(By David Schell)
An air of seriousness filled the upper room where we’d met for the past few weeks. The evening had come to prayer-walk the Jumonville campus. As Ree would tell me later, the land was purchased legally several hundred years ago, not stolen, which “is huge in the spiritual realm.” It means that the president, Larry, has spiritual authority here. And he had delegated that authority to Ree, who was now delegating it to us, the Jumonville summer staff.
Ree asked which of us had done this kind of thing before. I raised my hand, and so did a few others. The rest gathered around those of us who had, and Ree gave us some oil. Mike and one of the girls, no one can seem to remember who, were in my group. We were responsible for claiming the Epworth cabins. We picked up Bibles and walked up through the wet grass to where we had been assigned.
I put some oil on my finger and drew a cross with the oil over the door to the first cabin, then started praying, claiming these places for God in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I made declarations that these places belonged to God, and all demonic activity had to end immediately, that any enemy forces in action here were required in the name of this same Jesus to leave and never return. I declared that these places belonged to Jesus, and that kids this summer would either come to know Jesus, or come to know Him better.
We walked around slowly, sometimes Mike anointing and praying, sometimes the girl, sometimes me. Then we split up and walked through the entire area, anointing buildings other than the cabins, claiming every square inch that we walked for Jesus Christ. Then we went back to Fleming lodge and quietly filed up the stairs and sat down.
There were a few other groups that had already returned, and a few who were still returning. The room was filled with a profound silence. Ree asked how our prayer walking had gone. Mike, because he has a stronger gift of discernment so than the girl in my group and I, spoke for us all:
“Whatever was there is gone now.”
I hadn’t sensed any kind of demonic activity. Clearly, though, Mike had. He looked more intense than usual.
Other groups, though, had had more dramatic experiences.
James, Rob, and Rachel had gone up to the challenge course. Rob and James had both sensed that there was a stronghold of fear up there, especially in the high ropes course and the tower. They sensed the enemy activists scatter before the summer staff group and before the strength of God that came with them. Rachel was praying behind them, covering the rear with prayer. James and Rob hadn’t known this when they were walking, and had wondered why she was standing so far back. Among them, as among the rest of the groups, there was not so much a triumphant spirit among them as there was a sense of relief that the battle had been done.
The scene of returning warriors that I remember most vividly, though, was Nate’s group. When Nate sat down, Ree asked how it had gone.
Nate pulled out a notebook where he had written his impressions and started to explain. They had gone to a beautiful place on the Jumonville grounds called Green Cathedral. Nate has gone to battle on that ground for the last several years, because there’s always more of a sense of more demonic activity there. It’s frequented by people from town, who don’t always comply with the Jumonville standards of behavior.
Nate had seen a girl in his spirit. She was laying on one of the trails, in a place beyond where Nate could have actually seen. Nate knew immediately that this woman had been raped. He explained to Kristen what he had seen, then told Kristen and Cliff what he had seen.
“Forgive me on behalf of this woman for what this man did to her.” Kristen was a girl, so he asked her to represent the victim. He was a man, so he asked for her forgiveness on behalf of the man who had done this evil on Jumonville property.
“Okay…” Kristen said. “I forgive you.”
Other creepy activity had gone on at Green Cathedral, but I’m not sure what else. Nate and his group had reclaimed that space for God, and the evil had been banished.
In the upper room again, in the twilight of the evening, Kristen was sitting on the floor. It seemed she was always joyful and joy-filled. Except for now. She looked as though she were carrying a heavy load on her shoulders. Her head hung. It looked as though, in her heart, she had taken on the heart of the girl who was violated on the trail by Green Cathedral. Kristen has never so much as kissed a boy or even said “I love you” to a boy outside her family. It was almost as though her sweet innocence had been swept away in that exchange. I think she was crying. She could barely speak.
“Are you okay?” Ree asked her gently, probingly.
“Yes,” Kristen answered. Then she broke down in tears. It was clear to everyone in the room that she was anything but okay.
Ree sat down on the floor next to Kristen. “I feel that woman’s pain,” Kristen said in a voice that threatened to become sobs. “Would it be okay if I prayed for her?” Ree said that it would be fine.
Through her tears, Kristen talked to Jesus about the girl who had been damaged in those woods. She said later that the words had came out of her heart somehow; that God had helped her to come up with them. When she finished, she was still sniffling, so it wasn’t clear whether she was done for a moment. When it was, Ree spoke again.
“That was not for you to keep,” Ree said softly. “It was a gift given to you for that time, but it’s over now.” She closed Kristen’s hands, then cupped them in her own. “Give it to me.”
Kristen, crying, slowly opened her hands, releasing ownership of the injury. The tension seemed to leave her body, and she relaxed, still sniffling.
“May I pray for you?” Ree asked quietly.”
“Yes.” Kristen nodded.
As Kristen cried, Ree prayed over the girl she had only known for a few weeks and adopted as a daughter in her heart. A burden seemed to lift from Kristen’s shoulders, though the sniffling continued.
The next day, Kristen was more serious than usual, but looked much better than she had the night before. Within a few days, her innocence had returned. She still thinks about that girl along the trail sometimes, though, even though neither has even seen the other.
Thinking about that now, it occurs to me that Kristen did, in a small way, what Jesus did. She took the sins of another upon her and forgave. The obvious differences, though, were that, though Kristen took on the position of the injured, Jesus in fact was the one injured, but also took on the position of the injurer. Both forgave the injurer. But Jesus also took the injurer’s punishment, and prayed for the ones who did committed the injury.
Imagine! The Man on the whipping block taking a beating was taking it for the ones beating Him, and for that very evil they were committing in doing it! The Messiah, God on a cross, was hanging there, taking the execution deserved by the very men responsible for his execution – in the place of those men whose crime was the execution itself! And all the while He pleaded with His Father for their forgiveness.
Every stroke He took from them, He also took for them. Every stroke was one that they deserved for giving it to Him, and it was credited as though they were the ones being punished, and not Him. Every nail in His hand was one that they deserved who placed it, and His last breath was both by their hands – and for them. But of course, they didn’t know it.
* * *
One day, Ree says, she wants to have a reunion of all the past staff and past Jumonvillers and have them systematically prayer walk every inch of that land. Right now, though, there aren’t enough to do it. It’s just too big.
Now… I need to say that this, in theory, wasn’t completely new to me. And I’m not a charasmaniac. But this stuff is for real, and was a little spooky. It’s good to know that “He who is in [us] is greater than he who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
It was kind of strange, though, how James, who comes from a strict conservative background, had seen some of these things, and I, coming from a background that is more open to recognizing the spiritual realm, had not. I had, before this night, looked down on a few of my fellow staffers for being “less spiritual,” but it seemed they had also seen some intense action.
I walked away from that night with a greater sense of what some of our spiritual gifts are for. Those with gifts of discernment, for instance, had seen more clearly what was going on in the spiritual realm. Those of us with an intercessory gift, on the other hand, played our part in telling those forces to take a hike – and never come back.
Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different ministries, but the same God is active in everyone and everything. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial. –I Corinthians 12:4-7, HCSB