Never before have I seen the Church of Satan flamboyantly preached. In the United States, Satan knows he must be cunning and secretive. Proof of evil is proof of good. But in the vudu-plagued Dominican Republic, those who worship the Devil are not secretive.
On Good Friday we drove through the barrio of Santa Fe with the Dominican Mission team. While driving, we saw a parade of people dressed in weird, brightly colored costumes, waving purple flags, yelling and shouting as they marched through the streets. Assuming this gang of people simply paraded around in celebration of something, my teammates asked our Dominican translators what caused this public parade. The translators looked at us solemnly. "They are devil worshippers, celebrating and mocking the death of Christ." Unprepared for that answer, our bus was silenced.
Continuing into the barrio, we began leading a children's church program at one of the local churches. After some time we set the kids loose and split into three groups with translators. We walked around Santa Fe, stopping at seemingly random homes, sharing the Gospel with anyone that would listen. We met many people. Some loved the Lord. Some ran away from Him. But one man differed from all the rest. He sat outside his store with a stone cold expression on his face, eyeing our team. A teammate named Lucas began sharing Jesus with him. Suddenly, I looked to my right and saw the Satanic parade marching a block down the street. As I watched the parade of devil-praisers, I became aware of the struggle that Lucas was fighting. Attempting to get words out of his mouth, he stuttered and stumbled over each syllable. Lucas stared blankly at the translator not knowing how to react to his obvious speech impediment. "I physically couldn't get words out- they wouldn't pass my lips. I felt like I failed at giving the Gospel" Lucas remembers. Unsure how to end this problem, the group began praying over the man.
I soon realized the parade could only be seen by one translator, Elizabeth, and myself. I saw the parade members waving a big purple flag with morose markings on it. I leaned over to Elizabeth and asked her what the flag represented. She gave me a one worded answer. Death. Immediately, I turned toward the adjacent street, reached out my hand towards the death march, and began praying for them. I prayed for the evil in their souls to be cast out in the name of Jesus, and that someone from our missions team would be able to speak to one of them about Jesus.
My small group finished praying for the man at the store. We left that place, turning onto a different street and continuing our evangelism campaign. I never saw the Death March again. However, at our team debrief that night I realized the story did not end there. Our team leader shared his experience with the Satanic church. Not mentioning detail of their encounter, Mr. Preston revealed that he and some other members of his small group confronted a person in the march. They shared with him the hopelessness Satan offered, and the love and redemption that was found only in Jesus Christ.
I am taken aback by this experience. After realizing the story that was developing around him, Lucas says, "There was definitely something stopping my words that day." We witnessed true spiritual warfare. Demon fighting angel for the soul of a child of God. But in the midst of that, we witnessed God's unrelenting promise to answer prayer, using us as soldiers in this war over souls.