For North Americans, it’s hard to imagine visible demonic manifestations in everyday life; most of us have never witnessed this activity. Yet sorcery is prevalent in certain regions of the world, causing deep spiritual bondage. Alliance workers in these places seek to ensure that the oppressed are freed in Jesus’ name (Luke 4:18), as the following story illustrates.
By an Alliance international worker serving in West Africa
Satan is often subtle in his devices, using our thoughts, fears, and insecurities—our own sin nature—to cause havoc, turning our eyes away from the Lord. But sometimes his attacks are blatant, which our team witnessed firsthand this summer.
We minister to about 200 young adults at a center we opened in a West African city three years ago.
We are holistic in our approach, providing ESL classes and job-skills training, equipping our students to support their families (the average family income here is little more than $3 a day). And we challenge their thinking about God, including discussing portions of the Bible during English classes. Envision interns also engage the students’ worldviews in powerful ways.
Through these efforts, including showing hospitality to these young people in our homes, we build trusting relationships that give us opportunities to speak into their lives about Jesus.
This summer we saw some awesome developments; our students asked searching questions such as: “How can Jesus be the Son of God?” or “Is there absolute truth?”
In August, we hosted a short-term Envision team to help us conduct an eye glass clinic at the center—97 young people brought family members for checkups. Many received free glasses.
As the patients were leaving the center, two U.S. pastors prayed a blessing over them. (A local religious leader even allowed the pastors to pray for him!) God used this outreach powerfully among our students’ families.
We soon learned that these spiritual breakthroughs enraged Satan.
The week after the outreach, summer school students presented favorite stories they had memorized in English to their classroom peers. Three chose to tell Bible stories—two of which were about Jesus!
A young man was halfway through the story about Jesus multiplying the fish at the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:6–7) when one of the students began sobbing, burying her head in her hands. My colleague and I approached her, asking if she was OK. She was unresponsive.
Her unresponsiveness, and the fact this incident occurred during a Bible story, led us to suspect it was a spiritual attack, so we began praying for the young woman in Jesus’ name. A short time later she looked up, and I suggested that we get right back to the Bible story.
When the student telling the story was about to repeat Peter’s words: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) another young woman screamed and fell across several folding chairs, her body rigid and unresponsive. We knew this was no coincidence. Along with our Envision interns and a young local believer, we prayed for her.
Once she sat up, I said, “I don’t think Satan wants the class to hear this story today, but we are going to finish it!”
Power in His Name
Although Satan meant to thwart the teaching of God’s Word that day, the Lord showed our students the power of Jesus’ name. At the same time, God opened our team members’ eyes to the reality of the spiritual battle raging in the heavens (see Ephesians 6:12).
Two weeks later, a man from the majority religion brought to us his daughter who had been falling on the ground and tearing her clothing. We agreed with his suspicions: she was demonized. After we took her to a local body of believers (from the family’s same people group and they prayed for her deliverance, she was freed from that demon!
We continue to pray earnestly for the two young women at the center who experienced the attacks; we also intercede for the demonized girl and her family. (We’ve heard that West African families go to sorcerers to help their daughters “succeed” in school, which is why many girls in this region experience episodes of demonization and spiritual oppression.)
Pray that God will use His Holy Spirit–empowered church here to help these young women—and their families—experience complete freedom through Jesus.
Watch “Serpents and Sorcerers,” the story of an Alliance pastor in West Africa who survived a sorcerer’s curses, convincing villagers of the power of the true God.
“Delivered by the Power of the Gospel” describes how a Cambodian man has overcome possession by evil spirits through his newfound faith in Christ.