(My beloved friend, Pastor Gary Kapinga, with his wife, Jean, and children)
"Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people." Proverbs 14:34
It was September 2001, just ten days after the attack by terrorists on our country. My parents had previously planned a trip for four Congolese staff members of Laban Ministries International (LMI) to visit the United States. These members included a husband and wife and two other men--the national director of Laban Ministries International (my parents' mission organization in Congo) and a professor of Laban Bible Institute who was fluent in English. These four had been looking forward to visiting America, whom they all viewed as heaven on earth. My parents and the team made a tour of the churches that supported the work of LMI in Congo. This was to give the ministry's faithful supporters a chance to meet those to whom their support directly affected.
I remember how shocked and numbed most of us were at the realization of America's vulnerability that September. I, like so many citizens of my beloved country, had thought that our position as a super power could never be shaken. A deep grief like one has after something precious had been taken away pervaded the general mood that fall. Churches were full that had sat mostly empty before that vicious attack under the azure blue sky in Manhatten earlier that month.
Laban's national director, Pastor Gary Kapinga, had an amazing presence as he stood before wealthy Americans. Although he would never be considered a materially wealthy individual, he was totally unfazed or intimidated by those in the audience who had so much more than he ever will on this earth. All Gary knew to do was say what the Holy Spirit had directed him to say. He spoke with authority that came from boldly declaring what God had laid on his heart, the power of his piercing words unaffected by the fact that he spoke through a translator:
"I know that many of you are in mourning today over what has happened to your country. That is good. Don't forget this feeling that you have in your hearts right now. I stand before you today to tell you that the reason why your country is the greatest and best nation on earth is not because of you at all. (Here is where I nervously shifted in my seat!) You are all recipients of the blessing of forefathers who chose to found this nation on the Word of God. Much prayer went into your laws. Jesus Christ was exalted and looked to for wisdom in those decisions made long ago. The result of those decisions and sacrifices are your way of life.
My country of Congo, on the other hand, has been steeped in witchcraft and demonism for centuries. Congo's fathers have consulted the occult for guidance. The result is that my people are starving to death, literally and spiritually. I stand before you today to warn you. Do not think that a nation who turns its back on the living God will not suffer the same fate as Congo.
It was at that point that I thought someone would angrily walk out or tell Gary to sit down. No one did. There was a holy hush about the room, the kind of quiet that occurs when one realizes how narrowly one has just avoided a catastrophe. No one said a word, but I could see the acceptance of Gary's words by the crowd.
I have lived in the country of Congo on the same mission station as Gary Kapinga. My childish eyes took in far more than any child psychologist would say was healthy. The haunting face of hunger came to our door daily with pleas for a piece of bread. I went with my father to villages in which those who could not tell their right hand from their left (children) had been wiped out by a ferocious measles epidemic. Who in America dies of measles anymore? Or the flu, strep throat, or malaria? The majority of us Americans have health care in a local hospital emergency room accessible to us. Yet, in our area alone, over 200,000 adults--not including the six to ten children in the average family--have a two and a half day walk to the nearest hospital.
Let me tell you what a nation who does not seek out to be ruled by the living God looks like. I lived under its stifling grip. That misguided "wisdom" causes complete and utter chaos, from the top down. While I lived there, an apathetic dictator lined his pockets with the money that poured into his country rather than letting it get to his people to make their lives better. There were no jobs. The average family makes $100 a year in buying power. Mothers die from babies dying in their wombs because they do not have access to a surgeon who can perform a C-section on them.
Despair is rampant because of the lack of necessities. Daddies and mommies have to listen to their children crying at night because their little tummies have not been fed for, sometimes, days. Children walk around with bloated bellies and stick-thin arms and legs due to malnutrition and worms. Boils and sores fester and become infected with no antibiotic cream to put on them. It takes nine hours to go sixty miles. And always, always, always, resources are impossibly inadequate to even try to cover the gaping, overwhelming needs. Food, clothing, and education are continually in short supply, so the vicious, horrible cycle repeats itself from one generation to the next.
My beloved Americans! We cannot be so arrogant as to think this could not happen to us! We are a nation who has turned its back on the One we sought two hundred and thirty years ago. If we need any evidence that our God will not judge us for our actions, we need only to read the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel to know that God cannot be loving and not be just. He allowed His chosen people, Israel, to suffer some of the worst atrocities ever known to human beings. He had warned them over and over again, pleading like a spurned husband, for them to return to Him. They didn't. And they were forced to leave their beautiful homeland for the cruelty of Assyria and Babylon.
I cannot believe the moral deterioration that has happened in my lifetime of forty years. I cannot let my children take their bikes like I used to do and ride off out of my sight. I now have to worry about who might be sitting in a parked car to take them away to do vile things before they ultimately kill them. I can't let my young children watch even the commercials on prime time television which portray values diametrically opposed to those values I am praying over them daily to embrace. I feel like just getting rid of that black cathode ray tube that robs us as a family of time to talk, play games, and actually know each other before our children leave the nest. My girls are getting messages from programs aimed at their age group that they must look a certain way, which is dangerously thin and unhealthy, to be worthy. Since when did our waistlines make us worthy??? Isn't Jesus in me the only reason why I am worthy? My son will have a vicious fight on his hands to make a covenant with his eyes not to look lustfully on a member of the opposite sex. Even if he wants to, how can he when walking down a mall corridor lets him see more skin than his imagination needs to lead to lustful thinking?
Do we want revival? What is revival anyway? Revival is breathing life into what was once living but is now dead or dying. Revival begins with us, those who have made Jesus Christ our Savior. But let me ask us a question? Is Savior all that all He is to us? Is He Lord of our lives? Or do we just give Him bits and pieces? Can He have control of all of us--especially what we do, think, and say behind closed doors? Do our kids know He's real or is He just someone we talk about on Sundays and not mention again through the week?
HOW BIG IS OUR CHRIST TO US?????
This is not going to be the most popular post, I know. I fear those of you who do not know me personally will not hear my heart and write me off. There is tremendous hope for my generation. My God is still merciful. The patriarch, Abraham, was told by God that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, a wicked, wicked city, before He did it. Abraham had a nephew who lived in that city. Immediately, Abraham started to beg God to be merciful on account of the righteous that might live there. This is Abraham's dialogue with God Himself in the book of Genesis 18:
22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
26 The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
27 Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?"
"If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."
29 Once again he spoke to him, "What if only forty are found there?"
He said, "For the sake of forty, I will not do it."
30 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?"
He answered, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."
31 Abraham said, "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?"
He said, "For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it."
32 Then he said, "May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?"
He answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it."
33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.
For ten righteous people, God would have spared the city. Are we willing to be part of the righteous number for our country? This upcoming election we must vote our conscience and nothing else. God will take care of our economy and our desire for peace if He has our hearts.
Jesus, help us to be a people who turns to the living God for guidance. We must individually make a critical choice: are we going to serve You or not? Convict us to the core of our beings what needs to happen in our own lives to save true freedom for our children. Help us to choose life!
"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." Deuteronomy 30:15-20