Thursday, August 21, 2014

Burying Lizards Alive And Getting Rich Quick

                        Lizard/amphibian thought bubble: "Don't bury me alive!"

If someone told you to bury a lizard and you would get rich, would you do it? Perhaps on the surface it sounds silly to you. Or does it?

My day job as a missionary is communications manager for Transformational Education Network, an organization dedicated to bringing Christian education and computer skills training to young adults in Africa and the Caribbean. In that capacity I get emails from around the world and came across one yesterday that got me chuckling. Christie Dasaro, our TEN3 director in Nigeria, wrote about an ongoing "Computer Holiday Adventure" computer training outreach session that is being held at our TEN3 school in Jos, Nigeria. The session has 16 students, some of them touching a computer for the first time, she wrote.

Some good news out of the session is that two of the students gave their lives to Christ and six students rededicated their lives to Christ after a Bible lesson of, "What do you believe and why the Bible?" Christie wrote that she has "never been excited teaching CTO Bible like yesterday. To God alone be the glory."

She relayed one interesting story as the students shared beliefs in their culture. One student said, "If you catch a lizard alive and bury it, after three days you will become wealthy." That sounds patently ridiculous to us in America, eh? Not so fast. We have plenty of strange cultural beliefs: The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; Santa Claus; The Tooth Fairy (who, by the way, needs an income-generating strategy because the Sabo household has lost an amazing amount of teeth); Affordable health care. Coming from a culture in which a survey several years ago showed nearly 40 percent of lower-income people believed buying lottery tickets was a good wealth-building strategy, we better not judge.

The manager at the local convenience store near my house said she has many customers who spend hundreds of dollars a day on the lottery. I was in there once clutching Seth in one arm and a pop in the other and the dude in line in front of me dropped $600 cash on scratch tickets. I blurted out, "Feeling lucky today?" He looked at me and shrugged. When he left the clerk said he usually spends more. Wow. Just wow.

Christie ended her email about the student's lizard story by writing, "Thank God, the lesson opened his eyes to see the lies of the devil and know the truth." It's a small thing to have this child's eyes opened about a faulty community cultural belief. But in the big picture, through the TEN3 session his eyes are being opened to a much greater truth: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When I quit my newspaper job in May to work with TEN3, I left the relative security of more than two decades of work as a reporter knowing that in four years of missionary support raising through Serving In Mission, I had built up only about a year's worth of funds. I felt strongly the Lord's leading in becoming a missionary with TEN3, affirmed through much prayer and confirmation in Scripture, and have faith the Lord can supply the funding to continue beyond next summer. My faith isn't in burying lizards alive, or the lottery, or some other scheme, but it's in the God who has provided for me and my large family for the past 20 plus years. We lack nothing and have been blessed tremendously.

One other thing moves me to work with TEN3 and see lives transformed around the world. Our schools are open to anyone of any beliefs, but the gospel is proclaimed unashamedly. In her email, Christie asked for prayer for one of the 16 students, who is Muslim and is hearing in the class about the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. In a world that seems to be coming unhinged, riven by violence, hopelessness, warfare, disasters and unfathomable turmoil, the only true peace is in Jesus. One of my favorite verses is John 14:27, where Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

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