Dear Ministry Partners,
Thank you for the conviction that we have a responsibility to reach Jamaicans with the Gospel manifested by your giving and praying. Tammy and I, very obviously, share that profound conviction, but are, to be totally honest, really hitting a wall here.
We are beginning, we think, to understand some of the barriers to our success here, but that understanding is not providing us with any answers other than to just keep pushing out God’s Word through media and seeking out new people to preach to.
We experienced a kind of “gut punch” last week when the one adult man who has really been faithful on Sunday mornings over the last several months suddenly sprung on us, as if we should already have known it, that he had been sending his offering to Kenneth Copeland, and that he believed giving was important because God responds to the believer’s giving with financial increase (The seed offering concept). He also revealed he had, though he sees it as perfectly legitimate, a financial interest in joining us. It was his vision for our church to show the love of Christ by becoming the church known for giving scholarships to young people to attend his adult medical assistant school. In other words, though he wouldn’t necessarily identify himself this way, he is fully committed to the doctrine of the Word of Faith, or Charismatic, movement.
I told him later, after having fretted over how to respond a couple of days, that, having heard his thinking on those things, I knew he was destined to be disappointed by our ministry. As our conversation continued throughout the week, he also added that he believed speaking in tongues was the evidence of having been baptized in the Holy Spirit and that he had “a right” to expect God to respond to his faithfulness with tangible blessing (Again, the seed-giving concept). He still came to church this last Sunday, and I presented my very best “God has already given us all we need in the Scriptures, seeking truth anywhere else is a dead end that dishonors God, and Jesus said those who lived for Him would suffer in this life” message. Unless the Lord does something special in his heart, this will likely be his last week with us.
It was stunning because, I do my best to communicate that the Bible is God’s perfect, sufficient, and unique revelation, that is, that He isn’t giving any new revelation, including private revelations (Dreams, Visions, Audible Voice Messages, and etc.), in every message. I’m just emphatic about it because, as missionaries, we’ve had so much experience with people who so live for the spectacular that they can’t clearly hear the plain and straightforward.
They are much like the Jews Jesus told, in John 6:26, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”
Their interests, their desires, their world views are just so selfish and contrary to God’s that there is simply no place for what Jesus has to say in their hearts and minds. We have, more than once, and in this case, been fooled because even in the face of the clearest possible presentation of biblical truth, our hearers, who seemed to be soaking in the teaching were really hearing something entirely different than what we were teaching. Again, their expectation that if God is real, He will do the spectacular for them has blinded them to how spectacular the written Word of God already is.
Then there is this permeating love of money. We’ve seen the love of money everywhere, but I’m becoming convinced that we’re living in the capital of it! The other day, as I was waiting outside the grocery store for Tammy, I was approached by an older Brazilian man, well dressed and covered in tattoos and jewelry (very obviously a party animal), who asked me if I lived in Jamaica.
When I told him I did, he began to explain that he did too (He had move to Jamaica to retire), but that he was bored and ready to leave. I said, in response, “Yeah, Jamaica is not what many foreigners think it is.” He then felt at ease to pour out his frustration explaining that what he meant was that, even as someone who had just come to Jamaica to enjoy the life, he couldn’t develop any meaningful friendships because he couldn’t even carry on a conversation not poisoned by someone’s desire to get money out of him. He said every Jamaican woman he talked to wanted to marry him. When I asked how long he’d lived in Jamaica, he said “Two months.” I couldn’t help but chuckle.
It took him just two months to realize that even a foreign party animal is welcome only as a source of wealth!
I know you cannot help but laugh at what you’re reading, and we would too if it weren’t for the consequences of the “Give me a miracle, money, or show me the door” mentality of these people whose real need is to be redeemed. What they want, we neither can, nor care to, give, and it has become so overwhelmingly evident that what we have come to give they consider an unnecessary, and inconvenient, interruption of their lives.
A successful church plant seems far in the distance. That said, our commitment to preaching the Gospel in spite of the barriers is not exhausted yet, and we still believe that the doors will all be opened and closed by the Lord. So, please pray for us as we seek new minds and hearts to introduce to the Savior.
John & Tammy Cooley, Jamaica