But what I would really like to know is what are those beings that come into my room at night? …
Deliverance from Demonic Harassment at 30,000 ft.
The elderly woman to Rich Hillman’s left on a flight from Detroit to Indianapolis was greatly agitated.
While the plane was still loading, she frantically blurted out to the attendant, “Can you move me to a seat where I can smoke?” (This was in the days when there were a few smoking seats in the back.) She continued almost in hysterics, “I have to smoke right now. This has been a horrible weekend.”
Rich’s morning prayer of surrender and petition for witnessing opportunities came to mind. He sent up an additional prayer for wisdom. Her words were an expression of weariness on her part. Not only does she have an addiction, but she is obviously stressed.
In witnessing, timing is essential. The Holy Spirit did not prompt Rich to say, “This is a good time to stop smoking. You know it will kill you.” Nor was he impelled to ask if she wanted to study the Bible. Rich found himself focusing on understanding her needs rather than anxiously pursuing his need to witness. He mentioned that often after the flight gets under way passengers can move and she could likely transfer to a smoking seat.
Words tumble from the woman’s lips about how she had lost her husband several years earlier. Their son was a wonderful young man, bright and upright. She had struggled to help him through medical school. Right after graduation, he had been killed in a horrible auto accident. Now she had come to visit her sister only to find that her sister was dying. Rich listened sympathetically. The man on his right was also attentive.
She continued, “And when I went to visit Jerusalem, I was walking up the steps to the temple and began to levitate. Why am I telling you this? You will think I am crazy. Oh why should I care, I’ll never see you again anyway. And I have this thing where if a man touches me he gets an electric shock.”
She not only had Rich’s attention and that of the man on his right, but now the folks in the seat in front turn an ear their way. Rich found himself angry with the enemy for the way he has treated this poor, struggling woman. Prayerfully He began to speak respectfully, “I do not think you are crazy. I am a Seventh-day Adventist Christian and I believe in the supernatural.” (It is good to identify oneself fairly early on in conversational evangelism.) The timing was not yet right for a study on Spiritualism.
About that time the stewardess came by and said, “Ma’am, we have a smoking seat free now if you would like to change.”
“Oh, I am having a wonderful conversation, I want to stay here,” she responded.
Rich continued to talk about the reality of the supernatural and what the Bible has to say about angels. The flight was not a long one. Those seated around seemed as fascinated with the discussion as his seatmate.
As they neared the end of their flight she looked out the window and exclaimed, “Are we in Indianapolis already?”
“Yes,” the man on the right replied, “and you haven’t had to smoke either.”
“But what I would really like to know,” she hurriedly asked, “what are those beings that come into my room at night?”
There was too little time to give a Bible study on the state of the dead and Rich didn’t want to cut her off from further study. The Holy Spirit prompted the words, “Do you know any Seventh-day Adventists?”
“Yes, I am a registered nurse and I worked in the office of a Seventh-day Adventist physician.”
Rich assured her that if she would get in touch with that doctor and ask him, he would tell her what those beings are. Then he asked if she would read a book if he sent it to her.
She answered, “I will read anything you send me.” She gave him contact information.
When Rich returned home he found a copy of the colporteur edition of Bible Readings. He marked several pages starting with the artist’s depiction of fallen angels impersonating loved ones, and comfort for those who have lost loved ones and sent it to her.
At Christmas time, Rich and his wife received a card from the woman with money inside. She said that the book had meant so much to her that she wanted to pay for it.
Have you ever thought that there are times when silence is best in soul winning? There were occasions when Jesus did not respond to certain questions. He left unsaid some things that might have been said because the people were not ready to receive them. It is not only important to know what to say in personal evangelism, but equally as important to know when to say it. This sense of timing, like knowing what to say, is the work of the Holy Spirit. For Jesus it started with a daily baptism of the Holy Spirit.
“From hours spent with God He [Christ] came forth morning by morning to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from his slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. “The Lord God hath given Me,” He said, “the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned, Isa. 50:4” (Christ Object Lessons,, 131).
Four Powerful Secrets of Conversational Evangelism
Isaiah 50:4 contains four powerful secrets of conversational evangelism.
- The text says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned . . .” When we surrender to God for the task of soul winning the Holy Spirit prompts our words. This is a direct creative action on God’s part. The Lord told Moses, “I will be with your mouth, . . . and will teach you what you shall do” (Exodus 4:15).
- Isaiah 50:4 continues, “That I should know how to speak a word. . .” It is the Word of God that contains converting power. When the seeker asks questions, when he/she is receptive, it will be the words of scripture that will work miracles on the heart.
- 3. The word is spoken in season. That means that the powerful words of Jesus are spoken at the right time. I believe this is the reason that Jesus was sometimes silent. Timing is everything. We do not plant seeds in the snow. There are times when people are ready and eager to hear and times when they are not. The Holy Spirit will give discernment to know not only the right things to say, but when to say them. Too often, well meaning witnesses try to force a word in here and there. This is like trying to plant seed on the sidewalk, if the listener is not receptive.
Inspiration gives this insight concerning timing when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well:
“This woman was in an appreciative state of mind. She was ready to receive the noblest revelation; for she was interested in the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit had been preparing her mind to receive more light. . . Light was already flashing into her mind. The water of life, the spiritual life which Christ gives to every thirsty soul, had begun to spring up in her heart. The Spirit of the Lord was working with her” (DA 190).
- The words and timing are not only given by Holy Spirit baptism but the Spirit identifies the ones to whom the words are to be spoken, “to him who is weary.” This pictures a person who is burdened, who has a need. The Holy Spirit will guide the faithful and committed witness to such ones. The sense of oppression surfaces in many ways, but the person who is open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit will be sensitive to discern this weariness in tone of voice or expressions. The following stories illustrate these principles:
Words in Season for the Giant in the Way
The man in the doorway stood six feet, five inches tall. He was built like an NFL defensive end or World Wrestling Association professional. He introduced himself as Jed. The church elder and pastor had prayerfully come to visit a church member who had left her husband and was now living with Jed. They introduced themselves and told him that they were there to visit with Jill. He invited the two in and said that they could talk to him about Jill. The pastor mentioned that they were concerned for the well being of the flock. They were visiting Jill because the church loved her. They explained that love includes treating others in a loving way.
Jed jumped to his feet and shouted, “Do you mean to tell me that the loving thing for Jill to do is to return to her husband when he has been abusive to her? He heatedly continued, “I am a certified clinical counselor and my professional opinion is that her husband will never change.”
It was difficult because the pastor realized that there were legitimate concerns in Jill’s relationship with her husband. The Lord certainly did not condone abuse, but this did not make it right for Jill to solve the problem by moving in with another man.
The pastor sent up a prayer for wisdom and found the words escaping his lips, “Jed, have you ever been born again?” The Holy Spirit not only gave these words but instant understanding as to why they were chosen. If Jed said “yes,” the next comment would be, “Then you know a person can change.” If he said “no,” the question would be, “How can you condemn something you have never experienced?”
Jed dropped to the couch as though he had been shot with a taser. He mumbled, “Well I had some sort of experience but . . .”
Again the Holy Spirit brought scripture to mind, “Jed, what would you do with the scripture that says, ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’?”
Jed began to shake. He went over to a desk and opened a drawer and fumbled around for something. The pastor wondered if he might be going after a gun. He remembered that Jed had told Jill’s husband when he had come for her, “I will just take you out in the field and beat you and beat you and leave you to bleed to death.”
Still the Holy Spirit gave strong words that rolled off the pastor’s tongue, “Jed, you come across as though you are guilty.”
By this time Jed had found his pipe but his hands were shaking so hard he could hardly light it. His next words were amazing; “I AM guilty.”
The pastor replied, “The only cure for guilt is Jesus Christ.”
Jed said that he and Jill had talked about going to church. He called her and she came out. The pastor explained to her how God loved her and had sent them to talk with her because she was precious in His sight. God wanted what was best for her, her children, and her husband. Things were still in the process of change when the pastor left the district.
I share this experience to illustrate how the Holy Spirit teaches one to say the right thing at the right time. If the pastor had said those things in the stands at a football game, he and the elder might have both fled bleeding and naked like those sons of Sceva who were attacked after trying to cast out devils. Sometimes the Spirit prompts comforting words and other times the Spirit speaks words that cut through human sophistication.
Weary of Men
Speaking a word in season to the one who is weary is seldom abrasive, however. Jane sat in the chair while her beautician, Marlene, worked on her hair.
“I have had it with men,” Marlene said. She knew Jane was a Christian from earlier talks. Marlene told of her failed marriage and how she had just squabbled with the man she was living with. She asked, “What is it like in your home?”
Marlene was expressing weariness. Jane told what it is like when both husband and wife love the Lord. Jane shared Christian books with Marlene. On future visits Jane and Marlene enjoyed talking about their mutual faith in Jesus.
Weary of Cancer
Veronica waited anxiously in the cancer specialist’s office. She struck up a conversation with Jessica, a young woman who appeared quite distraught. The women became friends and journeyed through their cancer treatment together. Jessica appreciated the prayers of Veronica and her husband on her behalf. She asked questions and was invited to their home fellowship Bible study group. Jessica accepted Christ and was baptized.
Weary from Fear
Sandy had requested Bible studies after watching Christian television. When the pastor and lay Bible worker visited, Sandy’s first question was, “What are all those grasshoppers mentioned in the book of Revelation? I am scared to death. Aren’t you frightened?” Sandy was expressing a real spiritual need. She was open for a Gospel presentation and accepted Christ enthusiastically.
Weary from Guilt
The man next to Mike in the airplane was easy to talk to. He was a pilot. It was his job to fly above the airport when it was socked in with fog. He salted the clouds so it would rain and clear the skies. He asked what Mike did and learned that Mike was a college teacher and also a pilot. They talked pilot talk. He said he was going to his mother’s funeral and added, “If anyone was ready to go it was my mother. That’s more than I can say for myself.”
The Holy Spirit was talking to him and he was expressing his weariness. That is the time when a Gospel presentation can be most meaningful.
Weary of Living without Jesus
There are times when the Holy Spirit will use us to help a person sense their weariness and longing for something better. Scott and Rob were visiting missing members. It was Friday night when John came to the door with a bottle of beer in his hand. The television was blaring in the background. John had previously served as an elder in the church. Scott and Rob visited casually for a bit. John had left his wife and given her the nice home. He was living in a small basement apartment with his house cat. Scott could sense that John was lonely. He talked about Jesus and asked John if he would be willing to invite Jesus into his heart.
John said, “I have no desire to.”
Scott could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit yearning for John. He prayed for words as he realized that here was a man his own age that but for the grace of God could be him. Tears began to flow down his cheeks as he said, “John, would you be willing to pray for the desire.”
“Yes, I can do that.”
So Scott prayed and John repeated after him, “Please give me the desire to want to invite you into my heart.”
John jumped up from his knees and said, “Now I want everything you can give me about Jesus.”
They left Bible lessons. Later John met Scott at work and asked for books, pamphlets and all he could find about Jesus. He said he wanted to return to church and to his wife.
Weary of Staying Home From Church
Archie, like John, had served as a church elder but had separated from his wife and dropped out of church. He had not attended for 15 years. Rod was praying through his network of friends and relatives when Archie came to mind. He remembered that he had watched the Super Bowl with Archie in times past. When he called Archie and asked what he was doing on February 15. Archie responded, “I was hoping you would come and watch the Super Bowl with me.”
Archie lived 360 miles away but on February 15 Rod was there. Archie turned on the TV and got out snacks. As they watched the opening kickoff, Archie turned down the TV and said to Rod, “Do you believe in prayer?”
Rod told a number of experiences of answered prayer. Archie said, “I have a sense that someone is praying for me.”
Rod told about his experience in prayer and how Archie had come to mind. They kept the sound down and talked about spiritual things during the entire game. Archie looked pensively away from the TV. His words were full of emotion; “I want to go back to church. I want things to be like they used to be.”
Would you like to have greater insight to discern expressions that betray spiritual needs? Would you like to know how to supply that need? Take advantage of all the training you can get. The Lord will use it. But most of all experience a daily baptism of the Holy Spirit as did Jesus.