In 1986 I went through a “casting demons out of people” phase. It was around this time I also went through a “I’m going to wear a mullet like Bono from U2” phase. For the life of me I can’t decide which phase was more ridiculous.
My dramatic conversion as an 18-year-old presented a problem—my newfound zealousness surpassed everyone around me, and the church where I grew up quickly became a chore to attend. I’m not being fed here, I thought arrogantly. These people just don’t have what I need spiritually. Fortunately, I soon discovered that there was a better spiritual alternative. A new church popped up on the southeast side of Columbus, led by a fanatical young TV pastor named Rod Parsley.
This guy’s on ﬁre, I thought as I watched him on TV. I’ve got to go out there and be a part of that action!
My friends and I jumped into my dad’s Pontiac Bonneville and headed down the road to Parsley’s World Harvest Church. When we walked into the service, we were in shock. The worship and singing part of the service alone lasted for over an hour. People danced in the aisles. Rod did this thing where he placed his handkerchief on people’s foreheads and they’d fall over. This guy has it going on, we thought.
The best part was that he had the ability to cast demons out of people. Fortunately, he wanted the rest of us to learn how to do it as well. I was just lucky, I guess. If I hadn’t stumbled upon Rod, I never would have learned how to eject a supernatural demonic being from a person’s body.
Here’s how Rod told us to do it:
Step One: Place your hand on the possessed person’s forehead and position your body in the Heisman Trophy stance.
Step Two: Yell directly at the demon, preferably in King James English.
Step Three: If you find the demon doesn’t want to leave, shake the person’s head back and forth.
It can get crazy when you’re called upon to cast a demon out of someone, so I learned to remember a simple acrostic: F-S-Y-S (Forehead, Stance, Yell, Shake).
In the first half of 1986, my friends and I spent a lot of time going up to High Street on the campus of Ohio State and engaging in “street evangelism.” All the campus bars are located on High Street, so we felt this was the perfect area to walk up to people and try to lead them to Christ on the spot. If we encountered someone who had a demon, we fell back on our FSYS training.
Then it happened. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
In an alley off High Street, I stumbled upon a man lying on the ground. Was he asleep? Was he dead? Was there foul play involved?
Lots of thoughts crossed my mind. After assessing the situation, I realized that this man was possessed by a demon. You might have concluded that his blood alcohol level had passed .20, causing him to lose control of his gross motor skills and black out. But Rod had taught me better—this man was possessed by the demon of alcohol.
Fortunately, I knew exactly what I needed to do.
I quickly collected my thoughts, took a deep breath, and recalled FSYS: Forehead, Stance, Yell, Shake. I placed my hand on the man’s forehead, hunched over into as much of a Heisman stance as I could on the ground, and began shouting at the demon.
“Depart, thou foul demon,” I proclaimed. No response.
“Returneth to thy hellish abode!” I yelled louder.
Still no response.
“Leave him!” I screamed. “Leave his body, never to return!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. He started moaning.
I’m close, I thought, so I started shaking his head back and forth and repeatedly screamed, “I cast thee out in the name of Jesus! I cast thee out in the name of Jesus! I cast thee out in the name of Jesus!”
Suddenly, the man sat up, took a swing at me, and yelled in a drunken stupor, “I’lll cast youu out in the naaame of Jsssuuzzzz!”
And I just about wet my pants.
Leave me alone, I’m trying to get some sleep!” he yelled as I ran down the alley like a frightened child.
I share all of this to make one point: We led lots of people to Jesus on High Street in 1986, but none of the decisions people made for Christ stuck.
We tried following up with people only to discover that not one person was following Christ within weeks of his or her decision. Not one person stuck. Not one.
In fact, if anything, our efforts probably had the opposite effect—rather than leading people to Jesus, we undoubtedly pushed scores of them further away from Him. For every person we helped make a decision, there were hundreds who were undoubtedly turned off by the freaky Christians who walked up and asked, “If you were to die tonight, do you know if you would go to heaven or hell?”
The most ridiculous phase I went through in 1986 wasn’t the “I want to look like Bono” mullet I sported or my tour of duty as a caster-outer of demons, but the time I spent trying to lead people to Christ without first building an authentic relationship with them.
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