Spiritual darkness was alluded to, but not well defined, in our circles in the early 1960’s. For decades, visiting missionaries at our dinner table had tipped us off. They told of ominous encounters with an unseen world, but privately, seldom in public meetings.
A summer mission team assignment to Hawaii led to early hints of spiritual warfare. My cottage was behind a dune at this beachside on Maui’s North Coast, near Paia. Eight of us, mostly grad students, conducted Bible schools for Islander children, toured on weekends and worshiped with the sponsoring church. The children were easy to love, but they did not respond as Stateside children had when the Gospel was shared with them.
One Sunday afternoon our team had a massive confrontation. Everyone had a gripe about the non-performance of others. Even the missionary reported his wife was oddly unhappy with us. Her health was why they relocated to Maui, to find a safer place for her. In those days, we were not equipped to help her find healing and freedom.
As we met and prayed, it occurred to me that our experience was a result of an attack by the enemy of our souls. The dissention and complaining had come upon all of us, all at once, and was obviously a vicious blow to our morale. As a team, we confessed our faults to one another, asked for forgiveness, and specifically rebuked all spirits opposing our mission in the authority given us by Jesus Christ.
The Monday that followed was unremarkable to any observer, except that at day’s end, when we recounted our contacts with the children throughout that day, we recorded 29 conversations in which a child had asked to pray and received Christ as Savior!
We had stumbled into a spiritual ambush, recognized it for what it was, used the authority and tools given to us by our Savior, and witnessed the outcome to which our mission was dedicated.
We did not understand how demonization works, nor did we have the insights and tools that might had led to freedom for our missionary hosts. That was still to come. But our island of knowledge had grown, and with it the shoreline of wonder was enlarged, preparing us for next learning steps that continue even now.