Spiritual conflict, the struggle between light and darkness, has been present throughout the entire history of God’s people. We believe that even before human history began to develop, there were battles in the celestial regions. The rebellion of the guardian cherub (Is. 11:14; Ezek. 28:14-17) led God to provide a strategy for the redemption of man and creation from the hands of the one who had tried to usurp His creation and the object of His great love. This is why Jesus Christ was manifested, to destroy the work of the devil. I Jo. 3:8.
I would like to present some cases of the transformation of people, churches, and cities in Brazil, within the practical context of spiritual warfare. One of the very common expressions, among hundreds of other expressions of the powers of darkness that deceive millions of people, is popular witchcraft, or low-level spiritism, mixed with Catholic beliefs.
It was December 31, New Year’s Eve. For many Brazilians this is the night for bringing in the new year, when the people celebrate this event. But it is also a night in which Iemanja, the spirit of the waters, brought over from Africa, is invoked.
A group of young people from an evangelical church decided to go to the beach for evangelism. They filled up a bus and went down the mountain to the sea. Why evangelize on the beach? Because on this date between 1 and 1.5 million people go down to the beach to honor Iemanja, offering perfumes, champagnes, jewelry, flowers, and food to the spirit of the waters, in exchange for benefits in the areas of health, love, and material prosperity.
The young people had prayed and prepared themselves, and even fasted, in order to be ready to face the difficult cases of evangelism that might arise. When they arrived at the beach, they parked the bus near the statue of Iemanja, which was already duly ornamented for her celebration. Nearby they saw a woman swirling in the sand. They understood that she was invoking the spiritual entities to become incorporated in her.
Stopping at that place, they began to pray quietly, forbidding the demons, as they understood them to be, to enter her body. After a while the woman, whose eyes had been closed, stopped swirling, opened her eyes, and said, “What’s going on here? I am invoking the entities, and they don’t come?”
The young people answered, “Good evening. We are here, and we are forbidding them to come to you, in the name of Jesus.” She protested, “But I’m invoking them in the name of Jesus, too.”
Thus they began to share their faith, telling her about Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God, who wasn’t just any Jesus, but Jesus, Lord of the Universe, who came in flesh and blood. And they told her about God’s great love.
This encounter led the woman to kneel down in the sand and open her heart to receive the Lord Jesus. This new convert revealed that she was a Mother of Saints, a priestess in Umbanda, one of the Brazilian religions, and she asked, “Please, come to my ‘terreiro’ (spiritist temple) to tell my people about this wonderful Jesus.”
The young people, excited about what was happening, prayed, fasted, and then went to preach to those people who had gathered together to invoke African gods, which had syncretized with Catholic saints and other spiritist practices. There were, as could be expected, struggles and reactions, but that ‘terreiro’ was transformed into a Baptist congregation.
The gospel is powerful for the transformation and conversion of a Umbanda priestess, and the result of this transformation was that all of these people were brought to Jesus Christ.(1).
This simple story happened among simple young people, excited about the gospel, zealous for the cause of God, with no sophisticated theology. They were sure that the name of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior, was supreme authority over any other name: spirits, souls, demon gods (Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9; Col. 2:10). Consequently, the cosmovision of these people is more similar to the Biblical cosmovision than the eastern, for they accepted this woman’s situation, who was invoking spirits to incorporate in her. It was with this perception and with the conviction of the authority of Jesus, and motivated by love for that deceived priestess, that gave them the boldness to confront the spirits in her (Matt. 10:1). And the result was her conversion. Faced with such a demonstration of power, authority, and the love of God, the one who was the leader of a house of consultation and demon invocation opened herself to this power and was transformed.
And they knew that the woman had been blinded by the powers of darkness (II Cor. 4:4), but that intercession in the name of Jesus would hinder the demons from operating in her life (Matt. 12:29; James 4:7) so that she would be able to understand the word of God. They knew that the Gospel was the power of God for the transformation of that life (Rom. 1:16). They expected their words would bring about, on that night, her transferal from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light (Col. 1:15).
The powers of darkness are manifest in Brazil through the religions of the people, mixed with saints and spirits, which use divination, healing, and promises to solve problems in the areas of love, prosperity, and health. The previous story happened in the beginning of the 80’s. Today the situation of Brazilians is different.
Brazil is known as a Catholic country, but in reality, it is a spiritist one! The most ancient inhabitants of the land were ancestor worshippers. When making any significant decision, the Indians consulted their dead ancestors – uncles, parents, grandparents. Marriages, planting, harvest, hunting, changes in habitation – all were decided after having consulted the spirits of dead ancestors.
The discoverers and colonizers brought medieval Portuguese Catholicism, which, according to the analysis of various authors, was impregnated with Satanism. The most religious women were, in reality, mediums whose mouths were used to bring messages from the spirits. The syncretism of the two religions occurred quite naturally, thus confirming the Portuguese people’s tendency for mixture.
When the slaves came to Brazil they brought with them their orixas, the spirits worshiped in Africa. Though slaves upon arrival in Brazil, the Catholic Church, which dominated at that time baptized them in the name of Christ, but their belief in the African gods was not erased. It didn’t take long for the African cosmovision to discover great similarities between the African religious practices and those into which they had been transported. Thus, in the minds of those slaves, the merging of the African religion and the Catholic saints occurred on the basis of identification and assimilation. When the slaves saw the Virgin Mary on the colored altar of the Catholic chapels, they couldn’t help but to identify her with their Iemanja, the spirit of the waters. And when they saw St. George mounted upon a horse fighting the dragon, they associated him with and identified him as the spirit of justice and violence, Ogun.
Thus the pomp of the priests, with their colorful clothing, and the ritual Latin, a mysterious language, and the dances with lots of music, promoted by the priests themselves in order to attract and excite the people of the land, forced the slaves to associate the African rituals with the Catholic ones. So although Our Lady of the Rosary was being honored with dance to Brazilian rhythms, the African people were led to invoke their orixas, for to them, the drums and music and songs were actually an invocation of their gods. At these moments they were transported to their own land to totally relive the African experience.(2)
Thus a type of syncretism was formed, giving birth to an Afro-Brazilian religion, which in the south of the country is called Candomble, and in the north and northeast, Xango. This religion penetrated illiterate, poor slaves.
In the first stage of this syncretism, the Afro-Brazilian religion added the disincarnated spirits of the religion called high-spiritism, which originated from France. It arrived at about the same time as the evangelical missionaries, and was begun by a teacher named Denizard Hipolite-Leon Rivail, who incorporated a spirit named Alan Kardec, who psychographed the free ideas of spiritism. This was influenced by the positivism of Augusto Comte. He masterfully applied determinist and evolutionary ideas to the spirit world, and these, to Kardec, were merely a confirmation of his doctrine of the inevitability of spiritual progress.(3)
Kardec said that God had created the universe and then abandoned it, leaving it at the mercy of the law of evolution (Darwin’s theory of evolution was popular at the time). He taught that man was essentially spirit, contained in a body, and that this spirit needed to continually evolve, until it arrived to the level of Christ, for Christ would be the head and chief of the planet Earth.
As human beings are full of errors and sins, in the event that a person fails, in the sense of not having practiced enough good works (charity and giving of alms), he would have another opportunity. Thus he adopted an idea similar to the Hindu idea of the transmigration of souls, or reincarnation.
Thus the meeting of the Afro-Brazilian religions and Kardecism results in the second stage of this syncretism. That is, the Afro-Brazilian religion does not remain purely Candomble. It now includes elements of Kardecism. It evolved in a practice of low-spiritism called Umbanda, with the Kardec theory, and practice more similar to Candomble. Peter McGreor describes Kardec theory in a very interesting manner:
And here was the essence of religious and racial syncretism: negro and white worshippers together, practicing a more evolved form of African ritual, under the influence of Europe’s Kardecism, under the leadership of an Indian spirit guide, and under the name of Our Lady of Piety! Yet, the’ spirit appointed’ by the Caboclo as ‘the great master’, the spiritual leader of all is none other than – Jesus Christ, whom he call by the African equivalent, Oxalá (4).
Renato Ortiz, an expert on the subject, says that Umbanda is the national religion of Brazil, and described it as being indigenous, generated within the Brazilian territory and culture itself.
And twenty years ago all of Brazil was still immersed in the practice of this sort of spiritism.
Thus millions would go down to the beach, and visited the lakes to invoke the spirit of the waters. They were syncretized with the Virgin Mary. The consequences in the lives of the people who practiced low-spiritism were serious demonization, oppression at all levels, broken families, divorce, death, sickness, and bankruptcy. Many people were aware of where witchcraft came from, and some of them were surprised when they noted that witchcraft was powerless upon true believers in Christ.
The Change in the Panorama of Popular Witchcraft.
A small sector of the church of Christ in Brazil, upon becoming aware of the misery of the people, who were enslaved by the powers of darkness, was challenged to face the principalities and powers, and was obligated to discover the authority and position of a disciple of Jesus Christ, based on His word, “Behold, I give you authority to step on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy, and nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19, and other declarations, Matt. 10:1, Mark 3:15). In fact of this enormous challenge, and discerning what was really happening, it was obligated to become involved in the fight. The teachings on spiritual conflict and the practice of deliverance began to spread to many churches. In the last ten years thousands of Christians have participated in seminars on spiritual warfare, and many have experienced personal deliverance.
Many leaders began to heal distraught people through what is called deliverance and inner healing. For this to take place the pioneers of this movement had to face all sorts of criticism and rejection, because the theological training of many leaders had been very eastern and rational, modeled upon the seminary of the northern hemisphere, within an eastern cosmovision.
In these past ten years, many eyes and minds have been opened through teaching. Many churches and ministries have been transformed. But many parallel problems, or by-products, have all been created, which were not part of the plan: pride, triumphalism, boastful nationalism, immaturity, the search for the right method of warfare instead of sanctification, character, and a life of authority. Many have tried to make spiritual conflict and warfare a fad.
There is one fact that cannot be forgotten. In the beginning of 1990 70 disciples of Jesus met for the First National Consultation on Spiritual Warfare, in the interior of the state of São Paulo. On that occasion, Iemanja, the reigning spirit in Brazil, one of the Brazilian versions of the queen of heaven, was dethroned. In that year, the manufacturers of rum especially destined for this spirit of the waters named Iemanja sold 1.5 million less bottles. (5)
The worship of Iemanja on the beaches decreased drastically. Millions of people who used to go to worship her and ask favors of her no longer went. The residues of the struggle have continued. The attempts of her followers to dress as Iemanja in the festivities, and to present themselves as her in parades and on stages have been disastrous.
Thus many lives have been transformed by the power of the Gospel.
The Transformation of a Candomble priestess.
We minister to people who are already in churches. One of the conditions that we request is that the person be connected to a church, be converted, and that they are serious about their Christian life, with the desire to be freed from their problems.
She had been the wife of Beelzebub in Candomble. She sought us out because she was experiencing a very difficult moment. Recently her church, whose pastor was her husband, had been destroyed by a very unpleasant situation. She needed special help.
In Candomble she had discovered that she had the ability of a medium to hear the spirits, incorporate them, perform healings and divination, and resolve problems in the areas of love, marriage, and finances. She became more and more involved, and later became the bride of Beelzebub. He would say that he was very happy with her. She had become a slave and was obligated to do anything that the spirit demanded, bringing false divinations. Instead of restoring marriages, the solution was only superficial, and in reality the spirits would separate the couples more and more. As for the healings, the spirits would just remove the symptoms and transfer them to other parts of the person’s body. And she continued to obey them blindly, until one day Beelzebub asked her to offer her son as a sacrifice to him.
This woman fled from her master, and found refuge in a Christian church. But she never received the ministration of deliverance. In this church she met a young worker, began to date him, and they got married. Her husband, who was from an evangelical family, became the pastor of the church. But then something strange began to happen. He began having sexual relationships with all the women of the church, and she, shocked, said that she had never seen anything like that, even in Candomble, became revolted, and began doing the same, sleeping with the men of the church. The church was destroyed, and she sought help. She was in despair, and her marriage had been destroyed.
Profound deliverance was necessary. She had made pacts with over 60 spiritual entities, and had served each one. She had lived the illusion that she had controlled the spirits, but she was actually their slave. They controlled her. When Jesus came into her life, they carefully hid themselves and manifested themselves through her emotions – hate, anger, tears, loneliness, self-accusation, the desire to die, guilt, and sadness.
After confessing her sins and renouncing the spirits, they began to manifest themselves. One by one the identified themselves and left, leaving her life forever. (6)
What were the presuppositions of faith, so that the deliverance of this ex-priestess could take place? The firm conviction of Jesus as Lord and Head of the principalities and powers, and that He, Jesus, had destroyed Satan and his demons on the cross of Calvary. And that the Church, seated in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), had authority to crush the powers of the enemy (Luke 10:19), to rebuke (Matt. 17:18), and to cast out (Mark 3:15).
Although she had been in the church for many years, she had never been ministered to in the area of deliverance, and the pacts that this pastor’s wife had made with darkness had never been clearly broken, and she had never formally renounced her former lords, whom she had served for many years (Acts 19:18,19).
As they had not been recognized or cast out, they were hidden, so that they could make her life miserable. They were “kings,” the enemies that had to be driven out of the promised land (Joshua 12:7-24) before it could be taken possession of.
As an expression of the confrontation of darkness by the power of God, the Kardec spiritism, Umbanda, Candomble, and New Age congresses have been systematically confronted by the intercessors who have been raised up to face the powers of darkness, often going to these places personally in order to hinder things from happening.
Witches Are Unable to Land in Florianopolis
In 1991, the mayor of the city of Florianopolis, together with some organizations, planned to transform the city into a great psychic airport, where witches from all over the country would perform magic, apparitions, levitation, and where the gods would manifest themselves through a Magic Festival. During this Festival the island of Santa Catarina would be officially handed over to a spirit named Catarina of Alexandria, or Ewa. All sorts of alternative remedies would be present, as well as practices utilizing the cosmic energies and New Age practices. Beginning with this event, the city of Florianopolis, which is situated on an island, would be called by a suggestive name – The Magic Island.
The pastors were very concerned. They knew that if this festival took place the city would attract great curses to itself and would suffer great harm, and there would also be more confusion among the people. Thus they went to the mayor to explain their concern and the possible consequences of the Magic Festival on the city. However, they weren’t taken seriously.
Included in the strategy planned by the pastors: Three months before the festival, in May, the Christians elaborated several billboards with the saying, “Florianopolis, Jesus’ Island.” The churches interceded much that the event would be a failure. There was intercession 24 hours a day during the entire operation of attack against the Magic Festival.
The island of Santa Catarina, in order to be delivered to Ewa, was to have been surrounded, during the 15 days of the festival, by lit candles along the beaches of the island. But the first sign that God had heard the prayers of His children was the torrential rains the fell throughout the festival. There wasn’t a candle that could resist such a downpour! The Christians who were praying invaded the location of the festival. The rains kept the great multitude that had been expected away. Almost every day the Orixas were invoked, but thanks to the warfare intercession of the Christians, the spirits were hindered, bound, and cast out, and did not answer the convocation of the witches. The artists and witches grew tired of having invoked them so much, but they didn’t show up.
The pavilion consisted of 62 stalls, where crystals, pyramids, candles, mystic decoration, and straw witches were sold. There were stalls for the consultation of shells, tarot, numerology, astrology, psychic massages, cards, fortune telling, and all sorts of Umbanda consultation, where the people could chose any of the demons or spirits they wished.
Among all those stalls, there was one that called special attention, called Yeshua’s stall. Those who entered there received a word of comfort, consolation, and a New Testament.
None of the efforts to invoke the orixas was working, to the point that the organizers and owners of the stalls of the festival began having problems, and they began to protest, saying that there had been interference in the spiritual world. The Christians were praying, forbidding any manifestation of the spirits at that festival. Then the media found out that the Christians were hindering the entities from appearing, and decided to cause a scandal to denounce them. They went to the location, armed with equipment and cameras, but God had told the warriors not to go exactly on that day. Thus, alone, the press could do nothing.
A youth drama group also presented a play called “The Two Kingdoms,” depicting the conflict between Light and darkness. There were conversions and people cried. Amidst so many witches, Jesus was declared King!
In the last two days a different strategy was used to fill the pavilion with Christians, who brought with them the presence of Jesus. Pr. João de Souza tells the story, and says that at a particular moment there seemed to be more Christians than visitors at the festival. On the last day, Sunday, the Christians began arriving early. Some brothers and sisters spent all day there telling others about Jesus. The play, “The Two Kingdoms,” was presented again, and more people heard the gospel. There were Christians everywhere. When the mystics made one last attempt to invoke the presence of Ewa, the Christians made a circle around them and softly sang, “In the presence of the gods I will sing praises to You!” And then they sang, “Jesus, we enthrone you, and declare that You are King!”
As a result of all this, the world saw, through the media, the difference between darkness and light. The church was strengthened, and the pastors more united. The witches were defeated, and not one demon landed on the island!
The Magic Festival turned into a great headache for the organizers. The local government, that had not heeded the advice of the pastors, had to assume a large debt, and the leaders of the festival became involved in court battles because of the great financial loss they suffered because of the rights of the name “Magic Island.” They decided that they would organize the next such festival anywhere but in Florianopolis!It was a great defeat for the world of darkness. It was proven, once again, that there is a name that is above all names, whose title is “the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2:10), and that all the powers are obligated to subject themselves to this name. (7)
Congress on Cosmic Energy in Brasilia
In July of 1996, in the city of Brasilia, a large Congress on Cosmic Energy was also planned. Over 10,000 people were expected for the event. The event was advertised far ahead of time by the media and on posters.
The pastors of that city also took a position before God, forbidding through prayer and intercession, the event to occur, or to have any measure of success. The local where the event was to take place was visited by the people, where they fasted and prayed, asking God to move, and forbidding the occurrence of the events. The local was also duly anointed with oil.
In fact, the event did not take place, for of the 10,000 people that were expected, just 60 showed up, and all of these were either of the organizing committee, or were there to sell their products. The final result was disastrous, for the owners of the stalls and those who had meant to make a profit during the congress ended up suing the organizer of the event, and everyone ended up at the police station. (8)
How can we interpret what took place in each of these events? How can they be explained? In order for these results to be produced, it could only be done by those who accept the biblical cosmovision. What has permeated each of these experiences are prayer and intercession – of repentance, confession, renouncement, and warfare (binding, rebuking, disconnecting, crushing, putting under the feet, casting out, burning). All action begins with the presupposition that God answers prayer, and that the spirits submit themselves to the command of the people of God, done in the name of Jesus. But in this last case, the operations were successful because there was unity among the pastors, who took warfare against the powers that wanted to dominate the city seriously.
The Santo Andre Carnaval
When one of the members of my team read in her town’s papers that the Pomba Giras (spirits of prostitution) would be honored during that Carnaval, she sought to find out more about the subject. In fact, Santo Andre was making an allegoric float in honor of the spirit of sensuality, prostitution, and lust for the 1994 Carnaval. And there would be naked women who would be parading in the streets also in honor of the Pomba Giras.
This information was brought to the deliverance team during a retreat, and so they interceded, asking God to intervene. There was repentance for the sins of the city, and they were confessed – sensuality, hedonism, exhibitionism, impurity, and forgiveness was especially asked for the permission that had been given to honor the spirit of prostitution. Other intercessors from the region joined in the prayer and intercession that continued in the following weeks. The intercessors prayed and asked God to send fire from heaven to burn all impurity. And God literally answered that prayer. The float caught on fire, and was destroyed. There was no parade. (9)
In many cities in Brazil Carnaval has been vehemently fought against through intercession. There are many cities like this. But, at the same time, the large capitals have improved their festivities, and now a new fad has become popular – Carnaval is being commemorated on several dates throughout the year. This has become a great problem.
The healing of the Church.
We want to see our cities transformed. But in order for this to happen, the Church of Christ, which intends to conquer it, must be well, healthy, and motivated to see the glory of God manifested in her. But the reality of the situation in Brazil is shameful. She could be described as a bride with torn clothing, dirty, and fallen into a gutter. She is drunk from drinking in so much of the world. Paraphrasing Ezekiel 16, we could say,
The Brazilian church has forgotten that her origin was medieval witchcraft, her father Catholic and her mother spiritist. When she was born, no one paid much attention. She was small, ugly, and covered with blood. No one passed by to help her. And the Lord, coming, even though she was dirty, rejected, and despised, said, “live.” He cleaned her and washed her, and made her beautiful and lovely. He made a covenant with her and dressed her in embroidered clothing of fine linen, and gave her shoes of marine animals, and decorated her with fine jewelry of gold and silver.
But she began to trust in her beauty. The words of praise that came from many, such as “The Brazilian church grows so quickly,” “Brazil will produce many missionaries,” led her to be prideful. Trusting in her beauty, she began to play the harlot. She began to seek other lovers – prosperity, the human empire, idolatry of ministries, numerology, egoism, deceit, hypocrisy, corruption, adultery, illicit sex, prostitution. Worse, she began to sacrifice her sons and daughters, which the Lord had given her, to strange gods. The little sheep were being sacrificed not for the building of the kingdom of God, but for the empire of men. The children began to die upon the altars of power, competition, radios, marketing, and T.V.
Here in the church, the struggle is not against demons, strictly speaking, but against the enemy that abides within us, the flesh – pride, vanity, the search for power, control, manipulation, self confidence, competition, envy, as well as the idolatries and witchcraft I would call evangelical (Gal. 5:19-21).
The Lord has called us to repentance. In the midst of this corrupt church, there is a group of people who really are seeking to correct the situation through rending, repentance, and sanctification.
Many churches are somewhat hindered from growing spiritually, and are unable to be dynamic in evangelism. There is a multitude of unsatisfied people who flit from church to church, but do not remain in any to assume commitments. Where there is the life of the Holy Spirit, there should also be the birth of new lives, evangelism, and conversions. This should be the rule. If there is no expansion of the kingdom of God among the people of God, we can presume that something is very wrong.
The vision of spiritual warfare has freed the people and the church. A church where we ministered a seminar on Spiritual Warfare had about 200 members. After the event, the church grew to 3,000 in two years. Why? How did I find out about this? The pastor called me, thanking me profoundly for the time we were able to spend in his city, taking the impact that the Spiritual Warfare seminar caused in their city and in their church.
The members gained a vision of the struggle against the powers of darkness – Satan and his demons. They understood all of the consequences that Jesus triumphed over on the cross, not only against the power of sin and death, but especially over Satan and his demons. The Christians discovered their position of authority in Christ, and that if we submit to the Lord and resist our enemy, he has to flee from us (James 4:7). They began to discover the many rights and privileges that Christians have as children of God. They experienced immediately that God had given them authority to resist, bind, connect and disconnect, subjugate, put under their feet, and cast out the demons. Many of them were ministered in personal deliverance, and began a new phase of sanctification, enthusiasm, strength, and renewed dedication to serve the Lord.
Another case: A pastor called us saying that God had told him that he needed to thank me, because in six months his church of 200 members had grown to 500, 10 new congregations were added to this number. We had been there, ministering a Spiritual Warfare seminar, and ministering to many people individually. The result was immediate.
A pastor came to see us. He said that he had been serving successfully as a pastor in another city, but that he had been transferred to a church that had existed for 50 years and had just 25 members. He wanted to know why that had happened.
In researching the history of that church, we discovered that it was formed as the result of a division. They had had some sort of disagreement in the other church, and had divided. The first workers were domineering, and history shows us that there really was much dissention and misunderstanding. During the 50-year history of that church, the most members they had ever had at any one time was just 150.
Therefore we suggested that they choose a weekend in which the entire church could repent of their historical sins, as well as any others. There was a need to ask forgiveness, for reconciliation and for restitution. Thus the pastor understood what might be happening with his church, and he took this research into past sin seriously. So one weekend they asked forgiveness for the sins of the church. Sin in the form of division, arguments, fights, pride, contention, dissention, and all others opens a breach through which the devil can operate at will. They sought out the people who had been offended by the church and asked forgiveness.
So after that day of repentance, and after a period of reconciliation and restitution, the church, in fact, did begin to change. The pastor later said to me, “Neuza, it seemed as if there was a dark veil over our church. No one in the neighborhood was able to see the church. Suddenly the neighborhood became aware of its existence, and began to visit us and give their lives to Jesus.” In just a short time the church had around 200 members. He said, “I have already left that church and am going to heal another one.” (10)
Our vision is not only to see a person freed from demons, wounds, and traumas, but also to see the entire city and community transformed. Just as a person can be free of demonic oppression and live a life of sanctification, and the church free from what binds it, the city can also be transformed. The instrument for this transformation is the church, the pastors, and leaders.
We will share some true stories with you, for this is a Brazilian case study.
A city in the northeast, whose story is marked by betrayal since its foundation – between the indigenous tribes of the land, between the whites and indians, and between the two dominating families that disputed over the leadership of the city. This city received a new president of its pastors’ council.
This city was considered to be cursed, for there were disputes among the churches, mutual betrayal among the pastors. They didn’t speak to one another, and avoided meeting each other. The churches were fruits of the many divisions that took place in the city. When a member was disciplined in one church, he was received with honors in another.
A spiritual warfare seminar took place, with the objective of conquering the city. The 15 churches that were invited to participate began to pray 40 days before the event. Much intercession preceded the event, and the actual days of the event were covered with prayer, and afterwards, the churches continued to intercede for 15 days for the results. Thus the pastors brought their people and leadership to be taught. On this occasion there were all types of teachings and ministrations, from personal deliverance to the healing of churches and the conquest of a city.
At a given moment during the seminar, reconciliation was made between the indigenous peoples, between the whites and indians, between the blacks and whites, and between the pastors of the various churches. God was working wonderfully among His people.
After the event we met with 40 pastors and made a few more suggestions. When asked what they should do, they said, “We pastors have to set aside a day of repentance so that we can confess our sins and ask forgiveness of one another.” Thus they defined, during those days, this priority: “confess sins, take care of the families, reconcile between divided churches, create an intercession movement, and begin spiritual mapping.”
And that’s what they did. The churches immediately began intercession campaigns of 21, 30, and 40 days. The pastors set aside a day of repentance, and God began to break them. The churches that were results of separations sought out their original churches for reconciliation. The pastors that had not been speaking to each other were now praying together, thus bringing about a spiritual change. Then other things began to happen.
The son of an evangelical family as elected as mayor, and he began to make things easier for the pastors, which brought about political change. As a result of intercession, the crime rate began to decrease, bringing about a social change. The churches began to experience a new vigor and enthusiasm, and began to grow. Eight months later the churches were seeing greatly accelerated growth, and many of them had to reform their temples and began having second and third services. And finally, the city was blessed financially. The city’s coffee, which had previously been mixed with that of another state, was chosen as the better quality coffee, and they began to export a large quantity to other countries. The Northeast Bank began making loans to help small businesses (11)
A long time before the great transformation occurred, a pastor was praying to God, that He would help the desperate situation of betrayal among the pastors and leaders of that city. His intercession, along with that of others, prepared the city for what would happen.
Following the initiative of a new pastor, who received the new vision of the transformation of a city, and under the mobilization of intercession for the seminar and for the city, some churches began to intercede for the city. The spiritual warfare seminar, which dealt with personal deliverance, the healing of the church, and the vision of the transformation of the city, impacted the pastors. They could see that they needed something very special – a breaking. They acknowledged their sin and humbled themselves and confessed to one another. The struggle here was against flesh, pride, separatism, envy, competition, egoism, bitterness, and unforgiveness.
When the leadership is reached, the rest follow suit. God said that He would heal our land (II Chron. 7:14). God intervened with the changes. The result – spiritual, political, social, and economic changes.
There are many changes taking place on the personal, church, and city levels. It is interesting to note that these transformations are happening in groups of people and churches, from what can be considered historical, such as the Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Methodists, to those so called renewed and revived churches, and some Pentecostal ones. The greatest resistance to the change of adopting the vision of spiritual warfare and conflict are from the classic Pentecostals.
We have a lot to learn. We are still very immature. We have to grow in discernment, humility, and in dependence on God. But certainly, “Our struggle is not against the enemies of flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph.6:12)