Acts 2:12,13--They were all astounded and perplexed, saying to one another, “What could this be?” But some sneered and said, “They’re full of new wine!”
Hori Skeptus grew up in the town of Poison, Montana. His father was a pastor and his mother was a tax-accountant. Life in Poison was miserable for Hori and his two younger sisters and one older brother. They could never satisfy their father’s rules. They could not escape his burning anger. Birch branch whippings were the consequence to any and all infractions and pity the child who misspoke in church. They endured lectures, threats and ridicule and watched their mother wilt beneath the fury of their Scripture-quoting padre.
By the time he was 18, Hori left home and decided to become a reporter. After college he traveled the country and wrote about events and people that caught his fancy. What he loved best was interviewing religious figures and digging up any dirt that would tarnish their reputations. Over the years, pastors, evangelists and seminar speakers dreaded his piercing pen. I guess it would be safe to say, he had an agenda. Why? Because eighteen years of watching his father put on his Sunday game face and perform like a saint were colored by eighteen years of pain when the white collar came off, the bottle came out and abuse was a household member.
In Cleveland, Ohio Hori covered a famous healer who hosted a crusade in the city’s largest stadium. He watched as people came forward and were healed. He wrote some of their names down and found out where they lived. He visited two whose Monday night healings turned out to be fraudulent and took glee in writing a scathing exposé. He did not write about the little girl whose father called him to share how her tumor completely disappeared after attending the crusade. He dismissed the story as unreliable and the man as mentally unstable. Nor did he tell his readers about the diabetic farmer who emailed him that all his symptoms were gone after coming forward to give his heart to Jesus. The man was clearly brainwashed and the story was too hard to verify.
In Orlando, Florida a young father struck up a conversation with him at Pedro’s Diner. The two had an animated, warm conversation until the stranger asked if he could share an incredible story. Hori leaned forward thinking maybe something hot to write about was forthcoming. He eagerly listened as the man related a vile past of drugs and alcohol. But then he started to relate how Jesus changed his life, brought peace into his miserable existence and gave him hope and meaning. Hori cut him off. He curtly announced another pressing engagement and after limply shaking the understanding speaker’s hand, hurried out into the warm Florida air. In his car he denounced the idiot as yet another Jesus’ freak ruining a perfectly good country.
In Phoenix, Arizona he visited a fast-growing megachurch. He smugly observed the latte-serving deacons and the smooth rock band and noted how much different this church was than the one he grew up loathing. He listened to the speaker who surprisingly was quite good, but then his lie detector went off as the man spoke of his faith that God would provide the $1,000,000 needed to pay off their building loan with less than a week before the interest would skyrocket. He didn’t write a column about the 78-year old woman who died on Wednesday and willed the exact $265,500 remainder to the church whose members had sacrificially pledged $734,500. No, that was just a coincidence. Why couldn’t people see a money-hungry leader manipulated them?
One year later, Hori traveled with a small team from Youth With A Mission (YWAM) to report about their work with Muslims in Indonesia. He looked forward to dissing them as insensitive, American bigots out to change the culture of innocent tribal folks. He was sure they would bad mouth the syncretistic mixture of animism and Islamic beliefs they did not share. He was also looking forward to this trip ending soon. The team’s positive attitude, good-natured fun and kind treatment to him was unnerving. But what irritated him the most was the way they prayed.
As they entered Banten province, an official, Rahyan Sofyan, met them and rapidly spoke to them in an agitated voice. The team could not understand him or figure out his urgent gestures. Their translator had not yet arrived so they gathered to pray. Suddenly, Jillian (one of the team members), watched in surprise as her mouth uttered words she could not understand to the official. The rest of the team spontaneously began singing and praising God. For five minutes the two talked back and forth. A taxicab pulled up to where they had gathered and Ming, their translator, climbed out. She listened in amazement as the young girl from Kansas continued speaking in Sofyan’s dialect. Then she asked Rahyan what Jillian had previously said. She began crying as she related that the Holy Spirit spoke through Jillian the gospel. In another tongue, Jillian told Sofyan of Jesus’ power and love and that He would heal his daughter who was dying from Newcastle disease, a fatal viral disease for birds that had already killed 12 villagers.
Mr. Sofyan begged the team to come to his home and pray for his girl. Hori had seen enough. He told the translator, “Look, this is not right! Jillian obviously knew the language before coming and you all are scamming this official.” Little did he know that the diminutive Indonesian also attended Jillian’s college and knew her well as one who had never even studied this dialect let alone spoken it. She smiled politely, grabbed Hori’s arm and herded him into her taxi while the rest of the team rode with Rahyan to his home.
Two hours later they gathered around a dying 11-year old. They began to pray for her. Suddenly, the whole team began singing in Rahyan’s dialect. His eyes widened and he with his family and village onlookers, fell to the floor in astonishment, praising God. At the same time, his daughter opened her eyes and got out of bed, completely healed! Hori could not believe what he was seeing. He typed on his laptop, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
To his credit, Hori did not distort his story or paint the YWAM team in false terms. He praised their dedication and sincerity. But he made no mention of Rahyan’s healed daughter or the Holy Spirit’s enabling of language. He saw God’s power but he would not believe. He blocked the Father in heaven who continued to reach out to him with the father on earth he despised. He ignored the call of a Savior who wanted his heart to stoke his anger for a Skeptus who tainted his spirit. “They’re just drunk, that’s all!”
How can we dare be so utterly unbelieving when God is round about us.—Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest
©2006 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)