Deliverance ministry is still important. She slowly swung the door open on its rusty hinges to a room that was as dark as coal. The stench of death was in the air and I quickly pulled my shirt up over my nose to muffle the smell. The only illumination was a faint beam of moonlight that fought its way through a steel-grated opening in a wall that doubled as a window.
As my nose adjusted to the odor, my vision adjusted to the darkness. I blinked my eyes over and over again while I scanned the room. There was no furniture and the walls were gray and stained with blood as if some desperate soul had been pounding against them. Then I saw that desperate soul; a partially clad figure curled up in the far corner. It was a woman.
I was in a small village in a remote area of Honduras when a pastor asked me if I would pray for Maria, the sister of one of his church members. He gave me a little insight into Maria’s need, explaining only that she was “having problems” and was unable to attend any services. I quickly agreed to pray for her that night after church, but I had no clue as to the intense spiritual battle into which I was headed.
After the service, the pastor, my translator and I walked down a narrow trail to the house of Maria and her older sister. I looked behind me and was surprised to see that a crowd of church members was following behind us with Bibles in hand. I thought the pastor must have invited everybody and I began to wonder just how serious this woman’s problem really was.
We approached a house, which was surrounded by a corroded barbed wire fence strung across rugged wooden posts. The pastor called out a greeting from the gate and Maria’s sister appeared and bid us to enter the house. Apparently, Sister hurried home after the service to prepare for our visit. We approached the door with a greeting and she asked us to come inside. Although she seemed glad we were there, she also looked tired and preoccupied. Whatever was wrong with Maria was of grave concern to Sister. I glanced behind me to see the church members lingering at the gate; they wore strange looks on their faces and were unwilling to enter with us. My curiosity was rising as I wondered what I would encounter inside. I was taken aback by the fear that was prevalent in the people who came with us. What did they know that I didn’t? As we entered, Sister pointed to a bedroom door, saying in Spanish, “En allí” (in there). The door was closed and padlocked and she took a small silver key out of her pocket to unlock it. As she turned the key I thought, “Now I know why the people are staying outside.”
But I still didn’t have a true understanding of the terror behind that door. Sister slowly pushed the door open and then turned away. (The sound of those rusty hinges gave me the creeps.) Leaning across the threshold, I felt evil in the room. Fear attacked my mind, commanding my natural senses to run. I could feel a wicked presence reach out and touch my face. For a moment, I was reminded that I was in the jungle. “My God, what kind of evil forces live here?” I wondered. I prayed and resisted with everything within me. My mind screamed, “Don’t go into that room!” Yet, God’s grace prevailed. Instinctively, I looked at my translator and said, “Let’s go.”
As we slowly approached the figure, the pastor withdrew. He was frozen in the doorway. His legs refused to carry him another step. And there she was – curled up in a fetal position, whimpering like a caged beast. There lay Maria, grasping a soiled blanket with her head fit snugly between the intersecting walls. I told my translator to stay connected with me and translate everything I said. He quickly agreed. I greeted Maria and told her that we were there to help her. I told her that I was preaching in Sister’s church. And I told her that Jesus loved her and would set her free.
Almost before the name Jesus passed through my lips, Maria leaped up and viciously attacked me. I deflected her physical assault, but I felt a paralyzing fear hit me in the pit of my stomach. Impulsively, I grabbed her arms to protect myself while pinning her to the frigid concrete floor. She had the strength of a full-grown man and I struggled to restrain her on my own. My translator grabbed her legs with both hands while she fought us with all her might. The brawl was officially on. The sounds of spiritual battle filled the entire room.
“I bind you devil, in Jesus’ name!” I repeated this again and again until finally, Maria’s demonic vigor subsided. Growling, hissing and biting, yet subdued, she was still dangerous. Maria screamed at me in Spanish, pausing only long enough to spit in my face. I asked my translator to tell me what she was saying. “She is cursing you with words I cannot repeat,” he responded.
It became overwhelmingly obvious why the pastor had invited me. It became painstakingly clear why the church members would not enter in. And I became more determined than ever to expel the demons tormenting Maria. I spoke directly to the demon with a strong command, “Shut up and come out of her!” Over and over I commanded the demon to leave. The more the demon resisted, the more resolved I became. Over an hour, we wrestled with the demon in prayer, commanding it to come out. “No! This is my house,” it screeched in Spanish. “I’m not leaving! She wants me here. I have a right to stay,” the demon insisted. “COME OUT!” we persisted all the more. I have never experienced such a spiritual fight. This wasn’t my first struggle against demon powers, yet something was dreadfully wrong. Jesus has given to us power over every evil spirit – but this one wouldn’t budge. After two exhausting hours, we halted the battle. “What’s wrong, Holy Spirit? This thing has no right to torment this girl,” I prayed insistently.
Then the Holy Spirit spoke ever so softly with some wise instruction: He told me to ask Maria if she wants to be free. “Maria, do you want to be free from this torment?” I asked. There was no answer. “Maria, do you want to be free?” I repeated. Suddenly, Maria, in sound mind, replied somberly, “No.” I asked her again – pleading with her to reconsider. “No,” she persisted, “I do not want to be free. Leave me alone!” I felt released from praying for her. Wiping the sweat from my forehead, I looked at my wearied translator and said, “Let’s go. We can’t help her. If she doesn’t want to be free there is nothing we can do for her.”
As we left the room I could see the disappointment on Sister’s face. “How long has Maria been like this?” I asked. Sister said, “Three years.” When I asked what happened to her, Sister told me that Maria’s husband had abandoned her. She was filled with anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and resentment and sought out the services of a spiritualist whom she gladly paid to teach her how to cast spells. Motivated by the poisonous emotions within, Maria climbed to the top of a mountain and performed the curses she was taught. She wanted her husband to suffer for the pain he put her through. “She was on the mountain for three days,” explained Sister. “When she came home she was different.”
She explained to me that after Maria returned she began to act strangely, slowly degrading into what was in the room – a pitiful creature with no hope. “We had to remove all the furniture because she would pound the walls and scream throughout the night,” Sister told me in a quivering voice. “It got so bad that we locked her in for her protection.” I prayed with Sister and assured her that Jesus loved both her and Maria.
Then my translator, the pastor and I walked quietly to the truck parked behind the church and drove to the banana plantation where I was spending the night. No one said a word during the ride back. That was a tough night. I sobbed for Maria in the late morning hours, hoping I wouldn’t wake those sleeping in the room next to mine. “How could a person refuse the love of God?” I asked myself. The enemy tormented my mind. Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t sleep. “Did I do the right thing to leave her or should I have pressed in more?” I questioned myself along these lines for hours until suddenly, the Spirit of God gave me a surrounding peace. I could sense that I had done my part and the result was not up to me. Christ had paid the price for Maria’s redemption and deliverance 2,000 years ago, yet she alone possessed the freedom to choose.
Later that year I ran into the pastor at a busy airport in Honduras. We sat in a nearby café enjoying a cup of hot Honduran espresso. He told me there were many breakthroughs in the lives of the people at his church after I left and the people were eager for me to come again. I was encouraged to hear the report, but there was only one question on my heart.
“How is Maria?” I asked. “Jonas, after you left, we thought Maria was getting better. Her sister was able to dress her and feed her, but three months later Maria went back up on the mountain. We think she wanted to release another curse at her husband. She was full of hatred and bitterness. Maria was found dead at the bottom of a cliff – apparently, she jumped,” the pastor said with remorse. My heart sank as I heard the news. Maria was a life stolen from the love of Jesus. Now, every time I think of Maria, I am reminded of the hate that Satan has for Jesus and the importance of spreading the Gospel. This was painful, but a harsh reality – we are in a spiritual war for the lost souls of mankind.
Stories like this are seldom told because they don’t have a happy ending. They are not the faith building testimonies typical of good Christian television – nevertheless, they need to be told. How sad it was to see someone refuse the love of the only begotten Son of God. Unfortunately, Maria chose her fate, climbing a mountain to curse her husband one last time, then jumping to her death.
Yes, I grieve for Maria’s soul, but I refuse to lose hope, knowing there are thousands of others that we can rescue with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So if you lose a few battles in your ministry, then take heart. Even though we may lose some battles we will never lose the war. And stay away from hate and bitterness that live behind rusty hinges.
(c) Apostle Jonas Clark STAY INFORMED
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