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Spiritual deception in America is exposed by Haiti

Tim and David in HaitiDisclaimer: I’m just merely sharing a story because its intrigued me since I heard it. Please don’t miss my point for the details.

During my visit to Haiti last month I learned a lot about Voodooism and the spiritual realm that is so very active in that country. Some of that I’ve already shared with you in an earlier post about my take on the earthquake and Haiti’s “devil pact,” but here’s a little more that I didn’t originally share.

One evening I was sitting with our main Haitian translater along with several other people from my church’s team. As we listened to the beat of drums from a distant Voodoo ceremony, I asked him if he had ever been a part of a Voodoo ceremony and what it was like. It turns out that not only had he been a part of several ceremonies, but many of them revolved around him being at the center, bound and tormented by evil spirits. He told us stories of how the Voodoo priests placed curses on him in attempts to get him to stop telling people about Jesus. Once he was even physically displaced (supernaturally, from what I understand) from Haiti to the Dominican Republic where he resided for several months before returning back to Hait to continue preaching the gospel. His stories about the persecution he’s endured for the sake of Christ are truly humbling, especially coming from a 25 year old guy with a limited academic education but such a thorough knowledge of God’s Word that it feels like it puts my Bible college and seminary education to shame.

After his stories I asked him to share what happens in a Voodoo ceremony, and hopefully I will never forget what he shared with those of us sitting around that evening.

He explained that, while different Voodoo ceremonies have different elements depending on what they’re doing, sometimes they’ll call on the evil spirits of a snake to come possess them, and when it does, it causes grown men to lay on the ground and slither around like snakes. They make sounds like a snake and they even slither through the trees. Sometimes the demon will leave a man when he’s slithered to the top of a tree or hanging upside-down on a high branch so that when the man comes out of his trance he falls to the ground and dies instantly.

Then he said that other times evil spirits come and possess them to make “boy like boy and girl like girl.” The men are possessed and start having sex with men and the women with women. Several times he noted how despicable this was and that the evil spirits cause them to sin in “a very bad way.” I stopped him and said, “That happens in America, too, but no one equates it to the influence of evil spirits. Some people say it’s just an attraction you’re born with and there’s nothing wrong with it.” At that, he started getting noticeably angry saying how it is absolutely an influence or a possession of evil spirits. Yikes. I decided to let him move on with his story.

He went on to share that other times the evil spirits that come during the Voodoo ceremonies are ones that possess people to be greedy, so greedy that they’ll do almost anything necessary to get money and material possessions. “Wow,” I thought, “we see that in America, too, but again, no one necessarily equates that directly to demonic activity.”

As I listened to him share more and more, not only did it confirm over and over again just how publicly active the spiritual realm is in Haiti, but how it doesn’t exist any less here in America than it does there. The enemy just has a different tactic in Western society to stay hidden and behind the scenes. If the enemy can get us to believe they don’t exist or that their influence is minimal, they achieve the exact same results with us as they do in Haiti: to focus on something other than God. We thereby are just as blinded and deceived as they are.

Now that I’ve been back in the US for a couple weeks, it’s so clear how blinded I was. I cover my sin with excuses or deem it to my list of “struggles” and fail to see what it could really be going on, not that there’s a demon behind every sinful thought or deed, but at the same time I must not discredit the power that’s there and active. That’s why I need Jesus’ strength, power, and authority so much more than I originally thought.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matthew 28:18

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” Ephesians 1:18-21

P.S. If you choose to go to Haiti someday, be forewarned: it will mess with your theology! Whether we like it or not, too much of our theology is defined through an American lens.


Posted on June 8, 2010

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/dmcooper Dewaine

    Tim,

    You don't have anything to be ashamed of here. You've hit the nail right on its head. We all need to be aware of the spiritual forces that surround us everyday. As Ephesians 6:12 states, "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."

    Thanks for posting this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Xposed2Jesus Brian Ford

    I'm going to say it and hope you don't mind. And maybe I'll get some tension for my comment. But here goes….AMEN!! You nailed it! I have not been to Haiti and am currently looking into going sometime before the year ends. But my parents are missionaries in the Philippines and have similar stories of spiritual warfare and evil. The problem is we (America) don't want to talk about such things as spiritual warfare or sin for that matter.

    You said; "I cover my sin with excuses or deem it to my list of “struggles” and fail to see what it could really be going on, not that there’s a demon behind every sinful thought or deed, but at the same time I must not discredit the power that’s there and active."

    That's what too many of us are doing, covering our sins with excuses.

    Thanks for sharing bro!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/lantzhoward Lantz Howard

    Thanks for sharing.

    When need to pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our lives.

    Highly recommend this book "Seeing the Unseen" by Joe Beam. Biblically solid and guided by a desire to walk in the Spirit Joe tackles this topic head on about spiritual warfare.

  • http://www.illuminateministries.org Matt Reeve

    I agree with Brian!
    The more I travel and speak I hear students talk about the "struggles" that hold them back from walking into complete FREEDOM. We need to expose the lies and bring the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the TRUTH!!

    Thanks!!

  • http://luketrouten.com Luke Trouten

    This is a good thing to point out.

    On a mission trip to Mexico, some of our senior high students were being bothered by demons. Sickness, inability to sleep, wicked dreams, etc. One of our more mature students realized the spiritual warfare side of things and led them in prayer through the night.

    The next morning at breakfast she told her host family about the demonic activity. The father stopped, slowly lowered his juice, and stared at her for a couple moments, looking surprised. Then he said, "I have never heard an American talk about spirits that way. Here, we know they are real. I did not know anyone in America knew they were real."

    It is a huge blind-spot in our theology. And I hate the subversive ways Satan tries to stay hidden here. I hate them because they are so effective. It's guerilla warfare. Anyways, thanks for the post and the reminder.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mikeelliott Mike

    Amazing Stuff, thank you for sharing

  • http://reyouthpastor.com jeremy zach

    @ Tim this is really great stuff at multiple levels.
    1. the ability to accept the supernatural can and will shatter theological paradigms.
    2. thanks for leading and challenging youth workers to a deeper look into demonic activity in the North American youth ministry context.
    3. demonic oppression in believers life is very real and i strongly believe us youth workers need more prayer than ever because our students are dabbling into a lot of crazy (indirect demonic) stuff
    4. The enemy just has a different tactic in Western society to stay hidden and behind the scenes. amen!
    5. youth workers need to have more of an awareness that our students' hormones and immaturity may not be the root source to why they are not growing in their relationship with Christ.
    6. in my context i am finding that more and more of my students are being visited by demonic spirits because they have invited them into their world. some of my students have unfortunately used the Ouija board one too many times and have learned the hard way.

    again thanks for your boldness.
    cheers!

  • Kevin

    While I agree with most of your post, we cannot EVER shift the blame of sin to demonic powers. Each one sins when we are drawn away and entire by our own desires. Paul claims responsibility for his sins and his desire to sin when he had his old nature (Rom 7). Satan and his angels can make our circumstances difficult or be a thorn in the flesh type deal (…and Job), but he cannot control the children of God. He cannot make us sin, or kill ourselves, or take over our bodies, or make us perform homosexual acts. Our bodies are the temples of God!

    Resist the devil and he will flee from you. That's our job, resist him. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

    Maybe we've done a fairly good job of resisting the devil in the US. Not that he isn't present and active, but generally, witchcraft and voodoo is looked down upon in our society. Sounds like the countries mentioned above are actively seeking the devil and finding him in alarming ways.

    Thoughts?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      I'm not shifting the blame for sin to demonic powers — I'm simply saying we underestimate their influence and power.

      And I cannot tell you how strongly I disagree with "maybe we've done a fairly good job of resisting the devil in the US." We're resisted witchcraft and voodoo, but have still embraced most of the things that go along with it: homosexuality and greed, just to name two from my post above. This country becomes more steeped in sin all the time. We are not resisting the direction the enemy wants us to take.

  • http://www.themommanerd.com Jennifer

    Wow! I have been to Haiti, and I have seen how prevalent voodoo is there. You can't take pictures of people often, or they will get upset at you, since I think they believe that the soul is bound in a picture. I saw symbols of voodoo and different places where they do voodoo sacrifices. Satan is real. I admit that I don't understand how much influence that he has, but your article opens my eyes! God bless you!

  • Spencer

    Here is a worthy article for this forum:
    http://divinity.uchicago.edu/martycenter/publicat

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

      Thanks for the link, Spencer. I think it's important to note that demon possession is different than demon oppression. If you're a believer and are sealed with the Holy Spirit, as Ephesians talks about, you cannot be possessed because light and darkness, the Holy Spirit and demons, cannot occupy the same space. In fact, in Haiti, voodoo priests cannot cast evil spirits into believers, they can only send evil spirits to physically oppress the believer. So, in the case of these exorcisms, they must be in the context of teens who are not believers (according to my theology, obviously).

      Also worth noting is how these exorcists treat demons as if they must beckon to their every whim and will. Even the disciples tried to cast out demons and couldn't. Jesus was like, "You're doing it all wrong. This one can only come out through prayer."

      I don't condone the way those people are going about treating this matter, nor do I believe that there's a demon behind every rock and tree out there. Some things are bad and wrong just because we're all naturally sinful and we live in a sinful world. Let's not give the enemy more credit than their due, but lets not underestimate them either.

      • Spencer

        Thanks for the response, Tim. However, I'm a bit confused by your interpretation of the article and the explanation of your theology. Are you presuming these teens are non-Christian? In the article the young adult male is working to reconcile his faith with a presumed "evil" sexuality which, in my opinion, IS abuse. I have friends who are gay and lesbian, believe and love Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit, and are a part of a healthy community built around the love and acceptance of God; it is easy to condemn what we do not understand nor experience. As you are either in seminary or have been through seminary you must be familiar with biblical hermeneutics and therefore should be a little slower in literalizing every jot-and-tittle of scripture by looking at historical context, e.g., it was common in the first century for the master of the household to force himself upon his servants as to demonstrate his "power" and this is "homosexuality" addressed in the NT. If we were solely addressing the GLBT issue i would advise reading "A Time To Embrace" by William Stacy Johnson, a New Testament scholar. I challenge you to practice love by opening your arms to others who are different than you instead of blanketing all sexual orientation other than your own as "demonic."

        Back to the issue of demon possession as you describe in your post: you say that we shouldn't give the "enemy more credit than their due" yet this whole discussion does exactly that. In Ephesians, Paul is aware of a transcendent evil "in the heavenly places" but talks about them in an ethical behavior (cf. Eph. 1, 5, 6). We should hold the transcendent and immanent definitions of evil together and avoid dualistic approaches to the Christian life and body which is a gnostic tendency. Instead, by challenging transcendent evil we are actually challenging evil in this world; evil that displays itself through injustice and hate disguised as piety.

        The more I write the more I realize that this is a discussion to be had over coffee or a drink :) I'm sure both of us have a lot to unpack and discuss which would need a couple of hours. I'll end with saying that I was raised Pentecostal and am not disgruntled by this yet I am looking to add a new perspective within the Pentecostal persuasion. Again, i validate the presence of evil and oppression in the world but I would qualify it differently and am skeptical to extremist positions as I'm sure you would say as well. The more conversations I have with people the more I become aware of the differences in perspective, definition, and language which would clearly become evident if we were to continue…

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/timschmoyer Tim Schmoyer

          I appreciate your maturity here, Spenser, and how you're open to dialog without name-calling and accusations.

          I, too, agree that this is a better discussion over coffee and I suspect that we would come to different conclusions, as well, yet hopefully not break fellowship over it.

          I could get into hermeneutics and explain my understanding of scripture a bit more clearly (sorry I wasn't very clear above), but that's not the point of this post, so I won't digress into rabbit trails in this space. Thank you for explaining yours, though. That's helpful.

          I'll just suffice it to say that I do love and accept homosexuals as individuals, just not their sin any more than I do my own sin of pride or self-sufficiency. And yes, we should not give the enemy more credit than they are due, but I also said we shouldn't underestimate them either, which is where the pendulum had swung too far for me before my trip to Haiti. Hopefully my perspective and theology is more balanced now (not perfect — as if anyone's is perfect — just more balanced).

          Thanks, Spencer!

          • Spencer

            Likewise, Tim. I second your point about fellowship!

  • keamogetse

    i have been asking myself this question "whats wrong with Haiti, did Haiti sin?" but my answer was related to the sick man whom Jesus said he didnt sin even his parents did not sin, but that the glory of God be revealed. how should our prayer now be like. lets pray for the salvation and transformation of Haiti. the devil must loose in Jesus name and the hand of God must be revealed. all this vodoo thing happens even in other parts of the world, but why is Haiti hit like this by natural disasters, is it because of this evil mentioned above.

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