Disclaimer: If you do not believe in the Holy Spirit or casting out of evil spirits, then no need to read any further; this post is not for you.
On Sunday, June 29th, I experienced something I will never forget. The morning started like any other one. I picked up the Ambassador team and brought them back to the girls home. Then we all walked to the nearby church where Tenele had asked us to go. It was about a two and half hour service total, and during the point where the leader asked for personal testimonies, Tenele nudged one of the girls to tell them to go up. I in turn nudged Tenele and encouraged her to go forward. Her eyes got really big and she covered her face with her hands in anticipated embarrassment. But for some reason she did get up and walked to the front of the church. I was so shocked. That was not the Tenele I had known for the past six years. Although she has made giant strides in her faith life and turning her life around, she still was holding back and would have never in the past had the courage to stand in front of anyone to talk. Nonhlanhla also accompanied her and they both shared testimonies with the church. They spoke in SiSwati, so we didn’t know what they said, but it was beautiful to watch them and to hear the congregations “amens” to whatever they said. Shortly after that, a few more of our girls got up to lead the church in song, and that was so beautiful to see as well! The girls sang “Our God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do for you.” Little did we know how important those words would be an hour later.
The Pastor gave a great sermon about not holding anything back from the Lord. He kept saying 100%, not 99.9%! I wrote down in my journal that is how satan deceives us and slowly seeps in to dissuade us from truly giving 100%. We make excuses for sin or temptations or desires and slowly our 100% gets less and less. At the end he had somewhat of an altar call, and called those forward who wanted to surrender their lives completely to Christ. There was a line of people, and Tenele went forward to be one of them. The pastor started praying over the individuals and Tenele was one of the last ones. I had stopped paying attention by this point, because they were also playing music in the background and I was getting a little sleepy from the long service. All of a sudden, the pastor is yelling something like, “Get out!” and I looked up and saw that his hand was on Tenele’s forehead and he was still praying for her. What happened in the moments to follow were at first extremely scary for me, and something I have never seen or witnessed before. All of a sudden five more people were holding Tenele and her body was being wrenched around. I kept thinking, “What are they doing to her? Why are they trying to put on a show? That’s my girl!” I was upset. I was confused. I was scared. I knew what they were doing, they were praying evil spirits out of her. But I had never seen it before, so to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I believed it. Of course, it is Biblical, but I just didn’t think it happened like that in today’s day and age. I felt the Spirit prompting me to go forward to her and pray for her, so I did. I went to the front, though keeping my distance from her, and prayed over her. Then I felt the Spirit prompting me to take hold of her feet and pray while I held her feet. So I did. It was then that I realized there was a power in Tenele unlike her. The six people holding her were trying to stabalize her, but she was so powerful that it took forever to calm her down. The church was dismissed, but the six people holding Tenele couldn’t let go. The pastor kept commanding, “Get out!” to the evil spirits and eventually the other girls on our team came forward to pray as well. I was the only umlungu touching Tenele and as I looked back to find Laura, I saw Rachel and the Spirit prompted me to call Rachel forward. So I asked Rachel to come hold and pray over Tenele. So she did.
An hour passed and Tenele’s wrenching and wriggling and groaning did not stop. We were praying and singing and worshiping, seemingly saying the same things over and over again. I didn’t know what to do, so I just kept praying. Eventually, I was the one holding Tenele’s head. It took all my strength to literally keep her head in my lap because otherwise she would whip her neck back and forth and try to hit the ground. There were times when it seemed the battle was over, she calmed down and the spirit was out, but not completely. The pastor commanded in Christ’s name for the demon to talk, so he would ask questions like “How many are you? What is your name? What are you doing?” At one point the demon answered, “We are building a house here.” Oh, no you’re not! A woman started saying, “You are the temple of the Living God!” Our team and the others from the church prayed ceaselessly over her.
At the TWO HOUR mark, we were exhausted but the battle was still raging over my precious Tenele. I felt the Spirit prompt me to read Scripture, so I grabbed my Bible and opened to Psalm 146, this was the Psalm I had prayed over Tenele years ago. In fact, verse 7, “The Lord sets prisoners free” is the verse written on a red hair band Tenele gave me four years ago. So I repeated, “The Lord sets prisoners free” over and over aloud after I read the whole psalm. I felt prompted to put my hand on her neck and pray those words over her. Immediately, a dream I had four years ago flooded me. It was a dream where Tenele had come running to me, away from a man who was chasing her. She had a yellow rope around her neck like a noose. I remember being so scared in my dream, but I prayed for her and the only way to get the rope off was through prayer. I couldn’t touch it, could only pray it off, and it fell off. So I kept the vision in my mind as I touched Tenele’s neck and prayed freedom over her. About ten minutes later, she finally breathed out a long sigh, like exhaling the last “stubborn demon” (as the Pastor called it) and her body became calm and her eyes flickered. Her eyes had been shut, refusing to open the whole time even when someone tried to force them open, but finally did after two hours and everyone around the circle breathed, “Praise God!” It was clear that the people of the church knew what they were doing as this had been done before, so they were all rejoicing. We were all exhausted and sweating, for the power in Tenele was unlike any I had seen. Her strength was beyond human strength and it wasn’t until my sister explained it to me later that I really understood what was happening to Tenele’s body, that if we had not restrained her, she would have self-harmed and who knows what would have happened because her body had been overtaken. There is much more to the story, but I can’t put it all into words. Although it was scary at first, I could not be more JOYFUL for the Victory of Christ over her life. She had finally come to the Lord’s feet, ready to surrender completely, and although she had dark demons in her life from the past, she is now SET FREE forever!
It wasn’t until I was journaling later that I realized the impact of the phrase from the demon, “We are building a house here.” Building a house? We built a house, We (Hosea’s Heart) help rebuild the ruins. They were trying to build a house and in doing so destroy ours. Tenele is going to change Swaziland. Not herself, but her story and her spirit is for sure going to be the tool of change and freedom for Swazi and it’s no wonder she is a target of Satan. June 29th, 2014 will be a day I celebrate forever because it’s the day my Tenele-Bell has been finally, finally, finally completely set free. A prayer that has been in my heart and on my lips for SIX years.
After the two hour ceaseless prayer session, I felt so empowered. And it made me wonder how quickly our world would change if we spend that much time in prayer every day. Or even just once a week. What if we got on our knees and battled ceaselessly for our brothers and sisters who are held captive by something. What if we prayed with that intensity and determination for our neighbors, our family, our schools, our nations, our own hearts? Many times prayer is the last thing we go to. What if it became the first? What if we became a prayer army?
NO WONDER then, the lyrics “There’s an army rising up,” has been my theme for this move here. For, there is a battle we don’t see, we don’t acknowledge, we refuse to believe sometimes. There is a very real battle going on, and it’s thick here in Swaziland. It’s not like that in the States, so I don’t expect anyone reading to fully understand, but if you get nothing else out of it, get this:
THERE IS AN ARMY RISING UP. WILL YOU BE PART OF IT?