September 13, 2016
When Bad Guys Are Rendered Powerless
Post by Brittany Tedesco
Taha sat still in his police car, but his eyes never stopped moving—never stopped searching for some sign of terrorists along the highway that he and other officers were tasked with patrolling. As a police officer for the Iraqi federal government, Taha was often on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in his country.
Taha and his wife were devoted Shiite Muslims. She wore the Islamic veil, and the children were given proper religious names: Muslim, Islam, and Yahya.
He thought about his family that evening, as night began to fall and the shadows outside grew longer. He scanned the highway in both directions and then his eyes drifted upward toward the hills, now dark silhouettes against the sunset, and—what!
He focused on what looked to be the outline of a child tied to a pole on top of one of the hills. Jumping out of his car, he moved quickly and cautiously toward the child. But as he grew closer, a sick feeling overcame him. There was no child. A dummy was tied to the pole. Before the two gunmen stepped in front of him, he already knew he'd walked into an ambush.
Just a few weeks earlier, Taha had begun to question whether Islam was truly of God because of the heinous crimes of terrorism he had witnessed. His doubts had led him to a church where a group of believers answered his many questions and told him about Jesus.
"Jesus, help me!" Taha screamed.
The gunmen froze. Even after Taha started to back away, they remained fixed in position, as though stunned and unable to move. Taha made it back to his car. Before he drove away, he looked back up at the hill to the gunmen, still immobile.
"I never experienced the power of a name like the name of Jesus," Taha told the leader of a Christian Aid Mission-supported ministry in Iraq. "He saved my life!"
Taha gave his life to Christ, along with his wife, who removed her veil. He changed his children's names to Salem ("peace"), Yousif ("Josef"), and Wadea ("innocent").
If only we could see what goes on behind the scenes, in the spiritual realm, I think we'd be both shocked and relieved. Shocked by the kind of demonic attacks leveled against us...and relieved by our security detail. And by "security detail," I mean angels, whose Commander is none other than Jesus Christ, head over all rule and authority.
Philip* ministers in a region in India that is particularly hostile to Christians. He labored in that place for 10 years before leading even one person to Christ. Imagine the joy he felt when he finally led three people to the Lord in a poor village. He'd prayed for a man with a painful skin condition, and God healed him, prompting him, his wife, and his uncle to give their lives to Christ. Their neighbors weren't happy, and they warned him to stay away for his own safety.
But Philip continued ministering there. Late one evening, he and his wife were walking home from one of his routine visits when Hindu radicals in hoods and masks surrounded them. One of them held a long sword against Philip's abdomen. "Stop preaching Jesus!" the masked Hindu shouted. "This is going to be your last sermon."
Still holding his wife's hand, Philip told the man that he would be happy to sit down and talk with them later.
"Let them go. Release them," the leader of the attackers said.
Slowly, the group of Hindus disbanded and walked away into the night.
Three months later, Philip baptized six more people in that village.
In 2 Kings 6, we read that the king of Aram was trying to capture the kingdom of Israel—but he kept getting thwarted by Elisha, Israel's prophet at the time. Thoroughly frustrated, the king of Aram sent a great army, with horses and chariots, during the night to surround the city where Elisha and his servant were staying.
Elisha's servant woke up first and was, no doubt, scared out of his mind by the sight of that army. "Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?" he asked Elisha.
"'Don't be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them'" (2 Kings 6:16 NIV).
"Huh?" I imagine the servant thinking. "Has he totally lost it? It's just him and me here."
"And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, 'Strike this army with blindness.' So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked" (2 Kings 6:17-18 NIV).
We know God's angels protect His people. We know it because the Bible tells us so. So why don't we act as though we truly believe it?
How would your life change if you no longer made (or were tempted to make) decisions based in fear? Because, really, what's there to fear when God Himself is your Protector?
Decisions based in fear are often sinful or detrimental to ourselves and others. But faith frees us to act with integrity in all situations—leaving the outcome to God.
We assist a children's home in an area with "anti-conversion" laws. Or, more accurately, where it's illegal to lead someone to Christ, but technically fine to lead them away from Christ.
The co-leader of this ministry told us that a woman with their version of Child Protective Services began harassing them—making unannounced visits and rummaging through the children's rooms in search of something damning. After hearing a small child sing a song she'd learned at the center—one which included the name of Jesus—the woman went berserk. She flew into a fury, citing all the anti-conversion stuff and how they'd be in trouble, blah, blah, blah.
The ministry co-leader never flinched. She calmly nodded her head. A barrage of paperwork followed the woman's visit. The co-leaders, husband and wife, told us that they filled out every piece of paperwork—spending countless hours trying to comply as best they could.
But the threats continued. The agency woman implied that she could be persuaded to ease off...if the price was right.
I have to admit, I think I'd be a bit tempted to offer a bribe in this situation—for the sake of the children. A decision based in fear.
But the ministry co-leader stood firm. "I won't take food out of the mouths of these children to line your pocket," she told the woman.
"Whoa!" I thought. "What happened next?! Were they shut down?"
Nope. The ministry hasn't heard back from the woman. Her frequent visits stopped.
Except, no, not weird. Not weird at all.
"God is to us a God of deliverances; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death" (Psalm 68:20 NASB).
Believe. Have faith. God is well able to render the bad guys powerless.