Monday, August 27, 2012

Okay, So Miracles Happen

I'm always praying for miracles. Sometimes I forget that they actually happen. Wake-up call time.

Warning: this gets a bit crazy, so if you are allergic to spiritual warfare, you've been warned.

There is a 7-year-old boy who is a regular at the cafe. He and his cousins and his siblings make up one of the core groups that we work with. For the past few months, he has continually gotten into fights, screamed at people, broken stuff and even hit me on occasion. He and his cousin throw rocks at us, the windows, and pretty much do anything they can to express their anger at us. We have had some truly spectacular battles of will from time to time. His sister told us that he has anger management problems.

We (and God only knows how many others) started praying for him and his cousin. They started coming to the church services, but this boy would vigorously argue with everything we would say during the sermon or service. When we would pray, his eyes would roll into his head and he'd go nuts or wouldn't even be able to hear us or recognize that we were speaking.

We would say, "Jesus is God."
"No he isn't!"
"God loves you."
"No he doesn't!"
Et cetera.

Long story short, this boy doesn't have anger management problems; this boy has a demon that has anger management problems. After we identified this, and we started telling the evil spirit to shut up during church, he could hear some of what we were saying and some of it took root. Of course, then it started making him lie down in the middle of the road after we'd have an episode in the cafe, or some such stunt. He still would come to church, but for about a month, he even stopped that. We all have still been praying.

Christina had a few dramatic encounters with him where she told him that she would never hit him back and that God loved him and so did she. At one point, he sat and cried with her on the curb for about 20 minutes. After that, he would act up, but not with the same virulent hatred that he had before, and he stopped arguing with every single thing. God gave me a dream during which I and several others did deliverance ministry with him.

I went to Uganda. While in Uganda, he and his cousin were on my heart pretty much 24/7 the entire time, so I kept praying for them, along with many others. First day I came back, he saw me and ran up and gave me a huge hug and said "I missed you!" It was really sweet. Five minutes later, he hit me really hard on the back as he walked out the door. Pretty sure he had no conscious knowledge of doing it, since he didn't look back to see if I'd do anything.

Today, we had Bible study class. Christina was going through the Jesus comic book with some of the kids, but this little boy wasn't really interested, so I asked him if he wanted to do a story with me. We sat in the corner and I started to tell him the story. He looks at my Bible and says, "That word isn't in there!" He's 7. I didn't know he could read. So I read him, word for word, three stories. Then he flipped around and picked a story and read 3 stories to me, cuddled up next to me. He was really into it. I just sat there saying, "Uhhhhhh....okay."

When we finished, he picked up my Bible and said, "I'm taking this with me." I swapped him for a slightly easier to read translation of the New Testament, which he hugged and took with him, proudly telling his sister that "Pastor Hannah had given him his very own book called New Testament that he could read." And then proceeded to give me a mangling koala bear hug all the way to the door.

God is so, so, so good. He still has work to do in this little boy, but...holy freaking cow!!! YAY Jesus!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Foosball and Forgiveness

The kids in the Cafe lately have been trying to make me angry this week. Really. They admit it -- basically, they said the don't understand why I don't yell like other adults do.

I was feeling pretty good about being the model of Christian self-control after all this. Until yesterday. That's when I challenged Hannah to a rematch of foosball.

Hannah is good at foosball. Quite good. I'm OK, and I wanted to see if I'd gotten much better. After the score was 8-1, I realized I hadn't gotten as good as I would have liked. And I was getting frustrated because I like to win.

I stopped the game to ask for some tips on strategy and spent an inconsiderately long time asking for details on how to position my goalie and two defense guys. Meanwhile, the kids were beginning to roll their eyes because they wanted to play. When Hannah finally pointed out, "Hey, these guys are waiting to play," I got even more frustrated and said, "You guys go ahead and play" and began to walk away from the game.

Not my finest moment. Hannah called after me, "Hey, we're not done with the game." So, even more embarrassed, I came back, halfheartedly played until she scored two more goals, and scurried away.

One of our kids, sensing unease, said, "Are you and Pastor Hannah not friends anymore?" I had to smile and said, "We're still friends. I was just being immature and walking away from a game that I needed to finish."

Hannah at that point tried to apologize to me, but I was so angry with myself for not being Super Priest (see opening paragraph of this post) that I kind of muttered something and hid in the back for a few minutes to pray and get my head together. While talking to God, I knew that I needed to apologize for being childish. To Hannah. In front of all of the kids.

So, I did. Walked out front, apologized, asked for forgiveness and received it.

The whole thing, in retrospect, seems foolish. But as I've reflected on it, I believe God uses things exactly like this.

The kids do need adults who won't yell at them. Sometimes, by God's grace, I can be that.

What they need more desperately is adults who screw up, admit their fault, and ask to be forgiven. They need to see grace practiced. That's actually harder for me.

Hopefully, with God's help, I'll grow more and more into being that kind of priest.