On Sunday morning Jason and I went to a sunrise Easter service. It started around 5:30 in the morning and it was outside, so when we got there is was still dark. We joined the crowd and started singing. As my eyes got adjusted to the low light I saw someone who was outside of the group. He was over on the edge of the field singing. Sometimes his hands were in the air, sometimes he was on his knees, and sometimes he was just standing looking into the sky while he was singing. It was obvious that he didn’t think anyone was watching him. In the darkness he was just singing to God.
After I saw him I started thinking about the freedoms that Christ gives us that we take for granted everyday. I have told you before that Satan’s power is real here. People make sacrifices to him. They make promises to him and their lives are controlled by him. They live in deep fear of the power of Satan in their lives.
I have never had to live with fear like that. When I got saved Jesus cleaned my heart, and I started a relationship with Him. I talk to Him and He guides me. He takes away loneliness and hopelessness and shows me the purpose and reason for my life. It’s really a beautiful thing.
The people here have all of that. God comes into their lives and starts a relationship. But it’s also so much more than that. God breaks the power of Satan. He takes away a fear that has always been a part of them.
Most of the time I was trying to be respectful, but sometimes I couldn’t help looking over at the guy on the side. As it started to get a little bit brighter I realized that this guy was one of my friends who works at the Youth Center with us, William.
William grew up in an animist home and his whole extended family participated in sacrifices. He had a lot of problems in his life and at one point he started going to a Catholic church. In the Catholic church here in Bissau the services are short, the people do not read the Bible for themselves, and many of them are completely ignorant about the most basic things of Christianity. William said that he got involved in everything that he could. He was in the choir, he went to a young adult group, he was there every time the doors were open, but he did not find Jesus. Lots of the people in the church came on Sundays and then during the week they were still involved in their sacrifices. When they got sick they still went to the witch doctor and they still lived in fear of the power of Satan.
He left the church for a while and some terrible stuff happened in his life. One day, about three years ago someone told him about Jesus and he said that everything changed. The pieces finally fit together and he understood his life. He walked away from everything and committed his whole life to knowing God and telling other people about Him. Jason and I eat lunch with him and a few other people everyday and sometimes he tells us about conversations that he has been having with Muslim or Animist friends. He shakes his head and says, "They just don’t understand" and then he gets a smile on his face and as he talks about Jesus and what Jesus has done in his life.
On Easter morning the worship that I saw was the product of a life that has been changed completely. William wasn’t thinking about anything but the sacrifice that Jesus made to have a relationship with him and the power that brought Jesus back to life.
As I have been thinking about this over the past two days one of my all-time favorite songs has been playing in my mind: One Pure and Holy Passion. It’s a really simple song, here are the words:
Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You
To grow as your disciple in your truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you, my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on and I will run after you