It was June, 1999 at a youth camp in Tennessee where I learned one of the most important lessons on church order. My wife and I were counselors, she a Team Captain and I a teacher. For some reason, we had an enormous amount of rebellious activities from the teenagers that week. It was just issue after issue we dealt with, very emotionally draining. Kids were talking back, bringing drugs and other paraphernalia, general restlessness. God was doing some amazing things, but it was like running underwater, you made progress but every movement was laborious.
On Wednesday evening during the alter call, the students had brought their piles of filthy CD’s, alcohol, needles (seriously!), and other junk, to the front to be rejected and repented of totally in the presence of God. Just as we begin to pray, we heard a sudden onset of hellacious screaming. The young man was quite close to me and he was acting just as wildly as he sounded.
Immediately we grabbed him and got him to the ground. He could not have weighed more than 110lb and there were about six of us holding him down. It became clear to us that he was demon possessed. He seemed unusually strong, which I see as abuse from the enemy. We prayed, yelled commands for the demon(s) to leave, bound the demon (scripture never tells us to bind demons, just to cast them out, but God is patient with our incomplete theology) and labored to see the young man set free. In the middle of all this, I turned to one of the students in one of the classes I was teaching and said that this is why we study the Bible, it’s real! I felt bold and empowered by the Spirit, even though I had never before faced this sort of situation face-to-face. Probably an hour or so later, he was delivered, saved, and filled with the Spirit. He was made free. I praise God today at memory of this young man’s deliverance from the clutches of the enemy.
The next day I went to my dorm after teaching a class and wept. I felt so exhausted and like I knew almost nothing. This event was very draining spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
Now, demon possession became the talk of the camp. On Thursday night, a student began rolling her eyes and acting weird, supposedly to look possessed. We could tell she was not possessed and was only acting out. However, that night we were trying to round the kids up to go back to their dorms and I heard “Brother Reuben! Come in here, “so and so” is possessed and we need counselors to pray!!” I went into the dorm entrance and found a young lady on her back growling, yelling, and spitting at the wall. I could tell she was indeed possessed of a demon. “Again!?” is what was going through my mind. “How could this be happening again?!” I sensed a dark evil all over her, it was disgusting. We prayed and bound and commanded the demon to leave…to no avail. My paster asked me come back outside because kids were running wild. I left the student and helped gather the kids to their dorms.
That night my wife slept in the same room as the possessed student. As long as my wife would hold her hand, she would be at peace. She begged my wife to not let go of her hand so she could sleep. The next morning the young lady was also saved by Jesus.
On the way home, I quizzed my pastor on these events. Riding from Tennessee to Missouri provided a long time to think, reflect, and discuss. Here are some things I learned, was reminded of, and continue to learn from these experiences…
- Jesus deserves all the attention. If this takes place during the service, have trusted men lead the possessed person outside and pray for him/her. Don’t let the enemy get the attention.
- There may be unbelievers present, don’t allow the devil to distract them from coming to Jesus because of some wild display.
- These were rare events, don’t go looking for such explicit spiritual warfare. The most effective victory in spiritual warfare is when someone comes to Christ and is saved.
- Demon possession is very real and it is not like you see in the movies.
- Jesus is not stressed over the devil. Satan was defeated at the cross and is no match for Jesus on his best day. There is no “struggle between God and Satan”, remember, Jesus saw satan fall from heaven like lightning, there was no fight.
- Never open yourself up to witchcraft. For the record, I do not believe that a born-again Christian can be possessed of demons but why invite a demonic stronghold or activity around your life? Stay away from witchcraft, sorcery, communication with the dead, tarot cards, and the like. The spiritual realm of demons and angels is not an area we are called to investigate. Keep Jesus as the focus.
About 6 or so years after this camp, I prayed with a young lady who was possessed (there has been only 3 times in my life I’ve ever been involved with casting demons out.) It was at an outreach where people who lived in hotels were provided a hot meal, a viewing of The Passion of the Christ, a worship service and invitation to come to Christ.
This time was different, I asked for her name and asked to speak to her and not the demon. The young lady indicated she wanted to be free. I commanded the demon to be quiet in Jesus name. I led her to Jesus and when she confessed Jesus as her master, repented, the demon fled and she was made free. No big drawn-out display, just the power of the gospel. She is free today and is a dear friend of my wife and me.
Remember to keep the focus on Jesus whom Paul proclaimed as “…the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17 NIV