A-Z: Joined in Suffering

J in the A-Z challenge, and this wasn’t in the original plan either, but I went this morning to meet with some ladies from church.  Our church is having a week of prayer for some missionaries we support in Ghana, so our missions person invited us all to her house to tell us more about them.  As I listened, I was reminded of this verse:  “You know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” – 1 Peter 5:9.

Let me explain what I mean.  The pastor of a church in one village had ‘Character issues’, hadn’t grown much in these areas over the years and people were leaving the church because of him.  I could identify with this.  What happens when a new minister arrives in a church and you struggle to come under his authority – maybe because of character issues, as in this case, or maybe in his sermons he says things you really disagree with?  Well, leadership and coming under the authority of a pastor are very important; but here, there are plenty of churches we can join.  If we leave one, yes – it’s a huge step, but we can find our home in another.  If I’d had problems with a pastor in Ghana, where there wasn’t a church for miles, would I have kept meeting with other Christians, or would I have left like so many?  I’m sad to say, probably the latter.

The culture in Ghana is contrary to the Christian faith when it comes to marriage.  We would say one man, one woman; but according to them, the more wives you have, the higher your status, so Christians really have to go against the grain.  The problem is that, as Jesus pointed out in the Bible, there are some who start off well but have no root, and are in danger of falling away.  When the leader of a church takes a second wife without divorcing his first, that’s a serious situation, where someone needs to put some discipline in place, but although the problem seems huge, don’t we have a similar thing here?  If you’ve got a leader of a thriving church, he’s busy with the running of it, and what’s first to come under attack?  His family time.  We really need to pray for those in any kind of ministry and support them in their marriages.

Another example:  The people we were praying for follow a mixture of Islam and magic, so if they become Christians and some tragedy happens, they turn back to the magic powers they’ve been brought up with for protection.  Aren’t so many of us like that though?  We become Christians and later have to admit to ourselves that we’ve looked to things or people other than God for security, and I think magic is an increasing problem here too.  I was shocked when one of my friends made her weekly visit to an elderly people’s home, to find the talk scheduled for that afternoon was by a medium.  My friend’s a Catholic and felt quite uncomfortable.  It’s disturbing to think these elderly people, some possibly ill and vulnerable, are being so exposed to the occult.

So, if you’d like to pray for any nation this week, think of those 3 things:  Pray for leaders, pray for their personal lives, and pray (as one of our ladies said) that people will rely not on magic powers, but on the power of the living God.

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