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Breaking Chains

October 2012
By: Mark Hiehle
Years ago, Miles McPherson was the keynote speaker at a Care Net conference. He shared an illustration that I will never forget and have used many times when speaking. Miles shared that the Gibbons monkey is hunted because of its valuable pelt, but is it is an elusive animal. It has great hearing and hides from predators. Successful hunters never look up in the trees for the monkey, but instead look for signs on the ground that indicate the monkeys are near. When the hunters find droppings, they then take a hollowed out coconut shell with a chain attached and drive a stake deep into the ground. Then they place rice, candy, or nuts inside the coconut and walk away.


When the monkeys know that the hunters are gone, they come down from their hiding places, and one curious monkey studies the coconut. He hits the coconut and hears the rice, nuts, and fruit moving inside and gets excited. He then looks inside and sees the tempting food and gets more excited. Then, the monkey drives his hand into the coconut and fills his fist with the goodies. The problem is that the hole in the coconut is too small for the monkey to remove his fist that is full. His hand is stuck — he is trapped. The greatest problem of all is that he is also greedy and will not let go in order to free himself.

Soon, a hunter returns to the jungle and the monkeys hear him approaching. They scream and yell, but the trapped monkey will not let go. Sadly, the hunter simply walks up with a club and ends the monkey's life.

After a pause as the crowd collectively moaned, Miles then said, "In this life, there are a lot of things that sound really good, look really good, and feel really good, but in the end, bring death."

The monkey was trapped by his own greed, and he was held in bondage because he simply would not let go of the bait. Unfortunately, as the Gibbons monkey is trapped and held captive by what sounds good, looks good, and feels good (but is only used to fool them), people are, too. In the counseling room, we see it all too clearly. We become enslaved, chained, and held in bondage to beliefs, past actions, or a present situation that we are unwilling to release.

When a young lady comes into a PCC, a possible unplanned pregnancy is usually just the tip of the iceberg. Under the surface, she may feel trapped in an abusive relationship. She may be haunted with past failures that continually lie to her and tell her that she deserves nothing better. She may be bound by the secret of a previous abortion that keeps her silent and plagued by fear. Her past holds her heart by making her believe that if the truth were told, she would be rejected or abandoned. So, she continues in a cycle of beliefs and behaviors with no hope of anything different. Whispers of accusations never leave her. She is looking for love and acceptance, but the world has lied to her as to where they can be found. Now, she is held captive and in a cycle that keeps her bound.

Our desire is to see people set free from the chains that hold them. In every PCC, counselors must share the truth of God's Word in order that the chains that hold them in bondage might be broken. One truth, if understood and applied, has the power to break the chains of bondage.


The second of the Ten Commandments states, "You shall not make for yourselves a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:4-6).

From this commandment, we understand that having an idol denies God's authority over our lives. An idol is that to which we turn for help, comfort, or satisfaction in times of stress, trouble, or pain. An idol is that to which we look for happiness, meaning, or worth. Money, a relationship, a job position, possessions, or pleasure can become idols. Drugs, alcohol, and anything else that people turn to instead of God are idols.

Unbelief, rebellion against God, and behavior that contradicts God's Word can become a generational curse that perpetuates family dysfunction. The example set by fathers and mothers is passed on from one generation to the next. Cycles of beliefs and behaviors keep people in bondage, sin is passed on from parents to children to grandchildren, and the curse continues.

The good news is that the cycle can be broken. The amazing opportunity that PCC counselors have is that they are uniquely positioned to speak life and truth into women's lives. As they share the power of the Gospel, their clients can be set free. Because of God's love, mercy, and forgiveness, the cycle can be stopped. If they turn to God and from the idols that they have lived for previously, God will forgive their sin and remove the curse that plagued them. The truth of God's Word will set them free. No longer do they need to live lives that are powerless, defeated, and enslaved to sin.

The reality of bondage is that people are held captive due to a lack of knowledge and desire. They do not know or understand a truth about God that can release them or they reject God for an idol that they want more.

From a pastor's heart, I encourage you to view your calling to serve in the PCC as a ministry ordained to help set people free. Show them and tell them just how much God loves them. Jesus died for them and took all of their sin upon Himself. Through your counsel and example, you help people understand that beliefs determine actions, and if they will change their thinking based upon truth, they can reject the enemy's lies. As you share the wonderful truth of Scripture, the women that come to your center can say along with the psalmist in Psalm 119:30-32, "I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. I cling to your testimonies, O Lord; let me not be put to shame! I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart."

Pastor Mark Hiehle is the lead pastor of the Claremore Church of the Nazarene. He also speaks for banquets, retreats and provides tools to help pregnancy centers grow at

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