Friday, March 15, 2013

Reaching the Occultist

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

Broadly defined, an occultist may be anyone from the person who regularly reads their horoscope to a Satanist—and a million gradations and varieties in-between. It is my passion to not just inform, but to reach those who are mired neck deep in occult-laden blindness. I want to share some principles with you.

Who is an occultist? They are a human being made in God’s image, which means they have a hole in their heart that only Jesus can fill. The only thing that can change a heart nearly destroyed by the occult is a relationship with Jesus (and all that entails)Yes, there is often a drive for power that leads them to seek hidden knowledge and they often have exquisite spiritual experiences…and SOME are cruel (but most are not). Our culture is literally filled with occultists.

Why are we afraid of them? Well, often we are afraid of the unknown. Also, I have found that folks do not want anything to do with occultist for fear of demonic contamination. C’mon…according to the bible, every one of us was once blinded by the demonic, and we bump against them every day. But (and this is crucial) the omnipotent Creator God indwells His children. Often the occultists are afraid of you.

I just finished reading two excellent books: Laura Maxwell’s book “A Spiritual Quest”, and Dancing with the Devil—compiled by Jeff Harshbarger. She was a former Spiritualist and medium, and he a former Satanist…both found redemption in Christ after almost being devoured by powers of darkness—spiritual and psychological.

There are many laws that govern the universe, both physical and spiritual. After dabbling in the occult for years, I found something to be universally true: involvement in witchcraft, Satanism, or any other form of the black arts will put you on a collision course with mental illness…God takes what little a person has, builds on it, and gives hope. Satan, on the other hand, will take what little a person has in life and destroy it. Those of us who have been involved in darkness know this to be very true.( pg 161 DWTD )

A common thread through almost all the nine testimonies in Jeff’s book is the desire to die and commit suicide, and Laura’s mother did commit suicide—though she was a baby Christian, she was thrust back into her demon infested home.  We all have problems, but the occult compounds this by bringing guilt, hopelessness, and despair. This horrible emotional cocktail can cause the visceral fear of dying to be eclipsed by an even deeper pain and fear with living—once that threshold has been crossed, suicide will happen…only a matter of time. I have experienced the agony.
What the occultist practice.   If you are going to minister to people in the occult, it is imperative that you have at least a general understanding of where they’ve been. Never assume that you know what they practice. (DWTD,200) For example, if you encounter someone involved in Wicca, a popular and fast growing form of paganism, and tell them that they worship the devil, then they will likely assume you do not know what you are talking about. Listen, EVER PERSON who is not serving Christ, is serving Satan—but we must meet that person where they are (I Cor. 9)

Many occultists have stopped communicating or dialoguing with well intentioned Christians because these believers said too much too soon. Same principle—people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Learn what they do believe by asking questions—gentle and loving—as well as what distortions of Christianity they have picked up along the way. And you might say, “Well, I do not believe that either..”

How to reach the occultist Suppose you have a work colleague who is a witch and wears a pentagram. Should you first invite them to a bible study, church, confront them about the evil necklace? My suggestion is that you FIRST pray for that person. SECOND..ask God to mirror His love and holiness through you to them. That way they will see the reality in our lives.

It is natural to want to warn them of the darkness, but instead of frightening or offending them with our enthusiasm—model Christ to them and ask the Lord to use you in their lives. Remember, it is primarily the Lord who loves and is pursuing the occultist, and we are a vessel. Come in with your ears and heart open to them…every one needs somebody to listen to them. When they feel they can trust you, then they will open up, and we can share the gospel.

MINISTERING TO THE OCCULTIST  Once we have entered their world, how to minister to them will vary from person to person. But, first and foremost, you need to be there for them. Whatever they are facing, we need to be there and be faithful to support them…all the while reflecting the love and holiness of Jesus (or the Fruit of the Spirit).

Physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are intertwined. Try to enter their world. As much as I attempt to debunk ghosts as demonic deceptions, think of how devastated this knowledge will be to many. As Laura Maxwell poignantly points out, she had an alleged deceased sister stroke her hair night after night for years. They lovingly conversed with what they thought were beloved deceased family. That is the unspeakable cruelty of the demonic—making it psychologically difficult to dis-believe in the notion of ghosts, by intertwining it with experiences of “loved ones’. Initially, this can be traumatizing and confusing. We need to be patient and compassionate with folks who have been burned by horribly real seeming demonic delusions.
They are leaving familiar paths for that which is unfamiliar. Of course they will find release in Jesus alone…but they will need guidance and friendship. Be careful to not overwhelm them with too much information. Get them settled into a daily quiet time. But everything related to the occult (paraphernalia) needs to come out of the house asap—time for new beginning.

As occultists they have been interacting with demonic realm…a former occultist may need deliverance or exorcism. This is where many Christians balk because they fear the power of the demonic. But we are to fear God alone. (Prov. 1:7) 1 John 4:4.. we have no reason to be afraid. And there very well may be the need for the healing of emotional scars. You may need to involve a pastor of good Christian counselor.

The need for harvesters is great…perhaps God is calling you to specifically minster to occultists. In our society, hardly a family is not affected in some fashion—though they might not be aware of it. May God use us to be the answer to the panicked and anguished prayer and cry for help. You see, often the occultist will recognize the emerging face of demonic evil and want out…desperately. Let us daily pray that the Lord will send those people our way, and that we will love them to Christ. Finally, please do not fall for the temptation to water the gospel down. Only the unvarnished truth will set the occultist free!