By Jeff Cannell
On our annual trip to encourage and foster growth among the rural Cambodian churches we had a baptism scheduled in one of the villages. This village is specifically known for raising hogs! The village mayor/chief who is not a follower if Jesus (yet) welcomed us to hold a public service in the middle of the main road, under the traditional Khemer wedding tent. (This tent is so colorful you need to wear sunglasses!). I later learned that the mayor specifically welcomed us because he believed a “pay-to-play” spiritual healer was taking advantage of his villagers. He loved that we freely offered prayer, and he witnessed the difference that Christ made in the lives of our congregants.
After the session, three teenage women prayed to receive Christ. Then, we transitioned to a two-hour prayer ministry time, where the new believers would be baptized afterwords. The young women all suffered from anemia and a withered arm. It turns out that all of them had submitted to the care of the spiritual healer, and he had given them spirit belts and bracelets to ward off evil spirits. He was paid well, but their health worsened.
It was here that we’ve discovered an additional 6th step option for the 5-Step Vineyard Prayer Model. Pastor Savi Tak, the founder of our Cambodia partnership came prepared with scissors and distributed them to those who were praying. We invited the newly saved folks to turn away from witchcraft and trust Jesus by cutting off their charms and spirit belts. This is simply not done! The villagers have been instructed that to remove those belts and charms invites disaster and/or death.
Fighting through fear and trepidation, one by one the women cut off and removed those belts and charms. This evolved into full scale prayers for deliverance where many were subject to demonic manifestations as the Holy Spirit began to set them free.
In the throes of prayer and deliverance a very large Karaoke Truck with five-foot high speakers mounted on the trailer had to get thru the tent (remember the tent was in the middle of the main road). The truck was blaring its back-up beeper at full blast, but it was not like the back-up beeping of US construction vehicles! This beeper was programmed to beep the Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
The truck with its speakers was too big to go through! So, villagers surrounded each tent post and elevated the tent so the truck could pass. All the while, prayers for deliverance and healing continued.
In retrospect, whether a happy coincidence, a bit of irony, or God playing a funny, that a song supposedly about St. Nicklaus was being played while folks were getting healed. Nicklaus the Bishop of Myra was known for a healing and deliverance ministry as well!
Amidst the noise and bedlam, our team was laughing at the surreal nature of how ministry time was unfolding as we prayed. The three women who had been anemic with each having a withered forearm were gradually healed. The arms relaxed and almost seemed to be inflating. They all three later relayed that their anemia was healed.
God is so good, and sometimes the kingdom of God comes with healing as well as pure comedic gold! Next stop, village baptism!