Happy Halloween?

What do you make of Halloween? 

I’m conflicted. 

On one level, it’s just an excuse for a good time, and I love the chance to engage with the community and be out and about. But on another level, I’m uncomfortable with the sinister underbelly and know that as a follower of Jesus, I need to be awake to those darker realities. 

So I thought I’d share with you two of my friends’ stories, who were witches themselves. I think their opinions and experiences are more important and authoritative than mine, and what happened in their lives is frankly mind-blowing. Well worth the listen:

From Witch to Prophet
Chris Wickland

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Into the Light!
Kevin Wilson

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Witchcraft manifests itself in different cultures in different ways. The following two stories are from our recent summer outreach teams in August in Burundi:

In Makamba province in a town called Kivoga, Nadine was a contemporary ‘Gadarene demoniac’, just like in Mark chapter 5. Her father had sought treatment at a mental hospital because of her deteriorating condition, as well spending all he could on traditional medicine and witchdoctors. Eventually the family gave up, and she lived on the rubbish dump, roaming the streets at night, half-dressed. She was feared and mocked by the whole community for her unsettling behaviour.

When our team of evangelists showed up, they overcame their initial fear and started praying for her. The demons manifested, but the team called on reinforcements, took her to the local church, and over the next three hours of intensive prayer, battled through for her total deliverance. Suddenly, after the last demon was cast out, Nadine’s screams ceased. She looked at herself and began weeping. She had no recollection of what had happened, but now asked for some clothes. 

When her father arrived and saw her ‘in her right mind’ (like Mark 5:15), he was so overwhelmed he fell to the ground. Our guys shared with him how Jesus had set her free, and he and seven other people present gave their lives to the Lord! 

Baltazar was a notorious witch doctor from Bugenyuzi. He was feared by all around him, and loved the reputation he had. Nobody challenged him as they didn’t want him to cast a spell on them (I know, many of you struggle to believe this stuff. Suffice to say, out there you don’t need to convince them the power is real).

One day, a neighbour approached and asked him to stop his witchcraft. A few days later, that previously healthy man was found dead at home. So that was the context when our team showed up. They heard the stories and decided to camp out on Baltazar’s hill and pray every night.

When he heard what they were doing, he went out to confront them. But as he approached them, he was overwhelmed by a greater power and fell to his knees. He asked for prayers and surrendered to Christ. He invited the team back to his home, where his wife likewise repented when she heard what had happened to him. A crowd came to watch as they burned all his charms, and he and his wife repented of all they had done to their neighbours and in the community. Everyone was amazed at this total transformation.

As the picture at the top makes clear, we can’t afford to treat this stuff as funny mumbo jumbo, be it in Africa or the Western world. There is a spiritual realm and a spiritual battle going on. That’s why we need to wake up and pray seriously. Piper highlights the critical issue as follows for us in the West: “Probably the number one reason why prayer malfunctions in the hands of believers is that we try to turn a wartime walkie-talkie into a domestic intercom. Until you know that life is war, you cannot know what prayer is for… But what have millions of Christians done? We have stopped believing that we are in a war. No urgency, no watching, no vigilance. No strategic planning. Just easy peace and prosperity. And what did we do with the walkie-talkie? We tried to rig it up as an intercom in our houses – not to call in firepower for conflict with a mortal enemy, but to ask for more comforts in the den.”

Be challenged!

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1 comment

  • Simon,

    Thanks for sending these messages. Each one challenges us to live up to our calling. We as Christians need to be reminded regularly to see our identities accurately. We are children of the most high God and have been bought with a price, the very blood of Christ!!

    If we truly believed and embraced this identity, we would not even consider dabbling in things of the world (the culture’s fascination with Halloween for instance)…we’d be focused on things that really matter, things that have eternal significance and bring glory to God. I suspect the culture influences the Church significantly more than the Church influences the culture, and likely because Christians have lost their first love, Christ.

    We’ve sought to have it both ways…being immersed in the culture (even those elements that are diametrically opposed to our faith) while claiming to be followers of Christ. I fear that Romans 1 is rapidly happening in the Western world…beginning in formerly “Christian” Europe and extending rapidly to America and beyond. God may very well have begun withdrawing his grace in a way that will result in large portions of society being given over to their passions. And yet we’re all without excuse, especially those that claim the name of Christ! Oh Lord have mercy on us!

    What to do? I love the John Piper quote…one of my favorites. We as Christians, especially those in the West need to stop “playing Church” and get serious about where we stand and who we serve. And that starts with confessing our sins together, praying as if our lives and the lives of others depended on it, putting on the full armor of God and getting into the battle. And we need to stop letting the enemy continue gaining a foothold in every area of society…including many parts of the Church! The Church seems to want to compromise with society in practically every area including things as fundamental as sexual morality and human life. Each time that happens Satan worms his way in a little farther.

    We would do well to take a page from our brothers and sisters in the global South and see this all as a spiritual battle and get serious about facing these issues head-on. We also need to recognize that God is ultimately in control and we are victorious in Christ. At the same time, God uses His people as His means to affect changes in this world. Let’s stop being passive in scouring out the darkness in our own hearts. We can then turn our attention to allowing God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to use us to be a positive change in society. We can’t do it alone, but it may need to start one heart-change at a time. I know this is already happening in scattered places around the world. We just need to pray that God raises up more and more people to come alongside those relative few that are already in the battle.

    This whole emphasis on evil and what Halloween has become is just a symptom of the spiritual decline in large parts of the formerly Christian West. Let’s counteract the works of Satan by demonstrating the “symptoms” of Christ-likeness…love, humility, joy, hope, peace and all the rest. Let’s be on our knees in prayer. Let us recognize our calling to be ambassadors for Christ in our communities and beyond. Let us be lights in the darkness…for the Glory of Christ.

    We are in a battle…let’s start acting like it!

    Mark

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