We have friends who are missionaries in Chile, and they sent us a documentary about pastors in Nigeria about the “God game” they play. There is a get rich scheme if your title can become Pastor, and many will open a church with this ambition. This is not a surprise to us, but what is a surprise is that we have become victims to the game. If I cared what others think of me, or perceived me as, then I would be embarrassed by it all. I don’t, and I’m not. I’m authentic. What you see is what you get, and I’m forever on the hunt to understand more. The process of learning is making mistakes and overcoming failures. The debris on the path in the journey will always be there, but it doesn’t make me stop or turn back. I just climb over it, and get up when I fall. In doing God’s work we must carry on, because it’s not about me.
When I was on the plane traveling to Uganda in October I sat next to an interesting woman. She works with the governments of Africa to establish fair trade of the natural resources, like diamonds and gold. She lived in Namibia with her young family while she did her research for her PhD. I knew while I sat on that plane there were problems with Kirabo Seed’s partnership in Uganda, because of Another Life’s refusal to provide clear and complete receipts for all the work we gave them. It didn’t add up and I was on my way there to get to the bottom of it or end it. In the air on my way to Uganda I had no idea how bad it really was, but I was determined to understand all of it.
First I thanked God for sitting me next to someone who could understand what I was doing. Then I asked her for advice. She told me to listen carefully and decide slowly, then get everything in legal writing. That’s really good advice. I shared with her that it was a sensitive issue because we are working within Christian principles so I hesitated to pull in lawyers and write formal contracts. She told me something I’ll never forget. “I am not a religious person, so I can’t speak to that exactly, but, I will tell you what I know about the church and its role in Africa. The church on this continent holds a high position of social power, unlike anything you will experience in the U.S. Being a pastor there doesn’t always mean the same thing it does in America. “ Hmmm… I knew this, but had I allowed myself to apply this truth to my own situation? Not fully, because I was so focused on caring for the children that I would tolerate an awkward partnership. But it was time I stood back and considered it with extreme alertness and caution.
Did I ever see him with his bible open? No.
Did he use bible verses when he spoke? No.
Were the prayers I heard him speak all about what we can get from God? Yes.
What I couldn’t get out of my mind was his testimony. When we had dinner in June, the night before Craig flew home, I asked Adams to tell us his story. The main point was not how he recognized his sin in the face of God’s perfection, asked forgiveness, repented and sought a path under the sovereign leadership of Jesus, but it was all about how someone rich recognized a talent in him and gave him a lot of money so he could become a pastor. That was the turning point event in his life.
It turns out he was after the money, using us, and believing he would never get caught. I’m sorry but if I know anything about God Almighty, He will shine light in the dark corners, and if you are scheming in the dark, the light will find you. I was just a player in God’s plan to direct the light.
Partnership is over. So here we are back to zero. We have the good intentions to help orphans in Uganda, and so we wait on the Lord. His timing is perfect, and he will open new doors for us to step through and do His work. This is why I experience joy in these difficult circumstances, and why there is a peace that flows through me whether I laugh or cry, work or wait, go alone or in a crowd. He is my guide. This is His project, His work, His children.
Not all Pastors in Africa are self promoting and greedy. How can we know the difference? I only have a simple answer and it works for me. I open my bible every morning, I read it carefully with all my heart mind and soul. I sit still and I ask the Holy Spirit to help me understand and give me wisdom to be able to apply what I read in my daily circumstances. I have one main prayer I have prayed since I became a Christian, “please God show me your will for my life, and help me want what you want for me.” I mostly avoid asking for things. I focus more on seeking guidance with what He has already put in my hands. He is faithful to do that. But I have to want to dive in to the scriptures and know them, hide them in my heart. I understand I can’t know the bible by reading it once. It’s not a regular book. I’ve been reading it faithfully for twenty years, and I hardly know it at all. Every verse becomes new every day. Without devoted reading I can never have discernment for false teachers. And when I am blinded, as we were because we were so intent on helping the children that we didn’t carefully investigate the partner’s integrity, well, we learn from the mistake and do it better in the next step. We are eagerly anticipating our next step.
So here is the video, I’m curious to know your reaction to it.