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The African Bishop


When I go to church, I want to hear from God. I went to church last night, I think. It was my first time to an “Anglican” church. I went to hear a new African Bishop who was visiting the US. He was not wearing his miter and ecclesiastical robe (but he did have on his purple shirt and white cleric’s collar). He was African, Anglican, and Charismatic. He spoke of casting out demons and hearing the audible voice of God. Now, I am neither a judge nor a lawyer, but for me at least, the jury is “still out” on this one. I have never heard God outside the phone booth of the Bible.

The Bishop was born into this world the same year as I was (along with Presidents Clinton, and Bush, Donald Trump, and Ozzy Osbourne, - (who says God does not have a sense of humor?). The Bishop also spoke of being “Born-Again” two years after I was. I spoke to him after the meeting and shook his hand, mostly because I wanted to hold the hand that might have “cast out demons.” Except for being black and softer, it was no different than mine. I don’t know about casting out demons, but I know there seems to be no shortage of evil spirits these days. Churches are not exempt.

Darfur, Ethiopia, Sudan, and a host of other horrible places are filled with demonic-like chaos according to the latest news reports. There are swollen bellies and religious bullies, and broken dreams in Africa and around the world. If I indeed shook the hand of an exorcist, I wish him well. He shall have his hands full enough dealing with human nature, let alone the hounds of hell. I also got to hear (during a question and answer session) about Anglican Church politics and denominational (ever notice the beginning of that word? Demon)- turmoil. It seems the Anglican and Episcopal Church is having an identity crisis.

I attended this meeting because my own spiritual Richter Scale has been on the blink for a while. Oh, I have heard mission reports (but that is mostly about what man is doing). I was wondering about what God was doing. I have spoken to missionaries who have returned from Africa, and Russia, and Europe, often with tales about human nature, both in the church and in the government. I know about human nature. Tell me about higher and greater things. I want to know about what God is doing in Africa, and Asia, and Australia. So I wanted to hear from an African. Where has the “pillar of fire” or the “glory cloud” touched down lately?

America no longer seems to be on the cutting edge in technology or theology. We are too often like the powerless disciples on the bottom of the mountain trying to help a poor lunatic in a crazy world. Only Peter, James, and John got to witness the Transfiguration and they were told not to talk about it. I wish someone would talk about it. No, don’t talk about the trouble in the “movement,” but rather having seen the movement of God. Oh yes, I have read our own press. Every church loves their bishops.  Every growing church, these days, has its own public relations department. Every group can work itself into an enthusiastic frenzy about their own programs or preacher. That is not what I mean.

I’m talking about the moving of the Spirit and the awesome power of the Almighty. Reading about what your denomination or religious franchise is up to is not always the same as finding out what God is up to. The days of pith-helmeted missionaries are over. Natives are not naïve. Africans and Indians hold PhDs and patents to our latest technology. A bushman in the Outback is as much likely to have a cell phone and Nike sneakers these days as the city-slicker sipping a double latte in Seattle. Laptop computers, and satellites have “shrink-wrapped” the globe and made it smaller. We are able to instantly “text message,” and according to the number of cell phones stuck to people's ears, everyone is talking to someone. We live in a high tech age. When God calls, I wonder if He ever gets a busy signal?

When I go to church, I do not want to hear some man as much as I want to hear God. We have not really been to church unless we do. At the end of the meeting the Bishop was taking questions. The Anglican congregation had many, as you could imagine. During the end of the Q&A the pastor’s cell phone rang. Every head turned to the somewhat embarrassed Rector. God calling? No, it turns out it was just another guy. -id