Karen: From torment to triumph
The night I received Christ and found my freedom in Him, Karen was facing a battle that would replace any semblance of liberty with terrifying occult bondage. She was about to immerse her heart and soul in a satanic cult - a spiritual reality usually hidden from Christians in America. Now, looking back, I praise God for His miraculous ways of training His servants and leading us to victory.
A shy, quiet person whose heart would throb at the thought of speaking up in a group, I never thought I would ever be involved in counseling. But that night, after God opened my eyes to see His amazing love, I knew I wanted to share His beautiful life with others. So I asked Him to fill me with His love. And He did! The incredible joy that followed caused me to cry out to Him for a place to spread that love. Suddenly I knew in my heart that I needed to contact the local veterans hospital.
So, less than 10 hours after my conversion, I was talking with a chaplain and receiving my first assignment. That same day, God began to train me through tough ex-soldiers with more bitterness than love toward God. Twice a week for the next three years, they would bombard me with challenging questions about my Lord and the Bible. I had no choice but to search God's heart and Word continually for answers.
During my third winter one of the chaplains invited me to a holiday prayer virgil. Since many of the patients faced intense loneliness during the Christmas season, we would each be assigned a daily hour to pray for God's encouragement and protection. I went, but I had no idea how one of the strangers at that short meeting would later touch Karen's life.
In February, with God's guidance and Andy's blessing, I joined the "Compassion Corps" at our church. My first assignment was to counsel a young woman with a three-month old baby.
Karen  had called the church for help and had indicated she was a Christian. She suffered from fear, anger and depression as well as mental and spiritual confusion. I felt utterly inadequate to help her.
But God is faithful. Sitting at our kitchen table one morning, I prayed with to our all-knowing and all-sufficient Counselor for guidance. He led us for the next seven hours as Karen shared her traumatic life history, read Scriptures, extended forgiveness to all who had hurt and abused her, confessed her own sins as God brought them to mind - then praised the God who was healing her. She left full of joy, cleansed by the blood of Jesus and fortified with His Word and hope. God had indeed touched her, and her heart was singing.
The joy didn't last long. Later that evening she called me in a state of panic. Her home was in chaos. The baby was screaming, her husband was threatening suicide and she was terrified.
God prompted me to ask if she had been involved in any occult activities. "Yes," she answered, but less than a year ago, she had cried out to God and He had shown her the evil behind the seductive occult promises of power. But she was not yet free from the deadly influences.
I knew little about demonic oppression and spiritual bondage, but again God prompted me to ask some questions. First, had she kept any of the objects and symbols that still linked her to the cult? We asked our Shepherd to help her remember, and she began to list all the objects and clothes in her house that had been used in ritual worship. We prayed that He would guide both Karen and her husband as they sought to do their part in cleansing their home of all occult connections.
When Karen called back the next day, she had completed her search and the initial cleansing of her home. We thanked God, but my concern had deepened. Ephesians 4:27 and other Scriptures suggested that she might face more battles before she would walk freely in God's victory. I suggested we fast for 3 days then meet again for whatever God might show us.
Andy, my husband and counselor, suggested I call our church for help. I did. The only available pastor was supportive but could offer no advice. He prayed that God would lead me, and we both trusted that He would.
Some hours later, the phone rang. A woman I barely remembered meeting at the holiday prayer vigil introduced herself. She told me that God had prompted her to call me with some advice and she had found my name and phone number on the old list of prayer assignments. A bit skeptical at first, I listened, praying that God would guard me against deception.
"Open your Bible to the blank pages in the back and write down these instructions," she said. "You need to know how to lead someone through deliverance."
How did she know about Karen? Neither Andy nor I had told anyone other than our associate pastor. When I told her about my need, she shared my awe at God's amazing ways.
Following her instructions, I wrote three pages of notes. Then we prayed together, and she added an interesting comment. "If you are fasting," she said, "drink juice as well as water. You will need it."
Wow. That was good news. Hours after I had begun the fast, I had felt waves of nausea. God knew something I didn't at that moment: I was pregnant and desperately needed something more than water in my stomach.
Three days later, on a Thursday, God led us through the steps He had given me through the woman. This time, Karen left my kitchen with the certain knowledge that God was her Savior, King, Lord and Shepherd. In Christ, she was "more than conqueror." Rom 8:37
But Karen's battle was still not over. That Sunday, a former missionary to China -- now the head of a large mission organization -- spoke at our church. By God's amazing providence, he described the demonic oppression, possession and deliverance he had witnessed on the mission field. Then he stressed this warning in Luke 11:24,
"When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it swept and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first."
I took his words to heart. Karen had already memorized some key Scriptures, God's "Swords of the Spirit." She had been preparing for warfare. But we needed to discuss the Armor of God and make sure we were both covered by His life.
Nothing happened the next three days, but on the fourth night she called again. Her frightened voice exposed the intensity of her battle. She began to describe the demons that were pressing into "the door" of her mind, and what she "saw" seemed strangely familiar. Her scary, scaly, tormentors seemed to resemble the strange creatures we now see -- and children idolize -- in toy stores, popular movies and televised cartoons for children.
I wanted to go to her home and pray with her through the night, but Andy thought it best to stay home. Covered by his prayers, I put some bedding by the phone and prayed with Karen against the forces of evil through the night.
By God's grace, Karen won. The personal combat with her demonic oppressors had finally ended. Hungry for His Word and presence, she grew fast and became strong in faith and spirit -- ready to fight the ongoing battle we all face for daily victories in our challenging times. Christ had set her free, and within two years, she was teaching Bible studies and encouraging other women.
"...thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ!" 2 Cor 2:14
2. Ephesians 4:26-27 ["Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."] shows what would happen if we persist in sin: we would "give a place to the devil." In other words, we would "give the devil a foothold" or "stronghold." Ordinarily, a person might simply dismiss such bondage as an unfortunate temperament or an addiction, but Romans 6:17 tells shows what it means to be "slaves of sin."
3. Few of us face as fierce a battle as Karen did. Her involvement in actual satan worship strengthened the bondage. But all of us can find protection in The Armor of God and answers in 2 Cor 10:3-5,
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ...."