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The woman on the phone was frantic. "Pastor, you've got to help me. Strange things are happening in my house and in my life, and I can't get them to stop!" Bev (her name has been changed) had recently begun attending our church. I asked her what exactly was happening.

"I hear voices, even when no one is there."

"Has anyone else heard them?" I asked.

"Not till today. This morning, my two teenage daughters were with me getting ready for school, and we all heard these strange sounds. We were all terrified. Whenever I've told my ex-husband about these voices, he says I'm making it up. But today my girls heard it, too. Pastor Ray, I'm really scared. I've been listening to you at church on Sundays, and for some reason I thought you might know what to do."

I certainly did not know what to do. But I invited Bev to come to my office so we could talk and pray with her. When she arrived a few minutes later, I asked Susan, our children's pastor, to join us.

Over the next two hours, Susan and I got a glimpse of what she was talking about. Bev, a well-dressed professional, began telling us her story and about her mother who was a witch. "I was introduced to the occult in childhood, and my sister is still practicing witchcraft on the West Coast, but I haven't done any of that since getting married and moving to the Midwest."

She continued her story about her troubled marriage, the eventual divorce, beginning to come to church wanting to be a better Christian, and now the unwelcome presence tormenting her. I noticed that Bev's voice changed from being frightened to one that was flat and unemotional. It didn't seem like hers anymore. She was swaying back and forth.

I asked a few clarifying questions about her relationship with Jesus, and Bev stopped referring to herself as "I" and started referring to herself as "she."

"Are you referring to yourself?" I asked. And the voice that came out of Bev's mouth didn't sound like hers at all. "You fear us," it said. "You fear us."

Now I'm not going to lie; I was more than a little freaked out. But I said, "No, I'm not afraid of you or anybody else." I hoped whatever I was speaking to couldn't see I was starting to sweat.

Bev had started telling her story humbly and with brokenness. But that personality disappeared and other personalities took over that were accusing and vulgar. "F--- you!" the voice said with a sneer. "Up yours. She's ours." Those words and that tone were definitely not what we'd heard even moments before.

I'd never been in this situation before. My seminary theology classes that mentioned doctrines of the devil, demons, and the spirit world seemed long ago and far away.

"Bev has accepted Jesus," I said. "You have no right to be here."

"Yes, we do," the voice replied. "She invited us here, and we're not leaving."

"She's a Christian now."

"Oh, we know all about her."

...

"You fool! We're not omniscient."

I felt so ill-equipped. The enemy had many weapons; confusion, intimidation, and embarrassment were some of them used against ...

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From Issue:Spiritual Warfare, Spring 2012 | Posted: May 28, 2012

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Displaying 1–5 of 19 comments

Fire

July 22, 2012  4:24pm

Thanks for this article Ray, very apt for this time!

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Joanne C

June 29, 2012  6:22pm

Well said Ray. Not something you'd go looking for but not something we as Christians can run away from either. Spiritual warfare is part of belonging to Christ. Lord Jesus, give us wisdom, discernment and a humble heart to serve well in Your kingdom where ever You call us to serve. To God be the glory.

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Diane

June 20, 2012  9:30pm

I can SO relate to this article, especially the title. I too have been called to this totally unexpectedly in my work with helping people heal their "heart issues." As others have pointed out, it is important neither to spiritualize psychological and emotional issues, nor to ignore that some problems have their basis in demonization. I have experienced first hand, however, the power of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Demons must obey commands in that name. However, dealing with demons requires spiritual maturity, prayer, humble submission to the Holy Spirit, and support of other believers. I believe Satan thrives on fear and pride. Neither can have any place in any believer working in this kind of ministry.

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Valerie Caraotta

June 11, 2012  12:40pm

I found this article to be so wonderfully relevant in the age we are living in and appreciate your transparency in sharing your experiences as so many in church leadership are confronted with issues of demonic oppression, and though some reading your article may too address the issues as best as they can, they would never live up to letting other pastors in on their experiences much less their own congregations. Our world is perishing a lot due to lack of knowledge. The enemy fears exposure as evidenced that he convinced family members that getting help was wrong and they eventually moved away. Spiritual battles must be fought with spiritual weapons and fear need not come in play when ministering to those oppressed. Being prayed up and asking for discernment is needed as this cannot be done in the natural. I wish more pastors would avail themselves to understanding a lot of problems have a demonic root. I hope your article will stir more to explore deliverance on a deeper level.

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Fritz Longabaugh

June 01, 2012  3:28pm

I believe the author and his conclusions, and I believe in the existence of demonic forces. But I think it's important to be careful because this kind of ministry can be sensationalized. Manifestations like this can also be caused by schizophrenia or attention-getting from border-line pesonalities. If we spiritualize a mental health issue, we can do more damage. On the other hand, if we psychologize a spiritual stronghold, we can also do damage. Discerning the difference takes wisdom, knowledge, and the kind of courage this pastor displayed.

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