Ishmael was a Pioneer Bible Worker for Riverside Farm Institute in Zambia. Justin (Ishmael’s brother-in-law) and Steven (a seasonal worker from Tanzania) were studying Truth Link together with Ishmael. Using the Bible, they referenced the series of questions each lesson asked. God was at work. Ishmael couldn’t believe what was happening! His brother-in-law, who used to love humiliating Christians, wanted to learn about Jesus! However, during this time, Ishmael noticed Steven was acting strange during their Truth Link studies. It was as if a small, unobservable battle was happening in his mind. It was almost like Steven was talking with someone that wasn’t there. Something was not right.
One Sunday during a Truth Link study, Ishmael recalled to me in our interview, Steven had just returned from church. He told Ishmael that he was feeling strange and asked for prayer. Ishmael told me, “It was odd because Steven did not ask for prayer from his congregation. Then when I started praying for him, he began to grow dizzy and speak in weird ways—as if his words were from someone else.” Steven began speaking Swahili (his native language) in strange voices.
In a series of struggling utterances, the following words flowed from Steven’s mouth, “Do you know who we are? We are from Tanzania, from Kilimanjaro. We are many. You cannot manage us. You cannot deal with us. You cannot conquer us.”
Demons are often associated with mountains in Africa, and Ishmael knew he was facing powers much older than himself. Lesson four of Truth Link describes the war in heaven. The reality is that an order of spiritual beings was removed from heaven and now operates “within our world, mostly unseen,” but it is “sometimes in visible form (Hebrews 1:14; 13:2)” (Truth Link, lesson 4, pg. 1). Thankfully, there is a far greater power available to us. “Jesus came to our world to ‘destroy the works of the devil’ (1 John 3:8)” (Truth Link, lesson 4, pg. 5).
“How did you feel at this point?” I asked Ishmael after he described the demon’s taunting. Ishmael said he had questions racing through his mind, “How can I manage this? Can I make it?” Ishmael continued, “I heard a voice telling me to be strong. I felt strength come to me, giving me the ability to pray. So I started praying.” Ishmael repeated, “I started praying! I said, ‘God, You are always with me.’”
If you were sitting next to Ishmael that night, you would see Steven’s shifting expressions showing anger more than anything. Ishmael’s praying had a serious effect.
“It was as if the man wanted to punch me!” Ishmael exclaimed.
What happened next will shock you. The demons began confessing that Ishmael had the true God with him. As we sat in the empty church pews, Ishmael shifted his voice to mimic the words he remembered the demons saying, “This man has gone from many pastors before, and nothing has consumed us. But you have the real God, and you have consumed us. You have sent fire from above. Your God is the real God.”
Wait. Isn’t this story about Justin’s transformation to becoming a fellow worshiper with Ishmael? Rest assured; it is!
Now, sitting next to Ishmael was Justin. Although Ishmael could understand Swahili, he couldn’t speak it. Justin, on the other hand, spoke fluent Swahili. He was translating for Ishmael as he prayed and spoke. “I continued to pray, pray, pray!” said Ishmael. “Then I heard a voice tell me to say, ‘Pack your things and leave’ to the demons.” Ishmael repeated the command, and Justin translated.
The voices responded, “This man has kept something that is ours, but now we will take it and go.” Immediately after those words, Steven tilted forward and woke up. Ishmael asked him how he was doing.
Steven responded to Ishmael, “These demons have been with me for three years. They told me they were with me to guide and protect me. They wanted me to become a witch doctor.”
Ishmael quickly said, “No! Demons cannot protect you. God will be your guide. He will protect you when you walk in His way!”
Steven desired to dedicate his life to the God he’d been learning about. He was ready to follow Jesus and lead others to Him. He said, “I know five more people that need this Truth Link.” Once again, as you can imagine, Ishmael was happy to share!
After this experience, Justin, Ishmael’s brother-in-law, said to Ishmael, “I see that you serve the Most High God!”
Ishmael responded, “Yes, I do! And you must follow Him. You must accept Jesus as your Savior.”
Justin also committed his life to the Lord that night.
After finishing his account to me, Ishmael said, “Even this one from Tanzania [Steven] is still staying with me, working and worshiping. My brother-in-law no longer drinks! And yes, we all continue studying Truth Link together in my home.”
About the lessons, Ishmael said, “I find that Truth Link helps me plan and teach through a set procedure. I just distributed 15 copies of Truth Link to my congregation for a new evangelistic series we are about to do. They are excited to use it. I am thankful that I am still sharing Truth Link. I need more. I really hope they have more in this distribution.”
Never underestimate the power of a “simple” Bible study. Using God’s Word, Jesus brought demons out of forsaken people. Using God’s Word, a humble Bible worker in Zambia brought demons out of a man who thought there was no hope of getting rid of them. Your financial gifts send Truth Link to Bible workers like Ishmael and equip them with the tools they need to bring God’s Word to the unreachable.
Thank you for being part of this story.
Alyssa has her degree in International Development. She creates content and tells stories for nonprofits that work with refugees and vulnerable people living in Africa. When she is not traveling, Alyssa enjoys gardening, big family meals, chocolate chip cookies, and hiking in the Oregon forest with her husband.