The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me . . . (Isaiah 61:1a)
This is it. Today is the day we go to Gikomero to do what we came to Rwanda to do. Pray. Sure, we’ve been praying at various places and for various people since we arrived in Rwanda, but today is the day we go to Gikomero to lay hands on those who have come to receive healing prayer. This time will be similar to communion prayer time at COTA and RAC, only it will be extended by about 3.5 hours. As I eat breakfast with the team before we leave, I can feel the Holy Spirit at work in me. He is telling me that he has already gone ahead of me to select the people I will pray with and for and that He will put His word in my heart and on my lips. Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say (Exodus 4:11). With that, I am ready. Not anxious. Not apprehensive. Just ready.
We arrive at Gikomero and go directly into the sanctuary where we join some folks for a short time of worship and to hear a brief teaching on Jesus’ healing of a paralytic as told in Luke’s Gospel. (Luke 5:17-26) Then it’s time to divide our team into two prayer groups. As we do so I pray – “Lord may these groups be divided according to your will and for your purposes.”
Prayer team #1 – Pastor Eric, John, Teresa, Elizabeth and Patterson – is to go to the Pastor’s house to pray along with some Gikomero church members and a translator.
Prayer team #2 – Pastor Curt, Barbara, Will, and myself, along with Pastor Alfred and three other Gikomero church members – are stationed just outside of the sanctuary – in the sun – and about 50 yards away from an outdoor stable housing about 8 very chatty cows. Before I can even ponder (i.e., freak out about) all of the distractions surrounding me (school children are now starting to swarm), the Lord puts a hymn on my heart. “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies . . . Lord of all, to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.”
I (silently) call on the Holy Spirit just before we begin and immediately He sends a steady, cool breeze and the women inside of the sanctuary begin singing and I know He has surrounded us. Time to get our prayer on.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion. Isaiah 61:1b-3a
Our first patient (not sure what the appropriate noun is in this situation) is a woman requesting prayer for healing from a tumor in her belly. Got it. Prayers are said. Amen. Who’s next? But then the Spirit moved in Pastor Curt and he asked if the woman was a Christian. And thus the proverbial floodgate was opened and we were introduced to our first of numerous persons requesting prayer for healing and protection from the effects of witchcraft, curses, or demons.
This woman had attended a wedding in which a “healer” was also in attendance. She was healthy before the wedding, but soon thereafter developed a massive tumor in her belly ("Massive" as in she looked about 5 months pregnant). The culprit? Witchcraft. And she had been questioning her faith in God ever since.
Being the logical person I am, I was quick to slough off the idea of witchcraft. My response was to chalk these ailments up to something that I could understand. Something I had experience with. Something – well – logical. The only thing I could wrap my brain around was a medical diagnosis (I’ve read enough on WebMD.com. I know the drill. You’ve got a common cold, cancer, or you’re pregnant. Easy enough.) Before I could finish assessing this woman’s symptoms, the Lord interrupted my thoughts with Scripture from Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not again flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Almost instantly, I could feel the darkness pressing in on all sides. There was a spiritual battle happening around our prayer circle and the presence of evil was palpable. But stronger still was the light of Jesus Christ. “The light that shines in the darkness and the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5). It was clear to those of us praying what the task before us was. So with full confidence in the power of Jesus’ name, we entered into prayers for spiritual cleansing and protection knowing full well that it is only because of Jesus’ shed blood that we were able to rebuke Satan and his effect on these people’s physical and spiritual health. Jesus Christ died once and for all. The enemy has been defeated and Christ is seated on the right hand of the Father. The strife is over, the battle won.
And so it was for the remainder of the morning. At times the Holy Spirit prayed through me as I interceded for patients. Other times it was necessary to intercede for the other members of our prayer team as they fought against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It was at these times that I had a clear vision of Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands as he prayed on the hill top when Joshua and the Israelites fought against the Amalekites. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired . . . Aaron and Hur held his hands up” Exodus 17:11-12
Periodically, the Lord would give us a small respite from the battle. One which was particularly memorable came in the form of a woman who was a week past her due date requesting prayer for the safe delivery of her child. I had the good fortune of laying hands on her very pregnant belly and feeling her baby move (leap for joy?) at the mention of Jesus’ name. It was a beautiful experience and most certainly a gift from God.
There was also a young woman whose family was Muslim but she wanted to receive Christ. What a joy and honor it was to walk alongside this young woman as she confessed her sins and received Jesus. We later heard from Pastor Alfred that she was going to go home and share the Good News with her family. Yesu ishimwe!
Despite the weight of many of the prayer requests we received, I left our time of healing prayer confident in God’s faithfulness to his promises.
He will bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3
Although I may not ever see how the Lord responds to our intercessions, I know that He will. How do I know this? Because I’ve experienced His supernatural empowering of my prayers through His Holy Spirit. He was there while we prayed. He heard our cries to him for mercy and healing and he did not turn a deaf ear to us. And he will answer our requests in ways unexpected, because He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. Thank you, Jesus for your great love for us!
Can I get an Alleluia, Amen, Imana Ishimwe (Praise be to God)?