Friday, October 15, 2010

Spiritual Warfare

If you're Christian and you've been around adoption long, you've probably considered the thought that there is spiritual warfare ongoing during adoption. I was just talking to one of my friends about this this morning, and then another old friend posted THIS on her blog, about a very "in your face" experience with satan's desire to "keep" her son (from Liberia).

You should really GO AND READ that post before continuing to read this one. {EDITED: Unfortunately, the original story that was posted has been taken down because of negative comments. That's really unfortunate. Let me just say, what you read below about Taevy is a fraction of what happened with the boy in this story.}

What do you think? Does that seem over the top to you? Do you think something like that is actually possible? How REAL can spiritual warfare become? How often does it leave the spirit world and become visible to the naked eye?

A basic definition I found for Spiritual Warfare is: The concept that demons attempt to thwart good, and the will of God.

There are lots of beliefs about spiritual warfare. Some believe that this battle is ongoing in the background of life--nothing that really hits you in the face each day. Others believe that this battle can very much become a part of your every day life--especially if you are "hitting satan where it hurts"--winning people to Christ, showing the love of Christ, etc.. In my personal observation it seems that those who are more in-tune with Christ might recognize the spiritual warfare going on around them, while those who are living a more "luke warm" life may not really see it (or may not be such a target, since they pose little threat to satan).

I was raised in the church and was certainly taught about spiritual warfare. An example of what I perceived spiritual warfare to be might include stuff like oversleeping on a Sunday morning, or everything going wrong when you had something planned that would make satan unhappy. It wasn't until we adopted that I realized how very "in your face" spiritual warfare could become.

Taevy is our attachment-challenged child. Her heart and soul are extremely sensitive. This is the child who, at 18 months old (and without any sort of prompting from me) said, "I miss my 'Bodia mommy." Taevy has always had trouble sleeping. Even now she tosses and turns and talks in her sleep all night long. She also grits her teeth. But when she was younger, she had night terrors--or at least that's how doctors would define them.

A night terror is simply defined as "a sleep disorder where sleeping is interrupted by anxiety, panic or screaming." So at its simplest definition, Taevy experienced night terrors. However, they were so much more. Our sweet daughter looked to be awake. She would stare right at us as she screamed in terror. She would speak to us and beg us to make "it" or "them" stop.

Here's sort of what it was like.

Eric and I awake to our daughter screaming in terror. We go into her room to see her kicking and thrashing in her bed. She knows we are there and screams at us, "Make them stop mommy!!!! They're eating my feet! They're biting me!" At first we would assume this was a dream she couldn't get out of. We'd pretend (for her benefit) that we were telling "them" to get off of her. We'd swipe at imaginary things to get away from her feet--sort of like you'd make sure there were no monsters in the closet for an imaginative 3 year old.

This went on for years though. And the longer it went on, the more serious it got. Sometimes her terrors would last for hours. Maybe I should have immediately thought of the spiritual realm, but I didn't. I don't know why--suppose I wasn't mature enough at the time. We never got the terrors to stop. She eventually just worked through them. Nothing we did (trying to calm her, swooshing away the things at her feet, etc.) helped at all. We just held her through them. It happened 3-5 times a week.

One time one of my friends sent me a vial of oil that had been prayed over. She asked me just to humor her--to pray over Taevy with it, and then put the vial under her mattress. Now, this seemed FAR OUT to me. The church I was brought up in did NOT put any value in "things" as being holy. Nothing supernatural about oil or water or a religious relic. Nevertheless, I prayed over Taevy and put the vial under her mattress. IMMEDIATELY we saw a difference in Taevy's sleep. In fact, I don't believe she had another night terror at that house.

Before long we moved. And somehow in the move we lost that vial of oil. [Again, not that the vial was "magical", but *something* made a difference.] As soon as we moved into this house the night terrors started again. They went to a whole new level. At this point we very much believed that this was a spiritual battle over our daughter. We went to battle for her when these terrors hit. These "things" (we now believe to have been demons) were chewing her feet and legs. They were attacking her. We started praying intensely over our daughter when these terrors came. And we could SEE the battle raging inside of her. Satan doesn't like us to call upon the blood of Jesus! He doesn't like us to request a hedge of angels to protect our loved ones!

On the worst night--the last night--seeing our daughter was very much like what you see in those "ghost" shows--where someone is supposed to be posessed by demons. Weird voices came out of her, talking to Eric and I, saying things like, "YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!" and "GET AWAY FROM HER!" [These words are coming out of Taevy's mouth, with her eyes rolled back in her head.] Oh, it was scary--except that we know that Christ has power over satan if only we call upon him.

The next day after that battle we walked from room to room, and around the exterior of our house, anointing each door with oil. We taught our children to pray each night before sleeping that the "blood of Jesus" would protect them and that he would send a hedge of angels to stand over their beds each night as they slept. Honestly, our kids were a bit freaked out thinking about angels standing around their beds each night, but they got over it! LOL!

I can't say that we never deal with spiritual warfare. We do--all the time. But for us, being proactive to call upon the blood of Jesus and his angels, has made a huge difference in our home each night. Yes, we still have bad dreams. Yes, satan still attacks the family when we're doing something he doesn't like. But we've never again seen demonic forces like those that Taevy experienced.

These are just an example of the way satan attacks Taevy. I won't take the time to talk about the other kids right now.

Bottm line: I absolutely believe satan HATES adoption. I think he hates adoption even more when kids that may have grown up out of Christianity are brought into Christian homes. I believe he hates it even MORE when the kids we adopt are from families where long lines have belonged to satan through other religions.

With our kids, it seems that satan wants to keep a greater hold on some over others. He does NOT want to let go of Taevy. She has to battle constantly to grow in Christ. He does NOT want to let go of Bright. There is an anger and sadness in him that is deep to the core--like a generational curse that must be broken. Satan's efforts towards Samren and Kendi are less "in your face" (so far). I wonder why that is. Kendi's family was Muslim, so at least she has a family history where the one true God has been worshipped for generations. [Please no discussions on Islam. I'm not going there.] I don't pretend to know all of the factors...

Bottom line: If you are Christian and you are building your family through adoption, be ready to fight for your kids. Get ready to fight to get them home. HARD! And know that the battle doesn't necessarily end once they are on U.S. soil. It is ongoing. It can be very "in your face." Get ready. Sharpen your weapons now. Don't wait. If I would have been aware, I could have saved Taevy from years of demonic attack. This is much more than just shooing pretend monsters from the closet.



C and G 12:48 PM  

Thank you for this post - for this reminder. I felt, even as I read the post you linked as well as your post, that I needed to play the blood of Jesus over myself, my family and my home - because I know that Satan does not want me to be reminded of the battle.

Our adoption has taken waaaaaay longer than in "should" have and I wonder often how much Satan's hand holding things back. We pray often that he will be bound in Jesus name.

Thanks again!

Andy and Jennifer 1:47 PM  

This is a really a very foreign concept to me.
I do not consider myself a Christian and longer (raised Catholic went to Catholic school from kindie through college!!) and am now a Unitarian Universalist. I believe in God and I believe that humans fail a lot. As you know, our second adoption was pretty horrific - and our first adoption was likely corrupt - I've never thought of either of those things having a spiritual component, although both things were because of human failings (corruption, greed).
I don't really think God loves adoption, and Satan hates adoption. I don't believe a loving God would ever want any child, birthparent or adoptive parent to experience pain the way that adoption can bring - the explotation, the deception. I feel like humans twist adoption with their own will, through their own selfish desires. In the purest sense, adoption can be the redemptive response to tragedy (read that this week and LOVE it).
Similarly, my youngest went through night terrors and HUGE issues with anxiety. The night terrors did literally stop one day and have been forever gone. And with the help of a wonderful therapist, he has dealt with his anxiety and done beautifully. We've had medical issues - and we've researched and sought and been blessed with amazing medical professionals. We have had learning difficulties and found the necessary resources (we drove S. to a great center once per week 3 hour roundtrip for 5 years!!)
I am not trying to refute your beliefs or claims. I guess just saying that this non-Christian has experienced challenges that I have viewed through a non-spiritual, non-religious perspective, has sought to remedy in non-spiritual ways, and gotten good results! the end, I think we tend to see issues through the lens of our faith or logic or whatever we choose. And when we seek to remedy those challenges in the ways that we embrace, we can be successful.
I hope this is not offensive in any way!

Mama D.'s Dozen 2:32 PM  

THANK YOU for sharing, Anita. That is a POWERFUL story.

I absolutely believe everything that you have shared (and that Kim shared in her post, which you linked to).

We have walked through some very difficult spiritual warfare with 2 of the 3 children that we adopted. It was very scary, but we know that Our God is more POWERFUL than satan and an army of demons.

Blessings to you and your family!

Laurel :)

whenpigsfly 3:57 PM  

Anita, Amen to what Laurel said about your post and Kim's . I have lived this too. Thank you for sharing this.

Teabo Chica 4:44 PM  

When you think about the enemies goal its is to Kill, steal and destroy, it is to take away from something that God can make beautiful and bring to wholeness again. You better bet your cowboy boots he will come after us in spiritual warfare. It exists and if believers can not see that or fail to overlook it, they are simply being naive.
What you are doing is great in the spiritual realm. You claim her for Jesus and you speak into the darkness and you bring light. I would even fast to see if there is something you are not hitting directly. From her families history that perhaps you are not seeing. We did this with G and E and when we prayed our prayers were more direct in what we felt we were fighting. Bottom line: she is His, by His blood, by your prayers, that girl is sealed!
I would also see if having her see a therapist would be beneficial, it may be anxiety that manifest in her sleep. Pray girl, and don't cease the prayer.

A. Gillispie 5:17 PM  

Thanks for the comments all. Thankfully, Taevy hasn't had a night terror in about 4 years now.

Jennifer, I really appreciate your comment. I don't at all discount medical or psychological help. Heck--half my family would be dead or crazy by now without medical science! LOL! I know there are some that attribute every bad thing to spiritual warfare. I personally don't believe that. I do believe we are a fallen world and bad things happen because bad things happen--without satan MAKING it happen.

In Taevy's case, with her night terrors, we believe it was a spiritual battle. But there are certainly issues related to adoption that my kids deal with that I don't think are because of spiritual battle. Tragedy and trauma and early circumstances can cause life-long struggles.

One thing we can agree to disagree on. I absolutely believe God supports adoption and that satan hates it. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus "adopted" me as His very own. There are lots of examples of adoption in the Bible. If God supports adoption, adoption is good. And if it's good, then satan hates it. At least, that's my logic. =-) [Obviously, I'm speaking of adoptions where there is no corruption and the child has no other opportunity for family.]

I don't think that God wants the tragedies to occur that cause a child to be orphaned. I believe the free will He gives us causes those things, and through adoption He can redeem the situation and make good come from it.

Thanks again for the comments. Hard stuff, this.

His Hands His Feet Today 8:06 PM  

I remember going through this with you!!!

Praying for all of our families,

Michelle 8:10 PM  

Thank you for the post...for sure I believe in spiritual warfare in a way that is more tangible than I ever could have believed before I embarked on the adoption of my girls. I think it is soooo easy to forget that there is an enemy when we live in such a culture of abundance in the US.

Terynn 10:24 PM  

I believe you are spot on although, I would say that I do not believe that Satan reserves his nastiness for adopted children only.

I feel he HATES families, as families are the unit God ordained for the raising of children. My children went through the divorce of their dad and I and I know, without a doubt that many were the times the enemy attempted to cause my children 'harm'; through fear, anxiety, anger, deceit, etc.

The approach you used with Taevy is just what God was have us do. Well-done, Mom.

And way to write a gutsy post.

CarrieT 11:11 PM  

Well said and very thought-provoking!! I appreciate the comments too, even those that may disagree some. I would echo the previous post that Satan wants to attack all Christian families and we need to remember this. Also Christian marriages. But good points about Satan wanting to prevent adoptions too. We can't afford to rest on our laurels but need to be vigilant in our faith and keep praying over our families/marriages!!

Carrie - mom to 4 from Korea

A family being transformed 2:29 AM  

AMEN, amen, amen. We live in the midst of "satan's backyard, and are adopting children out of it. The spiritual battle is real, and at times, intense. We must take up what it ours in Christ and FIGHT on the behalf of these precious souls!!!

Thanks from the North,

pastorsarah 7:36 AM  

Another Theological Perspective for Your Consideration:

I was raised in a church that believes in spiritual warfare, and then became United Methodist which really doesn't discuss these things. I've done a lot of theological research on my own. I am very Christian, and believe that the idea of demons that attack us is inconsistent with the loving, grace-full God that I know.
I believe the demons are inside of humans, and God has given the body of Christ various gifts to help one another such as psychology and medical professionals. In the book of Job is an agent of God, a source of bad things that try Job's faith, but always at the permission of God. Bad stuff happens, life is often out of our control. But I believe everything is in God's hands and no one else's. Sometimes it helps us feel better to find a place to blame the bad stuff, but ultimately I think that all bad stuff is the consequence of human sin and folly not anything demonic.

Also: Some one posted that we who adopt are taking kids out of "Satan's backyard" I find that very racist and awful. Poverty is not demonic. Africa is God's backyard, the home of Eden. America is far far from heavenly. In many ways I felt much closer to God in my year in Ghana than I do in America.

A. Gillispie 11:41 AM  


Oh ABSOLUTELY do I believe that all Christian families experience spiritual warfare! I didn't ever mean to insinuate otherwise.

My point was only that I believe satan fights very hard to keep families from being joined through adoption, and that (especially when the child comes from generations of another religion) satan continues to fight to "keep" those children that would have been his had they not been adopted into Christianity.

As Christians having biological kiddos we're able to pray over those little souls from the moment they are conceived. We dedicate them to the Lord as infants. Most of the times, kids being adopted haven't had that protection from day one--and sometimes they may be dedicated to a false God/gods.


Chantelle 1:14 PM  

Great post and I agree completely.

Chantelle 1:14 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chantelle 1:14 PM  

Great post and I agree completely.

Michelle 2:25 PM  

pastorsarah...When I was in Ghana, I felt like Good and Evil...God and the enemy, both were more tangible and closer to the surface. The concept of spiritual warfare became very real.

Kari 4:29 PM  

Powerful, Powerful post and so true!! We experienced more spiritual warfare with our Haitian sons than any of our other children. Thank you for your post. :)

Kari 4:29 PM  

Powerful, Powerful post and so true!! We experienced more spiritual warfare with our Haitian sons than any of our other children. Thank you for your post. :)

the H family 4:48 PM  

You just got me onto one of my favorite soapboxes!

I will say that, in our personal and recent experience, spiritual warfare is very real. It takes different forms and affects us all in different ways, but it is REAL. It doesn't stop when the kids come home, either. If anything I believe Satan then works extra hard to make adoptive parents feel inadequate, unprepared, frustrated and incompetent. Some of us begin to wonder whether we have indeed done the right thing in bringing a child into our family. We ask ourselves daily WHY our child carreis such burdens on her tiny shoulders. And he puts plenty of other people into our lives to reinforce these negative ideas, some within our own families. He makes adoption difficult, every step of the way, to give us opportunities to fear and doubt. It must chap his fiery hide TO NO END to see an orphan find a forever family, where she will be cherished, fed and nurtured. It has to drive him berserk to see us work tirelessly to get our kids the services or therapies or medical treatment that will save their physical bodies AND their spirits. Because then we win, and he loses! I do not believe that Satan can force his will upon us, but we can certainly let him in! Little by little we can submit our will and lose our faith and Satan will always be there to welcome us into his fold. He would LOVE to see us fall. For this very reason, we must surround ourselves with people who will lift us up, in prayer and in support and with their heartfelt encouragement. Anybody else just has no place in our life anymore. It takes every ounce of faith and energy to keep our family together, safe in the physical and spiritual sense. There is no room for the negative, the doubters, the discouragers. It is HARD enough, even with the best support network. Yes, indeed, it is a war and we're winning. So far.

Zimmerman family 9:55 PM  

We just had what I thought of with G as spiritual warfare also. Even M later came to me and said that he thought she had a demon in her. She had a major freak out where she hit one of our little ones and then started swearing really bad towards M. He told her to stop and she didn't it just got worse. He ended up physically attacking her the whole time yelling "you don't scare me!" When I grabbed her to pull her away her eyes were half open and rolling back in her head. M said that this was happening while he was going after her. That her eyes looked like that and the way she was screaming seemed demon like. It was very scary.

Andy and Jennifer 8:43 AM  

Anita, I actually think our thoughts on the good and bad of adoption are very, very similar just seen through our different perspectives. I do believe that adoption is the redemptive response to tragedy, just not in a religious sense.
I am curious about those who view their children's birthfamilies religions negatively how that might impact honoring birthparents and culture? How does one reconcile that? I ask this because I am aware of one disruptions that happened after "spiritual warfare" - a family adopted an older child who felt a strong connection to her culture and religion. The family felt this was sign of a demon. She was stubborn and clung to what she was raised in. The family prayed over her and in the end, disrupted the adoption because they felt she was a bad influence on their other children. They even sent her away from her biological sibling! I thought this was one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard. It makes sense to me that this child held to what she knew that her religion had been a major part of her culture, and as she was losing so much, she kept those traditions sacred. The last I heard, this girl was in a family that allowed her to maintain those connections and she is doing beautifully. I wonder how her biological sibling will process all of this as they get older?