March 8, 2016
Finding the Way Out
Post by Brittany Tedesco
She lived under the oppression of an evil spirit for the past 20 years, so life wasn't exactly normal. . .but one day, things got really weird.
It started out like any other day. After bathing in the river nearby her South Asian village, she started walking home. That's when her long, black hair spontaneously clumped together into what looked like one, big dreadlock.
The day after this happened, she was unable to wake up. She remained in bed as though under a trance.
This report from a ministry leader we support in South Asia continued: "Her family called many Hindu priests and sacrificed animals, but nothing happened. At last the Hindu priest told them to build a temple for her, so that people can come and worship, because the Hindu priest interpreted that she is an incarnation of their god."
Some rudimentary research (read: Wikipedia) helped me understand the Hindu priest's conclusion that this woman was some sort of deity.
Under the "Hinduism" section of this article on dreadlocks, I found this: "The public symbol of matted hair, known as jata, is re-created each time an individual goes through [spiritual] unique experiences. . .locks in South Asia are reserved nearly exclusively for holy people. . .long jatas express a spiritual significance which implies the wearer has special relations with spirits."
At this point, it was pretty obvious to everyone, including her family, that this woman had "special relations with spirits." The question was "what now?" What happens when the spirits decide to overtake a person, to completely control them?
The woman's family wasn't content with the priest's suggestion. They didn't want to worship her, they just wanted her set free from the weirdness.
Thankfully, someone told them about a Christian Aid Mission-supported ministry nearby—a ministry that had reportedly healed and delivered people from all sorts of bondages. They asked for help.
Several native missionaries visited the woman and prayed for her, but the spirits were tenacious; they weren't leaving without a fight. And so, the missionaries took the woman to one of their homes where they fasted and prayed for long hours.
Finally, she awoke—completely free and able to function like a normal human being. The bondage had been broken.
After learning about Christ, she surrendered her life to Him. She cut her hair and the missionaries baptized her.
They showed her the way out.
Native missionaries supported by Christian Aid Mission typically live and operate in areas of the world where these types of demonic practices and manifestations are a daily reality. One of the reasons they are so effective in leading people to the Lord is because they take authority over demonic spirits and break people's bondages through the power of the Holy Spirit.
People realize that Christianity "works"; that Jesus Christ is alive and all-powerful.
Meanwhile, here in the U.S. and other developed nations, so many Christians don't even seem to have power over the bondage of sin in their own lives, let alone the ability to help someone else out of bondage.
Why is this?
We live in a country where we can freely and openly worship God and where there are Bibles aplenty. And yet, ironically, we don't take advantage of this. We're too busy or distracted to study the Word and/or we attend churches where the truth of the Bible is either distorted or not taught at all.
How many of us really understand the fundamental principles in the Scriptures? I wonder if Paul would say to me, "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's Word all over again" (Hebrews 5:12 NIV).
For instance, how many of us know that we were literally crucified with Christ? I use the word "literally" because, spiritually, it actually happened.
". . .our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin" (Romans 6:6 NASB).
The power of sin no longer has any control over us, literally, but we either don't know this or don't really believe that it's true. Maybe this Christianity stuff just doesn't really work for us. . .
And so we remain in bondage to sin. It's as though we're walking around wearing Styrofoam handcuffs, lamenting that we can't get free, when all we have to do is pull our hands apart. They aren't real cuffs. The real cuffs were broken at the cross.
Baptism is a powerful picture of what actually happened to us at the cross. We go under the water, symbolizing our death and burial with Christ, and are raised to a new life in Christ.
The Bible tells us that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, it's our weapon to fight against Satan and our own sinful flesh. But using our sword effectively goes well beyond just quoting various Bible verses we've memorized. To really demolish strongholds in our lives, we must understand and reckon upon foundational truths.
When Christianity doesn't seem to be "working" for us, it's not because it doesn't work; it's because we've missed something—and that something is often a foundational truth like our death and resurrection in Christ.
I don't mean to imply that understanding a foundational truth will automatically change everything in our lives. Pressure and time, in which we get to know our Savior in a relational way and become ever more dependent upon Him, are necessary elements to bring us into maturity in Christ. Foundational truths are just that: the base on which we stand. But oh how crucial they are! We can't grow in Christ if we aren't even standing on the right foundation.
Growing in Christ is exciting because, not only does it mean that bondages in our own lives are broken, it means we can show others the way out as well.
The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favorite movies because the ending is just. so. good.
After 19 years in prison, the wrongfully convicted Andy Dusfresne makes his escape. He never lost the hope of one day being free, despite his consecutive life sentences. With nearly superhuman patience and perseverance, he chips away at his cell wall with a rock hammer, hiding his work beneath a poster.
When his tunnel is finally complete, he crawls through it—and then through a sewage pipe—to freedom. He moves to a beautiful coastal town in Mexico, the paradise of which he dreamed.
Nope. You know the ending. From Andy's position of freedom, he helps rescue his friend, Red.
After 40 years in prison, Red's finally paroled. He's an old man now and has forgotten how to operate in the outside world. Depression floods over him. Suicide becomes an increasingly attractive option.
But then Red remembers the promise he made to Andy if he ever got out of prison: to visit a certain field in Maine where he'd find a hidden package.
The package contains money and a letter instructing him where to find Andy. A lifeline.
Red finds Andy on a white, sandy beach in Mexico; he can't wait to shake his friend's hand and dip his feet into the blue ocean.
It's good to be Red. . .but it's even better to be Andy, and show someone the way out.