One person dead, two others seriously ill—all after working in a particular room. What do you think will happen to the fourth person who uses that same room, our daughter Marina?
When it comes to cultural superstitions, Benin, the birthplace of Voodoo, ranks higher than most countries. Many people in postmodern Western cultures look down on superstition and consider it irrational and unscientific. Sadly, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. In African fear/power cultures, and particularly in Benin where Voodoo is the dominant religion, people’s beliefs about spirits (Voodoo gods and goddesses), are firmly founded in daily reality. Fallen angels often manifest themselves, and people routinely witness their power. In Benin, the truth of Ephesians 6:12 is unmistakable: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.”
I know that some Christians are highly suspicious of spiritual warfare (healings, exorcisms, etc.), but the Seventh-day Adventist Church is moving forward on this point. At the 2005 General Conference session, our church voted a 28th fundamental belief (number 11 in the list) having to do specifically with the key Bible doctrine of spiritual warfare: “By His death on the cross, Jesus triumphed over the forces of evil. He who subjugated the demonic spirits during His earthly ministry has broken their power and made certain their ultimate doom. Jesus’ victory gives us victory over the evil forces that still seek to control us, as we walk with Him in peace, joy, and assurance of His love. Now the Holy Spirit dwells within us and empowers us. Continually committed to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we are set free from the burden of our past deeds. No longer do we live in the darkness, fear of evil powers, ignorance, and meaninglessness of our former way of life. . . .”
So, what does this have to do with an “evil room” that our Dendi community believes has sickened two people and killed a third? This happens to be the very room we have rented to help our adopted daughter Marina set up her sewing business. The most recent victim was Marina’s business partner Martine, a seamstress in her early forties who was living in the room and died a few weeks ago under mysterious circumstances. The worried landlord, a Muslim, implored me to be careful and to pray fervently that Marina doesn’t become the room’s fourth victim.
Before we rented the room, it served as a grocery store for many years. People in Benin typically commit their families, their businesses and everything they own to ancestor spirits, family deities, or gods with specific protective attributes. They invite the spirits through ritual sacrifices, and often these spirits will possess a family member, an object or a building. Even after the family leaves the building, the spirits remain and attack new tenants if they don’t continue to serve them and please them. Every adult in Benin knows that before you move into a new home or place of business, you must perform rituals to break old spiritual links and form new ones. Here in Benin, 35 percent of people claim Christianity, and 15 percent claim Islam. However, I estimate that about 70 percent of those Christians and Muslims have a dual allegiance to Voodooism/fetish worship. Most Beninese Christians will readily compromise their faith and turn to Voodoo if they don’t see sufficient power manifested within Christianity. Charismatic churches that demonstrate such power in their ministry tend to be the fastest growing churches here and in other part of the world with the same fear/power worldview.
Knowing the fear this “evil room” inspired in the Dendi community, and having been blessed with nearly 20 years of experience in spiritual warfare ministry, I was happy to give God an opportunity to publicly demonstrate His mighty power. After three days of fasting and prayer, we held three different anointing services to cast the evil spirits out of the room. We claimed Mark 16:17, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out demons;” and Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
We pray that Marina’s sewing business in the previously “evil room” will be a continual witness to the Dendi community about the almighty power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks for joining us in that prayer.