The Insanity of God

Many of you know that missions is near and dear to the hearts of my family and I. Before today, I had never seen this video, but it shows the truth of what it means to pay the price to worship and to serve Christ.

Philippians 1:21 – “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Facing a Task Unfinished

Is there any wonder as to why we STILL face an unfinished task?

There was a time when prayer accompanied the cry and call to missions throughout the evangelical church of Jesus Christ. Sadly, those days are rare any more for there is little prayer and no longer any calls to serve and deliver the gospel message.

“Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known

Paul Washer – The Great Commission

Paul hits another one out of the park with this little sermon jam. It is well worth just under 7 minutes of your time to watch this video. May we be encouraged to continue moving forward for Christ instead of staying stagnant. As Paul exhorts in this video, let us live for Christ in such a way that we will have no regrets when we die.

Sermon of the Week: “The Bible’s View on Missions – Part 5” by Akash Sant Singh

We are pleased to offer the fifth of a series of messages on biblical missions from Pastor Akash Sant Singh, pastor of Community Bible Church in Reno, Nevada. As a missionary to West Africa, this sermon has spoken to my heart and it will be a blessing to you as well.

It is important to remember that every true believer is actually called to be on a mission for the Most High Sovereign Creator of heaven and earth. May Christ be exalted through the proclamation of His word and to each listening ear.

Church description – “The Bible’s view on missions – part 5 a Sunday school message by Pastor Akash.”

The Bible’s View of Missions – Part 5

Sermon of the Week: “The Bible’s View on Missions – Part 4” by Akash Sant Singh

We are pleased to offer the fourth in a series of messages on biblical missions from Pastor Akash Sant Singh, pastor of Community Bible Church in Reno, Nevada. As a missionary to West Africa, this sermon has spoken to my heart and it will be a blessing to you as well.

It is important to remember that every true believer is actually called to be on a mission for the Most High Sovereign Creator of heaven and earth. May Christ be exalted through the proclamation of His word and to each listening ear.

Church description – “The Bible’s view on missions – part 4 a Sunday school message by Pastor Akash.”

The Bible’s View of Missions – Part 4

What Happens If……? — Part 3

The scene is all too common. Bell-ringers for the Salvation Army stand outside shopping centers and supermarkets waiting for the pots to ring with their yearly intake of funds. Standing a little further out, people dressed in poor clothing walk up and down speaking with those coming out of the stores with bags of full of goodies, and they are asking for some kind of a charitable handout.

Somewhere in the middle is the average consumer who has more than he or she deserves and feels awkward because they have been accosted once again to give of their plenty. The problem is that this middle group normally falls into two main groups – 1) Don’t care and don’t bother me, or 2) How do I know this person is for real? If I give them a couple of dollars, will they spend it on drugs or alcohol?

The first group cannot really be helped because they only care about one person in life – themselves. The second group finds adherents in the rich, the middle class, and even in those who are maybe just barely in a more fortunate position in life than the one asking for the handout. This second group normally includes Christians, some of whom have a growing desire to help those less fortunate. They are hearing pastors speak about the need to care for the widows and orphans. They hear that we are in the top 7% of the world’s population and that because we have been given so much that we therefore have the God-given responsibility to make sure much of that wealth goes to the bottom 93% in some form or another.

So, with that in mind and for maybe a short period of time, the Christian goes home with a guilty complex. He or she reads another book that espouses the need for clean water, better food, education, medical clinics and more. They do a little searching on some internet search engine, finds the one that appeals most to their own likes or their emotions, and without further ado sends monthly checks to an organization that they really know nothing about. They truly think that the money is going in its entirety to the designated need. In time, they hear that this is not the case, they become jaded in their outlook and may even become cynical. Their passion runs cool and they decide that it is not really worth trying.

Or, they find out the corruption that is found in many “charitable” organizations or the level of funds that is actually kept by the organization for “administrative purposes” and they realize that they have been just as duped as the person standing on the street corner that they had studiously ignored.

On the other hand, the pastor might hear about a particular group that appeals to their emotions or that falls in line with their own philosophies and goals of ministry. The pastor then stands before his people, preaches a message or does a series of messages on the Beatitudes and brings heavy attention to the “Blessed are the poor” passage. With a few songs, bulletin inserts, and a few tear-jerking stories and accompanying stories in a Powerpoint presentation, he manages to convince a few in the congregation that this is the way that God does missions. They then begin a small portion of their finances to a social endeavor and many times these endeavors are actually holding hands with anybody regardless of their doctrine. In the end, churches and pastors are endorsing humanitarian aid to the world’s masses and have rejected the Biblical doctrine of not working together with those who run and believe contrary to the inerrant, infallible Word of God.

Then, one day a missionary with biblical goals and principles comes to town and struggles to raise the necessary support because he doesn’t have a flashy presentation. He doesn’t have lofty goals of raising the standard of living in the country to which he has been called. Standing before each congregation, he speaks as Peter and John who said to the man who was found at the temple, “Silver and gold (or medical clinics, education systems, clean water, better food, etc. etc) have I none, but such as we do have we give to you – in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” The goal of the crippled man was no longer to receive a handout. He was seen walking and praising God. Peter did not then turn to the people and start offering a better way of life. In fact, we could probably say that he failed to win many friends and influence by some of his next words – you “killed the Prince of life…”! Notice that while he offered hope, it was prefaced by the exclamation of Who made it possible – the Lord Jesus Christ! This man is not sent on his way healed in order to give praise and continue worshiping his pagan gods.

What was the conclusion? From Acts 4, we find that the religious groups had the disciples arrested. They then are the recipients of a similar strong gospel message and come to the conclusion (in all their earthly wisdom) that these are just “unlearned and ignorant men.” However, they also noted that they had been with Jesus. They are threatened with punishment and the disciples state that they ought to obey God rather than men.

The entire history of the early church is recorded as being a concerted effort to preach the gospel, train disciples, and to look forward to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. You might ask though how this comes into play with passages like those found in James where we learn that if a man has nothing and we merely say to him, “Be warmed and filled” that we do not have a real faith that works.

I believe the Scriptures and church history shows that the church took care of her own members. Too much that is done today is outside the realms of the local church and this is part of the problem. The truth is that churches should be seeking to care for the poor, the widows, and the orphans, but the apostle James is speaking to believers. He is dealing with the problems found IN the local church setting. He is not giving a blanket statement for the church to take on the world’s issues and make sure that the world ends up with good meals and clean water.

Can churches choose to help those less fortunate in their neighborhoods through soup kitchens, or a food pantry, or clothing bins? Yes, and would not be breaking any biblical principles to do so. The problem is that when many seek to help these individuals they will make a point to tell their more zealous members NOT to bring up the name or Person of Jesus Christ unless one of the poor unfortunates asks them, and even then, they are told to keep it short and non-intrusive.

So, how do we know which ones to support? How do we know whether our churches are actually obeying the commands of Scripture in their outreach ministries toward the less fortunate of the world? I believe there should be several things to consider when choosing where to send your money.

First, is the primary objective, first and foremost, to preach the gospel and to reach the lost at any cost? Included in this objective, do their stated purposes include the planting of new churches and training pastors? If not, then I do not believe they qualify as a charity seeking to operate under the command of the Great Commission. Does this mean, for example, that medical missionaries or those seeking to provide humanitarian aid do not qualify? No, I believe providing humanitarian and medical aid is a wonderful testimony of the grace of God to a people who are in need; HOWEVER, I believe the underlying principles of the medical and humanitarian aid staff should be to reach the lost not just with medicine and supplies but with Christ. Christ should ALWAYS come first in the struggle for souls, and not just by “living the story of love” but by telling forth the message no matter what the cost.

Second, how does the group define the gospel? It is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as found in the death, burial and resurrection of the Savior. If the group does not and refuses to define what the true gospel is, the group is not worth supporting. It would be poor stewardship of the Lord’s money, on the part of the believer who gives and on the part of the church that doles out the funds, to give to any organization that seeks to circumnavigate the gospel message. In other words, we cannot be faithful to the Scriptures while avoiding the passage in Galatians that Paul reminds us that those who teach or preach another gospel are accursed.

Third, what affiliations does the group insist on keeping? Are they in league with groups like the World Council of Churches, or any other ecumenical group that would hold hands with Catholics, Mormons, etc. just to see an improved standard of living? Do a search on the internet for social interaction groups, then call them and see if you would be allowed to work with them? Ask them if you send money, if you are allowed to designate that it only be used in an area where the clear Biblical message of the gospel will be preached? The answer will be NO! These groups will NOT permit this for any reason.

Fourth, are all the funds that are being given being sent in totality to the work that is in need? Most people are unaware that many so-called religious groups and most social gospel organizations will keep up to as much as 90-95% of the received monetary gifts for the upkeep of western offices, high salaries of executive staff, etc., etc. This is one of the biggest issues I have with fundraising. It is disingenuous to raise funds for a cause and then keep any portion of that when you have stated that the money is going to be used for a stated project. As an example, instead of giving $100, call the organization and ask how much they keep for themselves and how much ACTUALLY arrives for the project. If it is 60%, then tell them you will only be sending $40 for the project itself as you choose not to support the administrative offices. I do not believe you will get very far with that request.

Fifth, does the group have a problem with their volunteers or paid staff clearly proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord? If so, it should not be considered a candidate for the money coming from true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sixth, here is one of the biggest issues that we could deal with at great length later, but are the missions endeavors an outreach of a local church? Far too many organizations have risen up and sought to take away the responsibility and the authority from where it rightly belongs. The Lord Jesus Christ taught His disciples to spread the gospel but it was to be done through the local church of which He alone is the Cornerstone. Christians are nowhere commanded to be lone-ranger types when it comes to spreading the message of the gospel. Nor are they commanded to avoid the authority and accountability that comes through being a member of a local assembly. When an organization studiously avoids coming under the auspices of that authority and accountability, they are striving to be like the world instead of following the Biblical mandates for missions and outreach.

In conclusion, there is much that is done in the name of missions that does not really qualify as missions as God sees it. The preeminent focus must be on proclaiming the name of Christ. It does not matter whether anybody else does it. We will not answer to a board of directors for how we spend our money, but we will give an answer to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not ask how much we dropped each Christmas in the coffers of the Salvation Army bell-ringer who is actually getting paid to stand there in the cold. I believe that we will be called to account as to how we worked to help with the spread of the gospel.

There are a few organizations with the above stated goals and purposes, but the number is growing smaller all the time. Prayerfully seek the Lord and ask Him to help you find a needy group of people in the world that you can help directly through a local church in that area. If you have a desire to help the unreached, then why not pray and see if the Lord would have you to go to that area and preach the gospel for His honor and glory?

Charity is a wonderful gift and should come from a heart of love. However, that heart of love must show forth the truth of Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” The only way we can make an eternity of difference is by the preaching of God’s Word. Romans 10:14-15 concludes, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”

Scam Into Blessing – Part 19

Early on Saturday morning, a crowd began to gather just outside of Pastor Togba’s property. Some music was being played and I recognized a couple of what sounded like gospel tunes. It was not long before a crowd gathered to listen to something being said over a loudspeaker. I had been watching people stop to listen and I counted well over 200 before I stopped. With my curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to walk a little closer and see what was going on.

A man and his female were working up the crowd in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. After a number of songs and with absolutely no Bible in sight, the man began to speak to the crowds. Just like the huckster I had heard in the marketplace shortly after I arrived, this fellow seemed to have been trained in the same school of “How to Con People using God’s Name in Vain!”

Passing a bucket around, he cajoled the listeners by telling them that they were in great need of having a blessing from God. He continued by stating that they would always remain poor unless they honored God’s preacher first, he continued with his harangue by starting with an offer of $100 blessings. When that didn’t work, he worked his way down to $50, $20, $10, and finally $5 before resorting to pleading for Liberian dollars. However, he did warn the people that Liberian dollar blessings were not as powerful as blessings which come from giving US dollar bills.

Continue reading

Scam Into Blessing – Part 6

The trip had already been planned and Bro. Trexler asked if I would like to go with him and Pastor Togba up to Gbarnga. This town is located in Bong County and was the main headquarters for the rebel groups during the long civil war. To get there, you travel through the town of Kakata and then on up close to the border of Guinea. Being the adventurous type (LOL), I decided that I would tag along for what was to be a 2-3 day trip into the interior where the US State Department and the British Foreign Affairs Office had highly recommended white guys like me not travel!

So with a straw hat on my head, no machete or gun for the wild animals we might encounter, a Bible in one hand and a “fa-tow” (face towel for perspiration) in the other, off we went on our African safari! The first place we came to was a suburb of Monrovia called Red Light District, so called not for any nefarious or immoral reasons but because this was the first district to get a stoplight – thus Red Light.

At an already crowded intersection, we saw a large part of the crowd circled around somebody shouting at the group. Pulling over to the side of the road, we were finally able to discern what was transpiring. The gist of the street preacher along with his thugs was this, “How many of you want a $100 US dollars only blessing? If so, then come up here and give us $100 US dollars! If you want a $50 US dollars only blessing, then come up and give us $50! God will only give you a blessing based on the amount of money you give to us!”

Listening to this health, wealth, and prosperity huckster, I was ashamed that fellow British and American preachers had done a great done exporting the false religion of charismatic phenomenon. The shameless badgering of the people for their money was nothing more than a way for the false preachers to earn a very nice living off the backs of their own people.

Moving back into the flow of traffic, I listened to Pastor Togba share that what we had just heard is about all many Liberians know of Christianity. They have been duped into believing that some deity called “God” will give them all they could ever ask for simply by scrimping their hard earned cash and giving it to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The desire of these people is to simply provide for their families and to strike it rich. Those who claim religion as their employment are doing well in Liberia. In the meantime, countless thousands were passing off into eternity because they had never heard that “Jesus paid it all, all to whom I owe, sin had left its crimson stain, He washed me white as snow!”

Continuing north, Bro. Trexler made a stop at the village of Cooper’s Farm. It was something right out of National Geographic. A small grouping of mud huts covered with thatch roofs stood in a line overlooking a valley just off the main road. Bro. Trexler informed me that two weeks earlier he had stopped by at this location and had the opportunity to provide medical assistance to the assistant chief of the village. Afterwards, he was granted the privilege of sharing the good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the villages expressed further interest in knowing more about the Bible talks (as they could not read) and some of these people testified that their faith was in the One Whom they had heard about for the first time.

Exiting the vehicle, Bro. Trexler (who is a Physician’s Assistant by training as well as a missionary) enquired about the health of the man he had helped two weeks prior. Some of the men pointed towards one of the larger huts and we headed in that direction. Brother Trexler whispered that it would be fine if I did not want to go in to the hut or feel that I could. I whispered back that I would follow him wherever he went that day. Stooping low we entered the entrance to the hut and found it was divided into four living areas. One of them was where the assistant chief and his family lived. It consisted of one room and with the exception of one very old rickety looking wooden chair had no furniture. The floor was dirt, flies were everywhere, and the smell of sickness permeated the air.

I watched as Bro. Trexler got on his knees beside the asst. chief as he lay on his filthy blanket and gave him a medical checkup. There was nothing pretentious with this brother in Christ as he sought first to minister to the health of the man and then reiterated the words of life shared two weeks prior. The man lying on the ground was not doing well, but indicated that he would ponder what Bro. Trexler had shared.

We went back outside and a couple of men were working building what looked like crude benches. Considering there were no other pieces of furniture to be seen in the village, we asked what this was for. One of the men spoke up, “We were told about Jesus two weeks ago and placed our faith in Him. We have told everybody in the valley that they need to hear about Him as well. Therefore, we are building these benches so they will come and sit down with us and listen when Dr. Steve (what they call Bro. Trexler) comes back!”

Bro. Trexler and I looked at each with amazement and no words were possible as we considered what we had just been told. They had heard once and knew what the life-changing news meant to them and they wanted their friends and family to hear before it was too late for them. This was especially poignant considering the average life expectancy for a Liberian is around 42-44 years old.

The missionary humbled even more by the events informed the villagers that he would be back to their village in another week or so to teach them more of the Bible. Many might have just continued down the road and overlooked this small, seemingly insignificant village. However, just as the good Samaritan saw the need of the one who was bruised, bleeding and beaten, Bro. Trexler was willing to stop and render assistance and when he did, the Lord provided a sovereignly appointed opportunity to bring the message of light into another very dark corner of West Africa.

Our next stop would be Gbarnga.

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 4

Leaving with Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler, we headed across Monrovia. To understand a little better what I saw next, the reader should be aware that Liberia had been one of the most modern countries in West Africa, if not in the entire continent. Running water, sewage, and electricity was common place, particularly in the large cities. People turned on a light switches as if commonplace. Women washed and dried their clothes in Maytag and Whirlpool appliances, and people drove to and from work in newer vehicles on paved roads bathed in the glow of electric streetlights.

Liberia was certainly a country that had plenty and it appeared she had been blessed by God. Religious services were abundant with churches from many denominations dotting every other street corner. But then war struck – hard! In the end, estimates of over 250,000 were killed and more than 1 million were displaced from their homes. Sadly, much of the killing, rampaging, looting, raping, etc. was conducted by children soldiers fighting only because they would have been killed by the militia group that held them captive.

It is hard to describe the land of Liberia in mere words for every aspect of this beautiful land assaults every one of the senses. Driving through Monrovia, the first thing you feel is the oppressive heat and accompanying humidity. The perspiration pooling on your forehead is almost forgotten as your nose wrinkles at all the smells which include: food cooking in roadside cafes that in America would constitute nothing more than a run-down backyard shed, burning rubber, open raw sewage ditches, and the ever present odors from trash-filled streets. Dust carries the taste of Liberia as it settles into your pores mixing with perspiration.

The streets reverberate with the sound of clamoring voices in marketplaces, the myriad of car and motorbike horns (no matter the time of day or night), and the occasional street preaching huckster striving to con more people out of their money with empty promises of huge blessings from God. The health, wealth, and prosperity gospel has been fully assimilated into Liberian culture as its evil tentacles have enslaved many countries around the world. On another corner, one of 34 languages would ring out as the speaker hailed a fellow tribesman.

The sense that struggles the most is that of sight. Your other senses have learned to pinpoint a certain trigger like the smell of burning rubber or the sound of a car horn. The saying is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture in Liberia is probably worth more than that. It is impossible to take a snapshot of a town or city in Liberia and adequately convey to the viewer all that the picture means.

Having just spent a restless night and already quite tired, I struggled to understand what my eyes had never seen before. Burnt-out vehicles dotted the roads and filled disease-filled pools or rivers. Every house, wall, office, and church pockmarked with uncounted bullet holes. Rockets left their mark with the evidence being destroyed bridges and buildings. Concrete hulks or shells accommodated dozens, hundreds, and in some high-rises thousands of people with no place left to go.

People rushing to and from various locations, many dressed in colorful Liberian garb, were a constant distraction. Children who should have been in school sat on steps or played with a stick. The fortunate ones managed to find a football (soccer ball in the USA) to play with and many of those were patched or stitched in order to extend the life once again.

Along the river banks and on side streets, dumps filled with trash were being combed through meticulously by adults and children alike. Each person intent on finding something to eat or a small treasure that could be translated into a mere pittance to be used to help buy food so their family could eat that night. Babies cried while laying on dirt-encrusted mattresses and in vain a sibling would listlessly attempt to swat away the flies that tried endlessly to reach the orifices of each little bundle.

The streets were crowded not just with people walking but with vehicles, buses, trucks, hand-pushed carts, bicycles, and motorcycles all jockeying for position three, four, and even 5 abreast on two lanes. Yellow taxis were crowded with passengers as were buses and open cargo trucks. Often a pickup truck would pass with 15-20 people standing in the back holding on to each other.

Each intersection produced endless supplies of vendors of all ages running up to your vehicle hawking “i-wa” or “fa-tows.” “I-wa” is the term used for small plastic bags of ice water that was more like cool water, while “fa-tows” were the small washcloths used by many to wipe the perspiration from the face or to try and shelter the top of the head from the merciless sun. These were inevitably followed by children, some as young as 4 and 5, coming up begging for a small handout. Their families sat to the side encouraging this while others not so scrupulous made a living by the use of these little ones.

It was a lot to take in and I would see even more that left a permanent mark in my brain, but there was only so much I would be able to assimilate. Arriving at Pastor Togba’s house, his family welcomed me warmly. As I rested before lunch, I looked again through the pictures I had already taken and tried to fill in the blanks of the previous hours my eyes could not understand or had missed.

There was much and while each photo re-emphasized my being in a very strange world, one thing was constant – the people. The people were what I had come to this country to see. I was not there on a sight-seeing tour or a trip to enjoy paradise or even to take an African safari, I was there to see people for whom Christ died. I had a greater purpose and it would not be long before that became a reality because “people need the Lord.”

As they had promised, the “three pastors” showed up promptly at 9am on the Wednesday to speak with us again in regards to conducting the Pastors’ Conference and the “Crusade.” The previous evening though had seen much discussion mainly between myself, Pastor Togba, and Bro. Trexler. We discussed all of the circumstances surrounding the events that had transpired, the fact that these pastors were of a highly charismatic group of churches, and what our response should be to what were obviously individuals who were lost on their way to a Christ-less eternity.

Pastor Togba being the gracious host that he was offered the men a snack and something to drink – Liberian style coffee. Most of the coffee I was given was quite strong and then liberally sweetened with generous handfuls of sugar cubes. It was a taste that did not quite agree with me, unlike the food which I really enjoyed. However, that is for another part of the story.

The “three pastors” took some coffee and an uneasy silence ensued as they very slowly dropped sugar cubes into their cups and all the while keeping their eyes turned down. From the time I had walked into the room upon their arrival, they had refused to make eye contact with me. Once again, we sat at another table – Pastor Togba, Bro. Trexler, and myself on one side, and on the other – the “three pastors” and the deacon/night guard, Moses.

Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler had agreed that I should be the one who would have to make the ultimate decision in regards to the conference and crusade. Therefore, it would be left to me to carry the conversation and they would just be there for moral support.

We waited until the silence was broken by the ringleader. Continuing to stir his sugar-thickened coffee, he acknowledged that they had made some mistakes in their misrepresentation of who they were and their part in the emails. Finally looking up, he said, there has already been monies spent for the printing and pastors/elders/deacons were expecting to be taught by myself on the following Monday. So, he concluded, we would like to ask once again if you would be willing to come and teach at the church.

Based on the previous evening’s long conversation, I first responded by sharing my own personal testimony about placing my faith in Christ. Second, I informed them that what I believed was not even close to their own doctrinal position (if they really even had one). I had already found out from speaking with Pastor Togba that many churches had sprung up all over Monrovia of the health, wealth, and prosperity persuasion and were leading people astray with a works-based salvation, if they spoke of salvation at all.

With those basics understood, I told them that the crusade was not an option. This had been fully agreed with me by Pastor Togba and Bro. Trexler. The problems involved in such an event would have posed many more issues, most of which I would not understand due to cultural differences. At this point, the “sullen” pastor interrupted me to try and get me to reconsider. However, I made it clear that this could not be an option and we would continue discussing the Pastors’ Conference only. One thing I had learned from Pastor Togba is that conducting such a crusade (even without the faith-healing charade attached to it) would have raised the status of these pastors and made them very important in their local communities. The last thing we wanted was to perpetuate the myths that they believed about themselves and that they spreading to their congregations.

I concluded that I would conduct the Pastors’ Conference with Pastor Togba beginning the following Monday. However, a few things needed to be understood. I told them that I would be setting the agenda for the meetings, as well as the teaching material, and we would not be involved in any of the music that preceded each morning session on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Continuing, I told them there would be no laying on of hands and certainly no speaking in tongues, etc. would be tolerated or the meetings would not continue. The ringleader and the sullen pastor wanted to argue with me over my guidelines, but finally realized that I was not going to budge and they all agreed to my conditions.

After just over two hours of conversation, they took their leave and once again the deacon, Moses, came up to me and gave me an embrace. “Thank you for deciding to come to my church. You will be made very welcome.” None of the other pastors expressed any words of thanks or appreciation, but simply said good-bye.

Pastor Togba believed that it was a great opportunity for churches of different groups or denominations did not mix in Liberia. He said that another chance to speak to this particular charismatic group might never present itself again and he considered it a God-given opportunity. It would not be a chance to merge any churches, nor to convince these people to become baptistic in their doctrine. This would be one open door to clearly express the gospel message of the Lord Jesus Christ to pastors who were dead in trespasses and sins.

I left the dining room and walked back to my little bedroom. Sitting down on my bed, I pulled out all the notes that I had brought and knew they would not be used. I had written for pastors and church leaders who professed faith in Christ alone. As Pastor Togba had shared, the vast majority of those who claimed to be pastors in Liberia had never even heard the truth of the law of God that condemned them, nor had they heard the full account of the glorious message of the cross.

Although the rates were high, I called my wife to tell her everything was good. I shared what would transpire the following Monday and for her to spread the word so that friends and family could pray that the Lord would prepare the hearts of those who would be in attendance. I must admit that one heart that still needed some work though was mine.

(…to be continued…)

Scam Into Blessing – Part 3

Ok, here it is for those who could not wait for Wednesday, April 21! LOL


With the inability to adjust to the heat, and adding more mosquitoes to the local death toll, I finally got up around 5:30am and prepared for the day. Walking across a floor that I considered to be far from clean, I headed to the shower, it reminded me of something you might find in a bad movie where you are wondering whether you might share the facility with more bugs, scorpions, or even a snake crawling up the drain! The cold water (all that was available) drove most thoughts out of my brain, but I can assure you I kept my glasses on in order to keep an eye on the drainpipe.

After getting dressed and reading some Scripture, I asked the Lord to give me strength for the day and for wisdom to figure out what was going on with the “three pastors” I had met the night previous. I failed to mention that the night before, the “three pastors” had left an older man at the house and told me that he was there for my protection and would also help me if I needed help. His name was Moses and they told me that he was a deacon at a church belonging to one of the “three pastors”. Walking into the house kitchen the next morning, this man was sitting at the table. I tried to get some information out of him, but he did not appear very talkative at that moment.

Walking outside to greet the humid, tropical morning, my “guard” followed a few steps behind me. As I watched the mist rise from the ground like smoke, I noticed my “guard” was watching me. As I proceeded down the path towards the Atlantic Ocean, the mist and sound of the crashing waves added to my enjoyment of seeing my very first banana and coconut trees. Those few moments felt like I was in a paradise, if only somebody could turn the heat down a little bit.

Going back into the house around 7:30am, I felt I was prepared for the “three pastors” to arrive at 9:00am. The son of the president of the Baptist college who now owned the property had provided me with a cell phone. This had allowed me to call my wife in England and let her know to pray. While assuring her I was fine, I was wondering how true this might be in a country that had just come out of a brutal civil war. This was particularly the case considering how the “three pastors” had behaved the night before. Before the men arrived, I called the ABWE missionary, Steve Trexler, and shared what had happened the night before. He told me not to go anywhere with the men, but that he and Pastor Togba would be there as quickly as possible. Now along with the presence of my “guard”, I was REALLY getting worried.

9:00am – The “three pastors” arrived at the same time as Bro. Trexler and Pastor Togba. We sat around a large table and the discussions began. The “three pastors” assured me that they were glad to have me visit their country and apologized for the misunderstanding the night before. They told me they were embarrassed because they were not able to provide what had been promised to me, and I began to wonder how I was just going to pay for my stay in the guesthouse.

I continued by asking the men to introduce themselves again now that I was awake. One of the pastors introduced himself as Pastor S__________ and another red flag went off. I had seen a small picture of this particular pastor and the two definitely were not the same person. A few more comments between us and I stated I wanted to get on with the meeting, but wanted to make sure I had the names correct. Going down the line, I called them each by the name they had given me until I got to the “pastor” sitting to my right.

I asked, “And you are, Pastor S______? Is that correct?” This man hung his head and over in the corner of the room, my “guard” started shaking his graying head and then put his face in his huge hands. At that moment, it dawned me that something bigger was going on. Proceeding with the questioning, I clarified that the pastor in question was not Pastor S______, and wanted to know where he was. The men told me they only wrote back and forth with him and that Pastor S______ had not been in Liberia for a few years! Talk about the plot thickening!

Silence reigned and all you could hear across the veranda was the crashing of the ocean waves. All three of the “pastors” refused to meet my eyes for several minutes until one of them, whom I would view as the ringleader finally looked up and spoke.

“Pastor, we have been very bad. We have lied to you and that is not right. We are not who we claimed to be. You have caught us and we are so ashamed.”

The ringleader continued by pulling out copies of my emails sent and began to share the reason for my being in Liberia. The first emails were just as I remembered them, but then more issues began to arise. What they were telling me and even reading off of the emails they had printed did not sound even close to what I had sent in those emails. The ringleader informed all present that I had promised to bring $7,000 (seven thousand US dollars) in cash to pay for Bibles, for the pastor’s conference and even to pay for the rental of the stadium where the crusade was to take place.

The “pastor” impersonating Pastor S_______ then produced a poster they had printed which were ready to post all over the city of Liberia. He then said, “We expect 10,000+ in attendance at the faith healing crusade!” Sure enough, there was my picture alongside a picture of one of the three pastors. In big, bold letters, “FAITH HEALING CRUSADE! – Bring your sick so the pastor from England can lay hands on you for a miracle!”

If I would have had false teeth, I would have dropped them. Looking at the ABWE missionary and Pastor Togba who really knew nothing about me, I could tell they were probably wondering what they might have gotten themselves into. I excused myself from the table and asked these two godly men if they would join me for a quick walk towards the beach. They did and I shared with them the truth of what had occurred and produced my own emails which I had printed off before leaving England. They were shocked.

We went back in and took our places at the table. Mincing no words, I called the “three pastors” to account for their lies and told them I could prove that I had not written the emails they had in their possession. Asking for the copies they held, I pulled mine out of my binder and let all present see the differences. Mine had no spelling mistakes whereas their copies did. Their copies were obviously a cut and paste job written with the intent of pulling off a huge scam. To cap it off, I almost laughed when I looked at the last page of emails and pointed out to the men that after having my name for almost 40 years that I should know how to spell it correctly! The bottom line was that the man, Pastor S_____, had duped both myself and these simple, poor Liberian pastors.

I was quite upset and was wishing for more than once a week flights out of Liberia. On a different continent than my family and surrounded by nothing familiar, I was out of words in regards to explaining the situation. Silence reigned again, but then a thought flashed into my mind. I was here to share the truth of God’s Word, I would begin at the kitchen table.

The “three pastors” shared their “testimony” at my request when I finally spoke again, and it was obvious that all three of them were on their way to a Christ-less eternity. All three spoke of how they were working towards the goal of heaven. I shared the truth of Scripture and began with the law. They had broken God’s law and the penalty was death. I concluded by telling them that while they had lied, their rejection of Jesus Christ was what would condemn them to hell. Standing I told them I would have nothing to do with their lies and they were free to go.

Pastor Togba graciously extended an invitation to stay in his home on the other side of Monrovia and I accepted with a glad heart. The “three pastors” had asked if we would reconsider at least conducting the pastor’s conference. With Pastor Togba’s approval, I agreed to meet with them at his house in two days and he provided directions to his home.

As I walked back to my bedroom, I wondered what the next days and weeks would hold for it certainly did not match with what I had planned. Bro. Trexler and Pastor Togba were waiting for me outside while I packed my bags. There was a knock on my door and my “guard” Moses and his “pastor” (the one who had pretended to be Pastor S_____) were standing with heads bowed. Moses had tears streaming down his weathered face.

“We have brought shame upon ourselves, our church, and our country,” they began. “We have come to seek your forgiveness and ask you to pray that God will forgive us.” As I watched these two men humble themselves, I thought of what the Lord had done in forgiving me. The least I could do was to extend forgiveness to these two Liberians and pray that they would one day find rejoicing by placing their faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Picking up my bags, I headed for the door and said good-bye to the two men as I reminded them that I would see them again in two days with my answer in regards to the Pastor’s Conference. The older man, Moses (my guard) was still weeping as he thanked me for forgiving them and it was at that moment that the Lord broke something down in me and dropping my bags, I walked over to him and putting my arms around him, I assured him that he was forgiven and that it was now in the past. Picking my bags back up, I walked out of the mission house knowing and believing that God was sovereign in all things and there was a reason why He wanted me in Liberia. Maybe I had just started to see a taste of something special.

(…to be continued…) – I will post the next installment on Wednesday, April 21!

Scam Into Blessing – Part 2

Prior to my departure for Liberia, my parents were obviously concerned about the possibility of their son being in West Africa, and had made contact on my behalf with ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelization). The director passed on the details of a native Liberian, Pastor James Togba. Pastor Togba is the pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church and is one of the leaders with AFBM (African Fundamental Baptist Mission). AFBM is a loose organization of about 20 churches who hold to the baptistic faith and doctrine. I had made contact with Pastor Togba just briefly by email and informed me I was headed to his country. He invited me to visit them if I had the opportunity to do so.

Bro. Steve Trexler had come with Pastor Togba to help welcome me to Liberia and to see if there was anything that I might need assistance with. Their help was to become invaluable and quicker than any of us were anticipating.

Trying to adjust my eyes to the darkness with Bro. Trexler at my side, I managed to see a group of Liberians holding a large sign. There were about 12-15 in the group and they warmly welcomed me. Introductions were made, although I would not remember but a handful of the names later. There was a lot of chatter in Kpelle by the group and I merely stood in place trying to assimilate all the strange smells and sounds surrounding me. Pastor Togba came up to me and indicated that something was not quite right, but that he and Bro. Trexler would be taking me along with several of the group into Monrovia and the rest would follow in a couple of taxis.

Putting my luggage in the back of Bro. Trexler’s jeep, they escorted me to a place of honor – the front passenger seat. Before the door could be closed, two different members of the welcoming group tried to get me to scoot over enough for them to sit beside me on the SINGLE seat. Pastor Togba said something in Kpelle and they went and climbed in the back and somebody shut my door. By the time we were headed away from the airport, there were about 9 people sitting in a 5 seat vehicle! Welcome to Liberia! I would later learn that this was normal to squeeze as many people as possible into one vehicle thus making the trip worthwhile. There was more than once I rode in a yellow taxi (think old Toyota Camry) with the driver and at least two others in the front and 5 of us in the back!

The first sight I remember was very tall 8-12 foot high mounds on the sides of the road as we sought to avoid running over people walking down the middle and sides of the main highway headed in towards Monrovia. After about 40 minute hair-raising drive, I was NO LONGER tired but very wide awake as we pulled up to a compound with barbed wire and a gatehouse. Bro. Trexler informed me that this was formerly the Southern Baptist compound where they had a university and missionaries could stay here as they transitted the country and/or continent.

Now, before I continue, the reader should be aware that I was told by the man who was writing me in England that they would cover my hotel stay and a rental car during my stay. It never dawned on me until later that rental cars were not available at that time. Unpacking my bags, one of the young men who lived at the compound came up and asked me to go with him to settle the bill. It was at that moment that I began to feel something was starting to smell fishy about this operation.

I walked through the dark following very closely to my guide and wondered whether snakes slept at night in that part of Africa. I knew the mosquitoes sure didn’t for I had already left a trail of the depraved insects all the way from the airport. We walked into a little hut with a grass thatched roof and they shut the door behind me and invited me to sit on one of only two chairs in the room. It almost felt like something out of a movie where the good guy is about to get whooped up on. There was only a single small lamp casting eerie shadows on the walls as one of the men standing translated the words of the guy seated at a creaky wooden desk on the other chair.

I was politely informed that for my stay of the next two weeks, I owed them $700! I could not have been anymore surprised than if a snake had chosen that moment to crawl across my shoes. The cost per night was $50 (US Dollars) to stay at the compound. Wow! Very politely, I responded that the group I had come to visit had told me that they were covering the costs of my hotel and they would need to speak to Rev. S___________ as he had already made the arrangements and even told me that the bill had been paid the week before I arrived.

More chatter, and then the translator informed me that there was no such person who had come to see them. In fact, they had only just received word of my coming about 2-3 hours before my arrival into the country. It is now about 10:30pm and I am exhausted. My mind is not working straight, but the welcoming party and some of the names begin to float through my fuddled thoughts. Red flags and sirens are going off but I am not putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Wanting to get to sleep, I went ahead and paid the man for two nights taking a chunk out of the money I had brought for spending and an offering for the work. I walked back to the guest house (again following closely to my guide and followed closely by the cousins of the critters I had killed on the way over to the hut who were out for revenge).

Sitting down with the men, I was finally able to discern that these men had not paid the bill and seemed to know nothing about the arrangements made by Rev. S_________. This was not making sense because I thought I was speaking with Rev. S__________, one of three who had introduced themselves to me at the airport as the pastors I had come to meet and conduct meetings with.

Not getting anywhere in the conversation, they finally left about 11:30pm after talking in circles. My guide from earlier walked back in about 10 minutes later and said the three pastors did not have any money to pay for a taxi ride home, could I provide them with some US Dollars for a taxi?? What was going on??!! I figured it would wait until morning as I gave a few dollars to the guide and headed to bed enjoying the air conditioner in my room.

Two hours later, the air conditioner and the fan suddenly went quiet waking me from a fairly deep sleep. Wondering what was going on, I finally remembered the guide had mentioned that the generator for the electricity was shut down every night about 2:30am and stayed off until the next day. The room got warm very quickly, and it was not just my rising body temperature that had feelings of discomfort. The next morning was going to prove interesting though and would reveal the truth of my trip.

(…to be continued…)

NOTE: Part 3 will be on-line Wednesday, April 21.

The Unsung Hero

Often not knowing all the reasons why, she nods her head in submission as to the Lord when her husband shares the news that he believes the gospel is to be shared with a tribe who live on another planet in a distant galaxy who speaks “Klingon” and who wear nothing but toothless grimaces and carry machetes — at least that is what it seems like in the early days…..

The rest of the post on <a href=”The Unsung Hero can be found at The Desert Pastor.