Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 20, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 6:00 am

Santeria may be a new term to many people.  It has been around for hundreds of years, but it made its strong entrance into the United States with the influx of Cubans during the Mariel Boatlift. Our church was located on Flagler Street, the primary east to west street, in Miami.  As recorded in a previous blog, our church was impacted with the arrival of the thousands of refugees.

We were suddenly confronted with Santeria worship.  Santeria is a cult by any measurement. Santeria engages in animal sacrifice and spirit worship.  The sacrifice is a worship experience of building and maintaining a relationship with the spirit.  The spirit is the particular guardian saint under which a person is born.  That saint is to be worshipped throughout life, and the person is responsible for feeding that saint the needed blood to sustain the spirit. Sacrifices are performed also for life events such as birth, marriage and death.  The sacrifice is also used for healing.  After the blood is spilled, the sacrifice may be cooked and eaten — except in healing and death rites.  The sacrifice  includes all kinds of animals, from goats and chickens to turtles.  The  blood of roosters, turtles and goats is the most common offering.  There is also the use of herbs, roots, flowers and plants in the sacrificial ritual.

Because of the location of our church, and the structure of the porch, it seemingly provided an altar for such sacrifices.  We found ourselves many mornings having to clean the porch of plants, dead animals, and spilled blood.  Later, the City of Hialeah passed an ordinance against the killing of these animals for worship. However, in 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that animal cruelty laws targeted specifically at Santeria worship were not legal.

Most law enforcement agencies believed that criminal activity was often associated with Santeria, and they were trained to understand this cult.  We saw an increase in criminal activity in the neighborhood and around the church.  Large windows were often broken or shot through.  It became standard for the church to replace all broken or shattered windows with a bullet-proof glass. It was almost ironic that the Santeria worshippers would choose to use our church and at the same time attempt to damage it.

We had a wonderful custodian who would diligently clean the porch with a prayer in his heart for those who had performed the cultic sacrifice. His spirit should be ours.  We do not need to express anger or frustration over such practices, but to consider how our Christ would react.  Certainly His spirit would be one of sorrow for such idolatry, and His spirit would readily express compassion for their blindness to truth.  He had provided a way to the true God, and yet, they had not found it. Why do they not know the truth?

Their ignorance is no different from all those who have not heard and understood the love of God expressed through the death of His Son.  And why have they not heard?  Suddenly the focus comes upon us who know the truth.  Why haven’t we told them? Could it be that through God’s unexplainable ways, those Santeria worshippers came to our church for us to recognize their need?  Perhaps that occurs in your life.  There could be some strange religious practice around you.  Did God allow this in your circle of life for you to see the need?  And seeing the need, what is the response? ” . . . open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.”  (John 4:35)  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”  (Romans 10:14)  “Therefore, go and make disciples . . . .”  (Matthew 28:20)



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