I Battle With Bi-polar

I Battle With Bi-polar
The door of the Mental Health Unit locked behind me. I couldn’t believe this was happening! After all, wasn’t I one of the success stories? Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 29, I’d weathered every mood swing without hospitalisation. Instead of hiding my illness, I’d become a spokesperson for Bipolar Disorder and given talks to support groups to inform and encourage sufferers and their families. Now, no amount of information or encouragement kept me from slipping into depression. I was fighting the biggest battle of my life…and I was losing.
Learning against the locked door, I begged God to hide me in the shelter of His wings. Amidst my emotional turmoil, I knew God’s refuge would be my only source of strength to endure what lay ahead. I first experienced mood swings in my teens, but no one suspected a thing because I hid them so well. I was outgoing, a strong student, and I participated in many activities. Most importantly, I always smiled. Eventually my deep bouts with sadness became so severe that I had to tell my parents. They took me to see a physician, who brushed off my emotions and assured my mother I was a “typical moody teenager.” My parents accepted the doctor’s diagnosis, certain I would ‘outgrow’ it. Hurt by the physician’s dismissal of my symptoms, I vowed to control these feelings on my own.
For the next 11 years, I managed my moods. I completed college, got married, taught high school, and gave birth to a daughter. But in November 1987, I began displaying symptoms of both depression and mania. At first, I hoped the feelings would pass. One evening in December, I met my husband, Tom, for dinner. After we left the restaurant, we walked by some shops on the way to our cars. It was late, and the stores were closing. I wanted to buy a piñata for my classroom, but Tom said we didn’t have time. I became furious. I jumped into my car, screeched out the parking lot, and sped home on the interstate. I felt so angry that I wanted to drive off a hill into the lights of the city below. I swerved my car toward the edge, but at the last second swerved back onto the road. When I got home, my hands were bleeding from fingernail punctures because I’d been holding the steering wheel so tightly.
After that experience, my moods began shifting rapidly from extreme rage to an almost catatonic state of depression. For several days I sat in a chair as if in a trance. It was then I agreed to seek medical help. A psychiatrist assessed my symptoms and put a name to them: Bipolar Disorder. The diagnosis was a relief. At last I was told my symptoms were caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain – not emotional or spiritual weakness. The moods I’d fought for years weren’t my fault. My psychiatrist also told me mood swings are cyclical. Some people experience them every two, three, or four years, while others experience them every few months or weeks. Additionally, stress, trauma, and fatigue can contribute to the onset of mood changes. Medications often prevent or lessen the effects of the most severe symptoms.
I was prescribed two medications which caused headaches, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, and weight gain. As uncomfortable as those side effects were, they were worth it to restore a balanced mood. Within nine months, I felt mentally strong again. I first realised my mood was improving when I was washing dishes one evening and began laughing out loud at a funny joke I’d just made up. I decided if I was going to wrangle with Bipolar Depression, I wanted to know what I was up against. Through research Tom and I conducted, we learned three important facts about Bipolar Disorder: There’s no ‘cure’ for the disease; it’s usually controllable with medication and therapy; and suffering from this disease isn’t a sign of weak faith in God. I also attended a Bipolar Disorder support group. What a relief to be in a room full of people who understood exactly what I was going through!
Upon my diagnosis, I lashed out at God. I often questioned, “Why me?” or “Why my family?” Many days I sobbed, begging God to take this away from me. But He didn’t. Instead He used it to bring me closer to Him. Though I’d grown up attending church, I didn’t study the Bible or rely on God daily. Shortly after my diagnosis, a friend invited me to a women’s Bible study. Through God’s Word, I discovered how much God cared about me. Such words as “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you whenever you go” Josh 1:9 encouraged me. Other comforting images came from the Psalms. In Ps 17:8, David cries out to God, pleading, “Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” The image of a strong, loving God sheltering me assured me I wasn’t alone. This period prepared me for the most devastating mood swing of my life. My knowledge of God’s Word and my trust in Him anchored me through great emotional pain and turmoil. I don’t believe I would have survived without them.
I had been told medications could lose their effectiveness at any time. In May 1998, the medications that had stabilised me for the past four years no longer seemed to be working. Emotionally, I was going through a difficult time. My closest friend had recently died from brain cancer. I hadn’t experienced a severe mood swing in four years, so according to my pattern, my ticket was up. Like many who suffer from the disorder, I didn’t immediately recognise the symptoms. What I first noticed was feeling a little tired, sad, and anxious. When the fatigue and anxiety persisted for several weeks, I decided to visit my psychiatrist. He changed my antidepressant. At my return appointment, my depression was better, but I was more irritable and sleeping poorly. My doctor then took me off my other medication, a mood stabiliser. Within six weeks I was taken off the two medications that had staved off my mood swings for the past four years. “Would the new medications work? How long would it take for them to affect my mood?” I wondered.
I muddled through that summer. Some days I could barely get out of bed, and on others I felt great. In Autumn, I began having severe panic attacks. I couldn’t fall asleep for fear of suffocating. I became obsessed with fears for my family’s safety and believed I would die soon. I’d always been able to manage my moods to some degree. Now all control was gone. I cried frequently, often unable to stop myself or to identify the cause. I withdrew from activities because it was too difficult to converse with others. I no longer could focus enough to read my Bible. I was afraid to be alone. My life was an emotional frenzy. My doctor tried changing my medications again twice. When I showed no signs of improvement, I agreed to be hospitalised.
Tom, my daughters, and my father came to visit me the first night I was in the hospital. It was very difficult, but I managed to pretend I was OK for my children’s sake. When it was time for them to leave, I hugged everyone tightly as I felt a new rush of panic. I truly believed I never would see them again. I watched my family walk down the corridor as the security buzzer sounded behind them. That night in the hospital was the loneliest night of my life. I rocked back and forth in the darkness, trembling with fear. I tried to read my Bible, but couldn’t focus on the words. I began to pray the fragment of my Psalm verse that I could remember, “Hide me in the shadow of your wings.” Then suddenly, my trembling stopped, and I was filled with a deep sense of peace. I prayed these words in the darkness until I drifted to sleep.
I’d begged the hospital’s psychiatrist to let me return home. Since I hadn’t attempted to harm myself, the doctor agreed – with the understanding that I would receive 24-hour adult supervision. Tom, my parents, and some close friends developed a schedule to watch over me. Back at home, I received many beautiful bouquets and cards saying, “Get well soon.” Part of me knew the sentiments were meant to encourage me. But I felt so much pressure to improve that I couldn’t open the cards after a while. Not only was I not well, I was beginning to believe I never would be well again.
The panic attacks eventually stopped, but my depression became more severe. I ate and spoke very little. After showering in the morning, I stood at my closet completely bewildered, not able to choose my clothes. Although I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. Constant thoughts of suicide haunted me. My doctor assured me that suicidal thoughts were a symptom of severe depression and didn’t mean I would attempt it. His words didn’t comfort me. I was so afraid I would attempt suicide that my husband hid my car keys, medications and sharp utensils. Finally, my suffering became so blurred, I couldn’t remember what I thought or did. Three weeks before Christmas, I entered a ten day hospitalisation program.
I’m thankful I did because God used it as a turning point in my recovery. The new environment combined with my medications brought me my first ray of hope in more than three months. Five days before Christmas, I was released from the program. I remember waking up and not feeling depressed. “When did this happen?” I asked myself. Then I laughed and thought, “Lisa, don’t ask when, just be glad it did!”
Diagnosis, faith in God, knowledge, and medication don’t take the sting out of Bipolar Disorder. I can look through family photo albums and see in my eyes which years I was depressed. I’ve experienced mood swings every three to four years since my diagnosis. I chose not to conceive again because my medications cause severe birth defects. Instead, Tom and I chose to adopt another child. I also resigned from my teaching position because I was too ill to work. I’m grateful to my husband for staying by my side. Most marriages involving a person with Bipolar Disorder ends in divorce. The erratic behaviour rocks the foundation and a lifelong illness often scares a spouse away. Our marriage has been rocky at times, but with counselling, prayer, true love, and dedication, we’ve grown stronger and closer through our struggles.
I focus daily on the present instead of mourning the past or fearing the future. Today, 2 Corinthians 1:4 is my life goal: “…we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” I continue to write and speak in order to encourage others suffering in any way. Also in 2 Corinthians, I’m reminded I may be hard pressed, despairing, or stuck down, but with God’s Holy Spirit, I’ll never be crushed, abandoned, or destroyed. Most importantly, I remember the dark hospital room where God reached down and sheltered his terrified daughter in the refuge of his wings.
Lisa Whinery lives with her husband and two daughters in Texas
Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic-Depressive illness, is a mental illness involving episodes of serious mania and depression. The person’s mood usually swings from overly ‘high’ and irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with period of normal moods in between. The presence of the disorder indicates an imbalance in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Impaired judgment
Extreme irritability
Rapid and excessive speech
Feelings of grandiosity
High energy level
Minimal sleeping
Rapid unpredictable emotional changes
Elated moods
Sadness, anxiety and hopelessness
Sense of impending doom
Decreased enjoyment
Emotional blandness
Loss of energy, motivation
Suicidal thoughts
Memory impairment
Increase or decrease of appetite

How Should the Church Respond to Zimbabwe?

How Should the Church Respond to Zimbabwe?

“Remember the prisoners as if chained with them –  those who are mistreated – since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:3
Many Zimbabweans in that long suffering country have watched their homes and churches bulldozed and burned by Mugabe’s army and police.
People are dying of starvation in a man-made famine. Vast herds of cattle and wildlife have been slaughtered. Crops and stores burned. Many people beaten or murdered. 5000 productive farms have been looted by government organised mobs.
Not only did these farms feed the entire nation, but they also exported food, providing the highest percentage of foreign exchange earnings. These commercial farms were also the largest employers of labour in the country and provided homes for up to four million farm workers and their dependents.

The Black Hitler
Yet, President Robert Mugabe, needing a scapegoat for his failed socialism, played the race card and declared: “Farmers are enemies of the state! … The revolution is yet to be concluded …Those farmers who resist will die!” Mugabe declared: “We have degrees in violence!” and “I will be a Black Hitler – tenfold!”
While the country was spiralled downwards into lawlessness and savagery, Marxist President, Robert Mugabe, was being applauded as a keynote speaker at the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. At the same time his supporters were slaughtering endangered wildlife and destroying huge forests and game reserves in Zimbabwe. The brazen hypocrisy, of those who claim to oppose racism, enthusiastically applauding one of the most vicious racists on the continent of Africa defies belief.
“Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will make a stand for Me against the workers of iniquity?” Psalm 94:16
The human rights abuses and persecution of Christians by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF regime in Zimbabwe are well documented. However, the media coverage has been surprisingly subdued. Public outrage in neighbouring countries has often been absent and concern has been erratic and inadequate. Christians in Zimbabwe are shocked that so many of their African brothers seem unconcerned about their afflictions.

What Zimbabwe was
Initially optimism was high for Zimbabwe. The war had come to an end and a peaceful settlement had been enforced by Britain. Foreign aid, especially from Britain, America and the European Union flooded the country. Zimbabwe at Independence had so much going for it. It had one of the most productive and efficient agricultural economies in Africa. There was tremendous tourist potential with magnificent scenery, well stocked game reserves, spectacular tourist attractions, such as the Victoria Falls, tremendous natural resources, gold, platinum and other precious ores, a modern banking sector, skilled manufacturers, and an efficient road and railway network. The Zimbabwean people were also amongst the best-educated people in Africa. Today, 27 years later, that once prosperous nation has been impoverished.

A helping hand
Some churches, which have taken in homeless and destitute people, have experienced police raids in the middle of the night. Zimbabwean police have attacked women gathered for all-night prayer meetings and severely assaulted them, 38 were so severely injured that they had to be hospitalised. The focus of this womens’ prayer meeting was to pray for peace. Pastors have been arrested for “subversive prayers.” Many Christians have been arrested, tortured and murdered.
Collen Makumbirofa of the Foundation for Reason and Justice, reports: “the Zimbabwean Communist government is waring against God and His people.  The Zimbabwean government is a criminal enterprise that is guilty of corruption, mismanagement, misguided policies, oppressive laws, murder, lies and institutionalised theft…the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed completely due to state terrorism, the expropriation of White-owned farms and massive corruption…the destruction of means of livelihood and homes, exorbitant import duties and quotas…freedom of movement and assembly has been curtailed…people are beaten and arrested for being seen in company of three. To those who work, more than half of their pay goes to the government through taxes…thousands are rotting in prison…thousands are being robbed of their possessions by the police, soldiers and militia, and have nowhere to appeal to. Thousands are dying every week…hospitals and clinics have no medicine. Millions are starving because their homes and means of livelihood have been destroyed completely…
“Robbing the poor is one of the greatest evils under the Sun…The selfish world is not interested in giving practical help to the sick, prisoners and starving. Even those in the ‘Free World’…are inconsiderate and have closed their ears to the cries in Zimbabwe. Women are being robbed and raped every day, men have been disempowered, children, suffer much pain as their mothers have no food…”

They love Mugabe more than their Christian brothers
Rev. Molefe Tseletse, at a prayer meeting for Zimbabwe in Johannesburg, declared: “It is a lie to say that there is no problem or crisis in Zimbabwe. The Church in South Africa must speak the truth even if there might be divisions among us.”
Collen Makumbirofa reports that more than 2 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa to escape the severe political and religious persecutions in Zimbabwe. He writes: “South African Department of Home Affairs is characterised by unprecedented corruption over asylum seekers and refugees. The Home Affairs officials demand bribes from poor asylum seekers…even the holders of asylum permits are required to pay bribes to the police…Those who fail to pay bribes end up in the notorious Lindela Detention Camp… Most of the people deported to Zimbabwe will be harassed, tortured and beaten by Zimbabwean authorities.
“What also causes much pain to Zimbabweans in South Africa is the carelessness and apathy of most South African churches. They love Mugabe more than their Christian brothers.
“A genocide is taking place in Zimbabwe. The African Union and United Nations are useless. They have ignored many genocides in Africa. Millions face starvation. What about those many slaves in Zimbabwe: do you care about us?

Fastest shrinking economy
“Since Mugabe came to power, Zimbabwe has been transformed from an African paradise with a 4.5% growth rate to the fastest shrinking economy in the world. Many hundreds of opposition members have been murdered by the government …The largest independent newspaper, The Daily News, has been bludgeoned, beaten and bombed into silence, as has the last remaining community radio station. ZANU has set up compulsory Indoctrination Centres for young people, teaching them blind loyalty to the ruling party and its leader and hatred of political opponents, especially Whites…and inducted into assassination techniques…in Matabeleland is the memory of the terrible massacres, purge and rape the Gukurahundi unleashed during the North Korean era by the Fifth Brigade. No one knows the number of the victims…a scorched land, a ghostlike land of silence and destroyed villages, and survivors too traumatised to speak.”
Church of England missionary, Rev. Arthur Lewis, who has served the Zimbabwean people for decades, reports: “Zimbabwe is now in a desperate and chaotic condition, apart from the tyranny and tortures which grows daily. Hunger stalks millions in the country. Commonplace items are unobtainable…garbage is not collected. Inflation rockets. Britain, colonialism and drought are blamed for everything.

Struggling to survive
The environmental devastation will take generations to repair. The farmlands are being wrecked, forestlands burned and the game in the reserves are being snared, shot and eaten. Many of the country’s assets are being sold off to South Africans, the Chinese, Libyans and other foreigners. And the Zimbabwean government’s filthy jails are filled to overflowing…a tortured, starving and unarmed people without friendly neighbours struggles to survive…prayer is strength for those who otherwise have no hope.”
“Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” Psalm 71:4

Food aid for a vote
People in Zimbabwe have been bluntly told that they will not get any food aid unless they vote for the party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe has plummeted to 34 years for men and 33 years for women – the lowest in the world. 24% of the population has been recorded as being HIV positive. There are already 700,000 AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe.
In a report by the European Community’s Court of Auditors, it was recorded that 89% of aid money from the European Union had been embezzled by Robert Mugabe and his cronies.
The latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index rates Zimbabwe as one of the most corrupt countries in the world,  marked by “rampant” and “severe corruption.”
Amnesty International has documented thousands of cases of torture by the Zimbabwean government. Nearly half of the Members of Parliament belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have been assaulted, mostly by the police. Many of the opposition Members of Parliament have been arrested, some imprisoned and several have been murdered. A quarter of the opposition Members of Parliament have survived assassination attempts. Not only have opposition Members of Parliament been assaulted, but even their lawyers. Human Rights groups have documented literally hundreds of thousands of human rights abuses, including severe beatings, abductions, torture and murder, in the last 7 years.

Fleeing Zimbabweans
Over 4 million Zimbabweans have fled the country. It is reported that 1.1 million Zimbabweans are now living in the United Kingdom. According to SAPA, 500,000 health professionals, teachers, accountants, scientists and engineers have left Zimbabwe. This massive brain drain of the most qualified Zimbabweans, particularly in the health and education sectors, undermines any possibility of reversing the catastrophic collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy.
The state run media are continually broadcasting racist hate speech.  The White population in Zimbabwe has been reduced from 300,000 in 1980 to less than 30,000 today. Many of those left are pensioners, economic prisoners whose pensions and savings have been wiped out by Mugabe’s hyperinflation.
Vast areas of forest and grazing land, billions of Dollars worth of coffee plantations, forestry, nature reserves and farmland have been destroyed by uncontrolled fires.
“How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished.” Jeremiah 12:4

Commentator Cathy Buckle fears “Zimbabwe’s natural resources are being looted and the environment is being completely destroyed… It’s one hundred times worse than reported…many of you have seen the film Hotel Rwanda and what happened there by the world turning its back on the horror. Please do something about it now…!”

Unjust reasons to hate
British Economist Robert Guest writes: “Tribalism, racism and sectarianism…bigotry: treating individuals badly, not because of something they have done, but because they belong to a particular group. People find all sorts of unjust reasons to hate, and unjust governments exploit them all.” Ethnic differences have been “deliberately inflamed by unscrupulous leaders…”
A press statement from The Churches in Bulawayo tells of night time raids on churches and forced removals of old people being cared for:  “The churches in Bulawayo have been working hard to alleviate the suffering of the displaced people. The removal of the innocent, poor, weak, voiceless, and vulnerable members of society by riot police is inhuman, brutal and insensitive and in total disregard of human dignity. These people are not criminals, but bona fide citizens of this nation. It seems the crime they have committed is that they are poor…the destruction of their simple structures and meagre property they owned…people died, some are traumatised. The rule of law must be restored. The churches should be allowed to continue with their God-given mandate and mission…”

Government is the problem
All private and church-owned schools have been placed under direct state supervision… Many of the country’s schools have pass rates of only 3 to 8%. Thousands of children can no longer even afford to go to school at all.
Mugabe is now refusing food aid into the country…satan came to lie, kill and destroy. We are in a war with satan and his agencies. These dictators fight God and His people… The major problem of Africa is Socialism, an insane lust for power, unprecedented corruption and gross. We are a very rich continent, but our governments are our problem and the philosophy of Socialism.

The solution for Africa is the spread of true Reformed Christianity. Socialism is un-Biblical and it destroys society.
“Then you will know the truth; and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 Rescue those being led away to death (in Zimbabwe); hold back those staggering towards slaughter. Proverbs 28:10-11”
“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Zimbabwe’s hope
The only hope for Zimbabwe is sincere repentance, Biblical reformation and spiritual revival. We tend to get the governments we deserve. An immoral and dishonest people get a wicked and corrupt government. Many in Zimbabwe supported Mugabe even as he was massacring the Matabele and stealing farms from productive White farmers. Only as the economy has collapsed, and their jobs and livelihoods have suffered, have the bulk of Zimbabweans turned against Mugabe. There needs to be an honest admission of the selfishness, greed, covetousness and malice which is at the root of this disaster. Zimbabwe needs to repent before God and rebuild their nation on Biblical Principles.

Should Christians Litigate?

Should Christians Litigate?
Foremost in the mind of any Christian who faces a legal challenge is whether or not they should in fact take a Christian brother or sister to court?
Many times in my career as a lawyer, Christians have approached me to sue family members, to sue people who are in the same fellowship with them, or people who they know also submit to the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Without fail, they would tell me that they are suing because it is a matter of principle for them, and not about the money. Without fail, these very same people would, at the end of the process, feel let down regardless of whether or not they were successful in the outcome of the matter.
There is however not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, to sue or not to sue. God has created governmental structures, and God has, from the earliest times, put laws into place to govern the earth.  Nowhere in God’s Word does God undermine or nullify such governmental structures and God will never violate that which He has ordained and has put in place.
If a criminal law is broken, the consequences are criminal punishment.  Nowhere does the Word of God suggest that Christians who commit crimes should go unpunished. In the same vein, if a civil law is broken, for example, I accidentally bump into my neighbour’s car, I am by law obliged to compensate my neighbour. God holds people accountable for their deeds, and every action we take in life has a certain consequence.
If my neighbour is also a Christian, does it mean that I am now exonerated, and that my Christian neighbour has no redress against me for the damages that he may have suffered? Surely not!
God in His Word admonishes us as Christians not to take our cases before the worldly courts.  This does not mean that the matter should not be dealt with, or that a wrongdoer should not be held accountable. It is more a matter of how the matter should be dealt with by us as Christian brothers and sisters. It is God’s desire for our lives that disputes between Christians be resolved in a Christlike fashion – in love. Our courts are certainly not designed to handle conflict between Christian brothers, nor do they have the necessary jurisdiction to do so. 
You may end up having a piece of paper, a ‘judgment’ in your favour from the courts, against your Christian brother.  In order to satisfy such judgment, you have to execute the judgment by, for example, attaching the assets of such a Christian brother, regardless of the consequences.
You need to examine your own heart and your own mind before you take legal action against a Christian brother or sister – what is your true motivation?  Is it perhaps retribution?  Is it perhaps retaliation?  Is there any unforgiveness in your heart? 
If your answer to any of these questions is in the affirmative, you should not be going to court as the true desire of your heart is to see our earthly judges deal with issues that can only be dealt with by the Lord. It is the Lord who will vindicate, and it is not for you, or any earthly judge that you might want to employ, to judge another person and ‘punish’ another person on your behalf.
I am sure that many of the judges in our courts who are entrusted to settling disputes between litigants will agree with me. Our court rolls are clogged with matters that should never have been brought before them and which could and should have been resolved in brotherly love, without resentment or a desire for retribution.
I must emphasise that there is nothing wrong with using our courts, which is after all an institution ordained by God to order and give structure to society, to recover payment of a debt that is due and payable (as long as your motivation is pure and you have exhausted every other means to obtain payment in a lawful manner).
We cannot and should not approach earthly courts to deal with disputes that fall within God’s jurisdiction –issues of hurt and offence and unforgiveness. These are heart issues, and if this is the real cause of the litigation, an earthly court will never be able to satisfy you. 
We can only approach the throne of God in prayer for guidance in a matter with our Christian brother or sister, if we are prepared to walk in complete forgiveness and where we do not hold any ill feelings towards that person. Take care that you do not find yourself on your own, in an earthly court, with only your earthly advocate to intercede for you!
Karien Hunter (BJuris LLB). Property law specialist and head of AMC Hunter Inc Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers.  For more info contact 031 303 4001

Freedom in Christ – The Christian Liberation of women

The advent of Christianity raised the dignity, freedom and rights of women to levels never before known in any other culture or religion. As one historian put it: “The birth of Jesus was the turning point in the history of women.”
As a result of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ, women in much of the world today, especially in the West, enjoy far more privileges and rights than any previous culture in history.
By way of contrast, one only needs look at how women are treated in those countries where Christianity has had little influence, for example in the Muslim Middle East. Christian women have been publicly stripped and flogged in Sudan for failing to wear the Islamic Abaya (a black garment that covers the head, face and the entire body). Under the Taliban in Afghanistan women were forbidden to go to school, to work outside the home, or even to walk without their whole face and head being covered under the Abaya. Women have been arrested and jailed in Iran for wearing lipstick. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal for women to drive a motor vehicle.
Polygamy is also widely practised in non-Christian religions. Christianity has always rejected polygamy because it inhibits exclusive, devoted love. Love between a man and a woman ought to be exclusive, otherwise marriage is degraded. Monogamy gives recognition, status and value to a woman. Yet Muhammad, for example, had at least 16 wives and 2 concubines. Muhammad’s successor, Caliph Umar, married 7 women and had 2 slave concubines. The Caliph Uthman married 8 women. The Caliph Ali (Muhammad’s son-in-law) had 11 wives and 19 slave concubines. Muhammad’s grandson, Hassan, married 70 women and had at least 31 children. Muhammad also authorised “temporary marriages” (for three nights or more). Thereafter the man could desert the “wife” leaving her without any rights or obligations – even with regard to any offspring, who would have no claim to inheritance or support.
Those who approve of polygamy, mistresses and “temporary marriages”, deny the value of a genuine marriage based on exclusive, lifelong, devoted love. Polygamy erodes the concept of a Biblical family. Monogamy alone gives the recognition, status and value that a woman needs, and the environment for raising children in a stable and loving home.
Few people appreciate how highly promiscuous and depraved cultures were before the advent of Christianity. British historian, Edward Gibbon, stated in his “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” that marital faithfulness in the Roman Empire was virtually unknown. Not only were adultery and fornication common, but obscene sexual practices were prevalent. Even the most depraved and obscene sexual acts were shamelessly illustrated on household items such as lamps, bowls, cups and vases. The Romans and Greeks also exercised and bathed publicly in the nude.
The Roman writer, Ovid, noted that sexual relations had become sadistic and masochistic. Catullus, a Roman writer, referred to the prevalence of Romans practising group sex. Emperor Commodus had a harem of 300 concubines and 300 young boys. Homosexuality and paedophilia was rampant in Rome and Greece. Tiberius, Nero, Galba, Hadrian, Commodus, and many other emperors engaged in widespread homosexual perversions and child molestation. Decadent plays, including live sex, mutilation and bestiality on the stage, became common during the reigns of Nero and Trajan.
The Roman law defined adultery only on the basis of the marital status of the woman. A married man could not be guilty of adultery. Adultery was perceived as a crime that only a woman could commit against the husband. In Roman law adultery was a property crime against the husband, not an ethical issue which applied to either single or married men.
Into this decadent environment the Christian message and lifestyle came as radical, revolutionary and very offensive. “You shall not commit adultery” Exo 20:14; “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” Heb13:4; “The husband should fulfil his marital duty towards his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband” 1 Cor 7:3; “Be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect” 1 Pet 3:7.
Christians maintained that marriage should be between one man and one woman for life, and they insisted that sexual relations had to be confined to marriage. The sex act made the couple “one flesh.” This required married couples to remain totally faithful to one another. Extramarital sex was unfaithfulness to one’s marriage partner, and it was in violation of God’s express command. 
By rejecting polygamy, adultery, fornication, public nudity, and the artistic portrayal of sexual acts openly on stage and graphically, the Christians instituted an entirely new sexual morality. As secular historian Edward Gibbon declared: “The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.” (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire)
It was as a result of the tireless work of Christians that by the 5th Century a wife was able to divorce an adulterous husband – something which had never before occurred in the Ancient World. Christianity equalised the crime of adultery and brought dignity and beauty to the formal wedding ceremony. Prior to Christianity marriage ceremonies were anything but dignified. Obscene songs, mockery and open displays of extreme decadence were part and parcel of Roman weddings. However, from the 4th Century, Christianity brought about a revolution in the state’s view of marriage, introducing a dignity, beauty and solemnity to weddings which had never before been seen. The belief that marriage is a Divine institution – a sacrament – stems from Christianity (The History of Marriage, by Edward Westermarck).
The abhorrence which Western society still generally holds for paedophilia (the sexual molestation of children) is a direct result of Christianity. Prior to Christianity, paedophilia and homosexuality were completely accepted by Roman and Greek society. Roman and Greek plays, novels, artwork, and philosophers, reveal an acceptance, and obsession, with pederasty. Bisexuality, perversion and sexual deviance was widespread throughout the pagan culture of the Greeks and Romans. It was the clear Biblical teaching against such immorality that revolutionised Western civilisation:
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Lev 18:22; “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination” Lev 20:13; “Do not be deceived; neither the sexual immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offender…will inherited the Kingdom of God.” 1 Cor 6:9-10; “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness…shameful lusts…and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion…” Rom 1:18-28
The Biblical doctrine that sexual intimacy was a holy gift of God – only to be enjoyed between a husband and wife within the context of marital privacy – was a revolutionary Christian concept. The Christian teaching that “the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” 1 Cor 6:13, and that the body is “a temple of the Holy Spirit” 1 Cor 6:19 led Christians to condemn, and in time to outlaw, adultery, paedophilia, homosexuality, bestiality, pornography and other decadence which had once been prevalent and accepted in pre-Christian cultures.
St. Augustine in “The City of God” observed that the Romans despised the Christians because of Christian opposition to their unrestrained sexual depravities. Tertullian noted the Romans were so incensed by Christian opposition to their immoralities that they hated the very name “Christian.”
Professor Alvin Schmidt in his “How Christianity Changed the World” observes: “The hateful attitudes that were once directed against the early Christians seem to be returning, and for similar reasons, despite the current attention given to toleration. Increasingly, Christians are hated by many who advocate ‘hate crime’ laws. In large measure, they are hated because they seek to honour God and His Laws rather than ‘re-define god as our future selves’…as feverish efforts are underway to bring back the sexual debauchery of ancient paganism.”
To appreciate the revolutionary impact of Jesus Christ in the history of women, and to understand how radical His teaching and conduct towards women was to the ancient world, we need to understand the historically low status of women before the time of Christ.

The social status of a  slave
Respectable Greek women were not permitted to leave their house unless accompanied by a male escort. When guests were present in the home, the wife was not permitted to eat at the same table or interact with the guests. The wife had to be unseen and confined to her quarters. The average Athenian woman had the social status of a slave. Whereas the husband could divorce the wife at any time, the wife could not divorce her husband. Girls did not go to school at all. Throughout a woman’s entire life she was not permitted to speak in public.
As Sophocles wrote: “Silence is an adornment to women”; Aristotle declared: “Silence gives grace to women”.  Euripides wrote: “Women, specious curse to man”. Aeschylus wrote: “Evil of mind are they, and guileful of purpose, with impure hearts”. Aristophanes wrote: “For women are a shameless set, the vilest of creatures going”. Homer wrote: “One cannot trust women!”
Greek civilisation accorded an extremely low status to women, not allowing them to have any meaningful social life in public, or in the presence of men, even in private. Women had little social value. Female infanticide was commonplace. Baby girls were expendable. Female babies were seen as “an economic liability, a social burden.”
Similarly, in Roman society wives were not allowed to be present with a husband’s guest at a meal. A married woman under Roman law was placed under the absolute control of her husband who could divorce her, sell her into slavery, or kill her at will. Women were prohibited from speaking in public. Women were not allowed to speak in court.  A man could even execute his married daughter. He had full authority to beat to death his wife, even his grown children, or grand-children.
These laws were strongly criticised by the early church fathers, such as St. Augustine. From the very beginning, Christians opposed infanticide and rescued and adopted many of the abandoned babies. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28
The way in which the Lord Jesus interacted with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) may not appear so unusual to Westerners today. Yet, to the prevailing Greek, Roman and Hebrew cultures of that time, our Lord’s actions must have been quite shocking. Jesus not only ignored the Jewish anti-Samaritan prejudices, but He violated the customs that prohibited a man from speaking to a woman that was not a relative. The Samaritan woman herself was shocked: “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (for Jews do not associate with Samaritans)” John 4:9.
The Rabbinic law of the time was quite explicit: “He who talks with a woman in public brings evil upon himself” (Aboth 1.5). And “One is not so much as to greet a woman” (Berakhoth 43b). One can imagine then why the Lord’s “disciples were surprised to find Him talking with a woman” John 4:27. By the Lord Jesus granting women a previously unknown respect and status, He not only broke with the anti-female culture of His era, but He set a high standard for His followers to emulate.

Honoured Bible women
The actions and teachings of Jesus raised the status of women to new heights, to the consternation and dismay of both His friends and enemies. By word and deed Christ went against the ancient accepted practices that stereotyped women as socially, intellectually and spiritually inferior. Truly our Lord came “that you may have life, and have it in abundance” John 10:10.
The Gospels record that many women followed Jesus. Women were the last at the cross (Mark 15:47); the first at the tomb (John 20:1); the first to proclaim the Resurrection (Matt 28:8), and the first to witness to the Jews (Luke 2:37-38). Women attended the very first prayer meeting (Acts 1:14); women were the first to welcome Christian missionaries to Europe (Acts 16:13) and the first European convert was a woman (Acts 16:14).
In the early Church women were not only very prominent, but were frequently honoured: Elizabeth (Luke 1:43); Mary (Luke 1:30-38); Mary of Bethany (Matt 26:13; Luke 10:42); the Samaritan evangelist (John 4:29); Dorcas (Acts 9:36); Lydia, the business woman and the first European convert (Acts 16:14-15); “Apphia our sister” (Phil 2); “Nympha and the church in her house” (Col 4:15); Phoebe “a servant of the Church in Cenchrea…she has been a great help to many people including me.” (Rom 16:1-2).
In His epistles, the apostle Paul mentions numerous female co-workers including “Priscilla…and her fellow workers in Christ Jesus” Rom 16:3; “…Mary, who worked very hard for you.” Rom 16:6; “Tryphema and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord…Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.” Rom 16:12; “…Euodia and…Syntyche…women who have contended at my side in the cause of the Gospel…” Phil 4:2-3
A revolution of love
As Dr. Schmidt observes: “Jesus, Paul and the early Church broke the ancient bonds that kept women secluded and silent (as in Athenian society), subservient (as under the Roman law), and silent and segregated in public worship (as in the Jewish culture). The freedom and dignity that the early Christians gave to women is also evident by their having access equal with men to baptism and the Lord’s Supper…Christ’s message of repentance and salvation proclaimed by the Apostles had revolutionary effects on the lives of women. The early Christians included women in the life of the Church, and gave them a freedom and dignity unknown in the Greco-Roman and Judaic cultures.”
Far from Christianity being “anti-women” as many critics allege, women in the early Church soon outnumbered men to such a degree that there were simply not enough Christian men available for marriage. Celsus, a 2nd Century critic of Christianity ridiculed the believers by saying that Christianity was a religion that attracted women. To him this was a sign of weakness. Numerous Roman authors saw Christianity’s providing dignity and freedom to women as a threat to the entire social order.
Christianity revolutionised marriage by seeing the wife as a partner, commanding husbands to love their wife as Christ loved the
Church (Eph 5:25), and allowing Christian women the choice as to whom they married. Christianity granted women the right to divorce unfaithful or abusive husbands. Women also received, for the first time, guardianship over their children who previously were the sole possession of the man.
Christianity pioneered the removal of the veil. Women were veiled by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Romans and Samarians. There were cases of Romans divorcing their wives for leaving the house unveiled. Greek women were required to wear a veil after marriage. The rabbis taught that it is a “godless man who sees his wife go out with her head uncovered. He is duty bound to divorce her” (Kethuboth 2). The lack of any specific reference in the New Testament to women having to veil their face led the Church to discontinue the practice. While Paul in 1 Cor11 urged the women in Corinth to cover their heads in church, he made no reference to veiling their faces. And in 1 Tim 2:8-9, where Paul tells the woman to dress modestly, and not to braid their hair, he makes no mention of any veil. Worldwide Christianity led the trend to dispense with the veil.
The Chinese practice of foot binding, where girls from an early age had to have their feet tightly bound forcing the four smaller toes of each foot up and under against the fleshly part of the foot (frequently causing severe infection and even on occasion gangrene) was only abolished under the influence of Christianity. This cruel custom, which crippled many Chinese women, was outlawed by the Chinese government in 1912 after Christian missionaries led the crusade to abolish foot binding.
The widespread practice of female circumcision is another cruel age old cultural practice which has been outlawed in all countries where Christianity has become the majority religion. The only countries in the world where this barbaric ritual is still practised are countries where Christianity has little or no influence.

Saving lives
Before the coming of Christ, widows were ostracised, despised and frequently buried or burned alive at their husband’s death. For centuries India’s cultural custom of suttee, the burning alive of widows, was an integral part of Hindu culture. By God’s grace, as a result of the tireless efforts of Christian missionary William Carey, the British authorities in 1829 outlawed the practice of suttee.
This legal ban on suttee (known as Carey’s Edict) is still in effect today, although since the 1990’s there have been numerous attempts to revive the custom with glorification of suttee widow burning and instances of teenage widows being cremated on their husband’s funeral pyres. Dr. Schmidt notes: “In light of the current, almost worldwide promotion of multi-culturalism, which argues that all cultures and religious are essentially equal, the desire and efforts to bring back India’s pagan custom of suttee may gain momentum in the future.”
Widows were burned by American Indian tribes, by the Maori in New Zealand, and by the Chinese – before the coming of Christianity. However, Jesus had particular compassion on the widows. Christ rebuked the Pharisees for taking financial advantage of widows (Mark 12:40). Christ praised the widow who, although poor, gave two coins in her offering: “I tell you the truth, He said, this poor widow has put in more than all the others.” Luke 21:3. Christ had compassion on the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15). In 1 Tim 5:3-4, Paul urges Christians to honour and care for the widows. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after…widows in their distress.” James 1:27
 “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Prov 31:30
Because of the teachings and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ, Christianity has progressively achieved for women greater respect, dignity, honour and protection. It is to Christianity that we owe marriage as a mutual partnership, the rejection of polygamy, and the promotion of monogamy and marital faithfulness. In granting women respect, dignity and protection, Christianity broke with the prevalent anti-female prejudices of the Ancient world, of pagan cultures and Eastern religions. All the freedoms and advantages which women enjoy today are as a result of the teachings and example of Jesus Christ and the progressive work through the centuries of the Church.

A new threat
However, if present anti-Christian trends continue one could see a return to the previous pagan abuses of women. Those advocating pornography, sexual permissiveness, homosexual “marriages”, legalised prostitution, lowered age of consent and the decriminalisation of adultery are not offering us progress – but only a return to pre-Christian paganism.
“…remember the Lord who is great and awesome and fight for…your daughters, your wives and your homes…” Neh 4:14

Interview with Lyndie McCauley

Interview with  Lyndie McCauley
1. Lyndie you have been living in America for 7 years now, How has life treated you in the States?
Krissy and I have been living in the US since August 2000. It has been a wonderful journey with tremendous blessings and of course challenges, but overall the experience has been amazing!
2.  What has been the biggest adjustment for you?
It has been hard to be without my family and close friends. Often one thinks that you can simply make new friends and yes that is true, but the new are never better than the old!  There is something about good old South African friends…So you grit your teeth and shut out the ‘sad’ feelings and you press in and press on!   Really the best place is to be where God wants you to be!  When He ‘plants’ you it’s a very happy place …I guess I am not ‘planted’ yet!
3.  How did your daughter Krissy adjust and what does she think of the American way?
When we arrived in America, Krissy was only 7 years old so she adjusted quickly. She really loves living here and has made the most wonderful friends. She is almost more American now than she is South African!  Every year she returns to South Africa for her long summer holidays and within a week she is speaking pure ‘South African’!  It takes another two weeks when she returns to the US to speak pure ‘American!  It’s crazy!  We laugh so much about it and love the different meanings of words between the two countries. In the US you get the “mail” not the “post”!  I am always in trouble over that one …
4.  Is the American lifestyle very different from the South African lifestyle? 
I find it very different. Culturally the American folk are deeply patriotic and honour the flag and all it stands for. The Americans are very hard working people and mostly have at least two jobs to meet their monthly expenses!  Because of their very busy schedules, they do not have much time for socialising or friends -their days comprise of work, children, home chores and sleep (if you are lucky!).
Teenagers leave home at the age of 17 to go to college (which is normally in another state). This suddenly leaves mom and dad alone with each other and the children never return. In South Africa it’s nothing for a man or woman to leave home until they get married. I like the second one best!    
South Africans are wonderful at keeping a good balance in all areas. We are very friendly, very social, work very hard and have very close families!!!  Our kids stay at home until they marry and even then they are hard to get rid of!
5.  Where in the States are you based?
Originally I was going to be based in Virginia and work with the governor of West Virginia but I did not have the necessary visa, so we moved to Tampa, Florida to be with Pastor Rodney and Adonica Howard-Browne. They have been amazing friends to me over the years and continue to support my ministry.  Two years ago I felt the need to step out more on the water and work with another South African friend who launched a fellowship of Pastors in the Virginia area. The Loudoun Church Alliance invited me onto the Board and it has been a blessing to see how so many ministries across the region have formed close relationships through this fellowship in Virginia.
6.  What do you do on a day to day basis?
Having recently moved into the area, it is taking a little time to settle. I have been assisting some wonderful Christian friends of mine with their business and continuing with my ministry. I have travelled quite a bit on weekends and consulted with several ministries. I have visited most of the local churches and met the pastors. Finally we have decided which church will be our home while we are in Virginia.  I have also been invited to do some special ministry like: praying for unity on the National Day of Prayer along with 7 other Pastors; praying for the orphans of the world at the Global Day of Prayer, preaching at a Ugandan Pastors church in Leesburg!  God has been faithful in the opportunities He has given me.  
7.  Is this your passion?
When you go through practical changes in your life it takes a while to settle into your passion again. There are many projects that I have loved doing and I know there will be more in the future.  Of course soul winning and touching people’s lives with the Good News will always be my passion.
8.  What other “big” dreams do you have?
I would love to have my own television program again.  The 10 years that I hosted ‘In-Focus’ were wonderful years of hosting guests who shared their amazing testimonies with our viewers. There is always so much to tell about God’s goodness and television is a huge key to getting the message across.  In a year from now I will start work on my new book ‘Lyndie’. It will be a biography of my life with the main thrust being the fact that God loves us and reaches out to us with His continual love and kindness.
Obviously, I would love to continue preaching all over the world and to build a strong international women’s ministry. I love ministering to women as they tend to need much more encouragement than men do.  
9.  Lyndie McCauley Ministries – tell us more about your goals, achievements, commitments etc
I have been in the ministry for almost 27 years and have loved every single moment of it – talk about a journey! I would never have thought that it could be so amazing, exciting and deeply rewarding! Not from a material point of view but from the viewpoint that people are so very precious and we are called to love them, help them, teach and train them and then show them how to love and serve God. This life is so short and everywhere I have been on this earth, I have seen broken hurting people. How hard is it for us to go beyond our private borders and reach out to a lost and dying world that has no hope? How awesome is this privilege?!
The greatest honour I have had in ministry was to be involved in the changes in South Africa. For years we prayed for the breaking down of oppressive boundaries and barriers and to see it all happen in my life time was a huge blessing! To hug the neck of a black brother and sister destroys the work of the devil and set us all free.  Today South Africa is reaping the blessings of change. Of course there are challenges, but there are challenges wherever you live in this world, but at least we can rejoice that we are free from legal oppression!
Four years ago Pastor Florence Kaweesa travelled by train from Uganda to attend my Dynamic Woman’s Conference in Rustenburg, South Africa. She shared about the many orphans that she and her husband were taking care of and asked us to pray. Since that day I have stood in faith believing for a way to help this precious couple build a church and an orphanage.  Recently, a very close friend of mine and I spoke about this need and she shared with me how her church had been praying for a project such as this to undertake!  By the time this article appears I hope to have travelled with her and their administrator to Uganda and have a building or property secured for the project. What a great blessing! The orphanage will be home to approximately 100 children and also provide educational and sporting facilities. Along with these facilities we are also hoping to build a church.       
10. You return annually for a visit to SA…tell us about your trips?
For the last five years I have hosted Dynamic Women’s Conferences in South Africa. These conferences have been a huge blessing to the women who have attended and I have also been very blessed to have a number of speakers from the USA travel with me.  This year, my trip will be different. Most of my ministry will be in Cape Town at various ministries. I am very excited about this trip and look forward to meeting new people.   2008 only God knows …?
11.  Have you got a special message for your South African fans?
There simply are no people in the world like South Africans. They are the nicest people in the world.  From the moment that you get off the plane you see happy, smiling faces … and I can promise you that simply does not happen when you arrive in the US!  Mostly, you will be greeted by a very stern immigration officer who growls, “Why are you coming to the US?”   
As far as a message to my friends in South Africa I think this one is foremost on my heart. 
A while ago the Lord spoke these words to my heart, “I want you to be whole!”  It was so clear, like a command or a strong directive and it exploded deep in my heart. I argued back that I am a Christian; I walk by faith and know the Word! But still, it just flooded my heart, “I want you whole!”
The Father has already provided for our ‘wholeness’ through His Son Jesus and the cross. All we have to do is receive it and to walk in it!  Unfortunately it’s not that simple as we try and receive wholeness and cling to our issues at the same time!  These ‘issues’ seem irrelevant but they really are a key factor as to why our lives are broken as Christians. We are robbed of our peace and joy, sick in our minds and our bodies, sleep depraved, struggling with our finances, fighting with our children and our in-laws, hiding our fears and on the brink of angry outbursts all the time …something is very wrong with us!
Jesus did not die in vain. He died so that we could be whole. We have to decide to deal with the issues that torment us – bad behaviour, bad habits and enemies new and old!  It’s time to be completely whole in spirit, soul and body!
South Africa will always be my home! Nothing can beat borewors, pap, melktert and Bar One milkshakes!
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