Thursday, April 5, 2012
If there's one thing I've learned from my stint in radio, is that the audible message, repeated constantly, becomes an indelible part of your memory.
Why do you think that a thirty second radio ad, hammered into the subconscious of so many listeners, at least six times a day for at least six months, is committed to their memory in such a way that they can even repeat it verbatim - knowingly or unknowingly?
There's something to what Joshua was told in the book of Joshua, in verse 1:8. "This law scroll must not leave your lips! 1 You must memorize it 2 day and night so you can carefully obey 3 all that is written in it. Then you will prosper 4 and be successful. 5 " - from Netbible.org.
I first started to listen to podcasts after finding out that there were lessons to be learned from the great divinity schools in the US through iTunes U and other great websites. At that time, it was just good to listen online because I could choose to stop listening at any time.
After starting my studies in apologetics, downloading the podcasts became mandatory. It was difficult already to wrap your head around the concepts, much more grasp them completely after reading through the pages of the book just a few times. Add to that, my failing eyesight, reading became quite a challenge after going through at least five pages.
Downloading podcasts by Dr. William Lane Craig, JP Moreland, Mike Licona and Gary Habermas to work through the issues of the resurrection account helped me understand the propositions and the arguments better. After realizing that I could take the lectures with me while waiting in line at banks, walking from place to place, I began to load the podcasts on my old iPod. Who cared if I couldn't upload video? I didn't need visual aids. I needed to remember these things.
Uploading the lectures and interviews by Dr. Mike Licona helped my understanding of historiography and how valuable it was in making the case for the validity of the resurrection accounts.
Downloading, and listening to Reasonable Faith podcasts brought me up to speed on the absurdity of life without God, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the problem of evil and a great many other issues that are taken up by most apologists.
With the lectures by Dr. Doug Groothuis, I learned to appreciate Francis Schaeffer, Soren Kirkegaard, Blaise Pascal and cultural apologetics.
Listening with the iPod is the next best thing to being with these esteemed scholars and listening to them in real time. It's even better, because you can get to rewind and really commit what they say to memory.
Many other people have become enamored with tablet PCs and other gadgets.
I value my old iPod - and plan to get another one with larger memory space when it finally conks out. It has served me well since 2006. And continues to do so up to now - in my quest to study the hope that we have and why it's the most viable system of thought to believe in.
In the course of my work in serving the tribal people of the highlands of Mindanao, we are exposed to many different situations quite uncommon to city dwellers.
Among these are what most ministry folk refer to as “power encounters” – or the kind involving the supernatural dark forces that the less educated of these people pander to, in order to gain some unusual “favors”.
I had long known that these kinds of forces existed and had read about them, but it never occurred to me that these happen to people in a different reality.
I met Pastor Edgar Aleo of the Titik, Zamboanga del Norte Tribal Gospel Fellowship in a pastor’s conference sometime in January, 2012. He attended the conference with his brother in law, Pastor Albert Tinda, of the Mount Moriah Training School in Guintolan, Zamboanga Sibugay.
We were there to enlighten them and quite a few other pastors on the projects of Remember the Poor/Village Health (www.villagehealthministry.wordpress.com) that would benefit them as colleagues in the ministry of MCN. (www.mcni.org).
It was during the course of that conference that I came to talk to them and learn of these significant encounters with the dark forces that truly exist in their areas and wield such a strong influence on the people that they are hoping to win over to the Kingdom of God.
I happen to adhere to the view that miracles still do occur in this day and age, and we who walk with our King will do “greater things” as He had said we would. We can save that discussion for another post and focus on these two that strengthened my view that we as followers of the Way, must do battle with “principalities and powers” that exist in this world and use the authority that He gave us to overcome them.
Pastor Edgar is a Subanen and comes from a family of Baylans (shamans). His father, Alake Aleo was a Baylan before him and they had both become followers of the Lord Jesus one after another.
A Baylan is a local spiritual figure among these tribesmen, who go to them for healing, through appealing to the spirits and appeasing them with sacrifices – some done on a yearly basis, to renew their spiritual “powers”. Some of them are also suspected of causing sicknesses to enemy tribal groups. Tribal villagers have been known to have given a total value of 150,000 Philippine pesos worth of offerings for sacrifices to these baylans.
After Edgar committed to follow Jesus, his father did not immediately follow, and continued in his way as a local shaman. However, after noticing that Edgar became completely different and much better, he sought to follow suit and asked his son to help him do the same.
In the Subanen setting, this is not as simple as we think it should be.
By doing so, the Subanen baylan concedes that there is a far more superior power than his own and submits to this power and has to concede this in public. And Edgar and his father did so in the Tribal Gospel Fellowship church altar sometime in 1998.
The ritual involved the public relinquishment of these powers by turning over the plates and other instruments used in making these sacrifices to the spirits and putting them before God the Father as a way of acknowledging that He is Lord and the superior power over them.
It was during the public acknowledgement and denouncing of these forces in the altar that what looked like a flame leaped out of these implements and left the church building. This was witnessed by Pastor Edgar and many in the congregation, strengthening their belief in the God of the Bible, the one referred to by the Lord Jesus as “our Father”.
The second time this occurred was with a far more prominent baylan, the uncle of Pastor Edgar and Albert Tinda – a man known to the villagers as Singkat Tinda. He had been a baylan to the tribal villagers for a much longer time and his “powers” were legend. There were many reports of bedridden people being revived and could walk again after consulting with this baylan offering sacrifices to the “spirits” in their behalf, as well as other stories of people being “healed” or recovering from other illnesses.
Pastor Edgar knew this uncle well and continually talked with him to dissuade him from continuing in his ways as he knew of the dangerous implications of what he was doing. For quite some time, his uncle did not pay attention. Sometime in September, 2011, his uncle had a change of heart and wanted to be baptized.
And in a very public manner, Pastor Edgar and many other friends of the congregation brought the baylan to a river for a public baptism. The event was witnessed by many, including a great number of followers of the baylan.
It was during this encounter, when the pastor attempted to immerse the baylan, and it was just the baylan’s head that had to be submerged under water, a strong force resisted their attempts to put him under the water and complete the process.
The pastor and other attending friends began praying and attempting to do this for at least one hour – and each time they tried to put his head under water, a great strength would arise, preventing them from doing so.
Finally, after an hour of attempting to do so, the entire process of baptism was completed and the people witnessing the event saw what appeared to be a “black shadow” arising from the water and flying away fast from the scene.
The baylan has since become a believer and attends church services, and bible studies and proclaims that the Lord Jesus is his savior. And so with the followers that saw what had happened.
Incidents such as these are few and far between in an urban setting, where most modern day “Christians” think that these are mere superstitions and are not real occurrences. I write of these incidents to give credence to the real situations that are faced by these modern day spiritual warriors in the field, in the tribal upland areas of Mindanao – where they battle poverty, lack and the delivery of basic services, yet win great battles in the invisible supernatural world, where they gain much territory in the Kingdom that the King had tasked each one of us who claim to follow Him, to proclaim and expand.