So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Straight from the Horse's Mouth...

I've often had heated 'discussions' with people about the state of Christendom in other areas of the world. When I was operating in the ACOP and PAOC circles (for around a decade), I'd often hear about revival happening here and there, often accompanied by videos of some fantastic church service with hundreds of people singing and dancing and whatnot (and that one claim where there were "over 100 resurrections" at some revival service...sheesh!). I've sat in services, prayer breakfasts, Sunday School classes and whatnot and heard tale after tale of what's going on overseas. Adding up all the tales I've heard from the last 15 or so years, every country in the world except Canada and the US has been experiencing 'tremendous revival'.

Funny thing is, the stories that I'm often told don't correspond to the first hand accounts that I get from all my missionary friends whom are overseas and I know have their heads screwed on straight. I have missionary friends in so many countries, I've almost lost count (Uganda, Kenya, Rawanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Spain, France, Korea, Japan, China, India, etc...oh and I CANNOT forget El Salvador!). This morning, I got an e-mail from a close buddy who's teaching in a Bible College in Uganda. He wrote this:

" Dear Armchair Theologian,

So good to hear what's going on in your life. I sympathize with your frustrations. One of the challenges of being here in Africa is that short-termers come over and seem to figure that the land is in revival because it seems like everyone is "born again" (overused lingo that I'm getting really sick of), and they worship so passionately, and they are so loving, and blah, blah, blah. Yet we who live here know that what Americans call "revival" is actually nothing more than a lot of screaming and shouting. Nowhere is more obvious that weak preachers supplement weak content by screaming louder than here in Uganda. The Christianity here is what I call superficial. It's pure religion. Luther was right--people are naturally religious, and though they might appear to be truly Christian, they are probably just religious--among the many in the world trying to earn their salvation. Anyway, those are some of the frustrations I'm finding here... (and the e-mail continues talking about specific problems and whatnot, which I don't need to necessarily share...)"

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that there isn't revival going on and I'm not aiming to discourage everyone. I'm just being realistic and saying that things are the same overseas as they are here. I find that the whole 'revival is happening' everywhere is often an excuse to get excited about (insert country name) and get distracted from reading the word, obeying the word, teaching the word, and waging war against the sin in your heart, which are the real starting points of revival. I'd place 'covetting of revival' in the camp of spiritual adultery; the grass is always greener on the other side of Jesus' fence. It's real easy to wish upon a star and say "I wish that Christ was doing THAT here in my church"; but it's a totally different story to renovate the heart and become a personal catylyst of revival here. We DEFINITELY should embrace global evangelism and discipleship, but we should never allow ourselves to hijack such a 'righteous desire' to use it as a distraction from seeking personal holiness. All I'm saying is that I've met my fair share of parents who neglected their families because they were off at church, 'praying for that awesome revival in Uganda'.

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian


Blogger Markio said...

I can testify to that. It is much the same in many of the churches here. The most moving and happening church here is the one that I would like to pull everyone out of. It is a lot of hype. There is legitimate stuff at times but even as a charasmatic, I know the difference. One of our pastors is a "pusherman" (for charasmatics this is someone who pushes people over when praying for them).

I love the exuberance of the worship but at times it lacks depth and seriousness. It is very directed so when you see everyone dancing, it is very often because someone told them to do it.

As for evangelism, a lot of people get "saved" so many times in their life it is silly. I heard stories from africa of the same crowd of thousands getting saved in the same place every week. When you come in for a week, you are encouraged by movement and action. When you live here, you are discouraged by the lack of fundamental change in people's lives. This change happens in a few and that is where I see the real growth of the church happening.

I think that for people of the west, something trumps the nothing that we are used to.

9:44 AM


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