Togo, West Africa is a dark country. Over 50 percent of the population practices witchcraft or vodoo. If you were to mention that statistic too a local, they would say it is more like 90-95 percent.
The point is that it is a land gripped by Satan.
When you look back over its history you can see that its been this way for a long time. Togo was once reffered to as the "slave coast". You can see where Satan has had a tight grip here for quite sometime.
When I was in Togo last December I knew that I was going to face some sort of spiritual oppression. In my mind it was pretty much inevitable.
I mean, I was going for a vision trip where I was going to see just how I would bring the Light of Jesus to oppose the enemy himself. That's kind of like poking a snake with a stick.
So I expected it and did my best to prepare as much as I knew possible but since I had never experienced it on this level, I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into.
I was legitimately afraid but I didn't want to tell anyone that.
As soon as I got to Togo, Satan was working.
It's not like you may think it was. Nothing crazy and supernatural was happening around me. Satan just had a pretty good idea of what some of my weaknesses are. He knew that I do not function well without sleep...
So the first night I was in country, I didn't sleep a wink.
That's alright though! I could run on adrenaline!
Then the second night came and I didn't sleep again...
Now I'm starting to get very sluggish and drifting off during conversations with the missionary that I was working with. It was hard to stay focused.
I thought for sure I would sleep the third night just from total exhaustion... nope!
Now it was very noticeable that I was not myself because of my lack of sleep. My missionary friend even made a comment and asked how I was doing. I just simply said I was tired and we moved on.
That same day we visited one of the biggest voodoo temples in that area. As we were driving up to it, we could feel this awful feeling of oppression and darkness. It is a difficult feeling to describe other than just this heaviness that weighs on your body. It makes you just want to get out of there as soon as possible.
I had never felt something like that before so it quite honestly scared me. I thought about it the rest of the day and started to fear going to sleep that night, even though that wouldn't be for another 7 hours or so.
I eventually worked up the courage to mention everything I was dealing with to my missionary friend. He simply said, "I know. You haven't been yourself since you landed. I was just waiting for you to bring it up." I was a little embarrassed that I didn't bring it up sooner. He talked with me about it and said it was spiritual oppression. He said you can't run from it, you have to face it. He walked me through what that may look like and said whenever I was ready he would be glad to battle alongside me.
I knew inside that I was going to have to battle that very evening when it was time for bed. I just didn't want to. It was scary!
After everyone went to sleep it started to get real.
Now that I knew what I was dealing with it made everything worse. At least before I just wasn't sleeping... I wasn't gripped with fear like I was now.
I started to speak scripture out loud and pray. I rebuked Satan and his rule over me in that moment. I was fighting the best I knew how.
The feeling just wasn't residing from me though. I started getting annoyed. So I went and woke up the missionary couple and told them what I was dealing with and they immediately got out of bed and came to pray and read Scripture with me.
We battled for about 20 minutes when I suddenly felt this peace and the weight had finally lifted from me. It was incredible! There was no fear anymore!
You could tell Satan was starting to take drastic measures when the power went out in that moment. Right then we all started laughing. It was a realization that that was all Satan could do.
"Really? You can turn off some lights?"
I learned two very valuable lessons during that trip...
1. Satan has very real power.
It's true! Satan really does have supernatural power. He really does attack and it really is strong... and we humans really are no match for it...
But I learned a second lesson...
2. My God is so much more powerful!
I may have experienced Satans power like never before, but I also experienced how weak he is compared to my God!
It isn't even a competition!
Satan had to get permission to attack me like he had to get permission to attack Job (Job 1 & 2) .
Even though satan has such a tight grip on Togo and darkness seems to be all over that place... the Light of Jesus is SO MUCH GREATER!
God is currently transforming hundreds of lives in Togo!
The son of a witch doctor is now a pastor going through training to pastor his very own church. My God is greater!
The second church plant of the Togo Palms ministry is right across the street from the village chief... who just so happens to be a witch doctor. We had to get permission from the village chief to be able to build a church their. This man who communicates to demons on a daily basis gave us permission to build a church that speaks the Truth of his very own enemy, right across the street. My God is greater!
The pastor of this church plant has gone into the house of this witch doctor and shared the Gospel on multiple occasions and he keeps inviting him back. As a result two of his relatives are now followers of Jesus. My God is greater!
The day before this second church plant launched a group of 40 or so individuals went to evangelize in the surrounding area. Oh yeah, It is right up the road from that massive voodoo temple I mentioned earlier. After about 2 and a half hours, 105 people gave there life to Jesus. My God is so much greater!
Satan has absolutely noting on our God! The very same satan and demons that you fear, know the very same God that you know and they run tremble (James 2:19)! Our God is so much greater!
Let the power of God be shown through you. The very same power that rose from the grave lives in you (Romans 8:11)! Lets live like we believe that.
Culture is a massive part of your organization. This video is the introduction to a series about how to build a culture in your organization, intentionally.
Please leave a comment and share with others!
I believe a lot of people in the world struggle with the need of approval. It's understandable when you look at what culture teaches us. Culture teaches us to sacrifice anything to be able to reach the "top". This so-called "top" is a fantasy where we are now in the spotlight and loved by one and all. If you are striving to be loved by one and all, that is an impossible journey. Not even the most famous icon has the support of everyone. It just doesn't exist.
Leaders are always struggling with this fantasy and the way they respond to it will shape their impact and influence. What leader doesn't want to have some sense of approval from those around them? It is a natural desire! However, if it cripples your confidence, decision making or character, you have started down a very unsatisfying journey.
Paul talks about this idea of approval in Galatians chapter one. Paul is kind of ripping into the Galatians in this letter. He is very upset because it seems that they have been teaching a false Gospel. He is calling them out and rebuking their actions. Obviously, his tough words are not going to be the most popular with the Galatians... so this is how Paul follows up verse 10:
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Paul says something so bold and calls out every person that calls themselves a follower of Christ. He brings to light the motives of people that struggle with this need of approval.
So here is the question you need to ask yourself today... are you trying to win the approval of man or God? What are your motives for the decisions that you are making in life? If you are more concerned about what people will think about you, that it stops you from doing what God wants you to do, then you have lost what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Is it worth it?
Is the temporary satisfaction of man worth losing the eternal reward of our Father in heaven?
Is a momentary pat on the back worth sacrificing the words, "well done my good and faithful servant"?
Once you are so confident in who God is and what he means in your life, you will not stress so much about what the world thinks around you. Life becomes a lot easier when you accept the fact that you aren't strong enough, good enough or skilled enough and instead hold tight to the truth that you are loved by your Creator.
The craziest thing is that we spend our lives fighting for temporary approval of men when we have already been accepted just as we are by the only thing that will matter for eternity.
So stop fighting for the need of approval! Stop stressing about how people see you! Start reveling in the love of your Father and confidently acknowledging your weakness that is made perfect in Christ!
I have been inspired lately by Nik Ripkens book, The Insanity of Obedience. This would be considered a prequel to his first book, The Insanity of obedience, which I cannot express enough the amount of impact that book had on my life.
In the Insanity of God, Nik goes on a journey to discover just how Christians live in persecution. This book is a compilation of the stories of these incredible Christians who have faced persecution for what they believed and how nothing has ever shaken them from that faith. It truly is such an inspiring book that every believer should read.
The Insanity of Obedience has been another inspirational and convicting read. This book targets a more theoretical and educational feel than Nik's previous book. It contains a detailed report based on all the interviews that they conducted with persecuted Christians and their findings.
It has been such a wake up call to someone who wants to be a missionary to the unreached world and the dangers that can come if you don't have a good grasp and understanding of the culture and the way they function.
What has been more inspiring than anything has been hearing about the stories of Muslims coming to faith in Christ. An overwhelming majority of Muslims that were coming to Christ would read the Bible from cover to cover more than one time, before finally putting their faith in Christ.
These Muslims were so hungry to know who this God and Savior was and they knew exactly where they could extinguish their hunger... the Word.
I began to feel convicted about my personal time with God and my personal hunger for the Word. It did not replicate or even come close to what these Muslim searchers were striving for. I was inspired and desired to have such a hunger for the Word as these Muslims.
I tried to think back to when I first developed a personal discipline to be in my Word and realized that from the start that it wasn't the hunger of wanting more that motivated me to be in the Word. More or less what motivated me was a checklist, a simple feeling that I have completed a "task of my Christian duty". I was missing something. I didn't have what these Muslims had and I wasn't motivated the way they were.
Their hunger for Gods precious Word inspired me and convicted me. It woke me up to realize how much we take it for granted. No, really! If we are not diving in and devouring every singe word on the pages of the Bible, than we have lost our hunger to know who God is!
What about you?
Have you lost your hunger?
Did you ever have that hunger?
Has it become a mundane routine?
How do you become hungry again?
I think as Christians we sometimes separate our “church life” with our “work life”. Is it fear? Or have we not completely grasped the command to “spread the Gospel to ends of the Earth”? Does work not count as part of “to the ends of the Earth?
Another thing that I fear is the regular mindset of Christians today is that sharing your faith is only for people in full-time ministry. Not to sound harsh, but what version of the bible have you been reading? As soon as you give your life to Christ, your purpose in life is to glorify God and to make His name known.
Now that we can agree we all have a part in sharing our own faith… why not start in the workplace?
This is a 2 part blog. In part 1 I am going to give 5 ways you can share your faith without even talking.
"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” - Philippians 2:14-15
Here are 5 ways you can effectively share your faith in your workplace without even talking:
No for real! I know it sounds trite but one of the best ways to stand out and “shine among them like a star” is simply just showing up and working.
People respect hard workers. A hard worker is going to be able to have more influence and a voice in someones life, rather than a lazy worker.
Colossians 3:23 says:
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”
Showing up and working hard really does make you stand out, and it really will give you influence and a voice in someones life. Who knows, one day you may be able to share your faith just because you showed up and worked.
Now we can all do that!
2. Work with a genuinely joyful heart
Something that will help you stand out a little more in your work place is not just simply working hard but working hard with a joyful heart.
Once again I know it sounds trite but joyful workers are in very short supply these days.
When you work with a joyful heart people notice a difference in you and once again you begin to have more influence and voice in that persons life.
Give it a try! Remember you can work joyfully because of WHO we do it for!
3. Do not participate in gossip or any negative talk
I cannot stress this one enough!
The minute you participate in any gossip about your other co-workers, you instantly lose influence.
Why would you want to give up so much that you have intentionally worked for? This is a dangerous road and honestly it can be hard and awkward at times, but it is so important that you refrain.
I have had co-workers ask me about my thoughts on a co-worker they had just been talking negatively about. Talk about backing you into a corner. As awkward as I felt I simply said “I don’t want to talk about that person while they aren't here”. Guess what… they totally respected me for that! I actually gained more trust and influence by making sure that I do not participate in any gossip or negative talk.
This one is huge! Don't lose your influence over a conversation!
4. Care for your co-workers
Show some genuine care for the co-workers around you. Ask them about how they are doing and about there lives.
So many of your co-workers just want someone to talk to and someone to genuinely care for them. Why not you?
This will bring so much opportunity for you to share your faith. Just by simply caring for those you work next to.
5. Never forget your purpose
I talked about what our main purpose as Christians is at the beginning.
If we truly grasp that our purpose is to glorify God and to make His name known, then every aspect of our lives will reflect that.
So lets work towards our purpose as Christians in the context of our workplace. Let’s glorify God and make His name known with our co-workers.
I truly believe that if you are intentional at these five things you will begin having so many opportunities to share your faith without even talking about it. People will ask. People will be influenced by you, and you will be a voice in there life that they respect.
I had an absolutely incredible trip to Togo, West Africa in December 2016! In the two weeks that I was there I experienced darkness like never before, opportunity like never before and God's vision like never before. It was a full two weeks and a lot was soaked in and processed later. One experience that stuck with me the most and consumes my thoughts daily, is one I experienced at the weekly prayer service that our first church plant does every Wednesday night. But first I need you to do something with me. Pull out something to write/type on and begin writing down names of people you know that do not know Jesus.
Every Wednesday night at 6:30pm the church of Anheo gathers together to pray. In this specific prayer service there was a total of seventeen members present. We began to pray for all different areas of life. We thanked God for provision in our lives and lives around us. We prayed for healing over our bodies, soul and spirit as well as others in the church and outside of the church. We prayed for the government. We prayed for the saved that know Christ and then we prayed for those that do not yet know Christ.
At the point that we began praying for those that have not yet come to know Christ, a basket was passed around. And in this bascket were little pieces of paper with names on them. I looked around me and noticed that each list had around twelve to fifteen names on them and every single name was different. I was told later that these lists were written by members of the church and that every single one of these names are people that they know, come in cantact with daily and do not know Christ.
Now check the list of names you have written down. How many names do you have? Is it twelve to fifteen names? Or is it more like three to five names? I'll be completely honest! I could only write down four names and I don't even see them on a daily basis!
It's not over yet.
I then found out that not only are all these names of people that they know and that don't know Christ, but these are people that they know that don't know Christ and are actively sharing the Gospel with them daily.
Now look at that list again...
How many on that list are you actively sharing the Gospel with on a daily basis?
I was blown away and I learned two things in this expeience.
1. The need is masive in Togo! There were dozens and dozens of papers in that basket! There are so many people in that country that do not know the Hope that we know!
2. Church multiplication will happen and is happening! People that are finding Christ are sharing Christ in that country!
This story always makes me feel a little guilty about my own life and how I am neglecting my responsibility as a Christ follower. But it also excites me for the opportunity we have in Togo!
Guys! I'm telling you! There is going to be a movement in this country! I have seen and experienced all of what God is working on there and nothing gets me more pumped then to think about just how God can use me in Togo!
Pray with me for this wonderful country! Pray that God would take over in a mighty way and that others like me would have the call to help in this movement!
And then let's all try to share a little bit more of the Gospel with those that we know don't know Christ. And if you don't have any names on that list then something is wrong. Jesus was surrounded by fellow believers but He went into the places where people do not know the Hope that we have.
It's great to hear stories like this and it even can fire us up at times... but until we actually turn those great thoughts of how we can apply this to our life into actions, none of this stuff matters. Let's begin to multiply and make disciples of all nations!
Checkout my Vision Trip to Togo!