ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: 40 YEARS BELOW ZERO VIII
Aren't you just super-duper glad you get to spend another day with me?
Coffee's a bit stronger than usual today. I did my normal three scoops of French Roast in the grinder, and then added a scoop of some pretty dark-roasted stuff from the island of Java in Indonesia. It may not match Michael's Black Tiger, but a cup of this stuff will raise an eyebrow or two.. Come on by and have a cup!
Well, let's get right to today's tale of faith and adventure, shall we?
David Frankson was the postmaster at Point Hope. I'm not sure how long he had filled that position, but I suspect he was likely only the third or fourth postmaster in the village's whole history. A wizened sort of a guy, he was the perfect caricature of a hunter and trapper -- and he certainly did his fair share of both in order to keep meat on the table for his rather large family.
David was also a longtime Episcopalian and a solid member of the Episcopal church at Point Hope. Those early Episcopal missionaries had the spiritual goods when they established that church many decades earlier, and the next two or three generations of ministers who followed them did their best to lay some decent foundations in the people of the village. What they and the more recent generations did not have was an understanding of spiritual warfare, nor any concept of how evil spirits capitalize on ancient traditions to hold people in captivity.
Tradition is one of the greatest snares to spiritual advancement and growth in one's walk with Jesus Christ. If that tradition happens to be founded in what folks so glibly refer to as "mother nature," animism (the belief that certain animals embody spiritual power and authority, and are due reverence and worship), and shamanism.
So that you better understand shamanism, let me cite a
paragraph or two from the Encarta Encyclopedia's definition: [A Shaman is a] religious specialist, originally found in
hunting-gathering cultures, which are loosely structured, technologically
simple, and homogeneous. The word shaman is derived from a word in the Tungusic language of
Although a shaman can achieve religious status by heredity, personal quest, or vocation, the recognition and call of the individual is always an essential part of that individual's elevation to the new status. The shaman, usually a man, is essentially a medium, a mouthpiece of the spirits who became his familiars at his initiation, during which he frequently undergoes prolonged fasts, seclusion, and other ordeals leading to dreams and visions. Training by experienced shamans follows.
The main religious tasks of
a shaman are healing and divination. Both are achieved either by spirit
possession or by the departure of the shaman's soul to heaven or to the
underworld. Shamans also divine the whereabouts of game, the position of the
enemy, and the best way of safeguarding and increasing the food supply. Shamans
may occupy an elevated social and economic position, especially if they are
successful healers. 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All
Shamans have been a part of Eskimo and Indian culture for many centuries, and shamanistic tradition was certainly ingrained in the Inupiat culture of the arctic coasts of
In Deuteronomy 18:10-21, we are told, "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
"Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.
"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
"And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Now, I may be a bit long in my quotation from Deuteronomy 18, but I wanted to draw the complete picture for you so you can understand the bondage of people who live under shamans, witches, fortune tellers, astrologers, mediums and the like. Encarta's description of a shaman includes "divination" and "a consulter with familiar spirits." That description also incorporates the fact that the shaman accomplishes his purposes by "spirit possession" -- meaning that the shaman is possessed by evil spirits.
The shaman certainly does not accomplish his goals and purposes by and through the Holy Spirit, and God's Word makes very clear the fact that He directs His people through a prophet whom He calls, commissions and anoints to speak only what He says. The consequence under the Law of Moses for the person who dared speak as an oracle or mouthpiece of God words that did not come from Him was death. You see, God's purpose is to direct His people to health, to strength, to prosperity, to abundant living -- all in stark contrast to those who listen to the voices of evil spirits.
One of Encarta's descriptions of the shaman is that he occupies an elevated social and economic position. You may recall the story I shared with you in the series of Coffee Breaks titled, 15 STEPS, of the young man -- "Johnny" -- who had been being prepared and "anointed" to become the next shaman in Barrow, and the disastrous outcome of his life when he failed to receive the deliverance he needed from those evil spirits.
The shaman in Point Hope certainly occupied an elevated social position in the minds of the villagers, and -- like all shamans -- parlayed his position for control over and in the lives of those people who revered the power and authority he was perceived to possess. To a large extent, the local shaman's influence in the community had been largely lost to the message of Jesus Christ and previous Episcopal priests who genuinely preached the Gospel.
When we arrived in Point Hope, however, the community had been through a period of declining influence of the Gospel due to watered-down preaching from priests who did not know the Lord personally, and simply held their titles and positions for political and personal reasons. Correspondingly, the power and influence of the shaman had been increasing, and he had played his position and perceived authority for all it was worth.
The extent of his "divination" of where the best hunting was for the villagers was more hype than reality, and his use of incantations, spells, potions and the like to create an aura of "healing" for sick people was more deception than reality. The "healed" people often began to suffer from recurrence of their illnesses, diseases or afflictions, and because they had experienced momentary relief during their previous "healing" episodes with the shaman, they would return for more of the same. Through this repetitious cycle of perceived "healing" the shaman gained in influence and perceived spiritual power. What no one seemed to see (and in truth their eyes had been blinded by evil spirits) was that no real healing was taking place. The people were simply being kept in bondage to the shaman.
The priest who was serving the Episcopal church at Point Hope when we arrived found himself in a battle of wills and a continual vying for power and influence. Because he lacked spiritual authority, those who continued their attendance in the church did so more out of tradition and habit than out of receiving any real ministry. The priest found himself having to play the same manipulative games the shaman used, often deploying fear as a tactic, along with threats that if the people did not follow his direction, when they died they would not be buried in the "sacred" cemetery with the rest of the Christians.
Sorry for the long preface to today's story, but I wanted you to see the spiritual darkness that prevailed in Point Hope when we arrived.
David Frankson was among those villagers who had experienced genuine salvation when Dad and Howard Andersen had pitched their tent and held their evangelistic meetings during their coastal journey. His near-lifetime attachment to the Episcopal church, however, kept him faithful in his attendance and that of his family; and when we opened the doors of the new church for the first time, the Frankson family was not there. There were curiosity-seekers who came to find out what we were doing and saying for the first few weeks, but apart from two or three families who decided to break from their traditions and become a part of the new church, attendance and participation was pretty sparse.
It was a stark contrast to Barrow and Wainwright, and harked back to the early days of Dad's ministry in Nome. A group of young teenage girls in the village took to Mom, however, and though they were afraid (because of peer pressure and family pressure) to come to the regular church services, they gladly participated in a club that Mom decided to call "The Esthers." Patterned after Esther in Old Testament times, Mom used the opportunity to train these young girls in social graces while at the same time drawing a picture of the call of Jesus Christ as King to his bride-in-preparation.
One of the young girls who was drawn to the message of Jesus Christ was David Frankson's daughter, Rosa. One day as Mom was sharing, Rosa and a couple of her friends responded to the quickening of the Holy Spirit and made Jesus Christ Lord of their lives. Not long thereafter, Rosa was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
The change in this 12-year-old girl was nothing short of spectacular. She changed from being a timid youngster to a bold and outspoken preacher of the Gospel, testifying to her friends and peers of the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Before long, the "Esthers" had grown to a sizeable group of young girls. More than that, these youngsters were coming to regular church services and dragging their parents along with them. To this point, however, Rosa's parents and family members were not among them.
Among those families who had started coming and whose lives were experiencing genuine change by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ were folks who had previously been very dependent on the shaman. The shaman did not take kindly to their testimony of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
One of the things that is true of all those -- whether shamans, astrologers, witches, sorcerers, mediums, or whatever -- who utilize, or attempt to utilize, spiritual power and authority is that they themselves live in deception. It is a deception foisted off on them by the evil spirits whose lies they have believed. They believe that their authority is real and that they have power over life and death -- power they can exercise over people who will not respond to or recognize them.
The shaman in Point Hope was one of those unfortunates so deceived. He took personally
the loss of influence in the lives of the families who were abandoning him and
decided to do something about it. One very still
winter night I was awakened to hear a voice muttering incoherent words
outside. (In the cold temperatures of the arctic, sound carries for
miles.) I got out of bed and looked out the window to see the shaman
walking in circles around our house throwing some kind of powder or substance
toward our place. I said to myself, "You've
Over a period of several nights, this activity continued, alternately awakening my mother, then my father, and even my brother. We talked about it a few times in our morning devotions and laughed at the silliness and foolish arrogance of Satan.
The priest was also among those who took personally the loss of families who had been in regular attendance at the Episcopal church. Feeling threatened over the loss of his perceived authority and influence, he decided to take action in a different way than the shaman. Visiting the homes of a couple of the families he trusted, he said to the parents, "We have to put a stop to this. These people are departing from the faith, and it is all due to the influence of Rosa Frankson who has been contaminated by religious extremism. You need to talk to your children and have them apply pressure to Rosa to get her to stop."
It was the first of shots being fired in a spiritual battle that would have lasting repercussions and consequences -- both in the present and in eternity.
If I attempt to finish this story today, we'll run really long. That said, let's keep today's Coffee Break somewhat abbreviated, and continue from this point on Wednesday. See you then.
Lack is not supposed to be everlasting: it is a temporary situation until you can grow some Word seed to meet the need. God has given us the two things we need to get whatever we desire: Dominion and Seed.
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