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Tithing, miracles, and blessings

Journal entry by Loretta Beyer — Feb. 2, 2021

I always wondered why such a disproportionate amount of money was spent on padding the pews of churches in America, when so many around the world have so little in the natural.

Too often in America, we spend our time trying to assassinate each other over the color of the carpet in what should be our house of worship, rather than celebrating and encouraging one another.

I guess church is not a building, but rather it is the heart of the believer in whom our God resides.

The singing and celebration that goes on under the typical African worship gathering under a tree is positively angelic. They follow the antiphonal/lining it out style, where a leader sings a line, and then the rest respond to it, because they have no hymn books, and most cannot read, anyway. Instead of an organ or piano, there is a profusion of tambourines, drums, dancing and clapping. Pentatonic harmony is primary also, which gives it its distinct flavor.

When my dad taught on the importance of tithing, he would line 10 potatoes up along the front of the pulpit, and take one away, saying, “There, you never even missed it, did you?” It is so important to put God first by giving 10% of what we have to His work as an act of worship and then trusting Him to always care for you.

In Africa, tithing mainly consisted of people coming up front and offering a chicken, bowl of grain, fruit, or a precious penny, which they had carefully tied in the corner of a handkerchief. Truly the widow’s mite, given joyfully. My brother often said he would much rather “do” church in Africa than anywhere else, because those people have nothing and no one except the Lord to trust in.

One of the pastors was given an accordion by my dad to use in his ministry. Since he had no clue how to play it, he went up on the hillside and asked God to supernaturally empower and enable him to do so, and God did! Music is certainly in their bones and culture!

The Shona people are steeped in ancestral worship, always careful to pour homemade beer over and place food on the graves of their loved ones, in order to placate their grandfather’s spirit. The local witchdoctor normally carries around a lion’s tail as their symbol of power. Their influence is pervasive and holds many in bondage. If you go and visit one, for an exorbitant fee, they would prepare curses for you or throw the bones and supposedly read the cause and remedy for your troubles.

My mom treated a lady who gave birth to several beautiful, healthy babies, but then each of them died because grandma had severed the cord with grandpa’s old, rusty razor. After a while, the other villagers started call her a murowi (witch), because she was losing so many, and eventually ostracized the mother of the babies from the village entirely. What a tragedy!

Jesus died to overcome sin and death, and the grip of satan on this world. I John 4:4 reads, “Greater is He (Jesus) that is in me, than he that is in the world.”

If you were a small white girl in the bush and happened upon a snake in front of you, all you had to do was stand still and yell, “Nyoka! (snake!),” and someone would come running with a crescent-shaped snake axe and chop off its head.

Most Africans have no idea of their birthday, so, when they want to tell if a child is ready to go to school, they have that young one reach their arm straight over the top of their head, and, if they can reach their ear, then they are ready!

Even though I agree that Africa is “God’s country,” I am here to say how grateful I am to America for the blessing and home it has become for my family and me. Our country is “blessed to be a blessing”, and we truly have been that. I pray we will continue to be so for the rest of the world for many years to come.

Praying for the nations has always been a personal mandate for me, which I have tried to honor daily.

It is easy to become self-absorbed and forget about the persecuted church, and others around the world so much less fortunate than we.

This column is published posthumously with permission from the family. Missionary kid Loretta Beyer grew up in Zimbabwe. After graduating college in the U.S. with a degree in music and psychology, she joined her parents in Alpena, because of terrorist warfare in her African home. Over the last 40 years, she has made Alpena her place of ministry.

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