Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Demon-possession in Africa

Maya asked a question after my previous post about our experience with people who are demon-possessed. First of all I would like to put it clearly that I believe that it is possible that someone could be demon-possessed. I know that people are going around nowadays claiming that Satan is just something made up in our mind so that we can have someone to blame for our own sin. Obviously Satan is something totally different from the character we found in the Hot Stuff comics which we read as children. But I think there is enough proof in the Bible that Satan is a reality and there is also enough proof around us that Satan is a reality and that evil spirits do exist. But then, at the same time, I think more credit is given to Satan than he deserves! Someone once wrote that many Christians fear the devil more than they fear the Lord.
In Swaziland we have our full quota of individuals who believe that they have the gift of driving out demons. Many years ago I was attending a youth camp, when suddenly one of the young people fell on the floor with convulsions, while screaming at the top of her voice. Now, at that point things had been going a bit hectic and the young people’s emotions were running at a high level. Obviously something had to be done and a few people picked her up and carried her into another room. Suddenly a number of people came forward who each claimed that they could drive out the demon which was causing her to scream like this. Thinking about it afterwards, it was actually quite humorous. She was lying on the floor with two or three people on each side, each trying to shout louder than the other: Phuma! (meaning: Come out!) Afterwards I thought that the demon had no idea what to do, because he did not know whether he had to exit on the right or on the left! After about ten minutes she seemed to quieten down and she was then moved to a house on the premises. My (then) colleague and I were sitting in our bedroom when we suddenly heard her screaming once again. This was now getting a bit irritating. We walked down to the house and we heard her screams mixed with the shouts of those who were trying to drive out the demon. Unsure what to do, the two of us remained outside and started praying for her, that God would take control of the situation and that He would bring peace into the girl’s life. What happened then could best be described in the words of the miracle of the calming of the storm. One minute there was this great noise and then suddenly there was a great silence. All the shouting stopped. We went in, asked the young people to leave the girl and to go to their beds. The girl was completely at peace.
Was it demon-possession? I doubt it. But regardless, we realised that evening that the driving out of demons isn’t a showcase to the world of how strong our faith is. Ultimately it is the Lord who has to do this and take control.
Would I ever “drive out” demons. I don’t think so. I have a strong belief that inconsiderately driving out demons could cause more harm than good. I am thinking of the warning of Jesus in Luke 11:24-26. I see my task as preaching the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. When a person accepts the Lord as Saviour and the Holy Spirit comes into that person’s life, then I believe that God will cleanse that person of these evil spirits. There is no place in a person’s life for both the Holy Spirit and evil spirits.
I do realise that this is a touchy issue and that some people will differ from me, but up to now I have had no experience to show me that it is wrong to trust the Lord to take full control of a person’s life as well as of any evil spirits.
Perhaps I can share in a next post what I did experience one day and where I truly believe that a person was demon-possessed.


Saturday, August 4, 2007 Posted by | Africa, Culture, Demons, Mission, Swaziland, Theology | 7 Comments