A Girl Tormented

The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 

Luke 9:37-39

It happened at a conference, at the end of the evening worship service, when people were invited down front to receive prayer if they needed it. I’ll never forget the scene that unfolded.

At Global Awakening conferences I am what’s called a “Revival Leader.” Among other things, we help serve as the ministry team that stands down front and prays for people when the worship services are over.

On this particular night I had already prayed for physical healing for a couple people and was interviewing a young woman who had redness and sensitivity on the skin of her hands. As I asked about her condition, there was some commotion to my right. I ignored it the best that I could because I wanted to give this young lady and her husband my complete attention. But, just as I began to pray for her hands, the commotion got louder.

There was a young girl on the ground to my right who seemed to be about 12 or 13 years old. She was screaming and growling and writhing as she bicycled her legs and spun in a circle. Four or five adults were around her praying very loudly, and in some cases, yelling. They weren’t yelling at her but at the demonic spirits that they believed were causing the problem. There were also a number of teenagers, who seemed to be from her youth group, circled around her watching this bizarre scene.

As I looked over and assessed the scene, I stopped praying for the young woman’s hands and apologized. I told her that I had to deal with what was happening next to us but that, if she would wait for me, I would come back and continue to pray for her healing. She and her husband agreed.

As I stepped into the chaotic scene to my right, I realized that no one had established control or authority in the situation and no one seemed to really know what to do. In that moment, something rose up inside of me that I can only describe as a holy and righteous anger. Not anger with the people for not knowing what to do, but anger at the enemy for abusing, tormenting, and embarrassing this young girl.

The other thing that I immediately became aware of is that somehow I knew exactly what to do. Because of the intensive prayer ministry at my church, I had encountered demonic spirits and demonic manifestations in people on a semi-regular basis. So, oddly enough, I had a lot of experience with situations like this. But there was also a kind of “knowing” that came from the Holy Spirit in that moment. It was like God knew what needed to happen and He downloaded that information to me in an instant.

The first thing I did was to quickly ask about the girl on the ground and ask how she is connected to the people who were gathered around her. I then told everyone to stop praying and to get their hands off of her. The group quieted down but the girl on the ground was still hissing, writhing, and growling. I knew that we had to get this girl to a more private place where ministry could continue. But before that, I knew I had to establish authority.

I bent down, placed my right hand on her shoulder, and in a commanding, authoritative voice (the kind of voice you would used if you saw your young child about to run out into the road) I said, “STOP!” I was not speaking to the girl or the people around her. I was speaking to the demons who were manifesting and controlling her movements.

I followed this, in the same authoritative tone, by saying, “Stop it right now!” And they did. The demons knew I was speaking to them with the authority of the name of Jesus. All the girl’s movements on the ground stopped.

I stayed kneeling down next to the girl and, using her first name, called to her. It is important in these situations to get the person to regain control of their voice and body. I kept calling to the girl and inviting her to regain control of herself. Slowly the look in her eyes changed and she regained control of her body. The demons were still fighting to reestablish authority, so I knew they weren’t gone, but the girl was finally able to sit up on her own.

Now, in a gentle voice, I began to speak directly to the girl. I told her that she was going to be okay. The look of confusion and fear in her eyes told me that she didn’t understand what had just happened to her. I continued to lovingly encourage her and let her know that she was okay and that she was safe. With the help of her youth leaders, we got her on her feet. I directed them to take her to the back of the conference room so that she could receive more private and personal prayer ministry.

As the girl walked away with the help of her leaders, a few of the adults and teens looked at me confused. Finally, one of the adults in the group, with more than a hint of indignation in her voice, said, “Why are you sending her away? Why aren’t you praying for her? Why aren’t you helping her get free?”

I nodded my head because I understood where the question was coming from. They wanted me to cast those demons out right there and, in their view, all I did was send her away. But that’s not what was really happening. So I explained, “The enemy loves to draw attention to himself. And he loves to embarrass people. I didn’t want to give the enemy any more attention, and I didn’t want her to be embarrassed anymore in front of this whole crowd. She will continue to receive prayer, but it will be in the back where there is more privacy and where we can protect her dignity.”

At that, another adult in the group responded, “Ohhh, I see. Yeah… That’s really wise.” Then the group dispersed and I went back to praying for the young woman with the skin condition on her hands. Later that night, my fellow Revival Leaders and I made sure that the young girl got private and personal prayer ministry from one of the conference speakers.

Sometimes I’ve wondered why the Lord has given me so much experience casting out demons. It’s such a strange thing in our American culture to have experience with. But in that moment, I was grateful for all the experience that the Lord has given me. I was grateful that, somehow, I knew exactly what to do. I was grateful that the Lord used me to bring order to the chaos and restore dignity to a young girl. I still have so much to learn. SO. MUCH. TO. LEARN. But it’s encouraging when what you have learned gets put into practice and ends up helping someone in need.

“As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

Matthew 10:7-8

The Children’s Bread

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Mark 7:24-30

A woman outside of the covenant––a woman who wasn’t a part of the people of God––asked Jesus to do deliverance on her young daughter. The phrase, “little daughter” in the Greek likely means the girl was 12-years-old or younger. The mom had likely heard about Jesus’s ability to set people free from demonic torment from news that had spread from Galilee. Jesus had done a lot of ministry is northwest Galilee (like in the town of Chorazin) which was only a two and a half days walk from Tyre.

We learn a lot from Jesus’s initial response. Jesus used the analogy of bread and essentially called deliverance ministry “the children’s bread.” In other words, Jesus was announcing that ministry which sets people free from demonic torment was primarily for those inside the covenant, for those who are members of the people of God.

Think about the implications of this! At the time, the people of God were the Jewish people. But since then, Jesus has expanded the people of God to include Gentiles under the new covenant. Those who believe in Jesus and surrender their life to Him are the new people of God. This is how Paul explained it to the Galatians:

for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:27-29

That means “the children’s bread,” which is ministry that casts out demons so that people are free from demonic torment and oppression, is primarily meant for the people of God today (that is, followers of Jesus). It is part of the inheritance of the Kingdom, the ability to experience freedom from demonic torment. It is one of the perks of being in the family of God!

After people discover that I do a lot of deliverance ministry, sometimes a person will ask me, “Have you ever cast a demon out of a Christian?” First, I try to make it clear that I am not able to cast anything out of anyone on my own (see Acts 19:13-16). I am simply operating in the delegated authority of Christ and the power of the Spirit. We get to do that as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Demons aren’t scared of me, but they are terrified of Christ in me, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

But, secondly, I let them know that I’ve only cast demons out of Christians. Deliverance ministry is the children’s bread. It’s not that I wouldn’t pray for an unbeliever to be set free from demonic oppression, but they would then need to give their life to Jesus to stay free. The Holy Spirit must backfill any area vacated by a demon. If not, the person can end up worse off than they were before. Jesus warned us about someone whose inner life is “unoccupied” by the Holy Spirit.

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. 

Matthew 12:43-45

We also learn from Jesus’s interaction with the Syrophoenician woman and her daughter that children can sometimes be attacked and affected by demons. Demonization isn’t like the movies. It is often much more hidden and subtle than that. And we as the church need to know how to help a person get free. Jesus paid for their freedom, and we must learn how to enforce what Jesus enacted by His death and resurrection.

The good news is that there are a number of churches awakening to this reality in the Kingdom of God. This week I met with leaders from five different churches in Northern Virginia who have themselves experienced deliverance and who want to learn how to bring deliverance ministry to their congregations. People all over this country are hungry for real freedom, real life-change. They are hungry to experience more of the full, abundant life that is promised to us in the gospel, not only for themselves but for their friends, family, and church community.

Defining Disciple

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot,

Mark 3:13-19

This is the passage in Mark 3 where Jesus chooses the 12 disciples who would eventually become the apostles of the early church. If a brand new believer were to read this passage and one were to ask them, “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus today,” what would be their reply? Taken directly from this passage, this might be their response.

A disciple is:

1. called/invited by Jesus to follow Him (and they say “Yes!”).

2. to “be with” Jesus.

3. sent out to preach the gospel.

4. given authority to do the works that Jesus did (including driving out demons).

We see something very similar in a related passage of scripture in Matthew’s Gospel.

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:1-8

If a brand new believer were to read this passage in Matthew and one were to ask them, “What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus today, ” what would be their reply? Taken directly from this passage, this might be their response.

A disciple is:

1. called/invited by Jesus to follow Him (and they say “Yes!”).

2. given authority to do the works that Jesus did (including driving out demons and healing every kind of disease and sickness).

3. sent out to proclaim the message of the Kingdom.

4. commanded to freely receive from the Lord and then freely give to others.

Can you see the pattern? Can you see the similarity?

There seems to be four main component parts of being a disciple. First, we are invited to surrender our lives to following Jesus, and we say “Yes” to Jesus with our whole life.

Secondly, we are invited to just “be with” Jesus so that, in the midst of increasing intimacy with Him, we can freely receive from Him. Because we freely receive, we can turn and freely give.

Third, there is an aspect of our life that includes the proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the good news of the gospel declared with our words.

Fourth, we have the authority of Jesus to enact the demonstration of the Kingdom of God, the good news of the gospel shown through our actions. We have authority to do what Jesus did.

Are all four of these aspects of being a disciple of Jesus part of our own life? Are we missing one or two? If we’re missing something, ask the Lord to show you what it looks like to take the next step.