Monday, August 01, 2011


It's just one of those nights where I'm pondering my purpose in life. I've been reading a couple of good books this season. There's Living Water by Brother Yun, there's Fire on the Mountains, about the beginning of the Ethiopian church, an old book. There's the Elijah Task, which is another rather ancient book. Also thumbing through an abridged version of Matthew Henry's commentary on the four gospels, LKY's Hard Truths and some travel books on Israel.

One of the most inspiring stories I've read is from Fire on the Mountains. It is of a man named Wandaro: " Wandaro was living proof of the wisdom of God. Men would have passed him by, for he had none of the outward marks of leadership." Wandaro accepted Christ circa 1930s. In matters of literacy, and grasping of an Ethiopian alphabet, he seemed utterly unable to comprehend. Often, the missionary, Mrs. Lewis, would notice him, head bowed in prayer, asking the Lord for help to learn just one more letter. He did learn to read fairly well, though never fluently.


After the missionaries had been driven out of Ethiopia by the Italian authorities, Wandaro was persecuted with the rest of the Wallamo (a tribal area in Ethiopia) church. He was singled out for fiercer persecution. He was whipped publicly, almost to the point of death.

Wandaro with his children

"Then with hands tied behind his back, Wandaro was driven... back into the town. There, before anyone else could intefere, Dogesa (a local chief intent on breaking Wandaro's spirit) grabbed Wandaro by the beard. He shook Wandaro's head with violent rage, pulling some of his beard out by the roots and leaving his face torn and bleeding.

"Now, will you give up the white man's God? Now will you give up your faith?"

"No!" gasped Wandaro, "No, never! No! Why should I give up my faith?"

Again he was beaten. Watching helplessly, Wandaro's friends hid their faces and his companions cried.

Between the lashings Wandaro managed to say to his friends, "Christ was buried right in the ground, ground like we stand upon. (Tai Yong's note... wasn't Christ buried in a tomb carved out of rock? But okay, pedantic corrections aside)... Why are you afraid? I am not afraid. Why should you weep? I am here."

"Who has taught you to be so strong?" Dogesa was still angry but puzzled.

"The missionaries taught me!" Wandaro replied clearly and strongly.

"The missionaries have gone," cried Dogesa. "Why trouble now? They aren't here to help you and strengthen you."

"That's very true, but the God who sent them is still here. It is not the missionaries I am serving. It is God whom I am serving. God is the One who has saved me. It is God who planned my salvation. It is He who is with me right here. It is He who now strengthens me. It is not the white man. It is not the missionary."

Furiously Dogesa ordered Wandaro taken back to the market to be beaten again. This time five men were ordered to beat him in turn while he lay flat on the ground. They started about three in the afternoon. As one man tired another took the whip. When darkness came they were still whipping at intervals.

... and the various floggings and physical punishments continue in the book. Wandaro is imprisoned for a full year, released and sought for to be imprisoned yet again.

Eventually, Wandaro went into hiding.

"Even in hiding, his deep and abiding faith was like a rock upholding those who had found Christ through his testimony. Hundreds of his neighbors and countrymen looked to him as their leader and guide. Possessing few of the more easily recognizable characteristics of leadership, the beauty of Wandaro's life is the unanswerable proof that God "hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are not despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:" In Wandaro, God had a man, all of him, nothing held back, totally available, obedient. "

We often say things or present ourselves in such a way that people will have good impressions of us. The knowing smile and the subtle hint of intellectual superiority. The intentionally accidental slips of tongue or "by the way"s that reveal to others our impressive human credentials. The modest "oh it's really nothing" and for Christians, the "all glory to God" thrown in for good measure. Really, who are we deceiving? So many times we are not really interested in giving glory to God. We are interested in giving glory to ourselves. God is brought into the picture as a side story. A side character that shows how humble and modest we are to give credit to another while we are so great.

In Wandaro, God had a man, all of him, nothing held back, totally available, obedient. This is the line that really made me sit up. It touched me deeply. God is not interested in our human credentials. He is hardly impressed by the things we have done or what our human potential can accomplish. The only credentials He desires: Is this a man/woman, who is given to God? All of him/her? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

I'm trained in SMU, a school where the holy resume and sacred self-presentation are highly stressed. This is so important in the workplace. But God's eyes pierce through the human frailty of a beautiful facade. They make me feel almost uncomfortable as they search my inner being and my very thoughts and attitudes. Am I given to God? All of me? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

When I see people succeeding in the corporate world; this person or that person getting a coveted scholarship or position, what is my first thought? Is it a thought of jealousy or pride? Is it feelings of less self-worth? It is often when such thoughts come that the Holy Spirit reminds me, perhaps just like how God spoke to the prophet Samuel, that "God does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart".

All of me? Nothing held back? Totally available? Obedient?

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