By Dawn Baird
The battle for righteousness rages everywhere. We live in God’s created physical realm, knowing its joys as well as its sufferings. God chooses not to allow His children to see into the spiritual war thundering through the heavenly realm, but we are profoundly affected by it.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Yet we are also promised that, through prayer and reliance upon God’s power, we can also influence this spiritual warfare. Are you ready to wrestle against doubt and fear? Are you ready to crush the spiritual forces of evil?
Are you ready to wrestle against doubt and fear?
I speak from experience. I spent 25 as a missionary in Central Africa. When working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from the jungle to the city, from three degrees north of the equator to three degrees south, I prayed with Christian women whose families had worshipped and appeased Satan for generations.
These moments are engrained in my memory forever. Come with me on one of my encounters:
Light v. Darkness
It’s a sultry Sunday evening in late 1982. Deep in the Ituri Rain Forest, at the confluence of the Nepoko and Aruwimi Rivers, lies the village of Bomili, Democratic Republic of the Congo. We share a relaxed worship time with our fellow missionary family, the Huddlestons. As usual, every woven chair and stool in our small, mud-walled living room is filled as four adults and seven children cram in. My heart is full and my spirit content.
The chatter quiets as we pause for an unexpected “Hodi!” at the front door. This Congo callout, rather than a physical knock, means, “Hello, I’m here.” My husband, Bob, rises while calling back, “Karibu!” to welcome into our home Mutangamo, the village nurse. Further polite greetings and handshakes ensue. He comes to ask Martha Huddleston, who is a midwife, for assistance. Mutangamo explains that, about a mile away, a Congo mama struggles giving birth, possibly life threatening.
By now, darkness has fallen like a thick blanket of blackness, and with a Heaven full of stars and only lantern light ahead, Martha and I hike along the path to the Nepoko. With no thought to danger, we trust God, the two men with machetes walking in front, and our families back at home praying.
Prayer. The most powerful God-given weapon in the arsenal of His children.
(Thinking back to 1982, where I was all innocent and brave, I shake my head. Who’s afraid of snakes and leopards and forest buffalo and elephants?)
Soon we reach a wider path that leads to a clearing along the edge of the river. And yes, crocodiles do live there, and no, I don’t give a thought to those either! But what I do begin to think about is something I have never known before—a new sense of something the Holy Spirit in me recognizes as evil, an unseen satanic presence that grows stronger the closer we get to the mama’s hut.
One by one we duck to enter, and there a witch doctor sits, chanting. I recall later that I felt no sense of fear—the Holy Spirit surrounding and protecting us drowned out the power of this evil one. From worship in our living room to this two-room, dirt-floored hut, an astonishing turn from light to darkness, from worship of the one true God to the lies of pure evil.
Close to the back wall down on the floor, I hear her labor before I see her. I feel this mam's pain as she lies on the dirt floor—I’ve had three babies and I understand. Her desperate need brings us to this dark place.
To the left sits the evil one, and I know with surety whose he is, boldly chanting away from his wicker chair with pots of fire burning all round him. These Congolese believe he’s calling on a power that means mama’s salvation, but only God has the righteous plan. Evil one keeps chanting, eyes closed, and the battle rages in the unseen spiritual realm.
But not for long.
Read the Word, pray, and ask for the wisdom and discernment God is ready to give to you.
Martha checks mama then gives advice to the Congo nurse. Mama and her husband don’t speak Swahili, so the nurse now speaks in Kibabli, giving instructions to the new baby’s anxious father. After several minutes of conversation in a language we do not understand, in a hut in the middle of the rain forest, standing by lantern light next to an imploring witch doctor, we wait.
At last, the nurse turns to us with the parents’ reply: “They want you to pray.”
Prayer. The most powerful God-given weapon in the arsenal of His children! We would gladly take the offensive. However, knowing they are really only covering their spirit-world bases, we first ask: “Who do you want to heal you—God or Satan?” Mama, managing a whisper, clearly says, “God.” And how we pray, entering into that realm where darkness and light battle—light being ever the stronger.
When I open my eyes the witch doctor is gone—chair, fire pots, and all! He couldn’t be there with all that light and faith and goodness!
That poor, vulnerable mama survived the night and brought a beautiful child into the world. Darkness diminished and God’s merciful love shown forth for all to see and know.
Warriors of Righteousness
In the physical and spiritual realms, God’s children are commanded to love and to radiate the fruit of righteousness with wisdom and discernment.
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).
My encouragement to you: Be a spiritual child of God. Read the Word, pray, and ask for the wisdom and discernment God is ready to give to you. Take steps in the right direction, and don’t be afraid if you believe the ideas you have been given are from God. If you are using God’s wisdom and giftedness, through the power of salvation in Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in you—you will find the right way to move, think, and be. You are a warrior for righteousness!