“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes” –William Shakespeare, Macbeth.
“See? I told you having a lion on our side wasn’t such a bad idea.” -Timon, The Lion King.
This is another story about an encounter with voodoo and the darkness it brings. Before I dive in, I want to clear something up: Less than 7% of Ghanaians practice traditional religions like voodoo. However, the strip of land along the coast near The Father’s House has pockets where voodoo is prevalent. In the nation of Ghana, the majority identify themselves as Christian.
Ghana is a land of beautiful places and extraordinary people. I am humbled very time i go there. Ghanaian children, given the opportunity, are the hardest working students I have ever encountered. Given the chance, they are eager to learn, and they excel in academics.They put most American students to shame.
I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t creating any stereotypes.
The Father’s House was being established as a lighthouse in an area with much darkness. Territory was being contended for. Looking back, I can see that plainly. When territory is being taken, there is push-back from the powers that be. That is true in the natural world, and it is true in the supernatural realm as well.
In October, 2009 I took a couple of young men, Jonathan and Levi, over to Ghana. The Sunday before we left, the three of us were prayed over at the church we were part of.
Afterwards, a man came up to me and said, “The whole time you guys were being prayed for, I was having a vision.”
“Cool. What was it Roger?”
“Have you ever seen the movie Lord of the Rings?”
“You bet. Read the book too, like 30 years ago. Loved it!”
“Well, you know the part where Gandalf faces the Balrog on the bridge?”
Oh dear Lord, this ain’t sounding too good.
“Yeah?” My voice sounded like Don Knott’s in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”
“Well, the whole time you guys were down there, it was like I was watching that scene of the movie.”
That was not anything I wanted to hear. I thanked him, and left.
Walking home, I kept seeing the cowardly lion in “The Wizard of Oz” pulling his tail saying I do, I do, I do believe in spooks.
See, I knew Roger. He had given me some accurate words in the past. I was really hoping this was a big fat dud. I mean, Gandalf had a pretty bad time with that thing.
I didn’t wanna fight no Balrogs!
Before I go further, let me clarify some things. Oftentimes in a vision or a dream from the Lord, He paints a picture that tells a thousand words. Symbolism appears throughout the visions found in the Bible.
I say all that to make this point: Yeah, I picked a cool photograph for this story. But I suffer no delusions about being anything like Gandalf. Or encountering a Balrog. I am certain they only exist in a story written by J.R.R Tolkien. I think my stories thus far have firmly established I would be more in the Hobbit category: a comfort loving man who likes to read about adventures. Nor did I expect to actually fight a Balrog. What had me sorta nervous though was the idea of having some sort of major confrontation with anything demonic.
Levi, Jonathan and I did a 21 day Daniel fast before we went. We only ate fruits and vegetables. Being a bachelor at the time, Levi fared the worst. I did not see him for the last couple weeks, and at the end of the fast he was pretty scrawny. He ate nothing but grapes for three weeks. That’ll take the weight off a hard working young man for sure.
The boys and I had an easy flight, and the Baninis were thrilled to see us. Especially Jonathan, because his brother Andy had spent some time with them on another trip. David pronounced Levi’s name Ghanaian style, Levee.
When we got to the site, the walls were all finished and the roof was on at The Father’s House. It was so cool to walk around that big building and go in all the rooms. Quashi, our mason, had accomplished much in three years.
Quashi? Remember that name? David Quashi was the African American boy I saw crying outside my window in the 7th grade. That was the first time I felt godly compassion rise up out of my belly. I can still see his face.
Now, this Quashi was our mason, the one who had laid up thousands of block on the walls. He hand formed those block in the wooden forms he built, right there on site. Quashi dug the well that was now used daily by the whole community. He and his two helpers, Watche and Remember had hand mixed and laid down all the concrete, carrying it in on top of their heads three shovels at a time.
As I walked through the Father’s House, I remembered the mayor running power poles a half mile just for us, hauling boulders out to the site with his dump trucks. I had been humbled by the old grannies who would sit under the mango trees chipping away at those boulders to make gravel for the cement.
So much work had been done with no power tools. Quashi and his men walked the 3 miles from Keta every morning, carrying their hand tools.None of the workers had a vehicle. None of them. Everyone had worked so hard.
As a mason, I marveled at how the second floor and the stairs going up had been painstakingly constructed. They were all concrete. Quashi must have had some pretty amazing forms, and I knew those forms had been built on site by him.
The view from the top floor was beautiful. I looked out over the wide beach at the big blue Gulf of Guinea, framed by a few coconut palms
I had a moment with the Lord as I walked up those stairs. Lord. Why is this place so big? I have no idea where we are going to find the boys!
I heard nothing in reply. God is funny that way. I would really like to get more details, you know. This whole faith thing ain’t easy. I mean, you never reach a point where it stops taking faith to follow God.
If there is, I an not there yet.
We were still doing the Sunday afternoon outreach, and it was going great. I had an idea though. I wanted to do a worship meeting out there in the courtyard at night, when the voodoo drums crank up. It seemed like a good idea.
Walking out to the site from “the tree” in the dark was a little different. It was dark dark. No one had electricity. The smell of charcoal fires and the smells of fish drying mingled with the smells of the vegetation and the sea. The stars overhead were brilliant.
Once we got to the site, a crowd of children and some of the mothers were there. The numbers were down from the usual Sunday afternoon crowd. People are afraid to walk very far at night.
We had a couple dozen long homemade benches we used on Sundays, and Watche had them situated for us. We prayed, and then everyone sat down. Jonathan is a worship leader, and he picked up his guitar and started singing.
I sat on the back bench and sang praise songs with everyone. I loved it. Sitting in the back I looked at all the children worshipping Jesus. I loved so much that my two friends were there with me, and I had a sense of wonder sitting there beside this nearly complete Father’s House.
It was a moment, for sure.
But then I started getting this brain fog, and the ground seemed to be spinning. I felt disoriented. Something was coming against my mind. Something strong.
We still had no gate up. The courtyard just had a 12 foot opening in the outer wall. I looked around and there, standing in the opening, was a woman I did not know. When I looked at her I felt everything inside of me lurch, like I had stepped into a hole unexpectedly. I looked at her and knew she was bringing something wicked with her. It felt big.
Everything was spinning, but this was no natural vertigo. It was demonic, and I had felt it before but never like this. This woman had brought a heavy hitter with her. Without thinking, I stood and faced her, sort of planted my feet and held my right hand out as if to say, Stop! I began to pray and commanded this thing she was bringing in to leave in Jesus Name.
The witch stood there for a moment. It was intense. Then, she turned and left.
As soon as she did, everything lifted. The oppressive weight and spinning was gone.
I sat down as Jonathan began another song. I thought, I think I just had my Balrog moment.
Afterwards I debriefed with the guys. Levi, who had been sitting with the children, felt the oppression come and had the same sensation of the ground spinning. Jonathan, who had watched the whole thing unfold, felt only the disorientation.
I never had time to even think when it happened. I couldn’t think. I just reacted, and the Lord was with me. He’s the one who’s cool. I was standing there as an old stone mason with a receding hairline and a mortgage. Heck, I was homesick the moment I left the house. But I was also standing in the authority of the One who sent me there to start with.
And I acted in His authority.
When we left for the airport, the ride back was harrowing. We had a driver who drove his rickety old van like a maniac. I asked him to slow down several times, but he seemed to have a foot made of lead. The “highway” is decorated here and there with horrible looking burned out vehicles from previous car wrecks.
I looked at the boys. ” At least if we wreck, we’re not going to feel anything. It will be over too quick.” They laughed, but it was a tight laugh, if you know what I mean.We all felt tight.
Jonathan asked, “How long will we have to wait in the airport until our flight?”
“About 7 hours.”
“What are we going to do for 7 hours?”
I looked at them. “My advice? We start drinking heavily.”
I was only kidding.
Next: Part 10