Thursday, January 18, 2007

Satan's Checklist

One of the huge problems in our last field of service was pastors and church leaders falling (jumping?) into sexual immorality. Practically every month, we heard of at least one, if not more pastors who had lost their ministry, run off with someone from their church, or were under church discipline because of illicit sex. At one point we realized that all five of the pastors who were leaders in marriage enrichment seminars in our city had committed adultery. A few years ago, I had a pair of beautiful teenage sisters offer to be my wives when I traveled into the interior of the state. When I told them I was married, they were quick to tell me that this wasn't a problem for them - they didn't mind that a bit. In talking to missionaries around Brazil, I have found that none of us ever faced temptations in the States like we do here. I had a pastor friend who observed that Satan had a checklist with the names of all of the pastors and Christian leaders in our state, and that he was systematically going down and checking off the names. He wondered where he, and I, were on Satan's list.

And now, we're in Porto Alegre -a much larger, more modern metropolitan area, with an even wider variety of vices available. The Baptist Seminary where I taught church planting is smack dab in the middle of an extremely explicit red light district. The students get out of class at 10:15 at night and have to walk for about 15 minutes through the almost naked prostitutes and drug dealers to get to the dorm. On the drive to the area where we were church planting in São Leopoldo, I passed at least 10 motels used exclusively for prostitution and numerous pornographic billboards. Everywhere one looks one sees flesh - and lots of it, along with a range of messages, from subtle to explicit, instructing us to give into the desires of the flesh. There is quite literally no way to avoid it, short of locking yourself in the bathroom for the rest of one's missionary career - which is not why people give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering!

So - what to do? How do I keep from getting "checked off" by Satan? I've chosen to follow the model of Joseph when confronted with Potifar's wife. First of all, I have to maintain a strong, vital relationship with God. This helped Joseph to resist temptation, and it will help us as well. Secondly, Joseph refused to sin. He decided beforehand that he would not give into temptation. Thirdly, Joseph avoided contact with the temptation. He avoided being in the house alone with Potifar's wife. While I can't separate myself from society, I can be careful. I can avoid going to news stands where porn is openly displayed, I can avoid contact with people and situations that could be tempting. And finally, when there was no other option, Joseph ran from temptation. He didn't play around with it - he split. And that is what we must do as well.

I don't want to be the next man checked off on Satan's list of conquests. I want to be true to my God, true to my wife, my family, and the mission I represent. So, if you think of it today, pray for your missionaries - not just that God will bless them in general, but that God will help them to stand strong against the full fledged, frontal assault on our purity that many of us face every day. And that our words, actions, and meditations of our hearts would be pleasing in God's sight.

1 comment:

GuyMuse said...

Ditto for here in Guayaquil as well. I could have written the same post myself. We need to talk about these matters as missionaries and not pretend they're not real. 4 out of 5 believers here have been or are involved in illicit sexual encounters. It is prevalent within our churches. Let's remember to pray for one another as you have suggested. Lord knows we need all the prayer support we can get! If you get a chance check out our latest post here about a testimony of a lady from one of our outreach ministries coming out of prostitution.