16 Jul 2011

Pushing back the darkness...

Yesterday we went to see the 8th and final instalment of the Harry Potter films.  We managed to find a cinema just by our language school that showed it in English with Spanish subtitles rather than being dubbed over.  Now I’m very aware that many Christians have issues with the content and genre of this story.  They’re concerned for good reasons about the story’s potential to encourage young people to dabble with the occult and to open their minds to the attractiveness of dark spiritual realities.  I believe wholeheartedly in the reality of the darkness.  I don’t think you need to be a Christian to see the suffering, the pain and the troubles that so many people go through.  There are dangers in our world and I believe wholeheartedly that we should make young people aware of the very real dangers of messing with evil.

But here’s the thing – I believe even more wholeheartedly in the power of light to overcome darkness.  More particularly I believe in the power of Jesus, the son of God who came into this world to conquer sin and death and to bring light into any and every place, even those places where the darkness seems to reign.

Since arriving in Peru we've already become aware that the 'spiritual' is very real here and 'spirituality' very open.  We saw it on a recent bus trip where a man who stood up in the aisle and offered talismans and jewelry to guard against illness did a roaring trade.  We saw it in the market where the work of the curandero (shaman) is clearly accepted by many people as equal to if not more important than western medicine.  We are at an early stage in our reflections and don't want to simplify these issues.  How the Gospel interacts with these very strong beliefs is something we need to work out with God.

However, what I love about the Harry Potter story is the way it so vividly shows us that the darkness will not and cannot win.  It brilliantly depicts how the resolve of the few who choose to stand for honesty and truth can overcome the force and the might of the many who choose evil.    There was a point in the film (and don’t worry this won’t give anything away if you haven’t seen it) when the witches and wizards who believed that Harry would save them sent up spells to protect Hogwarts School.  They were committed to resisting Voldermort’s army for as long as they possibly could, even if it cost them their lives.  As they lifted their wands high in the air tiny shafts of light began to shine out from each of them, almost like tiny silver threads.  Gradually the area around the school was lit up and the darkness of the army beyond receded.   It was beautiful and for me it was a picture of what our prayers might look like if only we could see them.

Imagine your prayers going up like tiny shafts of light in a dark place.  Imagine what that looks like when we join our prayers with the prayers of others around the country and around the world!  Imagine the darkness receding and the light and love of Jesus filling our homes, our neighbourhoods and our world!  This film encouraged me to hold on to God, to hold on to his light in my life, but more importantly to commit to praying his light into the darkness.  

‘You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.’  Matthew 5:14-16

10 Jul 2011

July Prayer Letter

Our July prayer letter is now available from our page on the BMS website - www.bmsworldmission.org/jjhenley. Thanks for reading!

The Basilica Cathedral in Arequipa

2 Jul 2011

Fruit, Veg and Dead Alpacas!

Yesterday, as part of our language lessons, we were taken to San Camillo market in the centre of Arequipa. Housed under a huge iron roof, San Camillo is an emporium of the weird and the wonderful, alongside a huge variety of fruit and veg and everything from live crabs to sheep heads.

We were supposed to be there to practice buying things in Spanish. Playing it safe we stuck to fruit, although even eating some of this will be a novel experience, as many of the fruits are completely new to us. We are slowly working out which ones we like (and which ones not so much)!

Elsewhere in the market we wandered through the section of stalls for traditional healing. People buy these remedies on the recommendation of the curanderos (shamans) and seem to put a lot of faith in them. Some of the products and herbs wouldn’t have looked out of place in Holland and Barrett, but there were also some slightly more strange things on offer, including charms for blessing the house and dead baby alpacas which could be hung up to ward off evil spirits.

Although we’re not sure how much Spanish we actually learnt, it was good to get a glimpse of traditional life in this part of Peru. One day we might even try the sheep’s head soup...