Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

26 September 2008

The man who made prayer mean something to me kind of died the other day

I woke up this morning to find a really sad Facebook status update from my friend Emmanuel Dogbevi... a journalist in Accra Ghana

Raph was one of my teachers at the Torchbearers Misson in Accra Ghana. He taught us about intercessory prayer and spiritual warfare like no one we'd ever heard. But it was more than that... Raph was the first person to make prayer MEAN something to me... because he DID "the stuff".

Let me explain...

I say this with all due respect and in a complimentary way... Torchbearers was an organization of nobodies. Everyone in Ghana has 4 names and 3 titles in front of those names. I used to joke with my missionary hero's about their mythical titles. "Reverend, Doctor, Pope, Raph Zinnah" we'd call him. He'd give us a quiet giggle not entirely sure if we were being sarcastic or not. Man given titles meant nothing to my friends.

Raph (second from the right) along with Sammy (center) used to run a radical prayer team. Prayer groups in North American often consist of a few old ladies locked in a church Sunday School Room. Their prayer team spent nights in the city of Accra, hearing what the Spirit of God would have them do... and then doing it.

They would clean out neighborhoods. They would identify the Juju shrines, prostitution houses, and other places of ill-repute and would shut them down and wash 'em clean... through prayer. It the effective, fervent prayer of righteous men in action. And it worked. Until then... I didn't ever quite understand why my prayers seemed to be more "I hope this happens... YOU take care of it OK? I'm gonna go over here now". These guys DID THE STUFF you read about in the Bible. Because they meant it... and WORKED at it with their time, energy and passion.

There were things initially almost tough to believe... until I began doing it myself. A couple of years ago I mustered up the faith to cover a palm reader's business in oil every morning and prayed daily that God shut the place down. And He did. I only had the faith to even try it because of Raph and his prayer team going first.

We heard about how fasting worked into the equation. Fasting up until that point was a lip service courtesy that we would "chip in" a few days without TV here and there. Raph was the first person I'd ever met who ACTUALLY fasted often as a part of a lifestyle of prayer and used it as a tool to be more effective in the spiritual realm. Raph had ACTUALLY fasted for 40 days and told us that we COULD do the same. I barely believed him... until I did it a few years ago.

We heard stories about the dead being raised. Often. Raph kept quiet in this department for a while. Krissy asked him about it one day, if he'd ever been a part of a resurrection. He, nearly sheepishly as not to be prideful about it, told her the story of a newborn who had died a tragic death... whom he prayed for... and began breathing again. No fanfare. No cameras. No headbutts. Just real, raw, prayer from a nobody who was a giant in the spirit.

One Sunday, Raph took the hour long drive to Ashaiman to our church with us to preach. He said this quote that I wrote in the front of my Bible that day.

"Most of our problems are not because of the presence of evil, but the absence of good"
Raphael Zinnah

It caught me by surprise because we had just spent months listening to the tales of demon fighting, spiritual warfare, and all night Juju wrestling matches! But this is the message of what prayer is and what it releases. It's good because it release He who IS good. Not the quality of goodness. He who IS good itself... to spread goodness. Psalm 23:6 says...

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Raph, since we left him in 2000, started a church... got married... had kids... and continued to do good. He was a nobody who traded the accolades of the earth for the treasures stored in heaven. I have a hard time feeling truly sad about death. It might be to my discredit how little I actually feel about death and it will likely be confronted in me when someone really close to me dies. But Raph's death and life are the story of a hero who today is reaping a hero's reward in heaven.

Raph died the other day... but only kind of. I'm part of his fruit (but only a small part). I've told many about him who have been inspired to do things he had the faith to do. His faithfulness and boldness have made ripples in the kingdom of God. Most of those Raph helped to change likely never knew Raph because much of what he did was done in prayer. What a wonderful day Raph is likely having today. I'm happy for him.

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