TO CHEW ON: "When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him and with a loud voice said, 'What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.'" Luke 8:28
The Yanomamo are a fierce tribe of Indians who live in the jungles of Venezuela. The story that Mark Andrew Ritchie tells in The Spirit of the Rainforest - A Yanomamo Shaman's Story is through Jungleman, one of the most powerful shamans of the tribe.
Though the Yanomamo had met white men (nabas) of various kinds—rubber traders, anthropologists and missionaries from various denominations— it was when they met Pepe (Joe Dawson who worked with New Tribes Missions) that the spiritual conflict really began. Pepe and his family came to live at Honey Village (at the Yanomamo's invitation) where Shoefoot (Jungleman's protegé and relative) was the shaman. Over time Shoefoot gave up his spirits. Here's what happened the next time Jungleman came to visit his brother-in-law and friend:
When I pulled my canoe up to the shore at the mouth of the Metaconi I felt the usual excitement that comes with meeting old friends. But something was very different. What was it, I wondered.
"Don't go in here," Jaguar Spirit told me. "There's too much danger here. We are afraid." It was the first time I had ever heard fear coming from Jaguar Spirit and it made me feel poor inside. My hands began to flutter and I held my bow tight to make them stop.
There can't be any danger here, I thought. These people are my friends. They have always been my friends. But it wasn't just Jaguar. All my spirits were crowding the shabono in my chest and making a terrible noise about how afraid they were.
When I saw Shoefoot I was stunned. "What has happened to your spirits?" I asked him, looking at his chest. I could see they were gone.
[...] It was a horrible visit for me. There was a spirit in Shoefoot's village that I couldn't understand. But it was powerful. That's why my spirits were so upset when I came. I hung my hammock next to Shoefoot and as soon as I lay down they were all there, every spirit I have, crowding my shabono.
"Please Father!" they all begged together. "Please leave here. It's not safe here. We are terrified." And they were. The new spirit in Shoefoot's chest had them all frightened like I had never seen them before.When I first read the account quoted above, I thought immediately of the reaction of the demons that lived in the tomb-dweller of today's Bible reading.
Our society is fascinated with the paranormal (which would include what we see happening in this story). Fiction, movies and TV shows that highlight spooky, unexplainable (by natural, scientific means) activities are viewed as nothing more than a scary romp. However, if we believe the Bible, demons and evil spirits are real, and probably way more active in the 21st century than we'd ever imagine.
My Lectures in Systematic Theology book provides the following list under the heading "The Work of Demons":
1. They inflict disease (Luke 9:37-42).
2. They cause mental disorders (Mark 5:4-5).
"Although no doubt many so-called psychopathic cases come under this head, we must not forget that the Scriptures do not refer all mental disorders directly to the work of demons." Thiessen p. 208.3. They lead people into moral impurity (Luke 4:33-36).
4. They spread false doctrine (1 Timothy 4:1).
5. They oppose God's children in their spiritual progress (Ephesians 6:12).
6. They sometimes possess human beings and even animals (Acts 8:7; Mark 5:12-13).
7. They are sometimes used by God in the carrying out of His purposes and designs (Revelation 16:13-16).
My reaction to any study of Satan and his henchmen is the same as it was to reading the Spirit of the Rainforest book. It makes me want to crowd close to Jesus and not have anything to do with any other spirit.
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for defeating Satan and all his hosts. Help me to recognize his activity and to stay away from anything that would involve or ensnare me in it. Amen.
MORE: The Bushman and the Spirits
Several years ago, I found The Bushman and the Spirits on my father-in-law's bookshelf. It is the fascinating story of a Canadian trapper and shaman, who himself dealt with the spirit world but was set free by the power of Jesus. It's an excellent read—if you can find it!
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.