Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Hello all,
I am determined to make this a bit more succinct so it doesn't take you hours to read, or a few boring moments of scanning. These last two days, the whole staff here at the Warehouse has been participating in a conference of sorts, or a training on "Living Freely", taught by two evangelical guys from the US. The cool part of it all is that it is taking place in Khayelitsha, one of the larger townships (but now as of the conference, will be called the eastern suburbs), and worship and everything around the talks is done by the community leaders. Thus the singing and prayers at the beginning and end are full of spirit, life, and dancing. As to the talks, I wonder how most of you would take all that I have heard in these last few days, and I wish I had somebody here with me to debrief it all with because it has at times been quite overwhelming, and I am kind of the lone person not swallowing it whole and not believing that everything done is directly from God (though I do admit I could be wrong). Some quick stories, thoughts, critiques:

-the first day was a lot about "casting the demons away" with authority :-) Quote of this section, "90% of children's books are witchcraft and we must repent and keep our children from it. (to amens)" I kept thinking that I agree that there are a few books and certainly video games that have a negative influence but to say there was that many that are "witchcraft," including the likes of Harry Potter, just makes me laugh. Can we not have imagination and fantastical creatures? Is that really a sin?

-The speaker has an extremely powerful witness, of realizing his own total brokenness and transforming a church community to really believe in God's power here in each of us-- and in the power of prayer. When he started doing some of his more controversial things (casting out demons, believing people could be healed, emphasizing being saved, using prophetic prayer, etc) he lost more than half of 2000 members of his church community and was called crazy. But now, years later, his community is EXTREMELY dynamic and is made up mainly of old gang members and drug adicts and the people one would least expect in church these days-- and really has, according to many, transformed the life there and made people believe in God's healing power. The things that I find moving about the community (because many things I am critical of): recognizing that each of us is broken and needs healing, in many different forms; stress on encouraging individuals and letting them know that no matter what, they have a number of gifts that are with them and will be with them always; letting people know that Christianity is not simply a title but also a way of life and calls each of us to get out of our comfort zones and spend time visiting prisons and broken communities (which is pretty much every community or lack thereof), give up our idols of wealth and whatever else, and believe in the power of prayer...

other things that bothered me:
- "saving souls of africa" and "bringing Jesus to the townships" type stuff. As you have all heard from many of my stories, maybe they could learn more about Jesus by spending time with the people in Sweethome, many of whom already have the most incredible faiths...but we from America think we know what they "need" before we actually listen.

-Economics of God can cause problems here... preaching that believing will allow funding and things to appear can be dangerous-- though it often does happen-- because it can put the poorest into the position of believing some sin or unbelief is their reason for being in the position they are.

-"prophetic" prayer is very moving and miraculous, but I have a hard time with it. For instance, one persono went to the front and they began to pray. They said, "you have five underlying gifts. They are... You have two strongholds of sin blocking you. They are... Let us pray and repent." It allows a few people to say that God speaks to them in less than a moment's time and tells them about others and about "generational sin" and what each of us needs to repent of. Again, I have a hard time with it because it doesn't give time for others to listen and to pray in their own ways. Yesterday was all about emphasizing repentance, and was moving in the way that it recognized our need to admit our brokenness and realize God's forgiveness and new life in us, but was very "your sin is..." type stuff. And people followed right along.

-battle for the Lord language. Lots on spiritual warfare, "take back ground from the enemy", "soldiers killing all in our way" and the likes of that. Somewhat disturbing to me...

Needless to say, it has been interesting from my perspective, especially as I have tried to be open-minded and l think about how it applies to my own life. I love some of the themes and the idea of taking faith seriously, but the ways are not quite my cup of tea. Though I am getting in some fun debates and learning that there are ways that I need to open up some to my own brokenness and the likes...

-Yesterday, I got to speak for quite a while to a preacher that is participating in all of this and lives and works in Gugulethu (another township). He started leading a gang from the time he was 12 until he was shot at 17. At that point, he was sent to live with his father and was strongly influenced by his step mother to embrace the Christianity that his grandmother had taught him as a small child, and that he had seen as he followed one of the community leaders (also a former gang leader) to preach in the trains every day. As he healed from his gun wound (in the back), he began to be transformed, and has now returned to his own community to preach God's love...and he is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, so it was great to hear his story and be motivated by a faith that is very real and alive.

Anyway, tomorrow I move into Khayelitsha with a group of five guys my age, all of whom are big soccer players! It will be nice to live with an active group of people (instead of a middle-aged couple, though they are great). Ah, this is longer than it should be. I tried to separate for scanning, and I am determined to get better :-) This conference thing is almost over and then I get to return to be with people of true community...

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