From the archives of the old e-mail loop (and perhaps a future book aimed at Charismatics), here is the testimony of a young person nearly destroyed by "deliverance ministry:"

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When it came to stubborn problems I struggled with as a teenager, I remember being told, "You have seven demons in you. I can even see them looking out at me through your eyes! You need deliverance, child."

This from a very intense person with penetrating eyes and a forceful loud, intimidating voice. Just talking to her was scary! I went through several "deliverance sessions" with her and her husband (who never spoke a word except in tongues during his wife's shouts of confrontation with my demons).

The first step was to have me confess a lifetime of sin - every single one I could remember ever committing (even ones already confessed and dealt with years before). The object was to discover which specific sins "opened the door" for the demons to enter. That whole agonizing ordeal was based on a common charismatic superstition that particular acts of sin "give a demon access" to enter and oppress a Christian. When all the stuff about the sexual and psychological abuse at home was uncovered (I had just turned 14 and the abuse was getting pretty bad then), the "counseling" became every bit as cruel, hurtful and damaging as the abuse had been!

Somehow, being abused must have been my fault (of course I believed that anyway - even into my late twenties, strange as that seems, but lots of abused kids feel that way) because the abuse (or some response to it) had somehow given demons "access" to enter my soul. The counselor made a list of the demons she found in my soul, calling them each by name:

There was Lust, Murder, Homosexuality, Unforgiveness, Hate, etc. They were all named after some sin or evil trait, and the counselor insisted on trying to interview each of them, digging up more history, more sordid details, and more anguish.

Now since the devil is a liar and the demons are all liars, what the heck is the point of carrying on a conversation with known liars? Borrowed out of context from Jesus' encounter with Legion, this "counseling" was supposedly aimed at discovering which demons inhabited my soul, how they got there, and all the besetting sins they caused that were the source of my problems at school and in relationships. But I think the real object of this morbid exploration of an abused teenager's secrets was simply pornographic, and of no value or use to this so-called counselor/minister other than that.

Then there was the "family curse" thing to be dealt with after my deliverance. I was told that these are familial curses inherited by the children of parents who committed particular sins. This charismatic idea suggests that demons become familial companions, driving succeeding generations deeper into a particular sin (many abused kids grow up to become abusers, children of alcoholics grow up to drink, etc.). But the Bible offers hope and puts responsibility for sin where it belongs, while this "familial curse" teaching explains and excuses sin as the legacy of sinful parents and offers no hope except through this process of "deliverance ministry" rather than through forgiveness and liberty provided in Christ. It sends people in search of some counselor or minister having "the gift of Discernment" rather than to the Savior who has already accomplished victory and supplied all our needs!

Well, anyway, none of those demons ever spoke through my mouth, and the poor, frustrated counselor never got to interview the demons as she wanted. For some reason, those ol' demons just wouldn't manifest, even after shouted commands that could be heard from the parking lot across the street! I fully expected to hear a strange, gruff voice speak from my lips, saying stuff like, "Please, don't send us to the pit, thou great warrior," or maybe even say something defiant and profane. I was expecting to vomit up a bunch of green stuff or turn my head all the way around like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, or have a major seizure or SOMETHING! But nooooooo, those mean ol demons just wouldn't give her the satisfaction of crying out in pain and begging to be spared from "the pit of hell they came from," despite her orders in the name of Jesus to go there. And oh, by the way, demons did not arrive on earth from any pits in hell in case you didn't know... they came here from Heaven, and they've never even been to that pit my "counselor" kept sending them "back" to (another unbiblical charismatic superstition).

Okay, so to finish my story: I cried a lot. All day and all night for weeks, repenting and begging forgiveness from God and begging Him pleeeeeease to take the demons away. I had confessed every known sinful thought, word, and deed. I had fully cooperated while this so-called counselor used my confessions and anguish to satisfy her pornographic curiosity and lust. I had done all that could be done to rid myself of demons so that I could live a pure, clean life. Yet those stubborn demons wouldn't leave. I begged and pleaded and wailed like a banshee day after day, week after week for God to take the demons away.

It all stopped when the counselor finally gave up.

"You are just NOT cooperating here," she snapped. "Maybe you enjoy your sin too much to repent. Maybe you've gotten used to those demons in your soul and you don't even want to be free. I have NEVER failed to cast demons out of anyone who was WILLING TO REPENT. So I can only conclude that you are continuing in sin and refusing to be set free by the power of God. You've wasted a lot of my time, you little unrepentant brat! Get out of my sight!"

So I did. I felt I had been abandoned by God, and gave myself over to willful sin for the first time in my life at age 15 - just at a time of life when a person is most vulnerable to the most urgent and most pressing and most destructive temptations in their lifetime! I didn't figure out until years later that this "counselor" was an agent of Satan to make me believe the lie that God had abandoned me, that I was beyond help and hope, so I might as well destroy myself. I thought about suicide. I was angry, guilty, broken, hopeless. My experience with that "deliverance minister" led me to despair, to sexual sin, trouble with the law, and abandonment of my faith.

My counselor said I had denied the power of God. But a far greater demonstration of God's power and love is that He could bring me back to Himself even from that terrible place of faithless despair and hopelessness and rebellion! Oh, this is how I know salvation is by grace and not by works! I know it because He brought me back from utter defiance and helplessness to humble, quiet, simple, childlike dependence upon Him and devotion to Him.

God is gracious and merciful and wonderful to the worst of sinners (me), and all the lies told in His name still could not stop Him from reaching me. That is what Jesus meant when He said, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church!" Not that we'd invade hell and kick demon [img]http://the-highway.com/Smileys/censored.gif[/img], but that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Held by His grace and kept by His power (not my own),
Robin