Lord should be our fortress, not walls

Posted: Friday, July 22, 2005

"The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe," Proverbs 18:10.

What a comfort to know that no matter what we are going through, though physical, mental or spiritual turmoil, we can turn to the name of the Lord, and the Lord will keep us safe.

After spending five weeks in Africa in a culture so different from our own

here in Alaska, one thing I appreciate more now than ever before is our freedom to move about without the thought of our own personal safety from robbers, thieves and murderers. Not that Africa is full of these characters, but the presence of them is very evident.

In three countries I visited, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, every home was surrounded by high concrete walls with high voltage bare electric wire and razor ribbon wire on top to keep the bad characters out. Even with all the security systems, highly motivated thieves and robbers were still breaking into people's homes throughout southern Africa and killing people for their jewelry and cash.

What a contrast to our Alaska living where many of us don't lock our car doors at night. You may be one who doesn't even lock your front door and maybe has never locked your back door. What freedom to feel so safe here in Alaska.

My wife and I met many beautiful people in Africa. We met some of the most giving and loving people I have ever met anywhere. The biggest difference I noticed is most of the people in the countries we were in are unemployed and very poor.

Even in the small towns, the people line the streets during the day standing around with nothing to do or with no motivation to do anything.

It is a totally different culture than we know in America.

For example, one of the tribes believes the men should not have to do any work. Work is just for the women and children to do.

For the most part, deep family rooting in the native ways keeps education from the native people.

For many of the tribes in Namibia, education is only meant for the white man. It is not the native way.

Ancestral worship is the common religion, so ancient thought is revered over Christianity or other forms of religion and government standards. There are other religions including Christianity, but many of the people have not even heard the Gospel of Christ so their ideals for living are much different than our Christian-based civilization.

Every Friday night, in the town where my wife's relatives live and where we stayed most of the time, drums begin to beat right at sunset.

We were staying about a mile from an encampment where the ceremonial drumming goes on. The drumming would continue on until sunrise on Saturday.

It was difficult to sleep during the night and after the first Friday night, I asked the relatives how they slept, and unanimously everyone said they slept through the drumming. They are used to it, they said.

In our culture, even though we don't have the same ceremonial traditions as some of the African countries, we become used to some of the distractions as do the people in Okahandja, Namibia, who sleep through the Friday night drumming with no problem.

Our distractions might be something as little as a passing automobile with the blaring bass on high volume or the distraction of TV commercials tainted with sexual sensuality to sell a common product during prime-time TV on Sunday nights during a movie we have selected to watch with our children.

I am not saying the examples I have selected are any comparison to the drumming in the communities of Namibia, but these examples closer to home are a distraction to many people I hear complaining.

It was good to visit another culture so different from our own. It was a blessing to be in another country so full of richness and change from Alaska. I want to go back again soon, but I missed our Alaska.

Maryna and I were in Pretoria, South Africa staying at the house of a friend who was gone for awhile.

Pretoria is a large city, the capital of South Africa.

Maryna wanted to go for a walk, so we decided to go to the grocery store six blocks away. It was about an hour before dark and the sun was beginning to fade.

We knew we should not be on the sidewalk after dark in the part of town we were in, but we figured we could leave and get back in less than an hour. We started our walk and noticed many other people on the street walking. It felt very safe.

We got to the store and did our shopping as quickly as we could. When we stepped out of the store, the street lights already were on and dusk was all around us.

As we began our walk back to where we were staying, I noticed hardly anyone outside on the streets. Fear began to grip at me, and I picked up the pace of our walk.

We made it to the gate to where we were staying all right, but along the way it was very stressful. I really noticed as we were walking how all the homes were barricaded with security systems, including one that also had a warning sign that it was protected by snakes. That's right, snakes that are let out during the night. Big boa snakes!

It was good to get back to Alaska. I'm not saying we don't have crime here because we do, but I feel much safer on the Kenai Peninsula than I ever have before.

I don't say that so much in a way that we are safer here than one is in Namibia or South Africa, because the people there feel quite safe. They just know when not to be outside their homes and how to make their homes safe. We on the other hand have our own security systems that keep us safe.

I find that our greatest security system as a whole for the nation is our set of standards for law and order the 10 Commandments that help keep us safe.

Aside from our standards of law, we are blessed with law enforcement officers who are fair and uphold the law for everyone. Most of all we are basically a Christian nation, that prays for peace and law and order to a Lord who hears our prayers.

As long as we pray and humble ourselves in our lives, the Lord will keep us safe, just as we read in Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe."

We are truly a blessed nation because of our forefathers' dreams and ideals for life for this nation. They chose Christ as the redeemer for the the USA, and as long as we uphold the Lord's commands to place our trust in him, I believe we are in good hands with Christ for us, not against us.

Next time you open your car door and realize you left the door unlocked all night, remember how much we do take for granted in a land so free, and in living so blessed with security from a Lord on high.

Mark Conway is an evangelist living in Seward. You may contact him through e-mail at akmark50@hotmail.com.

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