Monday, October 22, 2007

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (2nd of 4)

BENIN: Praying for the Aja People (2nd of 4)
Praying for the Believers in Benin and among the Aja People

Last night I was home with my two two-year-olds which permits little productive work other than enjoying wrestling with them and doing a little laundry (I was trying to be super-Dad and let them share in this character-building chore with me…big mistake. Reminder to self: toddlers can’t fold and only make a mess of what you’ve already folded).

The television was on because I had just caught the end of the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the Vikings. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, one of the kids had grabbed the remote and we ended up on the new CW station. They were airing the new show called “Aliens in America”. The language of the first few scenes took me aback but the storyline was intriguing enough that I stayed with it awhile. (oh, sorry CW, I doubt I will make it a staple source of what little TV I watch nowadays). This site shares this synopsis, “Aliens in America follows a teenage boy named Justin Tolchuk as he tries to make it through high school in Medora, Wisconsin. His mother signs up for the international exchange student program, thinking that an athletic and brilliant Nordic teen would shed some instant “coolness” on her son. However, her plan backfires as she discovers that her exchange student is a Pakistani Muslim named Raja Musharaff. Despite the cultural differences, Justin and Raja develop an unusual friendship that might just allow them to get through high school’s social nightmares.”

The stereotypical nature perhaps regretfully displays many American’s view toward people of other cultures. Of course in this first episode perpetuating their ignorance by whispering that Raja could be a terrorist in their midst, or during his introduction at school, the class teacher actually surveys the class, asking how many people are angry at Raja because his people blew up the buildings on 9/11. Obviously the insinuation is hideously naive, but the stupidity of the American mindset is disappointedly laughable. Then the teacher perpetuates her lack of awareness of the rest of the world by saying that Raja would be able to teach them about “Muslimism” (for any of you equally unaware, she should have said “Islam”).

So in the midst of Raja’s budding friendship with Justin, this American secular teen is slowly introduced to Raja’s world, which includes this Muslim’s daily prayers. In this scene, Raja introduces Justin to the god to which he prays when he is wrestling with the stress of life. Raja’s spirituality is strikingly more sophisticated compared to Justin’s response to stress, “usually I just eat a brownie or buy a CD.”

OK, enough about American TV reviews. I was simply struck by this characterization of the average American when it comes to facing the challenges of life. Eat some comfort food and acquire some new merchandise. It wasn’t long before I found myself wrestling with my own prayer life, especially regarding intercession for the nations of the world, so geographically and mentally distant from most of us in America. If we are a part of the family of God worldwide, this should NEVER be the case with us.

This is the 2nd in a series (see the first here), hoping to direct our thoughts toward an area of the world important to me and my family. Having lived in West Africa (Benin) for almost 10 years, I came to establish some of my favorite friendships among the believers among the Aja people. They are human like you and me, making their share of mistakes and learning how to enjoy the fullness of God on their journey of faith. But I might step out on the edge and suggest that our brothers in sisters in Africa struggle in their faith at an entirely different level when it comes to persecution, oppression, and in battle with the spiritual forces of evil. Every culture has its gods, its demons, its idols and its forces that wreak havoc on the maturing Christian hoping to live victoriously each day. But I plead with you this week to remember your brothers and sisters of faith in West Africa.

Pray for the believers in these ways:
- that in spite of their poverty, they will find God’s daily bread to be sufficient provision and abundant living (pray, too, that those Christian families suffering through poverty because of their Christian choices will find the generosity of God and His people worldwide),
- that in spite of oppression and rejection from their immediate families, they will remain faithful to the family of God and the integrity of God’s people; while at the same time not distancing themselves so much from their pagan relatives that they might miss opportunities to be witnesses of faith
- that the seeds of jealously sown into the lives from earliest days will die out among the lives of believers (in the years I served there, I can say that jealousy was a daily demon to wrestle with within the church)
- that believers will know well the victory of today as well as the hope for eternal rejoicing
- that believers might find in one another true godly friendship and marital relationships (that believers would find encouragement, accountability and sharpening strength from other Christian friends and spouses)
- that believers might find strength in God, to stand in the face of the enemy and to gird themselves for the war of souls facing not only this generation but the ones to come
- that believers would commit themselves to multiplying and advancing the Kingdom of God into areas unknown or unavailable to western Christianity.

While many Americans may have little response to the challenges of life other than eating and shopping, may American believers share through prayer the challenges facing our family in Africa. Next week, I will continue this prayer focus, encouraging us to pray that the barriers to Christianity would fall in the face of God’s great power.



Kendra said...

thanks for the reminders to pray, and for good specifics about what to pray. Love those people, and am privelidged to pray for them . .

Brooks Inc. said...


thank you for these post and the reminders of how to pray for these people...We sure love them and you!

I look forward to the next one!