LESSON #10: SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL.
I grew up in a smorgasborg of church flavors. I was baptized as an infant in a covenant church, attended baptist and community churches, then went to college at a Pentecostal school. All of these groups approach the spiritual realities of our lives differently, some don’t mention spirits or demons at all, while others find one under every rock and sniffle. When we first planted the church, we read all kinds of accounts about “weirdos” that come walk into new church plants. Quite honestly, I never took these stories too seriously, until one walked into ours.
Briefly, within the first six months of launching our church, a woman walked in. She was 40 but looked as if she was 65. After a Sunday or two she shared openly with the pastors about her “struggles”. She claimed to be a believer who had struggled with suicidal tendencies. She claimed to having been demonized and possibly possessed but that she hadn’t experienced much of anything lately. I don’t think we took this seriously enough.
After a couple weeks I found that she had an unhealthy “attraction” to the lead pastor. What I mean is that she tended to pursue close proximity to me. She attended my Community Group where we were going through our Gospel class discussing the divinity of Jesus. She sat in our circle of friends staring at me looking miserable. It was weird and everyone thought so.
She showed up the next Sunday at our service. After preaching, I walked out to get some fresh air and the congregation began to sing. When I walked back in our “friend” was walking down the hall. She looked upset and I asked her if she was ok–she responded with some sort of growl and looked at me with eyes that were evil. I asked her if she could make a confession about Jesus and she began to get fidgety. Church was about to get out and I persuaded her to pray with the elders and myself in a side room. As we bowed and prayed, she stared with black eyes (yes black eyes) at me the entire time we spoke. I didn’t really know what to do at that point as every parable and story about demons raced through my mind. I didn’t even know what to pray, other than I wouldn’t fill my pants.
The manifestation got a bit strange and I won’t go into it, but eventually she left. That was when it got weird. That night I got an email…from the demon. It was written in a dark font that was supposed to be scary but it just made me laugh, until I read it. It was from this woman but spoke the most vile and evil things you can imagine. I immediately began to pray for my family and children as the email was full of threats. The next day, we spoke with the woman who didn’t remember any of it. We gave her a spiritual inventory to see exactly what we were dealing with…wow. She filled this form out and reported every kind of darkness you can even imagine. Her Birthday was 6/6/66 and she had been dedicated to Satan by her Witch mother. She had experienced every kind of trauma I think a human can in her 40 years. She reported that, as she sat in service, she experienced all kinds of visions focused around the pastor including body parts flying and lots of blood. Over the weeks of trying to figure out what to do for this woman, we had phone conversations–some pleasant, some full of profanity.
To make a long story short, we ended up having a full on Hollywood style Exorcism. Never in my wildest nightmares did I expect I would expeirence something like this. A lot happened in the five hours we spent with her including her going from cursing me with things scratched into her body to confessing Jesus with us. It was dark and beautiful. There is much more to the story but I realized one thing in that expeirence, spiritual warefare is real. One of the demons we spoke to said they had come to “destroy the church”, nice. I don’t know what to think, but I know what I saw, heard, and felt. I have come to realize that though we don’t need to find a demon under every rock, we still need to remember that they are there. Satan hates Jesus and therefore, he hates us. He hates church plants, pastors, and members. He hates me, my wife, my family, and everything that we want to do to love others. That is the truth. And though “Greater is He that is in me than is in the world”, we need to pray pray and pray some more. God’s Word is what proved to be the power in our experience, not my wisdom, courage, or strength.