Mel Tari: God Burns Idols

One of our teams had a most unusual experience with idols just a year and a half ago when the Lord told them to go to the part of Timor that belongs to the Portuguese government.

"Sleep by the side of the road," the Lord instructed them. "If the people there ask you to sleep in their homes, say, 'No, our Master told us to sleep here by the side of the road.'"

So they went to that part of Timor and they slept by the side of the road, as the Lord had instructed them. They slept there one night; two nights; three nights. No one paid much attention to them. Finally after the third night, the people realized that they were strangers and that they had been sleeping by the side of the road.

"Where did you come from?" the people asked the team.

"We came from Indonesia, and our Master told us to come here," they replied.

"What are you planning to do here?" they asked.

"We don't know," they replied, "Our Master told us to come here, and we obeyed."

"Who is your Master?" they asked, and the spokesman for the team replied, "We cannot tell you now," so the people invited them into their homes.

"Just come into our houses," they said. "It is not good for you to stay by the side of the road."

What a funny Master, the people thought, that he would ask his servants to do something as ridiculous as that. But the more the people thought about it, the more concerned they became. Finally, they decided that the team must be spies so they reported them to the police.

The police, of course, went immediately to the team and demanded the name of their Master, and the nature of their business.

"We can tell you under one condition," the team spokesman replied. "If you get 1,000 people together, we can answer your questions. Otherwise, our Master says we cannot." So the police gathered the people together - more than 1,000 in all - and told the team that they were waiting for them.

"Now that you have the crowd for us, we will keep our word," the team spokesman said. He and his team members went to a high place, so they could be seen and heard, and the spokesman took out his Bible and began to preach.

"Our Master is Jesus Christ," he said.

"We know about Him, but not very much," some from the crowd said. "Do you mind if we ask our priest to come?"

"No," they replied. "Go get him."

When the priest came, he was angry. "We are Catholic," he said. "We know about Jesus. Why do you come to us with this message?"

"Because the Lord said you must repent and be saved."

"We are Christians," the priest insisted.

The team members sadly shook their heads. "The Lord told us you have idols," they said. 'He is very displeased with idols."

"We have no idols," the priest said.

After they had argued back and forth for awhile, they agreed to go to the church to have the Lord point out the idols if there were any there. When they went inside, there were images all around.

"There are you idols," the team said.

The priest was upset. "Those are not idols," he said indignantly. "Those are just Paul and Mary and Jesus and John and other saints."

"But the Lord told us that they are idols."

When the team saw that arguing wasn't going to accomplish anything, one of the team members said, "Since none of us knows if these are idols or not, let us ask God to show us. Do you remember the story in the Bible about Elijah and the Baal priest? Well, let us pray, and gather these images and ask the Lord to burn them with fire from heaven if He is displeased with them."

So they gathered all the idols into the middle of the room. They were made of brass, wood and plaster. The people stood back away from the pile of images, and one of the team prayed that the Lord Himself would give the final decision or proof by burning the pile if He wished. After the closing amens, there was a short silence, then a sharp crashing bolt of fire - like lightning - which hit only the pile of images and burned them to ashes.

The priest was so excited, he rubbed his hands together and kept repeating, "We must get the rest of them to burn. They are in the back. We must get them and burn them, too." So they went into the back of the church and dragged out the other images and they were all burned even those of metal. And nothing else in the church was harmed.

Many repented and turned to Christ that day. And when the team left, the priest said, "If the Lord tells you to come again, you'd better come."

Mel Tari, Like a Mighty Wind, (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 1971), pp. 95-98.

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Last Modified Dec. 12, 1997
by Alan Humm