“The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”
That’s the caption on the five minute video released by ISIS yesterday showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Reuters reported (in print, as I won’t send you to their video designed to create fear) that these Christians who were working in Libya were beheaded yesterday.
The devil continues to use ISIS to thumb his nose in the face of God. The demonized literally “bite the hands that feed them” and martyr the very ones sent to help them.
Persecution is a great darkness, a SPIRITUAL force of WICKEDNESS, and it tries to follow people into news lands and locations so that it can set up a stronghold there. Please, allow me to tell you this true story to explain this spiritual force of wickedness and our power over it.
A few years ago I was asked to speak to inner city children who came to a church building for an after school program. Christian teachers tutored the children, gave them a listening ear, and supplied snacks and Bible teachings.
I’d spoken at this center before and I noticed that a little girl (I’ll call her Naomi) was there, but her brother (Peter) was missing. Naomi and Peter had just arrived from Egypt only weeks before. Their parents were Coptic Christians who recently fled to America due to the persecution against Christians in Egypt at that time. These dear parents assumed that all schools in the United States were Christian, so they sent their children into a public school. They had no idea what was ahead for their son and daughter.
Naomi told her parents that the children were mean to her. And for Peter, who was about eight years old, the situation was worse. Children dumped cartons of milk over his lunch tray. Others mocked Peter and jabbed at him when the teachers weren’t looking. Day after day, Peter was ridiculed by children in a language he did not even know.
So when Peter was not there at the after school program, I was concerned. I asked Naomi, “Where is your brother, Peter?”
Naomi’s eyes welled up with tears. She seemed afraid to speak.
“It’s all right, Honey,” I calmly assured her.
Naomi told us in broken English, using hand motions, that her brother was taken to the hospital after another school child slammed his hand on the lunch table–until Peter’s wrist was broken. Yep, right here in Pennsylvania.
I’ve written on the persecuted church for years, and after a time you begin to see certain patterns. But this one baffled me. I quietly asked God what to do and he told me to tell the SPIRIT of PERSECUTION to go and leave this family alone. I thought, A SPIRIT of PERSECUTION?? Really?
Really. This spirit of persecution had followed Naomi and her family to America.
We all gathered around Naomi and I explained to her in simple terms that I was going to yell at the devil, not at her. I was going to tell him to go because he was bad. She nodded.
So I yelled the devil (the spirit of persecution that the Holy Spirit identified) and told it to go in Jesus’ name.
Now, I saw what I saw. This large shadowy figure was slinking in the back of the room near the street entrance to the center. I saw it and I told it with Jesus’ authority to go. And it left.
After prayer, the children looked up at me wide eyed and I smiled down at them, hugged Naomi, and kissed the top of her precious head.
As the group broke up, one of the inner city children tapped me and said something close to this: “Miss, I SAW something back there. When you prayed, it left the room.”
GOD is GOOD! This Christian child was able to bear witness with me that the spirit of persecution left. Thankfully, the center’s director was able to find sponsors to send Naomi and Peter to a Christian school shortly after that incident.
Now, how does this apply to us? We have NO IDEA what is going on around us unless the Holy Spirit reveals it. Without the Holy Spirit’s help that day, I would have prayed a hopeful prayer, not an authority prayer. I would have prayed a compassionate prayer, not a COMMANDING prayer.
If we are going to make an impact on this world right NOW, in these last days, we NEED HOLY SPIRIT!!!! Even Jesus needed the Holy Spirit–and not just his presence, his POWER. This morning, as I read my (wonderful!) chronological Bible, this verse jumped out at me and I determined to memorize it:
“Now you know that God ANOINTED Jesus of Nazareth with the HOLY SPIRIT and with POWER, and (then) He went about doing good and healing all those who were OPPRESSED by the devil, for GOD WAS WITH HIM (Acts 10:38).”
We all know logically that Jesus did not begin his ministry until after he was baptized in the river simultaneously with being baptized by the Holy Spirit of God. This is REAL. If we shun the baptism of the Holy Spirit, then we can expect no power. We can extend mercy and compassion and be a nice person, but we cannot do good and heal all who are oppressed by the devil unless GOD is WITH us. WAKE ME UP GOD! If you’ve never received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask God for it. Jesus didn’t just get the dove, he got the POWER. And we must have this power if we are going to deal with the spirit of persecution in these last days.