In certain societies demon veneration and devil worship are not that uncommon. Voodoo, Santoria, and the Black Art are discreetly practiced and woven into the societal fabric. Even in the United States there are occasional confrontations as the forces of light and darkness battle for the souls of those for whom Christ died.
Pastor Pierre Omeler of the Philadelphie Haitian church in Maiden, Massachusetts, became a participant in one such battle as his church conducted a four-week evangelistic crusade. The church had set a baptismal goal of 50. Early in the meeting he was impressed to abandon his habit of making appeals for baptism at the end of his sermons in favor of making nightly appeals for prayer. The results were immediate and dramatic as individuals who sat unmoved through previous appeals came forward for prayer and ultimately, baptism.
Prayer evangelism was working and hearts were being touched. In that group was Jean*, and his twelveyear-old son, Joseph1* who indicated a desire to be baptized. Unknown to pastor Omeler was the fact that Jean's wife, Marie*, was an open devil worshiper. She had no intention of accepting a Christian in her home, including her husband. Her smoldering resentment came to a head when, on the Sabbath of her husband's and son's baptisms, she boldly and defiantly marched into the church and announced that if the baptism were to take place, she and Jean were finished.
With divorce papers in hand, she interrupted the service, demanded Jean's house keys, and told him that if he were baptized, he need never come home. As Marie left, the church prayed while her husband and son joined the other candidates in baptism.
Later that day the pastor, two elders, and Jean returned to his home to find the locks changed. Their knocking was responded to by shouts from an open window. Pastor Omeler, having witnessed the power of prayer, begged that Jean be allowed into the house for one week. Marie snarled that he would be given one week and one week only. During that week, which was also the last week of the crusade, the church prayed exclusively for Marie during the day and each night before the sermon. Toward the end of the week, she appeared in church sitting at the very back. The cold expression on her face led many to believe that she was there simply to spy on her husband and son. She had informed her son that she would never be baptized, and so it was no surprise when on Sabbath she slipped in silently and sat again at the rear. She appeared unmoved by the service and the baptism, which brought the total baptisms for the crusade to 49.
Pastor Omeler, standing in the pool, felt impressed to make one last appeal. Only one person responded, and her raised hand caused the praying church to erupt in a thunder of praise and thanksgiving to God as Marie stood and slowly made her way toward the front. The pressure of her battle to free herself from the camp of the enemy showed as her knees buckled and she was assisted by two church members. Another deaconess had been impressed to hold Marie's baby in the minutes before the appeal, thus freeing her to concentrate on the service and focus on the Master's words.
Pastor Omeler credits this and a host of other miracles and blessings to the vibrant ongoing prayer ministry in his church. He is convinced that prayer and prayer evangelism were responsible for the 50 baptisms. He has seen healing, financial reversals, families united, and conflict resolved as a result of consistent prayer. He has coined and added a new phrase to the evangelist's lexicon, "Prayer Evangelism," he dubs it. He is a believer, a practitioner, and its most passionate proponent.
* Not their real names.
Clement. A. Murray, writes from New York where he is communication director for the Northeastern Conference.