the whole scene would have looked if it were a LionsGate film. Here were four people of color here to “save” a white woman in Africa…a woman dealing with all the issues that are typically synonymous with Black womanhood. At least as pop culture is concerned. I felt it bizarre that I was being used in that environment, but we serve a totally bizarre God who does things that defy our reason. I’ve talked a lot about how other people view and perform African missions, but in truth I’m grateful for His shaking up my own prejudices as well.

 

In the Trenches of the Prayer Line

Three weeks ago, Bishop Henry Joseph invited us to minister at Grace Church in Oudtshoorn until his return to South Africa in mid November. Marshall has been preaching during the main service for two Sundays so far, and next week will signal his final ascension to Grace’s pulpit. I missed the first service because I was in Johannesburg, but I hear he did quite well. The kids didn’t do so well that Sunday, however, so I promised them a beating buffet this week if they did anything to embarrass their father or themselves during service. You act up, you get cut up…just choose when and where, but a cut up there will be!

Anyway.

Marshall has been preaching foundation doctrine all around the garden route. It’s something he’s been studying for years and it’s really something to hear him talk about what makes for laying groundwork for a stable relationship in God. Grace Church is primarily a Colored church, so everyone speaks Afrikaans. I don’t know if everyone understood the minutia of his teaching, which was smattered with words in Greek, a sprinkling of biological terms and one or two references to aspects of coding, but I have faith that the gist of the message was translated. At the end of the message, Marshall made an alter call for anyone who needed prayer for sickness, infirmity, etc.

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Given the poor state of healthcare in these corners of the world, calls to receive healing are a sure bet if you want to get a crowd up to the front. I’ve always wondered if an evangelist could draw such a number by asking if congregants wanted to know the deep mysteries of the Lord, for understanding about the cosmos and cellular construction and so forth.

I digress.

Prayer lines are not something I’m accustomed to participating in on the contributing side. I usually find myself among the eager masses ready to receive whatever the Spirit is dolling out that Sunday, or – most usually – observing fellow believers doing the same. However, the position of spectator is not one that I have been afforded since we moved to South Africa. I have no defined duties as Pastor Marshall Grant’s wife, other than to come when bidden. However seeing the line of people who’d assembled at the front, I put on my prayer work boots to attend to the needs of those with supplications. Having also been a long time spectator, I know that a lot of believers want the Man/Woman Behind the Pulpit specifically to pray with/for them, because that’s the person with the “juice” in the thinking of most Christians. All that is to say that I was prepared to be rejected, which prompted me to ask: “Can I agree with you in prayer?” before shouting in perfect strangers’ faces. (I didn’t eat Haloumi cheese this time, Sandy!) I prayed with three women before the fourth did just that.

“I want pastor to pray with me,” she said with a dismissive smile.

No worries at all. The line was much shorter by this time, so I went back to my seat to sway with the choir. Then I looked up and saw Marshall waving me over intensely.

I’ve told you before that my husband likes to summon me to pray for circumstances I can identify with on a personal level.

“Malaka! You had a headache this week…come pray for this Mama with a headache!”

“Malaka…you know what it’s like to experience depression. Come pray for this sister!”

I strode over to the woman his was standing with, a gorgeous, slender sweet woman who looked to be in her 20s who was sobbing heavily.

“She was raped,” he whispered. “Can you pray with her?”

It’s hard to explain what I felt in those brief moments following his gentle request. Fury, sadness, melancholy…righteous anger. Not for myself, but for this woman who was standing before us both dealing with so much pain.

It’s something I’ve written and spoken about openly when the need has arisen, but I was sexually assaulted during my sophomore year of college. I didn’t speak about it for many years, because when I confided in one friend I felt I could trust with my anguish, he sneered and said, “How could it have been rape if you didn’t scream and fight back.” That I was scared, young and too paralyzed by fear to do anything – and I do mean anything at all – was proof, in his mind at least, that I was mistaken, or talking nonsense, but certainly not raped. After that, I dealt with my pain silently, and it took time and the power of the Lord to set me free.

I don’t know under what circumstances her attack happened, but I connected immediately to what this young woman was going through. I could feel her tethers, I could sense the bondage she was experiencing, and in the way her shoulders were hunched I could see the shame she still felt. But above all else, unforgiveness was reverberating from her very body. I prayed in the only way that I could: I asked that God would do for her what He had done for me. I asked that He would take away the guilt, the sadness, the despair and to restore healing and wholeness in its place. We wept together as we called on the Lord and cursed the work of the devil.

The reality is there’s no point in asking the Lord to take away the memory of something as traumatic as rape, especially in a case like this precious sister’s. Being sexually leaves a permanent mark on you. It robs you of a part of yourself that you can never really get back. An aspect of your personhood is amputated in an unseen way. If you cut a person’s hand and you can visibly see how they are forever altered. When a person is sexually assaulted, those scars are not visible to the naked eye. This woman had asked my husband to pray for her because the agony associated with the rape she experienced was putting stress on her liver and other organs…and then she introduced us to the daughter who was the product of her assault: A beautiful little girl of about 6 that she hugged tightly, proudly and ruefully all at once. Even before I knew she had borne a child of rape, I knew that the best God could do would be to remove the pain connected with the event – that when it came to mind it did not cripple her with emotions that there are no words for as it had done to me. And honestly, that’s enough. Because the grim reality is that one day, this woman and/or her daughter will encounter another woman who will need their compassionate prayers for this very same reason: to confront the legacy of rape that is so prevalent in our culture.

 

VLOG: Marriage, Gender Roles and Christianity

*Note: We’re going away for the weekend, so I’m leaving the ol’ laptop up while we’re gone in hopes that this video will finish uploading while we’re away. Perils of SA internet! If you subscribe to our blog, you will be getting the post without the video. Check back in about an hour. 🙂

Yesterday, the internet was ablaze with commentary about a teaching Mega Church Pastor Chris Oyakhilome did about marriage, speaking to women, specifically. Naturally, I disagree with everything Pastor Chris said…because I am a woman with a God-given brain who puts it to use. Nevertheless, we (meaning “I”) thought it was important to give a godly/male perspective on an issue I find myself speaking about quite often. Marshall was kind enough to indulge and submitted to recording his insights.

Please read this excerpt from Pastor Chris’ teaching (which is fairly common perspective in Christiandom) and watch Marshall’s insights in the video following. Have a wonderful weekend!

 


“FOR THE MARRIED WOMEN AND THOSE INTENDING TO GET MARRIED, LISTEN & TAKE HEED!!

Topic:
Who is a HUSBAND and what is His Role?
By Pastor Chris oyaKhilome PhD…

Husband does not mean the male partner in a marriage, husband means master.

The reason for most problems in Christian marriages is the fact that women refute God’s definition of marriage and form theirs. They believe they are equal partners.

If most women had their fathers bold enough to talk to them, they will be very successful in their marriage and they will be very happy people. Most women have never been taught by their parents, their fathers particularly and that’s their biggest problem because they don’t know who a man is, they think he is another woman.

In marriage, you have the man who is the head of that union and because he’s the head of that union, its important to understand him. You think he’s the one that needs to understand his wife and that is where you are wrong. He will eventually but you have to know the type of man you are married to and his needs.

When you say you are marrying a man, you are coming under his authority. The Bible says, the man is the head of the woman (1 Corinthians 11:3) so when you marry him you come under his authority, you are not authority sharers even though you are both heirs to the kingdom of God.

When you decide not to subject yourself to that authority, you are a rebel and God is not going to accept what you are doing because you are not functioning correctly. Why did God make the woman?

Making woman was not God’s original plan because after God created Adam and before He made Eve, He said in Genesis 1:31 “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good”. God made woman because of man so woman was not His original idea. This is reality.

Genesis 2:18a “And the Lord God said “for it is not good for a man to be alone..” The Bible didn’t say “lonely” but “alone”. There is a big difference. Man wasn’t lonely but alone. Genesis 2:18b “…I will make him an help meet”. He didn’t say a partner or a supervisor or a special advisor or someone to tell him what to do.

I will make him someone to help him. God gave man a responsibility so woman was made to help man achieve that responsibility. If this is understood in every home then you won’t have problems.

I tell people that you don’t need a marriage seminar, you need the Word Seminar. Let me tell you, no husband wants another mother, he has had one all his life. He doesn’t want an older sister, he probably had one.

Your secret is in obedience, your secret is in listening to your husband, your secret is in doing the things that please him. When you don’t do the things that please him, you take the role of a mother or of an older sister.

A man loves the one he serves (God) and the one that serves him (a good wife). He fights the one that wants to be at the same level with him (a rebellious wife).

To be happy in your family and home is the easiest thing in the world, just take your role. Take your place. That place that God gave you is a beautiful place. Its a place of peace. Its a place of love. It’s a place of excellence.

Every wise person listens to wise voices (advice) but he listens to a wise voice that is presented wisely.

Everyone rebels against the voice that is trying to make a fool out of him. When you want to correct your husband, don’t lord it over him,present it as a wise suggestion. Humble yourself and be smart.

A wise woman will always be an influence to her husband, the foolish one will always annoy the husband, make him mad, make him angry and when you make him angry, you will be the victim. Learn to listen to your husband, practice it, tell yourself that you are going to do it because that is where your beauty is.

Once you stop listening, your beauty evaporates. You wonder why you are dressing and he can’t see it, he doesn’t remember your last hair style. Beauty is in obedience. That’s where the Glory is.

#Excerpts from Pastor Chris’ Teaching!”

 

Do You Carry The Scent of Water?

“At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.

  • Job 14:7-9

 

August is Women’s Month in South Africa, and there are celebrations to honor women taking place every week all over the country. From promotions for telephone service to make up and life insurance, every stake holder and influencer in the country is looking for a way to express their gratitude for the bravery and contributions women have made towards the country’s development. Shack Church is no exception.

Starting this weekend, Revival Scene Ministry (Shack Church’s actual 501c3 name) will be hosting a women’s conference under the theme(s) Consecrate Yourself and Finding the Favor of God for Your Life. The first 7 days if the 10 day conference (we don’t do anything small in SA, you know) will be dedicated to prayer and fasting, while the final 3 will move into the phase of exhorting attendees to explore and unlock God’s favor for their lives.

Last night I was invited to attend women’s bible study with Shack Church’s Women on the Move ministry. This was a huge step for me, because as gregarious as I can be, I am increasingly introverted in my old age. I like to hide out in large crowds and when you are in small, intimate spaces, that’s pretty near impossible. The house where bible study takes place is the typical township home comprised of about 600 square feet and certainly constitutes an “intimate space”, especially when 18-20 people are crammed in the room, vigorously praising God.

It was in that environment that I realized that the notorious church break out praise bore an uncanny similarity to Xhosa/Zulu ceremonial dancing, replete with stomps and mid air splits. If I had the health of your 76 year old grandmother who had come through Jim Crow and lived to see Barack Obama rise to the position of president, I might be able to keep up. Alas, I only have the stamina of an 80’s kid whose idea of physical excursion is to furiously type a strongly worded thread on Twitter.

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I digress.

Why were these women so excited, I wondered privately? This display of joy was not the typical putting on and performance of obligatory praise that we who have been in the church for so long have become accustomed to. I clapped my hands and grimaced as I have been programmed to do over the years, but when the appropriate time to stop and get down to business had come and passed (you know: 3 fast songs, a worship song and a greeting), these women were still going HARD. Sensing my bewilderment, Sister Rochelle – who doubles as praise leader and First Lady of Shack Church – interrupted the service to explain why certain among us were so giddy with zeal.

“We read from Job 14 today at another sister’s house. In that scripture it talks about the renewing of a tree. How if it gets the scent of water it can come to life again,” she said. “You know, there is always hope for a tree. Whether you cut it, or even burn it, it can still have new life. And we women are JUST like trees. We go through so much in our daily lives. We are cut down in different ways. But when we get the scent of water – LIVING WATER – we are renewed again. When YOU as a woman carry the scent of Jesus’ living water, you can bring new life to a women who has been cut down and burdened! That scent of living water…

She stopped talking and they re-ignited a joyful noise.

 

Girl. WHAT?!?!?!?

So what did I do? Fixed my lips to try and form their way around those Afrikaans songs and joined them in a good, hot, sweaty praise!

Naturally, it got me to thinking: What kind of scent do I carry? Do I carry and aroma or a stench? Is the spirit that I carry one that encourages renewal of life or does it smell of death and despair? Water exists in all kinds of forms, from brackish to fjord pure. Water is a conveyor and an amplifier. If you put trash in water and let it sit, guess what happens over time? The stench gets worse. The inverse is true.

What a powerful and simple word. What scent do you carry? And are you surrounded by people who bring the fragrance of living water? How awesome would it be…

Spiritual Manifestations: My View As a Skeptical Believer

Not to alarm anyone, but we saw a demon manifest in church today. I’m hoping Marshall will agree to doing a vlog with me so that we can walk through the events as they occurred, as well as the unremarkable outcome, so stay tuned.

At the conclusion of service at Shack Church, one of the leaders of the church came forward to exhort the congregation to live a clean life. He preached from 1 Peter where Jesus instructs the faithful to be holy, “even as I am holy”. The service again was 98% in Afrikaans, so it is difficult – nay, impossible – for me to report precisely what was said. All I know is that he made a general call for prayer, and then specifically called for a young woman who was sitting silently at the back of the church to come forward for prayer.

This particular pastor/leader is very heavy handed, so much so that it behooves the individual under his spiritual administrations to drop to the floor immediately rather than risk physical injury from an open-palm blow to the forehead. I saw one androgynous teen make the right call to do so within milliseconds of standing in his prayer line. He then turned his attention to the young woman he had singled out from the congregation.

“In the name of Jesus, I speak freedom! Go! Go! GO!!”

Her body shook like 3000 volts of power had hit it. She spun around, knocked into a few other people in the prayer line and then dropped to the floor like a piece of luggage carelessly flung by a baggage handler. Once on the ground, she began to writhe and roll about as if in agony. The elder stood over her shouting for the (presumed) presence in her to “Go! Go! GO!” in the name of Jesus. This impatient command was followed with shouts of “Fire! FIRE!” at her vacillating body. A number of people with small children began to flee the church immediately, and for good reason. I recall that when I was a Christian elementary school in Ghana, one of the teachers who instructed us in social studies (which included religion) told us that if you are “not a strong Christian” a demon can jump out of the body of the person being delivered and jump into YOU.

Naturally, I began praying in tongues, calling on that memory.

According to the girl’s mother, she could go for days without eating and would sometimes imitate the ferocious growls of a lion. As she was describing the manifestation, the girl did indeed draw up her fingers into claws and began to snarl, breathing slowly and heavily. The praying continued until she lay completely still, immobile on the mildewy carpet beneath our feet.

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source: lovethispic.com

The entire ‘deliverance’ session went on for about 10-15 minutes before the heavy-handed pastor looked at this young girl and determined that she was “still not set free”. By this time, my own children had left the church and were waiting patiently in the car; Stone and Liya completely oblivious to what had taken place, Aya full of concern, and Nadjah nonchalant.

I hugged the girl after she’d been helped from the floor and whispered that she was going to be all right. Her body felt like a board. She did not respond to my gentle encouragement. Then she and her mother disappeared down the road.

So here is my struggle as a believer in the supernatural, but a skeptic as well. Some of this stuff – the forcing of people’s bodies to the ground, the blowing of wind into their ears to disorient them – I think are just theatrics. I have never ascribed to the idea that you have to fall on the floor to be considered “under the power”. However, to be fair, I have prayed with a woman from what was once Rhodesia and nearly been knocked to the floor by the Spirit. THAT came as a shock, because she didn’t even touch me. To this day, I’m sure she had some incense or wood burning that messes with your equilibrium. But do I believe in angels and demons? Absolutely! Except in real life situations like the one I experienced today.

My husband knows that the roots of my skepticism come from the death of one of my closest friends in 2002. A number of us had been called to pray for her healing while she was in the ICU. We did everything “right”. Read all the right scriptures, formed a circle around her, touched her body with anointing oil. She came off of life support a day later and died. Since then, I have held the position that God CAN heal the sick and raise the dead…He just doesn’t. Just like this girl today. He could have released that lion/demon from that girl, but for only reasons known to God, He didn’t. Marshall says that the only way a demon will come out of a possessed person is if they want to let the spirit go. They have to desire freedom.

Ehhh…

So this is where I would love to hear from you spirit-filled believers: How do we know that someone has been set free? I mean, truly set free? What is the evidence? Do they get up from the floor praising God, or are they silent? Do you have to wait a few days to see if the worrisome behavior continues, or do you get a witness in your spirit at that moment that the individual has been redeemed? And if every spirit is subject to the name of Jesus, why does it take shouting his name ten, twenty, a hundred times before that spirit submits…if it DOES submit?

Also, is it important to call the demon by its name in order to command it to go? What I did find interesting is that they kept asking the girl what her name was and she WOULD NOT answer. That gave me pause.

This is very different from what we experience in America. This is some next level stuff right here.

“We Are No Longer Praying for People to Get Jobs.” – Pastor Grant

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Bible study is every Wednesday at 6pm sharp in Kwanokuthula. At this time of year, at the time of the day, the sun has firmly set and the sky is onyx black. It doesn’t matter. A traveler would have no fear of getting lost in this sprawling township – at least not for the sake of darkness. The moon, stars, and the odd street lamp provide enough light to make out your path. If you stay the course, you will find yourself in the humble house of worship where Pastor Grant is leading the study for the evening.

Tonight, he’s teaching out of 1Kings, linking the artifacts and sacrifices in Solomon’s Temple to Christ’s body and His ultimate sacrifice. There is a mighty brass basin called The Sea in the temple where mammalian sacrifices were washed before they were offered up to the Lord. Likewise, John baptized Jesus in order to prepare His body for the cross. The atmosphere is charged. Saints are sharing and asking questions, hungry for a deeper meaning and revelation from God. Eventually, the study ends with the attendees praying for one another.

Pastor Grant has been asked by one man to pray for a job. He’s looking for work to support his family. Unemployment, especially among Black South Africans, is alarmingly high. Pastor Grant honors his requests and prays that God will provide this man with the means to support him household through gainful employment. Soon another saint makes a similar request – a woman this time. She wants the pastor to pray for her daughter to get a job. She closes her eyes, ready to receive the benediction.

 

“No,” says Pastor Grant. “I will not be praying for anyone to get a job any more.”

The woman is shocked!

He begins to explain himself, speaking deliberately. “Instead, I’m going to pray that God gives your daughter, and anyone else looking for work, insight and inspiration to start their own business. I’m going to pray that God gives you an idea and resources to start your own business. No more depending on others to give you work. YOU will employ yourself!”

Everyone in the room is stunned. This is unusual! It is customary to pray for work, and tradition to look for a praise report in a matter of weeks (or months) of evidence of God’s power by providing some job in town…most likely a menial one. Nevertheless, pastor Grant prayed the prayer and the people said “amen”.

Evidently, the word was well received. The next day, pastor Grant gave a congregant who was not at the study a lift after seeing him in town.

“I heard about what you said last night,” he said excitedly. “It’s true! We need to start our own businesses and stop looking for others to employ us.”

The pair chatted about the obstacles of entrepreneurship and how they can be overcome with practical measures. The first step is in understanding your business environment.

Plettenberg Bay and Knysna are the two cities that feed the surrounding townships. Neither is a large city by any stretch of the imagination. Yet the ANC sends bus loads of people from the Eastern Cape to this area with the promise that those who have relocated will find jobs. The gullible and hopeful transplants arrive, construct shacks and live in abject squalor while waiting for the afore-promised jobs that only come sporadically. Both Plett and Knysa are beach towns, inhabited by retirees the majority of the year and by tourists who holiday on the coast during the summer season. Any jobs will invariably be in the service industry, cleaning houses for the seasonal visitors or working as restaurant staff to manage the influx at peak season. This is not long-term guaranteed work. Restaurants bloom and shutter in Plett all the time, and it is devastating to have ones fortune tied exclusively to a company ALSO so heavily dependent on tourists’ rand without some sort of back up.

Kwanokuthula is the hood, but like any hood anywhere in the world, there is wealth flowing through it. Asians and Arabs know this, which is why they set up liquor stores and hair shops in ghettos all across America; a risky venture on its face, but with high returns in the long term. In South Africa, the Somalis act as the Arab/Asian counterpart, conveniently providing goods in the townships in container stores. This isn’t something Black South Africans can’t do for themselves. The challenge is in changing the mindset into something that they should do for themselves and then set about unraveling the hows. God has given each of us a measure of rule, and inherent in that rule is the ability to sustain oneself with the earth’s resources. Your job will never meet all of your needs. God, not money, is our supply.