We got to the church and the first Sabbath school was already underway, the only seats left were in the front. Three white girls walked down the aisle with heads bent, trying to be as small as possible, and sat right in front of the podium. The lesson was held by the Personal Ministries department, all about how to witness to strangers in their community. The speaker discussed 4 scenarios and had different members of the congregation come up and act them out.
Scenario One. An evangelistic comes to the house of a white landowner (added emphasis on the word ‘white’ from the speaker, because “Hillbright Church in Zimbabwe is a multicultural church and we should show that in our scenarios”). The speaker asked for volunteers and, like usual, no one wanted to get up on the stage, so she (the speaker) was going to act it out herself. Well, someone in the crowd saw me sitting right next to the stage and said, “Why should you pretend to be a white person when we have a white person right there?” I looked over and he was pointing at me. You can imagine my horror of going on stage in front of a church that I’m just visiting and in front of my kids and people who are complete strangers (I can do this when I perform, but not when I have no idea what I’m doing.) But I went up there because I didn’t want to be rude, and besides, what was the worst that could happen?
I stood behind the podium and played a white landowner while this man played the evangelistic person. It was extremely awkward. He came up to me and I expected him to shake my hand, so I put my hand out, but he must not have intended to shake my hand because his handshake was very limp and weak, and he basically just grabbed 2 of my fingers. Then I thought he was going to have a conversation with me, so I tried to keep talking to him, but he kept trying to walk off the stage, so I had no idea what was going on. But he did do some really good things. He asked me if I knew Jesus, and when I told him no he asked if I would like to get to know Jesus, which I then said yes to and he came back and shook my hand much nicer and we started talking. End of scenario 1.
The congregation clapped and then talked about the good and the bad of what happened. Then it was time for scenario 2. I figured I would be safe from having to go up there again, just because that’s normal etiquette when doing these types of things, and I wasn’t wrong. God just had something else in store.
Scenario 2. Meeting a person on a kombi (overcrowded vans) who has scary tattoos and you want to talk about Jesus with them. Of course, I just looked down and felt so embarrassed because I have tattoos! Luckily, I was wearing a shirt that covered most of my tattoos and a necklace that covered the one on my chest. The speaker played the part of the person with scary tattoos and another woman played the part of the person trying to start a conversation about Jesus. I thought she did a pretty good job, except she said, “I think those tattoos are very scary, do you know Jesus?” I laughed on the inside because, even though my tattoos aren’t scary, I’ve had that talk before. When that scene was over, the speaker asked the congregation for questions and comments, and most of them talked about how you should leave the topic of tattoos out of the conversation or you should talk about them, but they all seemed to think they were a bad thing. Then one lady said, “Just because someone has tattoos doesn’t mean they don’t know Jesus.” I almost yelled amen when she said that. Each member that had a comment had a different way they would have handled that situation, and it was neat to see that I have been in every conversation they would have had. I wasn’t embarrassed about them talking about tattoos, it was more the fact that they seemed to think they were such a bad thing.
Yes, the Bible does talk about not having tattoos. But its actually in reference to ungodly and immoral symbols on the body. And considering my tattoos are Bible verses and a flower, I think I’m safe from being put in that category. End of scenario 2. Since these first 2 scenarios took so much time, the speaker just read the last 2 and asked for a few comments.
Then it was time for Divine Service (church service). We had to sit right in front of the podium again, but it was not an interactive sermon this time (thank you, Jesus). The sermon was INCREDIBLE.
Chariots, Horses, and the Name
His sermon was over this verse, ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.’ (KJV).Psalm 20:7
Chariots: The Pastor talked of a verse in Exodus and the time when God parted the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites. The Bible says that Pharaoh got 600 of the best chariots, plus all the other chariots in his kingdom to get the Israelites back into Egyptian bondage. They even went over the dry ground that God had prepared for the Israelites alone. But of course, the Egyptians were swallowed in the water and died. Pharaoh trusted in chariots, and lost.
Chariots + Horses: Then the Pastor told of another story: a war. In 2 Samuel it talks about the Ammonites and the Arameans fighting David’s men, one on each side. At the end of the war, when the Ammonites realized the Arameans are fleeing, the Bible records that 700 charioteers and 40,000 foot-soldiers were killed from the Aramean army. Both the Arameans and the Ammonites trusted in chariots and horses, and lost.
Chariots, Horses, and the Name: Then the Pastor talked about how he would have worded the verse in Psalms. He said, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. But we will trust in the mighty power of the LORD our God!” He went on and said, “But the Psalmist insists, that though some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, we must remember the name of our LORD.” He talked about how much POWER is in just the name LORD and how people couldn’t even look at God directly and survive. Then he went into a history lesson about the name of God: LORD. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the New Testament in Greek. In the original Hebrew alphabet, there were no vowels. But the people who knew the language were able to read it, just like people who know English are able to read text lingo. Then some early scholars came and decided the Hebrew alphabet needed vowels so more people down the road could read the texts. These scholars came up with a system of vowels to put above and below the consonants in each Hebrew word. God’s original name in the Hebrew language YHWH, a word that can’t even be said, it just sounds like a breath.
My commentary: Think about that. God’s personal name is but a breath. So, when God breathed life into us when he created us, He gave us his name and that is what made us come to life. We have to breath to survive, we learn that in kindergarten that we breathe to live. Take a breath. You just uttered God’s personal name. His personal name is what is so vital for us to stay alive.
[Back to the Pastor’s sermon.]
Once the new system of vowels was in place, those scholars put in the vowels from Jehovah into YHWH, and it became Yahweh, which means ‘I AM’. The Pastor then told a story how, before he became a pastor, he remembers a time when another pastor asked the group of them what God is to them. One man said a healer, another a provider, and the pastor himself said love. Then that Pastor told them, “God is what our circumstances need.” For the man who said God was a healer, he had been in a coma for a long time, but God got him through it. For the man who said the God is a provider, he was having a difficult time affording certain necessities, but God made a way for him. God is what we need.
My commentary: God is the great I AM, which means He is enough in all our circumstances (which I would hope so since He puts us in those said circumstances). God is everything we need Him to be exactly when we need it. He simply is. He doesn’t need anything else to make Him be. God is. Which is why when Jesus told the officers looking for him that he is, “I AM.” They wanted to stone him right there because he called himself by God’s personal name. We know that Jesus then hid from those people because it wasn’t his time yet.
We are given this amazing privilege to call God by His personal name which is every name that we could ever think to call Him.
Who is God to me? Who do I say He is? God is my King. He is my Prince. He is my Peace. He is my knight in shining armor. He is my friend. He is my protector. He is my confidant. He is my worth. And when I look at all the situations God has put me in, I see that there is a connection between what I call Him and what He has put me through.
I guess it doesn’t really matter what we call Him. His personal name (that was so sacred people refused to even say it, they would say Adonai instead of YHWH), literally means He is everything. My God is the great I AM. Our God is the great I AM.