“He has gone back to alcohol and cigarettes,” Mano told me.
Phil had given his life to God, and in His power had quit using alcohol and cigarettes. He had become a leader in the church in his village and was getting his life back together. He had come for training and participated enthusiastically in the meetings. He had been baptized at the first opportunity. So, when I heard that he had fallen back into his old habits, I was distressed. I didn’t understand what would provoke him to start drinking again. As I thought about this, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words of Jesus to Peter in Luke 22:31, 32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
I got on my knees and started to pray for Phil. This attack on his faith came while I was in South Africa with Suzy for AFM training. Though I was far away, I carried my sheep in my heart. Suzy and I prayed for our people every day, and during the 10 days of prayer in January, I fasted.
So what exactly had happened with brother Phil? He had become a Christian two years ago after a divorce. Recently, his former mother-in-law came and started to remind him of the bitterness and bad events that happened during that time. This caused him to fall into despondency and lose hope in the future. His faith in God was not yet strong enough to bring him through it, so he returned to alcohol and cigarettes.
When I called Phil on the phone, I hardly recognized his voice. He was ashamed to talk with me, and his voice was broken and changed. My first reaction was to feel angry at him, but again the Holy Spirit seemed to say, “Be patient. Phil is under spiritual attack from sorcerers in his village to stop his evangelistic work. Since God delivered him from alcohol and cigarettes before, Satan now wants to show that the change was only temporary.” I was still somewhat upset, and I told Suzy about it. That evening and over the next two days, we prayed for Phil.
The following Sabbath, I spent the day in Phil’s village. After the church service, I called Phil to come and sit with me. “I know the problem you have, but God will deliver you,” I told him. Then I prayed for him. After the prayer, he said that some kind of darkness had left his head, and he felt more like himself. He told me he had been plagued with thoughts urging him to leave the village, abandon the church and beat his wife. The object of the sorcerers of this village was to prevent the planting of an Adventist church there, as they were able to do with other Christian denominations that have tried. But our case will be different because we didn’t come on our own accord, but were sent by God almighty. Jesus still performs miracles today! Praise His name!