Yesterday, he spoke to our church. He has been a good friend to my dad for several years.
Kwot is from South Sudan. He spent ten years fighting in the liberation army, defending Christians from genocide. He would go without food and water for days at a time. After a decade of fighting, he worked as a pastor and evangelist. Now, he is living in the midwest United States, but is preparing to return home with the dream of building new Christian schools and churches in the very primitive South Sudan.
This is a place where people worship trees and sacrifice animals to appease spirits. They speak curses and incantations against one another. People cannot read or write. Whole communities share single water wells.
He told us stories of specific people who came for healing, and they were healed. Or, Kwot prayed, and Jesus appeared to them, the way He appeared to Paul. He has dreams that come true. He even dreamed on Saturday night that his car would break down, and on Sunday morning, on his way to church, it did.
Kwot’s stories are outlandish, to the point of unbelievability to an American like me.
It makes me wonder when I hear all the things that happen in places like Africa if God has decided to check out of America.
I am almost ashamed to admit it.
When I hear stories of healing or divine intervention, my first reaction is not an increase in faith or a whispered praise to God.
I am skeptical.
My first reaction is, “Really?” Like, “Really? Jesus himself appeared to you?” “Really? You had a premonition in a dream?” These are first-hand stories! Mind heart wants to believe them, but my brain says it cannot be true.
My faith is so small. My God is a theological abstraction, a philosophical puzzle, a political platform. He is not a miracle worker anymore. He is not a Savior or a Messiah or a King. He is a bumper sticker.
I am a fat, rich, stupid, faithless American.
The Deity Has Left the Building
Lots of Americans have talked about why God does not seem to be present in the West anymore. Why does God not perform miracles?
Because we do not need miracles?
We would not recognize miracles if they happened?
Why does God seem to never show up over here?
Because we do not have time for Him?
If He did show up, we’d call Him crazy, or go get a prescription for Prozac.
I know that God has a lot of competition in America. People do not want to hear or talk about Jesus. Jesus seems to have a reputation for causing more problems than he solves. His followers have a reputation for hating more people than they love.
Where God Calls Home
Africa is a dirty, dark, primitive place.
And it seems as if God has taken up permanent residence there.
And if we’re lucky, He shows up here when He’s on vacation.
Tell me why do you think that is? Is it our material wealth? Are our hearts too hard? Are we all a bunch of idolators? Does God go where He is needed? Or is God leaving America alone for a reason?