Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:11-12, NKJV
We sat in a church in Togo, West Africa–the very birthplace of voodoo–little realizing we were about to witness a very real battle between good and evil. Our team from the state of Washington had conducted a field school, training 40 gospel outreach workers for two weeks. Each morning we presented that evening’s program to the local evangelists, who then went to eight sites throughout the capital, Lome, to feed the gospel to their spirituality hungry listeners.
Now it was the last day of the series , and baptismal candidates had been bused to the central church. One woman told how she had been dedicated to the devil as an infant and instructed in the art of voodoo. She was given powers to destroy property, kill, and cause terror. At night, she could leave her body and be transported by the devil long distances to bring disease, destruction, and death to those who were cursed.
Prior to today’s baptism, she admitted she was sent to destroy certain Christian neighbors but found she was powerless to harm them. Realizing there was a force greater than the devil, she asked her Adventist neighbors about their all-powerful, loving God. She studied the bible with them and eventually requested baptism.
However, on the day originally scheduled for her baptism, the devil afflicted her with abdominal pain so severe she was unable to attend. She made two more attempts, only to be stricken with worse pain each time.
Now, after attending the gospel outreach series, she again requested baptism. When she explained her past experiences to the pastors, they decided they should all unite in prayer for her during this baptism. As she approached the front of the church, her pain began, and her fellow candidates had to actually carry her into the baptistry. The pastors interceded fervently for her from an adjacent room. The pastor baptizing her sensed the power of evil as she came toward him in the water.
With all the pastors and congregation praying for divine intervention, this previous slave of the devil was baptized into God’s family. The moment she was immersed, her pain left and the evil presence surrounding her vanished. Rising from the water, she radiated pure joy. The congregation spontaneously stood up and began singing “Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow.”
Standing by the door of the room where the pastors had been praying, I watched as they hugged and pounded each other’s backs excitedly. Christ had won another victory! The devil was defeated, and this woman was free–free from the devil’s power and free to worship God of salvation she loved so much.
We may not live in voodoo-land, but be assured the devil is just as real wherever we are. And no matter what evil may be sent our way, we must remember who the powerful Victor is on this battle-torn planet. As we surrender ourselves completely to Him, we can trust our loving Savior to carry us through to the end.
–John Rogers, LLUSM class of 1974, is a family practitioner in Caliente, Nevada. This story occurred in January and February of 2000.