God's Chosen Student
Back in 2014, I volunteered to be a tutor for an adult education establishment. They matched tutors to students according to skills and needs. I picked a few students that I thought would be good to teach, but I was pipped to the post by other tutors who had assigned themselves to them. I was somehow left with the last two students: a young man and an older lady – and after much prayer, I felt led to choose the lady.
Building a Friendship
During our first lesson, in the midst of learning, she began to tell me some of her life troubles. She had been deeply wounded numerous times, treated very badly by the primary male figures in her life, consequently instilling in her a fear of men. Her partner and her three teenage sons were also extremely challenging on a daily basis. Arguments, swearing, cursing and a degree of physical violence often occurred, cementing even more fear into her life. Her places of refuge and comfort were smoking, coffee, and a withdrawal from just about everyone except for a social worker who would visit her from time to time. Her desire for learning with me was fuelled by her desperation to help her children with their schoolwork, which often left her feeling overwhelmed.
In my heart of hearts, I knew she needed God – that is, Jesus Christ – but how could I tell her about Him? Would I be breaching the rules and regulations of the education establishment if I started to share the gospel? I started praying for God to find a way for me to share the gospel.
A few lessons down the line, she suddenly said to me, "Please could you teach me how to read the Bible?" My eyes went wide open. God had answered my prayer and given me a way! And so, among other things that we did in the lessons, we studied the Bible -- without breaching any rules or regulations, since I was simply fulfilling her learning needs. I also took the liberty to buy her a Bible since she didn't have one, and tried showing her the love of Christ at every opportunity.
After some weeks, the semester ended. She wanted to continue with me, but I had decided to leave the adult education establishment since there was just too much paperwork for me to deal with, which took away a lot of the joy of the actual teaching itself. So, I offered to teach her privately for free to continue with her learning development. She agreed and our friendship began to grow deeper.
An Unforgettable Coffee Outing
One day we went to a coffee shop ran by the church I was going to at the time. The coffee maker behind the counter was a friend of mine in that church. He loved praying for people who came into the coffee shop. As we were ordering our coffee, he said that he had received a word of knowledge from God that one of us had a bad shoulder. Of course, it was my friend, so he placed his hand upon her shoulder and proceeded to pray for her. The prayer lasted only for a few seconds, but my friend experienced something supernatural - not only was her shoulder instantly healed, but she felt something like fireworks blazing in her heart! Later that day whenever she would think of the fireworks again, she could feel the same blazing in her heart. This happened twice! I explained to her that it was the Holy Spirit whom she was experiencing. This was the first time ever that she had experienced God tangibly.
Some Spiritual Insights
Over the years of friendship, I was able to continue teaching the Bible, showing her testimony videos, and encouraging verses. We also had several ministerial sessions to heal her wounded heart. On one occasion, she told me how she hated water and swimming pools. It turned out that when she was a little girl, she was thrown into a swimming pool by her father. Although it wasn't deep, she experienced trauma, and ever since then had hated all types of swimming pools. Immediately, I saw that it was the enemy's strategy to prevent her from getting baptised in water! So, I prayed to the Lord, lifting this trauma to Him to deal with.
The Lord began to help her with her vices too. Cigarettes and coffee started to taste awful, and she would stop them for a time, but when the temptations to have them again got too strong, she would revert back to them. My advice to her was that instead of turning to these vices, she should run to God for refuge, talk to Him and ask Him for help to overcome them. However, she would reply that she could not talk to God – God being given a "male" reference – and of course, she had a fear of man! How slick is the enemy!
I encouraged her to find and start going to a local church. She had found one and mentioned that her social worker goes there as well. Even though I had never met her social worker, I knew God was using her together with me as a team to help the lady.
Over the years, the enemy continued to tempt her with vices and sinful acts. The challenges of having teenage sons also made things even more difficult. There seemed to be no end to the fighting and swearing. It appeared that for every forward step she made, she would take two or three steps back. It came to the point that whenever things got too overwhelming for her, she would withdraw from me, cancelling appointments and going into a state of hiding for many months. I knew not to impose myself on her, but to give her the space she needed, continuing to pray for her and her sons. My own life was also full of challenges which made me equally unable to see her regularly. Thankfully, though, there were times that the both of us could resume contact and continue where we left off.
In one of those times when we were back in contact, I spoke about house cleaning – that is, spiritual and not physical cleaning. I told her that some objects can be demonic and can affect the atmosphere in the house. I offered to come to her house to help identify any such demonic objects and to help her remove them.
When I arrived at her house, I was shocked to find so many dragon ornaments, statues, lamps, pictures, etc. There was one large, absolutely beautiful, dragon lamp. The dragon was embracing a round-shape lamp, similar to that of a crystal ball. I told her that, among other things, the Bible describes Satan as a dragon. So these dragon objects carry demonic powers and need to be disposed of. As well as the dragons, she also had a collection of New Age angelic / cherub ornaments, which were equally demonic.
Strangely enough, there were other objects that were godly, such as gospel cassettes / records, etc. It was as if God was trying to get through to her in the midst of the demonic powers that surrounded her. I pointed this out to her, which enlightened her somewhat.
After much discussion, she was willing to get rid of all the dragon and angelic objects, except for the dragon lamp. It was a lamp that her mother had given her as a gift when she gave birth to her twin sons, so it was of great sentimental value. Her mother had dabbled in much of the occult – carving statues, making voodoo dolls, controlling and manipulating people, including her own daughter – so it was no surprise that she would be attracted to demonic objects, such as the dragon lamp. I tried to persuade the lady to get rid of it, but she was insistent on keeping it. We made a start to dispose of the majority of the dragon and angelic objects anyway, including others found in her collections of jewellery, clothes, books, etc. There were many bags full!
A few days later, she reported how the atmosphere in the house had indeed changed. It was the most peaceful and calm it had ever been; even the fights and swearing between her sons and herself had subsided. Such an amazing result, considering there was still yet stuff to be thrown away! She was starting to believe in this spiritual house cleaning.
I came for a second visit to finish the house cleaning when the Lord revealed to me a couple of things:
Dragons are depicted to have tongues of fire often used in battles to attack. These tongues of fire represent "shouting and swearing". With so many dragons out of the house now, it was no surprise that the fighting and swearing between her sons had subsided.
The large dragon lamp had demonic forces that sought to control her – the same forces that were operating in her mother when she was alive.
I had planned to share these revelations with her when I arrived at her house. However, before I could utter a word, she shouted in excitement that she wanted to get rid of the large dragon lamp! I was so thrilled to hear it, and I could see that the Lord had been working on her already. Indeed, the removal of many demonic objects had drastically weakened the demonic influence and power over her and her sons – and so she was finally willing to let go of the dragon lamp from her mother. When I shared what the Lord had showed me, she was in total agreement and without hesitation, she placed the dragon lamp in a bin bag! Hallelujah, praise God!
We remained in contact for a while, but when Covid arrived and lockdowns were enforced, our communication dwindled again.
An Unexpected Message
It had been over a year since I had last heard from her. Covid was now under control in our country – praise God! – and life was almost back to normal. Then, out of the blue, she came into my thoughts one Friday. I decided to contact her again, but I was busy until bedtime that day and did not get the chance to do so. The following day – a Saturday – a text message arrived from her, which said,
Hi Elma, I am sorry that I've been hiding. Had lots of ups and downs after lockdown. It was my guilt that shut me down. But God had been working on me this week, so the good news is that I am getting baptised tomorrow. I have to thank you a lot for helping me and being a blessing. GOD HAS BEEN AMAZING.❤️
I could hardly believe my eyes. She was getting baptised tomorrow?!!!! I would not miss this for the world, so I asked if I could attend her baptismal service to which she replied yes and gave me the church address. I went to bed that night with so much wonder, and awe – and questions! What did God do that such a miracle should happen in this woman's life?
Baptism of True Repentance
The next day, I turned up to her church, she was right there – the first person I saw as I walked through the church door. I hugged her and sat just in front of her as there happened to be two free seats there for my husband and I.
She was one of five that were to be baptised that day. Each gave their testimony, including her. But hers was short, just declaring how she had repented of her sins, was serious about God, and that she wanted to be baptised to declare this publicly.
I managed to capture her baptism on video. It was an emotional day for me as I realised what a breakthrough this was. Knowing her fear of pools of water and the trauma that lied behind it – and now to witness her baptism with no evidence of fear at all, but just a love for Jesus. Absolutely incredible! But I still had to find out what did God do that this miraculous breakthrough should happen?
Meeting the Social Worker
The service ended, and as I was waiting for her to finish getting changed from her wet clothes, another woman came up to me. She smiled and said, "You must be Elma! I am the social worker! I have heard a lot about you!" Wow, I was surprised and very happy to meet her finally. After acknowledging how God had used both of us to help our mutual friend, the social worker then stated, "You were the first link in the chain". I was initially astounded – and quite emotional – but as I thought about how it all first began, I could see how God had orchestrated everything, including the tutoring, the house cleaning, the healing of the heart wounds – and all this intertwined with what the social worker and the church were doing in the lady's life. Indeed, the body of Christ working together to help the lost find Jesus!
The Personal Tangible God
Whilst the social worker and I were still speaking, the lady came up to us smiling from ear to ear. I hugged her with my heart full of love and emotions! And without further ado, I asked her to tell me what God had done to inspire her to be baptised. She then told me, how that very week, being at the end of her tether, she had experienced God over a period of three days. On the first day, despite her fear of men or male figures, she decided to talk to God anyway. As she communicated with Him with her mind, she felt a tingling all over her body. Then, on the second day, she asked Him:
"God, do I still have hope?"
Again, she felt a tingling all over her body. And then on the third day, she asked:
"God, should I get baptised?"
And as before, the tingling came all over her body. God had become real to her! She felt His tangible presence in her body. His presence made her want to respond and commit to Him – there was no doubt she was going for that baptism of water, no matter what! Trauma of water defeated! Hallelujah!
The Personal Tangible God in the midst of His People
She then continued to say that just that Friday when she told the pastor she wanted to be baptised, he spoke at length with her to ensure that she understood what baptism signifies. He spoke with her one-on-one for two hours. She was waiting for the usual signs of mistreatment and abuse that she had come to be so familiar with other men, but nothing like that ever came from the pastor. He was gentle and caring. The conversation ended with the pastor agreeing to baptise her that very Sunday. This made her smile from ear to ear all weekend. And as she left the meeting, she also realised that she had not felt one bit fearful being with the pastor, a man, and even being alone with him! She was amazed! She loved it!
When she got home, she told her sons of her experience with the gentle and caring pastor. She broke down in tears as she was telling her story to them, overwhelmed with the respect the pastor showed her and the healing that that was bringing into her life.
A Sleepless Night
The next day, I received yet another text from her:
Good morning Elma, the Father was not finished. I didn't go to sleep until 5am. He showed 2 things. I'm getting tired but I loved it. I was crying for about three hours last night He showed what was missing in my life. He is amazing and awesome ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
I called her and asked for more details. Indeed, Father God had shown her that the church she is going to is a safe place. The pastor's treatment of her and all the men that came to hug her after baptism to congratulate her were the healing she needed from the fear of men. God is so so good!
Some Spiritual Lessons
As I reflected on the whole journey of this lady who had become my friend, I learnt some wonderful spiritual lessons from God:
God, knowing that she had a fear of men, gently placed women to love her first. Women, such as the social worker and myself.
Her healing from the fear of men could only be done by Jesus through godly men. Godly women were useful for leading her there.
God also worked to remove demonic strongholds that were over her life and that had prevented her from knowing Him. Physically, this entailed spiritual house cleaning (by physically throwing away demonic objects). Spiritually, setting her up with just the right people in her life.
When she finally plucked up the courage to talk to God, He responded right away – tangibly, so that she would know that He is real.
And as she responded and committed herself to Him by way of baptism, He was able to let loose all the blessings that He had longed to give her – such as giving her a safe place and healing her fear of men by surrounding her with godly men who treated her with respect.
While God's tangible presence can be experienced supernaturally, it can also be found amongst His people.
It takes the body of Christ to help a lost person. Each person has his/her own tasks according to their gifting, working to lead the lost to Christ. Somebody has to be first in the chain to get the ball rolling, and to keep the ball rolling, whenever possible.
Even though at times she withdrew herself from me, God was still working in her life. So never ever give up hope praying for a person and witnessing to them.
Her healing in its entirety needs a community of safe, godly people to love and accept her.
As we give our lives to serve God, He will make our paths cross others for divine appointments so that His will be done.
All the glory to Father God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who lovingly draw us to Him and to save us. He is the one and only amazing God!
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-28
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
© Elma Larsen. All rights reserved