This article was written by Rev. Louie Heard, pastor at Second Baptist Church in Arkadelphia.
As a follower of Jesus, there is always a chance the Spirit can break through the mundane of a day and use a willing vessel as a tool to bring redemption to a dark soul. There’s no doubt that evil continues to be at work to deceive and destroy many. But God is also at work to rescue the broken.
On July 7, as I was preparing my message for Sunday, I was interrupted by walk-in visitors, seeking to receive pastoral prayer and advice. That’s when I met my new friend, Tyrene. He and his fiancée, Bianca, came to our church office. He had been battling a demonic influence for over 48 hours when he arrived. Let me tell you, spiritual warfare is real. As Tyrene kept his face in his hands in total despair and helplessness, Bianca talked, and I listened. She shared that every time he entered the home, he would be overcome with a dark influence. This spiritual oppression caused him to alter his voice and conduct himself in ways quite foreign to his normal behaviors. Searching for answers and healing, they approached five other pastors before me, but things didn’t improve.
As God providentially directed them, they stopped at Second [Baptist Church, Arkadelphia]. For about 15 minutes in our main office area, I (along with two other staff members) listened to their tearful pleas for help. Maybe being influenced by Hollywood’s approach of “casting out demons,” Bianca requested if I would go to the house and pray while bringing materials needed for an exorcist. As you might imagine, this prompted me to ask if there was any recent substance abuse that would create this kind of confusion and darkness. They assured me they were both sober. And so, as I listened and assessed the situation more, I was a bit perplexed on how to handle it. Right then, the Spirit softly spoke to my spirit (as clear as I’ve ever heard Him) that Tyrene’s heart is the real battlefield, and I must start there. So, I graciously affirmed that I would visit their home, but first, we must address who has ownership of his heart. To this point, no one had approached it this way. So, we stepped into my office, and after an hour of presenting the Gospel, explaining how Christ wants to reside in him, not darkness, he repented and believed in Jesus. His countenance CHANGED! Smiles. Joy. Warmth. Tears. Hugs. The wall of darkness fell, and the oppression left him. It was a fantastic moment of deliverance. After more discussion, as promised, I went to his home. But as we stood on the porch, he affirmed with a big smile that the dark influence was gone, because where the Holy Spirit resides, evil has no place! I still prayed against the enemy’s influence over their home, but the prayer was mostly filled with joy as we celebrated a true spiritual rescue.
Four days later, on July 11, Tyrene came to church and was baptized as our church celebrated with him. It was amazing and moving! His story actually initiated another salvation and baptism from a young man who attended that service. He also experienced a heavy, dark burden. So, I met with him the next day, presented the Gospel, and he too was delivered from darkness through salvation. And so, there was even more rejoicing in heaven!
I continue to stay in touch with Tyrene and Bianca. And as expected, it is a long road to developing him into a fully devoted disciple of Jesus. Patience and persistence are needed when growing a new believer, but the Spirit resides in his heart now. Many will read this story and be filled with doubts. Was this really the work of an evil spirit? Were those involved overly dramatic or possibly hallucinating from inebriation? Some may even think that while demonic oppression occurred during the first century, it doesn’t now. So, they assume there’s got to be some sort of catch to this story. All I know is this man was hurting and hopeless, but now he is healed. Until the devil and all his cast of tormenters are thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10), there is no earthly expiration date on evil’s influence in this world. Evil is just as rampant today as it was when Jesus walked this earth. But thankfully, Jesus gave his disciples the authority to cast out demons. (Mark 3:15) And so, we must not struggle with calling this type of occurrence a demonic influence that needs spiritual deliverance.
While there are legitimate mental health and emotional struggles that can be helped with counseling and other proven methods, let us not be quick to dismiss the root problem as spiritual warfare. (Ephesians 6:12) The enemy is persistently and actively working to disrupt and torment people’s lives. (John 10:10) Spiritual warfare is real, and it must be dealt with in a spiritual manner. This story is a reminder that deliverances of spiritual dark forces must always start with presenting the true, unfiltered Gospel. Evil cannot reign where Jesus is Lord. When Tyrene declared allegiance to Jesus as the King of his heart, darkness fled. May we always start with the Gospel.
On my Facebook page with Tyrene’s consent, I posted a shorter version of this story on the day he was baptized. Among the many comments encouraging Tyrene, his fiancé, Bianca, also posted a comment. She simply and appropriately wrote two words, “But God.” The devil’s plan is to destroy, but God is at work to set the captives free!