The planning was tough, because we could not find a home exchange and the city is expensive compared to other American cities (By the way; our experience is that Europe is more expensive than America).
The Lord blessed our visit in an unique way. A few weeks before our arrival in NY, a woman who read our blog mailed us and offered their home (though palace would describe it better) to us...for free. They were going to Namibia during the same period and, allthough all their accomodation was completely arranged allready, just wanted to bless us.
Their neighbors took us for dinner, their friends brought us American pie and offer us the most precious visits and friendship. From our "palace" we had the most beautiful view of New York. There was a pool table, swimming pool and a separate room & working space for each one! And those are just the highlights... We spent a week in their house and two days in New York city itself, walking for tens of kilometers and visiting numerous places of interest. A truly memorable week. My family will elaborate more on the detail.
Let me share a different thought and an expression or two with you. But, before I start, let me just add a quick disclaimer. I respect America as a nation tremendously and would choose to immigrate there if I was to leave Namibia. My comments are thus born from a deep respect and love.
Ten million people in one city are a lot. Everything is massive and excessive: buildings, accommodation, public transport, number of cars and feet on the streets, shops, number of police vehicles, etc. It is amazing how they manage to create some kind of "slower pace" in the chaos created by the numbers, by having numerous parks and relaxing chairs and tables beside the streets.
We walked the Mecca of the financial world...Wall street and Broadway. We walked past the American Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and massive financial institutions' buildings (all of whom received billions of US$ as "bail out" money very recently). We also visited the site where they are constructing the new building where the twin towers stood. We spent a long time in the Trinity Church – less than 100 meters from all of this!
I reflected deeply on 9/11, when terrorists brought the capitalistic world's icons down. Churches, I have been told, were full for a few weeks after that day. Just to decline in numbers soon afterwards.
Last year, Wall street recorded it's worse "bear trend" ever and millions of Americans lost their houses, jobs and the majority of their pension.
Although annalists speculate on a possible recovery and even a "little bull run", others pointed out that the average American owes more than N$ 60 000 on their credit cards. The possible "write offs" imbedded in the latter, may force the American government to extent it's U$700 billion "bail out" package to the private sector. Not good news, baring in mind that their newly elected President, who just rent an island for his family's vacation at a rate of only N$ 350 000 per week, is in the process of extending/improving the health care options for 50 million Americans (while very little is being done about the two thirds af Americans who are obese) and extending the war in Afghanistan. These initiatives will most probably not be funded from "their trading account!" Will America borrow from the Chinese again?
If an individual spent more than he earns, he will have to sell assets to fund the deficit or borrow more from someone else to finance it. The same principle applies to businesses and governments. Is it possible that the leaders of the free economic system twisted it so far that their rights and comfort, through their own money, became their own god? Meaning that they are turning away from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to worship something else...Interesting that Jesus said in Matthew 6:24 (NIV)
24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
As I read through the Old Testament again, I was struck by how an "abundantly loving-kind Heavenly Father" tried to do everything possible that His people will not turned away from Him. But, it seems to me, this is exactly what happened all over the years, again and again...for 6000 years. Is it possibly true that this very special American nation who wrote in their constitution and even today on their money that "in God we trust," is turning away from their God?
Often on long roadtrips, Tinus plays us a "podcast" or message from one of his favorite preachers. In one of these, Louie Giglio said that we are all worshippers. We will worship what we value the most. Period. What we value the most will consume us and what will consume us, will conform us. What we will be conformed to, will determine our destiny. Is it possible that this nation, once fully devoted to God, started to value "money" more than God? Is it possible that it conformed them to materialistic self-centric human beings with legio of rights and to the love of money, which will determine there destiny? Hard words...but what about Europe, did that not happen with them first? It is easy to criticize other countries...where are we, as Namibians, in this process?
Are we still worshipping God and Him alone?
The warning lights are red in Europe, orange in America and between green and orange in Africa...
Scripture is clear on this:
Psalm 115:1-8 (NIV)
1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. 2 Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?" 3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. 4 But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. 5 They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; 6 they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; 7 they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. 8 Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.
One of the signs you will see the most in New York City is: "I love New York", on t-shirts, glasses, keyrings, etc. A truly remarkable city with the most wonderful people, but I felt a sense of hopelessness due to who they worship. The Sunday before we left we visited the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church of Jim Cymbala (he is the author of two wonderful books I have read "Fresh Wind Fresh Fire" and "Fresh Faith"). Again, it was here, in church, that I received hope! Every time during our American leg of our trip; after reading newspapers, watching news channels, talking to people, my hope was fading. But every time it was in the local church that my hope was restored. That happened in LA (Fred Price and Rick Warren's churches), Whitefish (Paul and Angelita's church), Atlanta (Bruce Wilkinson, Phil Tuttle, Louie Giglio), Chicago (Bill Hybel's church) and now in New York (Jim Cymbala's church)!
That reminded me of Scripture; 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
There is hope because God is faithful, abundantly loving-kind and full of forgiveness... and his local church is still there...but then the church in America's voice should be heard! Can you hear that prophetic voice?...(Remember, the church is not only those few prophets I mentioned ...the church are all those who is carrying Christ Name!) Does that prophetic voice change the direction of businesses, the Government, the Nation? If the silence continues (voice or efforts not being effective)... America will become who they worship!
Maybe this is why the follow up book of Jim Cymbala of New York (Brooklyn), is called "Fresh Power". Churches (individuals, businesses and the Government) will need the Holy Spirit's presense and power to turn this around...
What about you and me? Are we still salt and light? Are we worthy of Christ Name? Are we faithful to our calling?
Ephesians 4:1 (NIV)
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Dawie Fourie - 9/11 from New York