“The Proclamation of the ‘gospel’ has often failed to emphasize a fundamental element of the teaching of Jesus. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a powerful claim, one that is ultimately rooted in questions of allegiance, of ultimate authority, and of the ultimate norm and standard for human life. Instead, Christianity has often sought to ally itself comfortably with allegiance to other authorities, be they political, economic, cultural, or ethnic.Could it be that ‘Jesus is Lord’ has become one of the most widespread Christian lies?
Have Christians claimed the Lordship of Jesus, but systematically set aside the call to obedience to this Lord?”
– Lee C. Camp
²The Greatest of the Great²
Things are changing in the Dao valley – The Dao believers are struggling to sift through their old ways and expose those practices that go against God’s word and at the same time continue on with those cultural practices that don’t. Old beliefs are being weekly challenged and as they learn more and more about God’s Word the Dao believers are stepping forward and boldly calling out those old rituals that don’t line up with Scripture.
This week specifically there has been a lot of talk going on about evil spirits and how perhaps because of the recent death of the young man named Bonanimena, the spirits could be stirred up and seeking to cause harm to some of the other Dao people that had come into contact with Bonanimena before his death. Their traditional Dao beliefs tell them that there is no such thing as a “natural” death – all deaths are caused by the spirits. In their minds, any spirit’s ultimate goal is to cause them death whether it be through sickness or any other means possible.
It is not our place to tell the Dao people that these spirits don’t exist, or that they are silly for believing in things. The Bible is clear that even Jesus and many of his followers had regular encounters with evil spirits of various types and as the Dao people have been weekly hearing of the various accounts in both the gospels and the book of Acts where “By the power of Jesus” evil spirits are cast out of people that have been tormented for years, they can’t help but see that Jesus was and is a man with great authority! Authority and power unlike anything they have heard of in the past!
It was yesterday morning that a man named Paina (Top Left Picture) came up to our porch somewhat early in the morning to tell us that he and his family were headed to one of his garden houses about half a days hike away named “Emopo”. He said to me “Were all afraid that there are spirits in this house because this house was one of the last places that Bonanimena went before he died!” I reminded Paina of some of the various stories he had been hearing in the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas over the past few weeks and shared with him that now that he had believed God’s message and was part of God’s family, he no longer needed to live in fear of such spirits but should rather place his trust in the power of Christ to protect him from the spirits. I told him “You can call out to Jesus to cause these spirits to flee just as Paul did during his various missionary journeys and He will hear you because you just as he heard Paul”. Paina told me that he believed what I was telling him but he still invited us to come along with him to his garden house and together with them pray against the spirits that he believed were in that place.
Jennie and I quickly talked it over with our co-workers Derek and Sarah Grant and then decided as a team that this would be a great opportunity for discipleship and to model to the Dao people how to trust in Jesus Christ and his authority as they faced such situations. A few minutes later Derek (White Guy in top right picture) and I had grabbed our backpacks and things needed for the trip and we were along with one of the teachers that I have been training named Wikipai, headed over the first of a series steep mountain ridges, slippery logs and small rivers that needed to be crossed in order to make it to the garden house where these spirits were said to be residing.
When we arrived at the garden house that afternoon there were already various people from other hamlets arriving and gathering there in order to do what the Dao call “Paa mpa see” which means, “Spirit chasing”. Traditionally the most powerful men and women will come and perform various rituals such as speaking special incantations and placing certain items and fetishes in different places in order to chase away these evil spirits, but before these rituals were to begin Wikipai announced to all of those that had gathered that we had come with the intention of sharing with them what the “Creator ones book” had to say about such situations. It was about four o’clock in the evening when everyone sat down in front of the house to hear what we had to say.
Wikipai, myself and another Dao man that I have been training up to be a teacher named Kogipiyaa (Top center picture) shared from the book of Mark, which Jennie recently completed and had printed in the Dao language. We read from the Dao scriptures through three different stories (Mark chapters one, five and nine) where Jesus had commanded spirits to leave and the spirits had fled in fear because they recognized his authority of the Son of God. We ended the message by telling the believers that now that they were part of God’s family, they were to trust in His power and authority which is greater than all other earthly authorities to protect them against such things. Wikipai then prayed out loud on behalf of all the Dao people that had gathered; “Creator one, you are greater than the greatest, you are bigger than the biggest! You are more powerful than the most powerful! And we know that there is nothing that you cannot do! Today we that have gathered here are afraid of the spirits and because we know that Jesus has the power to cause these spirits to flee from this place we are asking you to protect us and cause them to leave this place! Thank you Jesus for watching over us. Please continue to watch over us because only you are the one that can do anything.”
When Wikipai had finished his prayer you could hear various people speaking in agreement and gratitude to what had been shared and as the night went on we didn’t see any more of those rituals take place that we have seen take place in similar situations in the past. The next morning there was still talk going on about how they had slept well and that they had not been bothered by any spirits although they had slept in the very house that was said to be full of spirits just the day before. It was an incredible time of testimony to the power of God’s message and our co-worker Derek and myself made our way over the last couple cold mountain rivers and slippery logs and back to our own village this afternoon.
Please join us in praising God for the unique ways that he is working in the Dao people! Pray together with us that the Dao people will continue to see Jesus as the greatest authority and as the one that is as Wikipai put it – “The greatest of the greatest, and more powerful than the most powerful” Pray that we would have wisdom as we seek to continually teach and disciple the Dao people. Please also continually pray for our co-workers Derek and Sarah Grant as they continue on daily with learning the Dao language and get ready for their second of four language checks which takes place in approximately three weeks .
Because He said “GO!” – Scott & Jennie Phillips – Luke 9:60/17:10
Also, our website: sjphillips.org has more pictures and info on the ministry God has allowed us a part in here.
Check it out if you get some time.