Carol went to Ethiopia and came home with one of our all-time favorite stories of removing the shackles and releasing the captives of this world:
This was my tenth trip to Ethiopia, and I was excited to be going back to an area that was pretty familiar to me, and we had a team who was really looking forward to seeing God do some amazing things there!
God had really laid it on my heart to share with the people there the story where Jesus cast out the demons from a man and into a nearby drove of pigs. The next day, we arrived at a man’s home and shared the Gospel with him. He was very receptive, so when we finished, I asked if I could share another story with him and he agreed to allow me to tell the story of the demon possessed man.
He let me and then countered with a story of his own.
His sister had been possessed by some sort of evil spirit for several years. She lived nearby, so this man asked us if we would go to where she lived and pray for her.
Now, while I knew the story of the power of Christ when he held dominion over the evil spirits in the Bible, I didn’t know a think about handling them myself. As we neared the house, I kept wondering what she would do when she saw us. Do demons know when they see Christians? These thoughts kept me in prayer!
When we arrived, we saw her down in the yard, chained up in shackles. She was downtrodden, down on her knees; but when we arrived, she lifted her head and looked at us almost as if she were excited to see us.
The family had put her in the shackles because she had started many fires, knocked her mom’s teeth out, biting family members, and creating all sorts of mayhem. She knew that what she had done was wrong, but said that she had no control over it. She was now about 40-years-old, one of two wives to a Muslim man, and had five children. For years, though, she was kept away from them for all their safety. We also learned that her father was a demon worshiper. He (unsurprisingly) didn’t want anything to do with us, but when my interpreter knelt down and told the woman that we would like to pray over her, she was very welcoming. So, we all went inside together, but first we broke off a talisman that she was wearing around her neck.
Then we began to pray.
Sometimes we took turns praying one at a time, sometimes we all prayed simultaneously. There were times when she stood up and began shaking, and others when she remained docile. I lost track of exact time, but I believe we prayed over her that day for over an hour.
Then, she peacefully stood and looked at us. She then raised her hands skyward and prayed to accept Christ into her heart. The family unlocked her solid iron shackles – the first time in over six years – and she leapt up to take a bath, get dressed in a new dress, and a little while later, she met us at her brother’s house for coffee.
I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that God had allowed me the opportunity to be there and see this. I couldn’t believe that He had put the story of Jesus casting out demons on my heart, which opened up the door, conversationally, for this encounter.
A couple days later, we got to go back and check on this woman and her family. The previous night that we were there, her mother remained very solemn, holding the shackles while everyone else sang praises and celebrated. When we returned, I learned that the woman’s mother was also inflicted for the past several years. The entire time that her daughter was possessed by evil spirits, the mother hadn’t slept much at all and was ill from it. Somehow, she felt it when the demon had entered her daughter – six years before the shackles were put on her. So for the last 12 years, this poor woman was suffering for her daughter.It was so amazing to watch God work to liberate the demon possessed woman and her suffering mother! Not only that, but the ministry among the translators and local churches was fueled by these events, and now I get to share this truly awesome story of God’s power and how He works through His people to expand His kingdom!
Carol talked about all these different pieces coming together for God’s glory, and He orchestrated each and every one of those little pieces of the puzzle in order for this woman to be delivered, for her family and friends to be encouraged, and for the whole community to see God’s power.
This reminds me of Acts 4:20, when Peter and John said:
“We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
Next, we hear from Tim, who went to India. He had been discouraged, but God used him in some pretty incredible ways:
This was my first missions trip, and I have to admit – there were a few times where I simply hit a mental and emotional wall. There were simply some incredibly long days and I was exhausted. Now, maybe I had come into the experience with lofty hopes, but my heart’s desire was to see an entire village come to the Lord. And, day after day, as they drew longer and more exhausting, I found myself feeling emptier and emptier as the days dragged on. On Thursday of that week, we drove quite a distance to this tiny village off in the distance. I was spent. It was one of those mornings, where I had no choice but to lean on God for strength and encouragement, because I had nothing left in my tank.
As it turns out, we arrived to see that there were only about 25 people home at this village on this day. We began our presentation, and it ended up lasting longer than any other presentation we had done yet (exhausting to say the least). But, when we were finished, God answered our prayers as we saw each and every person there receive Christ!
To say that I was encouraged, refueled and charged up is an understatement!
So, the next day, we arrived at a different village, and stumbled on the beginnings of an animal sacrifice. We got their attention and seized the opportunity to begin our presentation. But within a few minutes, most of the men there turned and walked away. By the end, the only people left were some children, several women, and one man. Afterward, he approached me and said, “Years ago, I was working in the city and I had heard about Jesus. But no one has ever come to my village before and presented the Gospel so clearly.”
My mind was blown and my heart was melted. God is moving without a doubt!
Discouragement and fatigue can be commonplace among people who embark on overseas missions trips. They find themselves a long way from home, and they become emotionally, mentally, physically, and even spiritually tested. But, as Tim learned, if we persevere and keep our eyes on the Lord, He will bless our work.
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