Posts Tagged ‘paganism’

Thoughts on Bicycles and Pioneering Missionary Mary Slessor

June 25, 2011

The past week (18th -26th June) was National Bike Week in Ireland and I have been thinking about the history of the bicycle, which made its debut as early as 1817 when Baron von Drais invented a ‘walking machine’ to help him to get around the royal gardens. I have also been remembering a bicycle trip that I made between the east and west coasts of Ireland around twenty-five years ago now. It was an exhilarating journey; my husband and I camped here and there en route and cooked meals over a little camping gaz. Actually we didn’t have a car at the time and couldn’t afford a holiday, so this was the next best thing! Somehow cycling has a way of making you feel healthy, de-stressed and relaxed, although even little hills can be quite taxing. These days I have also been taking a long look at each passing bicycle, as my youngest daughter’s bicycle (pictured below) was stolen recently, much to our annoyance. Cycling, we are told, is healthy, safe, environmentally friendly and economical – but of course it can be dangerous on some busy roads where motorists are not so sympathetic to cyclists.

As I was thinking about bicycles this week, I remembered an old book in my possession, about the Scottish missionary Mary Slessor (1848-1915). There is a picture in the book of Mary Slessor on her bicycle, which always made an impression on me. Like many other pioneering missionaries in the continent of Africa, Mary used this method of transport to travel through wild terrain where superstition, barbarism, witchcraft and paganism reigned. In some regions when twins were born, they were either buried alive or left to die in the woods but Mary Slessor won the hearts of the leaders of African tribes and of the ordinary people she worked with, to the extent that many turned from this brutality to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. At one point she nursed an African chief until he died and then with her own hands she made him a coffin and buried him.

Given that Mary Slessor’s father had been an alcoholic and she had worked hard to support her mother and the rest of the family when he died, it is truly amazing how the Lord subsequently used this young woman to reach remote regions in the continent of Africa. I have no doubt that she was followed by the prayers of her mother who (unlike her father) was a godly Christian who devoted her life to her children.

With bicycles in mind, I am reminded of this spiritual analogy: climbing the hills can be strenuous but what a beautiful view we have when we reach the summit! Mary Slessor’s life was burnt out in the service of her Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, often it must have been an agonising uphill struggle – but what a marvellous sight awaited her when, on reaching the summit of life, Mary passed into the Presence of her Saviour!

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Halloween and the Spirit of Evil

November 1, 2010

In this part of Ireland where I live there are numerous megalithic tombs on the landscape. Tonight my daughter and I were driving along when, out of curiosity, we stopped at one of these places where Neolithic people buried their cremated dead. I was curious to know whether some activity was going on around the place, given that it was Halloween night – a night when many animals suffer on account of satanic rituals. I was uneasy about walking up the narrow little path towards the tomb, which stands like a dome against the skyline. However, if anything was going on, I was determined that it should be interrupted. Anyway, we parked the car and by the light of a torch we made our way over to steps which we had to climb to get onto this winding path leading to the tomb. My daughter climbed up first but then she hesitated and screamed at what she saw. I joined her at the top of the steps and looked towards the dome where to my horror I saw a shadowy figure (wearing what looked like a cloak) standing right on top of it against the skyline! To be honest I didn’t feel so brave anymore and just wanted to get away from the place as soon as possible. We jumped from the steps and ran over to the car, which I started up – with difficulty. My daughter was worried that we were going to be stranded there, as the clutch seemed to be giving trouble. An isolated road in rural Ireland, close to a megalithic tomb where some shadowy figure in a cloak is standing – not an ideal place to be stranded, especially on Halloween night! Thankfully, I eventually got the car into gear and we were driving towards home. Unfortunately authorities turn a blind eye to such activities in Ireland, as elsewhere. As a child I enjoyed the normal activities which were traditionally associated with Halloween: the fireworks, the food, the pranks and knocking on doors. However, today as a Christian I feel totally estranged from this traditional festival which I feel has underlying satanic influences.

Never has Halloween been as popular and commercialised as it is today, and never have those who worship the devil had such freedom to exercise their ‘crafts.’ While the witches in bygone days were clandestine in their operations, because of the fear of being put to death, witches nowadays do television interviews and are open about their ‘craft.’ In Galatians 5v19-21, we read: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Our world, our neighbourhood, is currently full of superstitious rites, magic, spiritualist practices and ‘therapies’ of dubious origin, all of which are condemned in God’s Word. At some otherwise harmless events, such as craft fairs one will more than likely find a fortune teller, someone selling ‘Angel Cards,’ or some ‘New Age’ related articles or literature for sale. “Psychics” advertising in newspapers claim to offer “peace of mind, and assurance.” Surely we should be aware, as Christians, that there is a great turning away to the evil things of darkness, in the age in which we live? Let us therefore, as Christians, not celebrate the works of darkness – even if they are cloaked in seemingly harmless well-known traditions.

It was on 31st October, 1517, on the eve of a “traditional religious celebration,” that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the church door. Perhaps a celebration of the great truths of the Reformation would be more appropriate on this date? The following verses are surely at variance with many of those pranks (and much more evil practices) on Halloween night… “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand:  let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”  (Romans 13v10-12) Perhaps you feel that you do abhor those “works of darkness,” but have never trusted the Living Saviour. Why not trust Him now? God forbid that you should spend eternity with those who are described in Rev. 21v8… “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” The Saviour’s will is that you would be numbered with those who have overcome the evil one “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death” (Rev. 12v11).Then with the redeemed you can say: “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Col. 1v12-14)  Oh that all who read would claim these promises, cast off the works of darkness (in His strength) and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  (Eph.6v12)