Sin is a major problem. Everywhere. Alcoholism is also a major problem. In many places.
My main issue with alcohol is drunkenness. (Imagine that.) And the inability to control oneself under it's influence. The people I spent my summer with (ministering to) spent most of their day under the influence of one kind of alcoholic drink or another.
This, is not an issue of social drinking. I am talking about flat out drunkenness. I am talking about a barrier between sinners and the gospel. A cloudy mind, a clumsy body, and a total lack of logical decision making skills. And sure, escaping the weight of sin must be a relief, but if all you are escaping is the realization of your miserable existence without the hope of salvation...than your escape is just a facade. Hell is still waiting for you.
I want more for people than an escape. I want them to have salvation.
My frustration with alcohol this summer was what I would call a holy frustration. I hated the distraction that it was to the teaching of God's Word. I hated that when they woke up the next morning they were still miserable. Sill full of hate for themselves. And the poorer for it.
I realized, I had to teach against drunkenness. I will admit to not wanting to. I was a little worried about how people would react. I mean, really, I have never heard of anyone taking kindly to being told what they are doing is a sin.
But, the thing is, sin is a barrier. It is a huge wall between man and God. And God has called me to break down that wall. Even when it means being humbled. Even when it means sacrifice. Even when it means being offensive.
So, I taught Ephesians 5. (You should read it.) Verse 18, says "Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery instead be filled with the Spirit." (In truth, this summer was the first time that this verse came a live to me. The first time I had really seen it so directly; the fruits of drunkenness.)
As I was teaching it, a man came around and tapped my team member's shoulder. I was surprised to hear him speak English to her. He said, "Don't say anything else." I sat there for a moment. My translator was reading the verses in Bisaya, so I had a moment to think. His son, who was drunk as a skunk, had gotten up and staggered away just as verse 18 had been read. In truth, I was waiting for an angry outburst.
I decided, I had not come all this way to be scared of the devil. So...this is what I taught in short.
When you walk in the mud you have to be careful how you walk and where you walk. When you are drunk you cannot walk carefully. You trip over things. You fall down. You stumble. You cannot stay out of the mud and you cannot please God. BUT if you believe in Jesus and you ask for His forgiveness God will lift you up out of the mud and clean you off. He will help you walk carefully. And even when you make a mistake and fall back into the mud, he will forgive you, and help you learn to walk carefully once again.
At the conclusion of the service I was surprised at the quietness. There was no angry outburst. ( had heard enough already to know what kind of outburst they were capable of.) Later I asked Realynn, "Did you hear what that man said?" And than to my surprise she said, "Yeah, he said excuse me sorry I have to leave early."
Wow. So glad I decided to not be scared of the devil.
It was not a turning point in that the next day everyone in the tribe was perfect; but it was the beginning of conviction and the first steps toward repentance.
Please pray for courage, strength, and determination for the new believers there; and pray for God to continue to break the barriers between Him those that are still lost Ask God for workers willing to obey, to go, and to live out His truth with the lost who have not heard of His truth.