Summary: Paul Views of Persecution and Power Encounters
Paul Views of Persecution and Power Encounters
Paul, as many Christian leaders in Africa, have not been strangers to persecution, misunderstandings, and imprisonment for the sake of the truth. Part of the promise of living Godly in Christ Jesus involves abuse. Just as Paul suffered persecution so are many Christians suffering greatly for their faith throughout Africa. In the past one year in Nigeria, for example, there have been major religious persecutions in Bauchi, Katsina, Kaduna, and in Adamawa States. Thousands have been murdered, tortured, and stripped of all their worldly goods for their faith. Many western Christians have a difficult time appreciating the costs of belonging to Jesus like believers in Africa. Paul experienced harassment from both devilish and Judaistic zealots. Notice his response to threats, intimidations, and oppressive attempts from Acts 13:4-52):
Example - ``They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus who was an attendant of the proconsul, Segius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. The Saul, who was called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, ``You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.
Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.’’
Here Paul finds himself in the ``Happy Isle’’ of Cyprus where the climate was so perfect and its provisions so abundant that many people were finding contentment in the things of this world. Barnabas, a native of Cyprus, prefers to take a more conciliatory approach to his own people, but not Paul. He chose to confront the forces of darkness directly, as many Godly African evangelists successfully do today. Paphos, the capital city of Cyprus was known for its infamous worship of Venus, the goddess of love. This immoral goddess image motivated many people to live open lives of immorality, promiscuity, and debauchery. Sensuality also gives rise to a great amount of demonic idolatry. As a result, the governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus kept a wizard handy in order to be sure and cover all bases with connections to the spirit world. Many African leaders today commonly resort to spiritualistic powers through charms, amulets, and sorcerers in order to maintain their positions. It is a known fact that many African church leaders have also dabbled in the occultic practices of idolatry to reinforce their powers, status, and rank in the society at large. Many of these sooth-sayer assistants to leaders are used for telling fortunes, revealing secrets of their enemies, offering protection, and even occasionally providing healing. Their abilities of leadership are often supplemented with these demonic powers in exchange for sacrifices, offerings, and inside deals. They somehow believe that any means to obtaining power and gaining advantage over their competitors is justifiable.