Why God Doesn’t Come To America Anymore

November 5, 2012

Kwot Nyor is a quietly amazing man.li-sudan-flag-rtr2olus-620

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.

Really?

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?

23 responses to Why God Doesn’t Come To America Anymore

  1. We are a bunch of idolators.

    We are just too busy, too skeptical, too lazy, too whatever, to place ourselves in front of the Living God and receive what He has to offer to idolators…love and forgiveness.

    But we will fill great football stadiums and concert venues like there is no tomorrow.

    • And Africa which is full of idolators and faithless people also, somehow deserves God’s presence and power? Seriously…other than richer people here, what makes Africa any different? It’s not a faith filled country and the majority of people there worship demons.

  2. I enjoyed your post very much. I ask myself why all the time.

  3. I am a pharisee. That is why I cannot hear or see God. We wrap ourselves in the Bible and the American flag and say “this is all that will ever be”. I have heard since I was a child that God no longer speaks because we have His Word and sadly I have fallen into that great lie. If he were to speak I am sure I would ignor Him.

  4. Amen. The more you need God the more you find him. We don’t need God in America, we are bent on fulfilling our own needs by eating from the forbidden tree. Someday we will wake up and realize we are naked.

  5. “He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6: 5-6) We don’t see miracles because we do not expect to see miracles. We don’t believe God will really do anything.

    Our small group has seen numerous miracles over the last year… terminal cancer in remission, broken bones healed, wayward children repenting and returning to God… I think that’s because we pray for them. (I wrote about them here: http://compost-blog.com/2012/07/20/home-grown-miracles/)

    God isn’t a vending machine. We can’t insert a prayer and have a miracle fall out the slot. But I don’t think miracles are as rare here as your experience would lead you to believe.

    • I second Leslie here as well. Prayer is a huge answer. I, too, know many Africans that are starting huge church movements. Seeing people healed, freed from demonic influence, raised from the dead even. I also know that these people spend hours upon hours a day crying out to God for a movement of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps miracles happen when they speak them because they’ve spent so much time in prayer asking God to show them how he wants to work in their lives?

  6. First of all, great job of sounding the wake-up call! Amen!

    Secondly, the Bible is full of instance when God basically says, “since you don’t listen to me, I won’t listen to you”. Jesus was unable to do miracles in his hometown because of the skepticism. Our pastor preached on 1 Peter 3:7 and the last instruction is ‘treat your wife as you should so that your prayers will not be hindered”. This is in the New Testament, not some moldy Old Testament gloom-and-doom prophet!

    The good news is that Jesus will show up to whomever or whatever group seeks him,regardless of how they felt about him previously. And God is the one, not a president or dictator or government entity of any kind that will bring about salvation and redemption and miracles. And there is a time when Jesus will show up REALLY BIG, everywhere.

  7. I have seen miracles in Africa with my own eyes…and yet here in America I struggle to think he will show up in the same way. I think Leslie is on the right track–we’re not looking and we’re not asking. But I think he’s ready to move. Increase our faith, God!

  8. I think he’d be here if we admitted that we needed Him. But in so many ways we seem to be doing just fine on our own, thanks much! We aren’t in need. And that may be the greatest barrier to true faith in his provision and supernatural care for us.

    Many times I have prayed for hardship for our country. For whatever it takes to make us cry out to the One who saves and provides. Whatever it takes to knock us off our high high horse.

    I’ll take hardships gladly if it means we can better understand the kind of reliance we are supposed to have on the Father.

  9. I don’t know. My theory is that if God manifested Himself with an American the way He did with your Sudanese friend, the person receiving it would be more likely to channel the whole experience into a book deal and an appearance on Dr. Oz than anything else.

    To be honest, I quit asking these questions a long time ago.

    One reason is because I found that the answers I got were so unsatisfactory. The whole notion of God not showing up because not enough Americans believe in Him makes Him sound more like the Great Pumpkin or Tinkerbell.

    Another reason is because it just brings up all those feelings of “doing something wrong” that I had as a teenager. I can still remember sitting in the back row of the chapel at church camp, watching everybody else go down for altar calls with tears in their eyes, coming back with all these mind-blowing experiences of God’s presence. I would sit there and wait and pray every single year, and always come back with nothing. And every year I’d wonder what I was doing wrong. Why wasn’t I really “feeling” God there? Was I praying the wrong way or was my heart “not right” somehow? Was I not acting like a good enough Christian? Was my pumpkin patch too insincere?

    It wasn’t until some time later that I read someplace online that Mother Theresa had said that in her entire life, she only truly heard God’s voice once, something like she heard Him tell her to go on her one big mission, but then she never heard from Him again. I don’t know if that’s true or not, (I’d like to find the book it came from if I can.) But, in a weird way, it made me feel somewhat better. Here was someone who did all these great things in God’s name, yet only technically “heard” from Him once.

    So, personally, I’m kind of done beating myself about “hearing” from God. I could very well go my whole life and never hear from Him. Trying to figure out why He hasn’t shown up seems kind of futile at this point. This is God–how am I supposed to know His mind? All I can really do is keep plugging along and hope that He’s actually there.

    Sorry to be a bit of a downer about this–I just had kind of a big crisis come up in my family today and my natural urge is to try speculate reasons why this is happening. But, deep down, I know those are answers I’ll probably never get.

  10. Your view of America is too limited. I’ve seen healings and miracles happen here. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” is true no matter where on the globe you are standing.

  11. When I think about American Christians – and Americans in general – I think of that passage in Matthew 9, verses 9-11. Like the Pharisees, Americans need Jesus too, but our hearts are hardened to the idea of His radical, miraculous love. We’d rather live by rules, reason, cultural standards. We think we’re fine the way we are, we think we have everything we need because our emphasis is placed in technology, modern medicine, government, wealth, etc. I don’t think we all intend it to be this way, but we allow those things to obscure our need for God with an illusion of self-sufficiency.

  12. Lack of faith, spirit of disbelieve.
    I think too that what Leslie said is very true! I’m from Curaçao and here too people find it hard to believe that God can really heal, do miracles, turning situations all around. But there are testimonies of people who got healed from cancer, whiplash, people who didn’t get fired at work. I myself obtain my last 2 jobs in the most miraculous ways.

  13. This was a very challenging thought for me. So often, it seems like Christianity is pitches by churches as one more descriptive adjective for a person. Yeah, I am tall, and a Christian…and they are about the same in importance. This isn’t the deny-yourself-pick-up-your-cross-and-follow-me discipleship Jesus has called us to, but it’s the brand we so often settle for nonetheless.

  14. Thanks for this post–it’s a good and valid question that I’ve pondered often. When I was in Africa (specifically Burkina Faso) I was struck by how if there was a threat of disease, the first and only recourse the people had was to pray. The government maybe does its best (maybe not) but it doesn’t have the resourses to cope with disease the way our governments do (e.g. SAARS, H1N1). So their first thought wasn’t to ask what the government was doing about it, but to pray about it. This is just one example, but yes–I think need has a great deal to do with it.

  15. I think we decided at some point that “miracle” = supernatural, instead of God working in the natural to produce an amazing result. So when we can see reason behind our “miracle,” it doesn’t seem as amazing.

    Case in point, we were filling “Buckets of Hope” for Haiti after the earthquake. We were supposed to put in a 2lb box of spaghetti, 40 oz of peanut butter, etc. Specific sizes of specific things to fit in a certain way in a 5-gal bucket. My MOPS group was filling a bucket at each discussion group and we had almost everything, but I went into the day knowing that we were going to lack the canister of sugar for all but maybe one bucket. I had a table on the side of “extra” things….and literally every time I’d turn my back to that table and turn around again, a canister of sugar would appear.

    You’re telling yourself right now that I just didn’t see someone randomly putting a canister of sugar on the “extra things” table rather than their own table….four different times. And that may be the case. But God’s hand was there and I saw it. And because I choose to attribute it to God, I see a miracle. I think we forget that God works through people…..but ultimately it’s still God at work. We just have to choose to see it that way.

    In other countries, people are much more open to the idea of God speaking through nature, circumstance, visions, dreams….so they pay more attention. And when they see something, their first though isn’t reason (e.g., “it’s just a dream…”), it’s vision.

    But just because we don’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there. Our prayer should be that of Elijah/sha (sorry…too lazy to look it up) for his servant Gehazi (that name I remember) “Open his eyes!”

  16. I wonder if maybe God is simply finished with America as far as using it for his purposes, much like Assyria, Babylon, Rome, Europe, etc.

  17. i have seen miracles—- but not in church

  18. I think the gospels answer it best when it talks about Jesus not being able to perform much in the way of miracles in his HOMETOWN because of lack of faith.

  19. Well said. God comes here, but we fail to recognize Him for who He is.