poitu varam

THE CHRONICLES OF A FLEDGLING MISSIONARY CALLED JOLLYBEGGAR "i still gaze fondly at all of the pictures, drink ginger beer, bunch my food, listen to punjabi dj tunes, play my dholki, wear my sarong (around the house only because in canada it is still really uncommon for a man to wear a wraparound skirt in public) and speak way too much of the differences between east and west..."

Sunday, August 14, 2005

we need more cowbell!

august 14: day 5: sunday (part 1)

i went for a run at 6:30 a.m. i ran down this street for two or three kilometres and then turned around. the temperature was already over 30 and the humidity was already about 98% so this 6k run was really good for the dehydration!

running past a church, i was touched by the sound of worship singing being pumped through loud speakers into the neighbourhood.

you are not alone.
behold i am with you always- even to the ends of the earth.

sitting on a cornflake waiting for the van to come...
we ate breakfast and then waited for our van which arrived an hour and a half late. a few in our party were a bit uptight about that... our western time thing gets a bit sickening, especially when it happens here... it's like finding beer cans floating in the water on a fishing trip up north where you thought you were far enough from 'civilization' that you had escaped it... whatever, nevermind.

lazarus' kids give us some perspective as to the size of the room...
arriving at the church an hour and a half late, we were pleased to discover that they were only a half hour into it, having begun an hour later than planned. the room is only 10'X40', yet there were about forty people crammed into this space- singing so loudly that you could hear it down on the street. in the worship singing you could just make out the name of Jesus in the chorus of one of the songs.

recalling 1 cor 14.24-25, i wept.

speaking with interpreters was grand. one (ben) did the initial translation in tamil, then the other (pastor mohamed, a three-wheel taxi-driver/ordained minister of house churches) translated to sinhala... it took a bit to become familiar with the general cadence of the handoffs, but it was really fun to hear them take a seven-word sentence and turn it into seven ten-word sentences.

so all i could think of was: 'what do these guys need me for?'
this answer for my heart: 'they don't, but you've been invited to participate with them.'

afterward, we sang and then prayed over those with needs. three were to be baptized later, so they gave their testimonies and we prayed over them. four more came forward because they were starting a bible study in their home so we prayed over them.

unlike so many of our western churches where the pastor stands at the door and shakes hands or whatever with the parishoners as they head off to their favourite restaurant, the people of the sri lankan churches come to be prayed over and blessed by the pastor before heading into the coming week.

so as per the custom, prayer time began...

this girl began to moan in what sounded like a sexual manner during prayer. she complained of deep stomach pain, and through 'due spiritual process' it was discovered that she had eaten some 'charmed food.' (sloppy english paraphrase...)

you must leave.
she took me in willingly.
how did she do this?
i came with the food.
well you must leave.
i don't want to leave. i like it here.
in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of his blood, i'm telling you to leave.

so while i prayed over this sweet little old lady in a gold sari, ben and lazarus were praying for and wrestling with this girl... all the time holding a bucket under her face while she vomitted loudly. a little distracting.

thing was, this wasn't some cheesey, hollywood pea-soup-spitting, head spinning, voice from the crypt blaspheming scare-em all thing. it was just a simple person who needed the power of Jesus' blood to set her captive soul free.

amazing thing: the people in the room were not particularly thrown by this- it's church in the fast lane... expreme sports spirituality.
another amazing thing: i shared this story with a friend of mine back in canada, upon returning to the west. he replied "yeah, and isn't it sad that these people actually believe that this is really happening?"

i looked back at him and blinked. i said 'pardon?'

he said 'well, you know, they get sick and they immediately spiritualize it because they don't have the education of the medication to deal with it.'

i said 'i think it's sad that we don't believe it's happening.'

this is a war zone. there is no grey- the contrast is turned up to maximum and this army of God does battle with the armies of the snake (both hindu and buddhist) that occupy this land for the souls of the living and the dead.

in the west, we have become opiated to the point of denying the existence of resident evil. in the americas, our 'intellectual freedom' and our material affluence provide so much spiritual static that we no longer see any picture at all...

"we need more cowbell!"... great moments in missing the point.

o to be free to hear the voice of God amidst the static of the west once the roar of the surf and the afterglow of the worship have subsided.


  • At 10/07/2005, Blogger jollybeggar said…

    "...he said 'well, you know, they get sick and they immediately spiritualize it because they don't have the education of the medication to deal with it.'

    i said 'i think it's sad that we don't believe it's happening.'"

    on october 5 i viewed the powerful and thought-provoking film 'the exorcism of emily rose.' although the spiritual warfare that i was involved in in sri lanka did not take on the extreme violence and sheer horror that is depicted in this film, it was nonetheless as real.

    it's interesting how certain experiences will allow one to recognize similar colours in other experiences. the whole courtroom debate between the normal and the paranormal, between scientific discounting and spiritual accounting is probably taking place somewhere at any given moment.

    the line between the real and the surreal is finer than you think.

    (i know, pretty lame putting lengthy comments on one's own blog... think of it as contextual footnoting.)

  • At 3/21/2007, Blogger Cinder said…

    "he said 'well, you know, they get sick and they immediately spiritualize it because they don't have the education of the medication to deal with it.'

    i said 'i think it's sad that we don't believe it's happening.'"

    i was just getting ready to sign off, 'cause i didn't seem to be in a good spot to be reading. then i got to this post...it's weird how your current situations will color your reading. i've read this before, but what i'm taking away today is new.

    maybe it's also got to do with what i experience with the people. i was humbled by their faith and belief that He would heal them. they just knew that He would and He did.

    i think it's sad that our culture is at a place where they completely rely on the education of medication and not more on the education of His healing. then there are those experiences where you no longer believe in the education of medication and you also can't see the education of His healing...then it's a real pickle.


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