Friday, January 22, 2010
The Newark-Uganda Connection: It's a small, small world
I practice it. I believe in it. I confess that I don't know how it works. I only know that it does.
Oh, perhaps not in the way I would like. Sometimes, my prayers are not answered in the way I would like or have asked for. Sometimes, it takes years before my prayers are answered. Sometimes, I'm not even sure my prayers have been answered - or, should be.
There's an old joke about the woman who cried, "Lord, give me patience." So, God sent her four children.
Sometimes, I think, the challenges life brings to us are the way in which we work out the prayers we have made to God.
So, is there ever a way that prayer could be bad?
Well, a dear friend sent me a link to this article about The PrayforNewark Project. That would be Newark, New Jersey, where the historically high crime rate remains one of the highest in the country.
The idea is that "ordinary people" from all walks of life and all denominations (that would be Christian, of course) will "adopt" a street, walking and praying street by street, city block by city block, city ward by city ward for the people and businesses on that street.
Organized at the MLK, Jr. breakfast in 2008, the project claims a 97% "prayer coverage" of the city.
Sounds good, right? A great idea. Not a particularly Episcopal or even Anglican idea - far too bold an effort for us to take ourselves and our prayer out to the streets - but one in which some of us might actually participate.
Still, a good idea, nonetheless.
So, what's the problem?
Well, for starters, there's this: The project is tied directly to an international organization with direct links to the folks who played a significant role in organizing and inspiring Ugandan politicians who have backed the internationally notorious "kill the gays" bill, the heinously Anti-Homosexuality legislation currently proposed before Uganda's parliament.
Here's a link to a video Transforming Uganda which was produced by a man named Bruce E. Wilson. It is very clear that this international movement "The International Transformation Network" is using Uganda and inner cities like Newark as a prototype for an aggressive effort to take over governments and businesses and "Christianize" the world.
I've embedded it below, if you'd like to take a peek right now.
This group claims complete "transformation" of homosexuality through baptism in "His Holy Name." They have "documented evidence" of such "transformations."
They also claim to replace "Witchcraft" with complete healing of HIV/AIDS through "the Lordship of Jesus Christ." Never mind that the nation of Uganda has promoted abstinence and fidelity in marriage as the primary weapons against the spread of HIV/AIDS. Or, that billions of US dollars have gone into education, prevention and early intervention.
And yet, the incidence of HIV/AIDS has continued to rise in that country.
Never mind. See what I said above about how the answer to prayer can come in surprising and unexpected and challenging ways.
It is the links to folks like Os Hillman, Rick Warren and the "believers" of The Family which concern me. The goal of these "transformation" movements is "Christian domination in business and the marketplace". They talk about the "Unification of the marketplace and the pulpit."
I don't know about you, but this makes me very, very nervous.
Visions of "brown shirts" dance a hideous dance of domination before my eyes.
I'm all for prayer and the positive effects of prayer, but here are my questions:
Does anyone really want to be in 'prayer partnership' with people whose ultimate prayer is the 'transformation' of the world to the image of God which THEY have in mind?
Does anyone really want to be in 'prayer partnership' with people who want dominion over the lives of the intimacy and love expressed between two people?
Does anyone really want to be in 'prayer partnership' with people who promote a form of genocide for people who do not fit their image of what it means to be 'sanctified' and live a 'righteous life'?
I don't know about you, but I am suddenly very concerned about this effort of prayer in the City of Newark. And, Uganda. And, everyplace else where this international "Transformational Network" has established its "ministry of prayer".
I suddenly find myself praying the most humbling prayer I know, "O God, not my will, but your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Can I get an 'Amen'?