“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
When you are blessed with the honor of being a Pastor, serving the body of Christ, you are witness to God’s amazing grace in a profound way. You are privileged to see His beauty in a new believers eyes. In contrast you are also faced with the sin and bondage of humanity. Nevertheless, even at the darkest of times, God reigns supreme as His victory over death has already been won.
It would be a day I will never forget.
It all began with a phone call from my friend John, an assistant principal of a local high school. We had become friends when he and his wife began attending Bible Study meetings in our home.
“Are you busy Wes?” John asked.
He then went on to explain that he could really use some help as he was dealing with a very serious matter in the home of a teenage girl.
“The parents are here,” he added, which for me was encouraging to hear. “I’ll fill you in when you arrive.”
John was waiting at the door. He whispered in a low tone introducing me to the parents seated on the couch. The introduction went well but I could sense an atmosphere of sadness and deep concern. I had not yet learned what the problem was that they were dealing with. At the same time, I became aware of an unpleasant odor in the room. I looked at John. He responded by saying, “Their daughter is seated in the dining room.”
I walked into the dining room where the young woman was sitting. She looked up at me as I approached and smiled, as if to say, “isn’t this a lovely day?” It was then I discovered the reason for the odor that I had smelled when entering the home. With a cigarette held in one hand, she was methodically burning the flesh of the other arm. I could see many fresh burns.
As horrific a scene as that was, I was immediately filled with God’s peace. There was a dark heaviness that engulfed that home, and yet God filled my heart with a calm that surpassed all understanding. As I approached her in an attempt to remove the cigarette from her hand, the mother shouted from the other room, “Don’t let her in the kitchen, she knows where the knives are.”
The moment her mother spoke, she jumped up, ran into the kitchen, and quickly found a knife. As I entered the kitchen, she raised the knife as if to stab, but then turned quickly and ran down a hallway. I caught up to her just as she was entering a bathroom and was able to put my shoulder to the door preventing closure. John was right behind me. Having forced my way inside the door, she again raised the knife but I was able to grasp her wrist with both hands. I quickly offered a prayer and she dropped the knife. John also hit the door with his shoulder, and came crashing in. You need to know that this took place in a matter of moments and we acted quickly to protect this poor girl from further self-inflicted harm.
John and I looked at each other. We both knew that whatever the circumstances were that brought this young woman to such a tragic state of mind and soul; she must be set free. Free from a demonic power that bound her. John began to pray immediately. At the same time however, the Spirit of God spoke these words to me, “Ask her if she ask her if she wants me, (Jesus) to set her free?”
I asked John to wait with his prayer and then asked the question, “Do you want Jesus to set you free?” No answer, her face was contorted. I asked a second time, no response, and then a third time. At that point, we waited silently. There was no verbal response but a tiny tear began to gather in one eye.
We continued to wait, praying silently, and then for the fourth time I asked again, “Do you want Jesus to set you free?”
Looking directly at us now she slowly nodded her head. I looked at John, and yes, he had seen it too.
We then began to pray with all our might praising God, binding Satan and his demons and casting them out in name of Jesus. Some ten to fifteen minutes later, the Glory of God shined forth upon the face of our newfound sister. She joined with us in prayers of praise and thanksgiving to Jesus who, she now knew, had covered all her sins with His blood. Truly, to this day I have never witnessed such an awesome, spiritual transformation as I did on that day.
While still back in the bathroom, I had one question that had been nagging me since the beginning. I asked her, “What happened in your life that brought you so far from the Lord?
“Two years ago,” she replied, “me and some friends had attended a youth, camp-fire service. After the meal, we were around the fire and listened as the pastor give an invitation to invite Christ into our lives. I didn’t. I did something very wrong instead… After the meeting, one of my friends asked me, ‘did you invite Jesus into your life?’ I told her, ‘no, I didn’t, I invited Satan into my life.’ The next day,” she continued, “I was out of control and placed in a mental hospital where I have been for the past two years. I was just released from the hospital to spend a couple of days with my parents.”
After spending more time in prayer this beautiful, born again Christian, rushed back to the living room where her mom and dad were, still waiting. She flew into her father’s arms, hugging and kissing. We all wept tears of joy.
While still celebrating her new birth the time came for her to return to the hospital as two men arrived at the door. Before she left, however, she assured us that she would be well, that Christ had made the difference, and that her parents could now be at peace.
No wonder God, had asked a second time, “Do you want Jesus to set you free.” She had opened her heart years before to Satan and had been in bondage since.
Some eight years later, I was told it was a short time after that evening that she was released from the hospital and began a fresh new life in high school with her peers. I also learned this young woman was now married to a Christian, had a child and were both active in their church.
All praise and honor to Our Amazing God!
– Wesley Peterson