A Reply on the Simon the Sorcerer Post

Below is a reply to the post on Simon the Sorcerer from someone with a lot experience in both the mission field and in finding Simon the Sorcerer among u/within us. Paul Burwell writes:
Since reading your message on March 8, 2011, I have spent a good deal of time pondering it. It just so happens that for several years I have been mulling a lot of similar observations. First, let me say that in regard to whether sorcery and witchcraft are real powers or imagined…yes, they are very real!!
I come from a cessasionist background which taught that all miracles, signs, wonders, and supernatural events stopped when the last person on whom the apostles laid their hands, died. I believed that evil power was just bad influence and that it caused some to behave worse than others, but that witchcraft and sorcery were just imagined. I thought they were just the power of suggestion to humans who already loved to do evil anyway.
Since coming into God’s true kingdom with much tribulation in the late 1990’s, God has educated me through experiences where he let me see glimpses…sometimes more than I wanted to know at the time…that yes indeed, these powers are really REAL. These things have absolutely revolutionized our theology and yet we feel we’ve only seen the tip of a huge iceberg. I will give you one good example of first-hand experience in the mission field.
In 2006, through a series of signs, God showed us that we were to go to Africa. It started with a dream Joy had (2003) where she saw not only the pastor who would invite us one year later (2004), but also local scenes she recognized while we were there. I won’t elaborate on the Providential events that fell into place for us to go, but we came to believe that if we refused we would likely wind up in a whale’s belly or somewhere similar. Sitting on a huge liver and dining on plankton isn’t where we wanted to be, so we complied.
During the trip we spoke daily at numerous churches in the bush. On four evenings while there, we traveled to a small town called Shianda where we preached from a crude platform (made of eucalyptus trees) to the villagers. There was big generator set at a distance with a heavy cord running to the platform for musical instruments and microphones. The pastor (our host) had about a 400 member congregation and the musicians would come down to the village and begin worshiping on the platform. This would draw the villagers out of their little booths in the marketplace and after about 30-40 minutes of praise and worship, one of the worship team members would hand the mike to me and I, with the help of an interpreter, would preach.
One evening, while on the way to this remote area, Jonathan the pastor, asked me, “Do your people believe in witchcraft?” I replied, “Are you kidding?!! We make movies out of it and people who call themselves “Christians” pay good money to go and watch them!” Joy and I had already experienced a significant brush with it in 2004 at the church we were attending, so I emphasized to him that we believe it is real.He said, “Well, it is VERY real and sometimes, they try to kill us.”
Now that wasn’t the most edifying thing he could have said at the time, but we were a captive audience. He also informed us that most of these people had never seen white people and had never been taught about Jesus and that they did, in fact, look upon us with a tremendous amount of curiosity, with one lady even trying to scrape the white “paint job” off of my arm with her fingernails! (Joy and I were the only two white people there.)
Riding with us in our rented van one evening was a girl from Jonathan’s church who had come to sing with the worship team. Her name was Lillian. She avoided attending church because she’d born a child out of wedlock and was too ashamed. Imagine that here in America!! Anyway, before the music started, I found her alone in the van and asked, “Is it true these people have never heard about Jesus?”Lillian replied, “They have HEARD about Him, but have been taught by the witchdoctors that He is powerless. Then the witchdoctors hook the people on their drugs and eventually take control over the village with everyone becoming dependent on them for more.”
There were at least three times during this trip where a cold chill went down my spine; this was probably the first of the three.  I told Lillian, “That is EXACTLY what we have in America! The churches teach (demonstrate) a powerless Jesus and the majority of our people are hooked on (medicated by) one sort of drug or the other…both illegal and prescription.”
What am I saying? That drugs (and our dependence on them and those who distribute them) can open a door to the demonic that leads people away from dependence on Jesus, thus rendering Him impotent.
While ministering in Shianda and at the end of each service we would call for the sick and demonized to come forward where we with our African hosts would lay hands on them and pray for them to recover and to be set free. People came forward eagerly, desiring relief from their sicknesses and release from their oppression. Of course, here in OUR intellect-theology worshiping world, if you insinuate that someone has a demon, it is considered an insult…as if they are somehow less spiritual or something. In fact, it is also here that if someone asks what humility is, we have to look the definition up in Websters. In Africa, we met people whose lives demonstrated a humility I had never before witnessed. But back to the story…
We attempted to preach in Shianda four nights, but were prevented on the third night. It was after the second night that God gave me a powerful dream (too long to recount fully here), but the main part of it showed a peasant woman in a robe with her face covered by a hood and enveloped by a huge storm coming toward us. I was awakened by the storm (in the dream) at 3 am, even feeling the sting of the debris as it pelted my face. After discussing it with Jonathan’s wife, Rose, the next morning (Sunday), we decided it must just be a warning dream about impending resistance so we prayed.
Sunday morning was crisp, clear, cool and beautiful. The time of the rains had ended well before we arrived and they were in their dry season. We went to church at Jonathan’s congregation in Webuye, Kenya, then headed toward Shianda to finish the campaign. After picking up some bottled water for Joy and me, we began our 1 1/2 hour journey. Suddenly and without warning, a storm descended on top of us from the mountains above. It hailed, shook the van, and since we couldn’t see the road for the rain, our driver stopped where we sat for maybe 15 minutes or so, until a slight break in the onslaught came. He drove us back to Jonathan’s church where there was a small shed roof on one end of the building large enough for our van. We sat there rocking around for probably 45 minutes.
In my mind, I was conflicted…partly relieved that we would be getting the night off as we were exhausted. However, I was also disturbed because we wouldn’t finish our campaign and had already had about 150 responses. I left the van and entered the building and lay with my face on the ground, wrestling with God about the other souls in that town. After about 20 minutes I felt I’d prayed enough and actually knew I’d not been trusting God as I should have. By this time, the storm had backed off some, yet we knew it to be heading south toward Shianda whose little road was just barely passable when dry.
Then Jonathan’s cell phone rang and it was the pastor who would be heading the new church in Shianda asking where we were. Jonathan told him that there had been a storm in Webuye and that his road must surely be gone by that time. The pastor responded with, “What do you mean?! Our road is okay and we are waiting for you!”
Still in disbelief, we drove one hour south toward Shianda and could see that to the left and right of us was destruction. Yet when we turned onto the little road leading to the village, we saw that except for a few puddles here and there, the storm had split and left that road alone!!
During the course of that campaign I also experienced severe confusion on one night while trying to tell the story of the prodigal son…a story known since childhood. Then two generators malfunctioned after having worked perfectly in town…one of them completely destroyed that had been in use for years.  We were able to finish the campaign we’d started that night and many people made decisions to follow Jesus that week.
It was later, while reflecting on all that had happened in Shianda that I understood the storm that descended on Jesus’ boat when He headed to the previously unevangelized area of the Gadarenes…that it wasn’t a freak of nature. In fact, it was commandeered by the forces of darkness to stop the liberating power of the true LIGHT. I asked Jonathan, “Do the witchdoctors have the power to bring that storm, ruin those generators, and cause my confusion?” He answered, “Sure, they do!” As a matter of fact, this wasn’t anything new to him, but it was all new info to this wide-eyed white boy. ME.
Many other things happened on that campaign and the rest of the trip that are too lengthy to recount here. Yet this story stands out as one example of the myriad of ways witchcraft works in third-world countries and how God, through dreams along the way both prepared and comforted me (though I didn’t fully understand them until reflecting back on them later). Without that, I am convinced I would have been terrified! It is here in the West that witchcraft works much more deceptively. After all…all that stuff’s just in your head anyway, right?! If you can’t see it or experience it with your five senses, then it can’t exist, right?!


  1. God bless you for sharing your experience! I have seen the things about which you speak. I have seen the weather rise up in opposition just before a person was rescued from a possession (I don’t know what else to call it) and a whole group of people experienced a mass conversion – not in Africa, but in Michigan (I guess that’s kind of a foreign country ;-)). Literally, forty pound shutters and huge doors were slamming open and closed for several minutes, and papers were flying around in the room. Believe me when I say that I know how crazy that sounds. It wasn’t the “what” of it that was remarkable. It was the “when” of it.

    There was a teen-aged girl that had come to the gathering, and from the first moment I met her days before the incident, I sensed a darkness in her. It was very hard to describe, very hard to nail down in any kind of clinical terms, though there were clinical things going on with this girl, too. There was something in her eyes that danced between mocking and sizing us up, like a “hiding”. And then that would disappear from her face and she would have the eyes of a scared and lost kid. It was when I saw her come forward and the dance on her face became frantic that the whole room went crazy – doors and windows started slamming, wind was whipping through the building, papers were flying around, huge thunder as if it was right on top of us. People were scared to death.

    Our prayer warriors got down on their knees and poured themselves out against the opposition. They had never seen anything like this before either, and yet they knew what it was well enough to do what they did. It got really crazy by any American’s standards – stuff right out of a movie. The girl’s body started to convulse the closer she got to me…not just that she was shaking…shaking violently. But she surrendered to Christ – calimed herself as Christ’s, confessed what she had been involved in, broke wide open, and prayed herself into the Kingdom…and almost immediately after she did, the room went silent and the storm ceased. I know how crazy that sounds. But it was what it was. And close to thirty other people came into the Kingdom that night.

    I have seen the way a presence that I can only describe as “serpentine” literally moved through a group of people, creating distractions at crucial moments so that certain people would miss parts of a message – and miss their day of deliverence. Distractions. Taking the focus off the moment or off of what matters. I have seen that happen twice, actually. The power of the Lord overcame those distractions when they were named for what they were, and in both cases, conversions began happening so fast that those who had just given their life to Christ were turning immediately around and praying others into the Kingdom.

    It’s as if the darkness knows that a distraction at a critical moment is all it takes. It’s also as if the darkness knows what happens when the Body comes together. That is how I would describe the event I related – the Body had come together. Everyone had a role to play in that night and all that led up to it. I have come to expect opposition now when God is about to do something huge, and I have come to expect people who have never experienced opposition to get pretty weirded out when it comes. If I talk about these things in certain church circles (and probably on this blog), I get the rolled eyes and the “Oh, here he goes” whispers. I have actually lost friends when I told them what I had seen and heard – “Christian” friends. And yet, in Africa, Central America, and places like Haiti – places where wide-spread voodoo, and santeria, lukumi, and other forms of witchcraft are practiced, people tell of instances like this happening all the time. People who haven’t actually seen it just don’t know what to do with stories like these. And people who HAVE seen it, know exactly what you are talking about. Again, Paul, thank you for your powerful witness and your willingness to share what you have seen and heard.

  2. […] to Simon the Sorcerer Post Posted on March 28, 2011 by makestraightpaths https://fartheroutnearerto.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/a-reply-on-the-simon-the-sorcerer-post/ Dear Max: Since reading your message on March 8, 2011, I have spent a good deal of time pondering […]

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