WARNING: This post contains graphic content.
I'm starting to see the plastic skeleton's, sheet ghosts, and other goblin paraphernalia hanging around town. This reminds me of the time I met a demon possessed woman on the street of San Francisco with a couple guys from Google and their friends.
What?! A demon? Are they real?
Yes. They are. I could rattle off Bible verses that talk about it but I'll leave that up to you and instead recount what I saw.
Here's how it went down: A guy I met said he wanted to bring his Google colleagues into the City to serve the poor. At the time, I was working for a ministry called Cityteam with an operation in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood know for open air drug deals, passed out people, emergency sirens, sex in the corners, people defecating right before you, even some convulsing as if possessed by something...
Here's a short (and sanitized) video I created after the day's events. I think it gives you a taste of what we were up to.
What you don't see in this video is our encounter with a demon possessed woman. I was leading the group down the street when I turned around to see that the other five had fallen behind. Sitting on the curb there beside me was a woman I had seen drinking hours ago, and not wanting to deal with someone inebriated I avoided eye contact.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw that she had on a super dirty scarf, while in my hand I clutched a clean new one. I decided to offer it to her and so asked her what her name was. Rather than answer she offered to perform a sex act on me for a nickle. As I worked up a response, somewhat shocked, the rest of the group caught up.
Now with a larger audience her offers became more vulgar. Another guy and I began to say to her repeatedly that she didn't have to do this. We told her that there was hope for her. She ignored us except for one moment when her look changed to pure innocence and she asked, "Is there?"
But then her head snapped back and she began gyrating on the sidewalk. We asked her if we could pray for her, she ignored us. We kept asking, then again in a break from her profanity she looked up to us and said, "please pray for me."
As soon as we began to pray, she leaped to her feet and ran right into the street and barely missed being hit by a car. We were all a bit stunned but continued on our mission to give away hundreds of hand made scarves, hats, and blankets.
While our interaction with this woman was the most stark example of the torment a demon possessed woman has, literally talking out of two sides of her face each with a distinct look and language, it wasn't the only. Throughout the day, we encountered others that were oppressed, shackled by death and addiction, clearly in a dark place.
Some we met had a different disposition, they beamed with hope, joy, and love. They invited us into their homes, tiny rooms no bigger than 8' x 10'. Despite their circumstances, though, they seemed to literally emit light.
Here's the video where the group talks about what they experienced that day, including our encounter with the demon possessed woman.
In closing, realize that there is another spiritual dimension on this planet, and that demons exist. They seek to confuse, divide, kill and destroy wherever possible. Often they work subtle angles killing slowly over time.
The Bible lays all this out very clearly, and when you understand the power and authority of Jesus Christ there's nothing to worry about. With Jesus there is guaranteed victory over demons and death altogether!
Just by uttering the name Jesus you can send a demon running. Though, I encourage you not to keep the name above all names in your back pocket like a "Get Out of Jail FREE" card should you face a demon. I encourage you to get to know who Jesus is by picking up a Bible. If you get lost or have questions, set up a phone call with me via my connection page.
This Halloween, as many decorate their homes with fake spirits of the dark sort, since I know first hand that there are plenty of real demon's in the world, I think I'll decorate with pumpkins.
Jim Yost is a partner of Cityteam, I'm not entirely sure in what capacity. All I know is I've met him passing through the halls a couple times a year, and there are some guys you just see the peace and presence of God in them, and Jim is one of those guys.
Additionally, Jim sends out an email update every month or two about what he is up to and what he is seeing in Indonesia and other places in the world that come into his view. They are incredibly insightful, weaving together Scripture with everyday work on the ground. What Jim and his team has been able to accomplish among the people of Papau is amazing.
When Jim was back in the office a few months ago, there was an open floor for praise reports, and it was hard to follow his shoes--he reported that he and a couple of others had baptized 2,000 earlier in the year in plain view (ie danger) of onlookers.
I encourage you to email Jim to be added to his (decidedly simple) email newsletter.
October 2015 and I caught another update from Jim talking around a table in Kansas City. When I stopped by the Cityteam offices they were buzzing about it. He talks freely about many aspects of faith, the church, discipleship. Check it out, you won't regret it....some quotes.
"I asked God, how much more time do I have on this Earth? I promised God that with the remaining time I have, I'm not going to be satisfied with a few growing churches...could my eyes see a movement from one side of Indonesia to the other...the largest Muslim country in the world?"
"We're not doing a good job if 250,000 people can die in an instant from a tsunami and enter a Christ-less eternity."
"We focus on the words of Jesus a lot, we don't focus on his actions, which were divinely inspired and showed his model of life."
"These guys were seeing stuff they never thought possible. Since then, we've seen 1,400 churches planted among Muslims. We've baptized 20,000 people, but the number is not the important thing."
"My definition of movement is 2 Timothy 2:2. If you get four generations of disciples making disciples, you're getting viral now, you can't be stopped."
"Everything about urban living pulls families apart. Religion in urban areas is put into a box, it becomes secularism, it leads to atheism."
Peter Kockleman is a man who captures your attention. With tales of his adventures over the years (he set a world record with a 2,000 foot bungee jump from a hot air balloon once), and his matter-of-fact approach to business and life, he's easy to like and listen to. His latest undertaking, the expansion of his business Summit Steel, is one for which he praises his partnership with Cityteam.
"My church group hosted Cityteam guys from the recovery program at a boot camp and while playing football with them, I learned many were looking for work. Even more, they needed someone to believe in them, so I took a chance to hire guys without experience that had to be trained and invested in.
When we hire and care about them, it speaks volumes to them that we haven't written them off and that they matter. Since then, I've hired 20 guys, and 14 are still with us. They show up on time, they're hard workers, they have a peace about them and they haven't failed me; in fact, they've literally build the business in our new location."
Peter hasn't been content to simply hire guys. He personally contributes financially and last year, his company was the top sponsor for Cityteam's Golf Classic at the famed Olympic Club. He teaches the men a course on sexual addiction. And, when he can't hire guys, he helps them find a job, even buying their tools to work in other trades such as carpet laying. He's helped guys find housing, paid the deposit on apartments, and so much more.
Pete adds, "I can honestly say I have been more dramatically impacted than the 20 graduates we have hired over the past two plus years. I will NEVER write off another human being as being beyond hope since I have witnessed these men die to their former lives and transform into men worthy of honor that God always knew they could be. God never gave up hope for His creation. Now I know why!"
My first week at Cityteam was an immersion into caring for the poor, addicts, and reaching the lost, those who do not know Jesus. That included two days with David Watson, and everyone in the room with him knew that he was legit.
Truth, wisdom, patience, David is a man that lives to see Jesus made famous, and he has fought many battles along the way. He's lost friends as martyrs in Nepal, has lived in more countries that I can name, and he has trained up thousands of leaders that are making incredible impact around the world.
In short, because I'm not doing David much justice in my introduction here, if you want to know about discipleship from a warrior, follow David Watson's blog. He doesn't update it all that regularly, but there is meaty content already there. He also runs a FaceBook page called Church Planting Movements, with his son, Paul (who I'll cover in another post here soon).
Essential to walking in God's will is that you become interruptible. God will do it OVER AND OVER again. You have your day or your hour planned out and then you get presented with an opportunity.
- It could be someone sitting next to you in the coffee shop or on the bus who tries to strike up a conversation.
- It can be someone who catches your eye that you KNOW you should go talk to.
- An email that looks too long but you probably should read and process it.
- A prayer you know you need to do now and should not put off.
- A favor someone asks of you that is terribly inconvenient but that you can do.
You get the point.
This happens to me ALL THE TIME. Why am I yelling you ask? Because even though it happens to me a lot, and I have learned to (mostly) go with it and trust God, its still very often an internal struggle, its gut-wrenching, I don't want to do it lots of times.
Then things like this happen. Check out this email I got from a woman who stopped by my office at Cityteam to drop off clothing. Mind you, its not my job to greet people who drop off donations. The woman at the front desk was new and she didn't know who else to call, so she called me to the lobby to help this woman. When I saw she wanted to donate clothes, inside I was thinking, boy, I got up from my important time-sensitive work to do this???
But I saw something in this woman's eye. God told me to engage her. And so I did, and one thing led to another and we poured our hearts out to each other, and we prayed together, and I think we were both choked up and really encouraged. So much so, she sent me this email later:
Hello Mr. Derfler:
I don't know if you remember me, I was in a couple weeks ago to donate some clothing and gowns. We spoke regarding the gowns being used for the Ball which makes me so very happy. My friend would have been so glad they were being put to good use and I am sure she is smiling down from Heaven.
I do apologize it has taken me so long to get back to you. We also spoke about my brother, who is homeless and mentally ill. I wanted to take a moment and thank you again for your kindness. Not many people want to hear about this topic or are very understanding.
You took the time to speak to me, give me information and most importantly, pray with me. Noone has done that before and you need to know how much it was appreciated. Such little acts of kindness can go a long way.
Please keep up the good work you and City Team do, the community is blessed to have you! Sincerely, Lisa S.
Now, is it just me or is it CRAZY that NOONE has ever prayed with this woman? I mean, she just lost her best friend (who's gowns she was donating), she has a homeless brother, and I'm sure a ton of other burdens she is bearing in life. And nobody around her has prayed.
We have work to do church. Listen for God to whisper in your ear who you gotta talk to. Take time with people. Pray with them. That's how the Holy Spirit moves y'all.
Peace and love to you from me. ~R