A couple of weeks ago I read a book called Voice in the Night: The True Story of a Man and the Miracles That Are Changing Africa. This book came up as a recommendation on my e-reader because of my reading history. It’s the story of Pastor Supressa “Suprise” Sithole. The book is not new – it was published in 2012, but this was the first time I heard of the author. Surprise and his wife, Tryphina, direct the work of IRIS Global in Africa. In the book he details stories of miracles – healings, people raised from the dead, divine protection, etc. Most of these events take place in the jungles of Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa.
I’m going to be honest, I almost gave up on the book a couple of times in the beginning because I felt like the stories were too good to be true. (And I am one of those full-fledged Pentecostals that believes in tongues, miracles and divine healing!)
What disturbed me even more was the matter-of-fact (though not flippant) tone with which these extraordinary events were told. But I stuck with the book and really fell under conviction from God.
I came to realize my discomfort was a reflection of my own unbelief and complacency, not of this dear brother’s true account!
Signs and wonders should be the norm for us followers of Christ! Jesus said as much in John 14:12-14:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
I was really touched by the simplicity of Pastor Surprise’s faith. He takes what God says at face value and obeys. And his life operates at a level of the supernatural that is rare in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere.
One story that really stayed with me was: When Surprise decides to follow Jesus, he is radically changed and wants to communicate the Good News to everyone he comes across. Three weeks after giving his life to Christ, Surprise and a friend move to a different country for work. Naturally, they call a church meeting for all their new neighbors. Except they speak a different language. Surprise tries to convey the Gospel in his own tongue, but the people don’t understand…until suddenly they do! Surprise was speaking in this people’s native tongue, without even realizing it. God supernaturally deposited their language in him so he could tell them about Jesus. Amazing! He currently speaks 17 languages!
At several points in his life, Pastor Surprise’s burning desire to bring the Gospel to people in the “bush-bush” (deep jungle) that have never heard of Jesus led him to choose a life of poverty, homelessness and near-starvation. We have gained so many brothers and sisters in Christ as a result of his sacrifice.
What a stark contrast to my life. I’m not saying that everyone is called to the bush-bush. But as believers, we are all called to point others to the Savior. Yet on most days, my greatest struggle is choosing between time with Jesus or pleasing my flesh in one way or another. Lord have mercy on me!
This reminds me of something our youth pastor, Sam Lopez said in a sermon this past Sunday:
[Jesus said] “I’m going to give you my Spirit so then you can be my witnesses.”
“What if Jesus really meant – I’ll fill you with my Spirit,
if you will go and tell people?”
He encouraged us to “stop hoarding everything we’ve been given” because as we pour out what we have, God will pour in. I’m paraphrasing heavily, but it was a message given by the Spirit. I encourage you to check out the full sermon.
Could it be that we don’t see these kinds of miracles because we’re holding on to what God has given us? I am the first to admit that I have not given priority to my Father’s mission. I pray that God awaken us! I hope you will read Pastor Surprise’s testimony and be encouraged to be about our Father’s business!