This is the third and final guest blogger post from my wife Beth. I know it will be a blessing to you! Beth writes regularly and I would encourage you to sign up for her blog by visiting www.GodandMe2TheMax.com. --Frank Banfill
"You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe that, and they are afraid!"
"Not by might. Not by power. But by my Spirit, says the Lord."
"At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tounge will confess He is Lord."
It was late in the morning, Monday June 11th. We were high up in the mountains of the village of Bukabwa, a twenty minute drive by Land Rover over a bumpy, dusty, rocky, hole-filled road. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Bukabwa had long been forgotten by the government, much because of the villager's widespread involvement in witchcraft. Yet, even with this knowledge, I remember making the comment to someone on the team how there has been literally no resistence to the Gospel message by the people we've shared with. Funny how things work out, because on Monday, Katelyn, Gladys, and I would have a whole new experience.
We were already late for lunch, and we had at least a few miles to walk on a thin dirt path about eight inches wide, briers on each side, with corn stalks surrounding us, just to get back to where we would meet for our Bible study/discipleship group time. Moses, one of the teenagers from the church was from this area, and he wanted to take us everywhere he knew of. Although he lived so far from where the church is in Bukabwa, his parents are leaders in the church, committed to walk the long road for several hours, just to go to church. It was past time for lunch, but Moses said we needed to go to this last hut before heading back, so of course we did. He was our guide, after all.
As we began to share with Niamtodo Enock, a woman whose age was likely disguised by her tanned and leathered skin. My best guess was that Niamtodo was maybe fifty, but she easily looked as if she was easily in her upper sixties. As Katelyn began to share, Niamtodo's daughter Mariam walked over with a hesitant look and began to interrupt. I remember her eyes, and they were disturbing.
I'm not sure of her exact words, but they went something like this, "I don't want you to use that word here in my presence. I don't want you talk to me. I don't want to hear this. I'm afraid if you say that name, then the demon will hurt me." She went on to tell us how she had given herself over to witchcraft a number of years ago, and she had a demon inside her. She didn't want us to speak the name of Jesus in her presence, and that was that. She then walked away and continued to make lunch for the family.
Jesus. Such a powerful and strong name. So strong that the demons are afraid to hear it.
Katelyn and I looked at each other, I'm sure with our eyes beginning to bulge out of their sockets, as Mariam walked away, out of earshot of our conversation with her mom. She had heard enough of what we were saying to understand the power of the Gospel, and she was scared to death. You could see it in her eyes.
We then continued to talk to Niamtodo. She understood the power of the Gospel as well, and she wanted nothing more than to turn from her sin, invite Jesus into her life, and ask Him to take control. I think Katelyn did most of the talking with Niamtodo, because I can only remember keeping my eyes on Mariam over by the fire. After we visited with Niamtodo some more and invited her to the Bible study less than an hour later, our translator told us that we were really late now, and we had to get back.
My eyes glanced over at Mariam again, and I felt time stand still. Perhaps you've never encoutered spiritual warfare like this, and you are leary of what I am writing, but let me tell you it's real. It's very real. My mind raced. Was I prayed up enough to go address Mariam? What would I say? I asked God to give me strength, and before I knew it, I was walking toward her, and I remember thinking Hebrews 4:12 "the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword." I don't know if I actually spoke that verse out loud or thought it. I honestly can't remember everything I said, because it wasn't me talking. I know the Holy Spirit was giving me the words to say and bringing back every Bible verse that could be used against the enemy at that moment. I'm sure Gladys thought I was a nut, but she must have been just as crazy, because she followed me over to Mariam and translated for me.
I told Mariam that I was about to leave, but I could not leave without trying to talk to her one last time. I told her about Jesus and how he shed His blood on the cross for her sin and my sin. I told her how the only way to have freedom is by turning from sin and giving Christ control. I remember quoting Bible verse after Bible verse, including I John 4:4 "Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world." I told her when we accept this free gift of salvation, Christ comes to live within us, and when that happens, a demon control you any longer. I remember telling her that she knows it's truth that I was telling her, and the truth will set her free. I said that knowing about it isn't good enough, that the Bible says that the demons believe in God, and the are afraid, but she had to make a decision to ask God to take control.
I have no idea what else I said, I remember being aware of only three things. First, I knew Katelyn was standing behind me, fervently praying. I didn't see her, but I knew she was there; I could feel it. Secondly, I kept looking at that open fire she was cooking over, thinking, "Lord, I know you can cast that demon right into that open flame. Lord, please cast that demon into the open flame!" And finally, I knew what was coming out of my mouth was from God and God alone. There is no way this scaredy-cat girl who is afraid of even the smallest bug would have done what I did in my own strength, that's for sure!
Then I asked her, "Mariam, are you ready? Are you ready to give God control? Are you ready? Are you ready?"
Mariam looked at me for what seemed like an eternity, and with her face beginning to distort, she broke down in tears sobbing. "I'm ready. I'm ready right now. I'm ready."
I believe in my heart it was at that moment, when she made a decision to turn from her sin and give God control, that the demon left her. I often tell people that praying the "sinner's prayer" isn't magic words. It's the change that takes place in your heart that God looks at. And I think that's what happened with Mariam, because as I said, Mariam was making ugali by the fire. She was responsible to feed not only her mother, but her husband and children, and let me tell you by golly, she was not going to stop making that lunch for them! After she broke down in tears saying she was ready to give her life to Christ, she gathered her composure and for the next few minutes finished making the meal, served it up for her family, and then came to us to pray and solidify the decision.
Praise God we had Barnabus, one of the staff membrers from the AIC (African Inland Church) with us on that visit. He had not been with us on any previous visits nor any future ones, but God had him there for that one. He led Mariam in the sinners prayer, and he prayed over her. Then he looked her in the eyes, and said "Yesu. Yesu. Yesu." Then he asked her to say it over and over, "Jesus. Jesus. Jesus." There was no more fear in her eyes. There was no hesitation, as she said the name of Jesus over and over.
Immediately, she started asking tough questions about how to turn from some of the strongholds in her life. Immediately, she wanted to know the right thing to do in certain situations. Her understanding of spiritual things had been so clouded by her background, but she wanted to know the truth. We finally had to say goodbye and leave Mariam. We were nearly ninety minutes late for lunch and already late for the afternoon discipleship groups. We prayed. We hugged. And we left. But this time, we left Mariam and Niamtodo Enock with Jesus.
Front Row, Left to Right: Niamtodo and Mariam Enock. Gladys.
Second Row, Left to Right: Beth Banfill, Moses, a sliver of Sanjura Juma Magige (who accepted Christ just two days earlier), Katelyn Nichols, and Christopher, one of the church workers.
--- Beth Banfill