Recently my friend Evie asked me to join her and some of her friends by attending an annual pagan witches ball. Neither of us practice any kind of pagan rituals or adhere to any pagan beliefs, so why you may be wondering would we want to rub elbows and hob nob with people who do?
The answer is simple.
Everyone deserves to encounter the love of God, even those in dark places and seemingly resistant. Often as followers of Jesus we build state of the art buildings, create fabulous services utilizing all the latest and greatest technology, organize programs for every problem and people group imaginable, and then we sit and pray God will bring said people in to our amazing spaces.
All the while the very people we are praying into our church structures are out in the community living life. Wouldn’t it be easier to engage people where they already are gathering? Many Jesus lovers are thinking right along those lines.
How about both?
Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful churches and putting our best foot forward for guests and regular attenders. I am in full support of pursuing excellence and using all forms of media, art, and technology to create environments that express that desire.
Myself and many others are simply wondering and suggesting that maybe great programs and services alone are not enough. To see real impact in our community, we must be willing to get out of the four walls of our sanctuaries, hit the streets, and go where the people needing to encounter the love of God are gathering, too.
The witches ball on Halloween weekend fit the order. A team from a neighboring church went out the year before and were able to shine the light of Jesus in significant ways. Another team was forming and preparing to set out again this year. My friend, knowing my heart to love people beyond the walls of church buildings, thought I would enjoy coming along. She was correct.
Over the past few years I joined teams going to shopping mall, parks, and other public places to pray for healing, give people a picture of how God sees them, and offer them any encouragement or direction He shared with me for their lives. Most of the time people were very thankful and even moved by what God showed myself and others.
Something different and dangerous.
My friend’s invitation to the ball came to me by way of text a few weeks before the event. I enthusiastically responded with a yes, but moments after clicking send, my stomach began to turn. What am I getting myself into? Somehow this event seemed different than other excursions I had gone on.
We weren’t going to be walking around Walmart praying for people. We were going to a Masonic temple where a bunch of witches and pagans were gathering to celebrate halloween and then wrap the night up with a ritual. Wouldn’t this be like walking into the enemies camp, hitting a bee hive with a baseball bat, and expecting to not get stung?
Questions came flooding in. I wondered if I was really ready for an environment where so much resistance would abound. Couldn’t this be dangerous? Sure, I love bringing the light of Jesus to people and watching as God ministers love and hope. But these weren’t regular people…these were people dabbling (or even worse, headlong jumping) into dark stuff.
Images of arguments flaring up as our “cover” was blown while angry mobs dragged us, the unwelcome infiltrators, out of the event flashed before my minds eye. You see we weren’t going to the event to join in on the evenings activities. We had a much different agenda.
Our goal was to bring the love of God to anyone open.
My assumption and preconceived notion fully anticipated the receptiveness of the ball participants to mirror unyielding, hard ground with cold or even frozen dispositions. As the weeks and days leading up to the ball unrolled, God spoke to my heart through Facebook posts I read, podcasts I listened to, bible scriptures in my quiet time, and conversations with friends.
He sweetly encouraged me to not focus on the darkness consuming the place we were headed, or to give attention to any demonic forces and their associated activity. He kindly reminded me of the authority Jesus won for me to release His light and speak to darkness. He reminded me that Jesus defeated the enemy through the cross and now God’s Holy Spirit empowers me and anyone who puts their hope in God to command the enemy to loose His grip and go.
One fabulous resource God brought across my path during my preparation was an excellent blog post by Jonathan Welton at weltonacademy.com called Spiritual Warfare In a Better Covenant. He lays out scripture after scripture to present a compelling case for Jesus’ current authority and total stripping of satan’s power. He also explains in depth, using the word of God, our strategy as followers of Christ to maintain our position of authority Jesus gifted to us.
Renewing my mind in God’s truth melted away fear.
By the time the night came, I felt excited and expectant. God helped me to take the focus off the enemy and on to Jesus. My thoughts started to meditate on God’s massive heart of love for the people coming to the event. I began to see the truth. The ball may be a dangerous place, but the love of God inside each and every believer going to the ball to release God’s goodness was far more dangerous to the enemy than he could ever be to us.
God assured my heart of His strength to overcome any obstacle and His great power to save. The enemy so diminishes in comparison. God reminded me of His Spirit in me, put there by Him to love people as He loves. God prompted me to recall and trust that I do not need to fear, for His perfect love in me demolishes all fear.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4 niv
The “them” John refers to in the scripture is not really people, but the spirit of anti-christ operating in and through them. The distinction is explained in the verses leading up to verse four. The one “in us” is God, as later in verse 13 plainly states. The one “of the world” is of course the father of lies and prince of the world, satan (see Ephesians 2:2).
God’s strategy gained clarity.
Since purposing my life to take God’s love outside the church walls and into the streets and market places, I always understood our battle is never with people. Paul admonishes us to not wrestle with flesh and blood (people), but remain cognizant of our battle with the principalities and powers in the spirit realm warring against God and His kingdom (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore I never would engage in berating someone for their beliefs or behaviors.
I knew our goal or mode of operation would never include walking into the ball and announcing to the crowd their fallen nature and need for repentance. We weren’t going to the ball looking for a fight. God’s kindness leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). The plan all along involved choosing to look past what the outer person and natural environment portrayed, and tap into the heart and eyes of the Father to see the situation through His lens.
My mistake after Evie’s text came through asking me to attend the event was to put any attention or focus on what the enemy might scheme. I am so thankful God quickly provided me with a course direction. My mission was to display the kindness of God and His love for each person. Whatever the enemy was scheming, whatever chains of deception he held his captives in really did not matter. For the hearts ready to encounter God, no weapon or dark power of the enemy could stand against the power of God’s love and reach.
Locked and love loaded.
I spent the days leading up to the ball in prayer, worship, and building anticipation for what God would do. The team met for dinner and encouragement before heading in. Everyone expressed a level of fear they wrestled with leading up to the night. The general consensus was to conclude that the night must surely hold some fun for us. Why else would the enemy try to stir up fear, if God didn’t plan for us to bring His goodness to people?
We went in armed with the presence and love of God, ready to crash the party in the best way possible. We teamed up in twos and threes and went on the hunt. Our target…whoever God wanted to touch with His glory. No one was safe from the love of God. Every person in that place was a potential “heaven crashing in” encounter waiting to happen. Our job was to stay open to God’s Spirit, and to hear and sense who He was leading us to reach out to.
Divine appointments lay waiting around every turn. Even over a month later many of the people I met that night have come to mind over the following weeks. I continue to thank God for them and pray in agreement with the things God showed me concerning their lives.
To my complete shock and pleasant surprise, the ball was really nothing of what I originally expected or feared. There were no confrontations. There was no resistance. In fact, the ball was one of the easiest and most openly receptive group of people I have ever prayed for and talked with about Jesus.
With each new person I met and as each conversation and story unfolded, I began to realize these people were really no different than people I pray for at church, meet and pray with at the grocery store, or even some of my very own family members.
All people share basic needs. I’m not talking about food, water, and shelter. We hold deeper needs than even what our physical bodies require. Each of us long for love and purpose. We want to know someone cares for us, sees us for who we are, and loves us anyway. We want to know our lives matter and carry meaning and importance.
Witches are no different.
The pagan ball was over flowing with people needing to know they are loved and belong. As I sat down, talked and really listened, I learned many of the people in attendance gather through out the year at various pagan festivals much like christians attend conferences. They meet regularly at places like Perkins Diner for dinner, pie, and conversation. I recognized the similar drive Christians hold fast to in meeting for small groups or bible studies. I also discovered they orchestrate drum circles much like we would put on a night of worship.
The need for human connection is pretty much the same in all these gatherings and activities. Change the names of the events and the meaning behind why people gather, but the desire to belong some where and to something larger than just ones self is the same across the board. Call it yoga class, bowling league, girl’s night out, book club, or group bible study…we all want to belong.
There is a home we all truly belong to and a father who knows us better than anyone. He loves His kids with crazy love that would literally, willingly die for them. There is a whole world filled with clubs, leagues, organizations, and yes balls needing to know Him. No matter how many meetings we attend or people that call us friend, we will forever feel empty and carry an unshakable loneliness that haunts us in the quiet moments of introspection, if we do not connect to the heart of love and purpose itself, Jesus.
Have you ever had a friend you’ve known for a long time and then one day you finally meet their parents only to discover your friend is a spitting image them? Do you recognize facial expressions or quirks in your in-laws that you thought were unique to your spouse? We often resemble and mirror the people we came from, don’t we? So too are each of us with God.
Whether we call on the name of God or not, we all still resemble Him and His character. We each carry unique traits of God that He gifted us with. Some people realize the source of their abilities, talents, or special qualities, and some do not. When I talk with people who have yet to engage God in a meaningful relationship, I often look for the traits of God marking their life. I encourage them to recognize the reflection of God on them and celebrate the goodness of God they carry.
During the witches ball I met a sweet young lady selling bracelets. My friend and I began to pick up on a trait she shared of God’s. You see this young woman repurposed belts and purse straps into hip little leather bracelets. We recognized a finger print of the God we know, who makes all things new, who loves renewal, and who will refurbish any life longing for transformation.
My friend and I began to speak to this young ladies heart, acknowledging the beauty in her pursuit to salvage life where others discarded. She makes lovely again what others deemed trash, just like God. The girl went on to tell us of other ways this principal plays out in her life. She shared with us the joy she feels in helping teach crafts to disabled young adults in the community. We left the conversation knowing she felt encouraged and affirmed for who God made her to be, a life marked to bring renewal to others.
The pressures off.
Now some may say, “But did you walk her through the four spiritual laws? Did you point out her sin and her need for Jesus to save her? Did you ask her to surrender her life to Christ and pray the sinners prayer?”
No, and here’s why. Not every person we encounter is ready to follow Jesus. Our job is never to save anyone. Jesus does all the saving.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. ~ Luke 19:10
God knows right where people are in their journey. He is the one drawing them to Himself.
No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws them. ~ John 6:44
We are merely called to join in with what God is already doing. Sometimes that will involve seeing one of His kids come home to Him and finally realize where they belong. More often though, God is revealing and exposing His kids to His love and His other amazing qualities.
Sometimes people we talk to are ready to enter into a relationship with Jesus, but most people are still discovering the goodness of God. Our goal therefore is not to walk someone through a salvation prayer. Our goal is to love them with God’s love, watch and see what He is doing and how the people respond to Him, and be ready to help them in anyway the Spirit leads.
God is in with people for the long haul. He will patiently wait for people to come to know Him and put their trust in Him. God truly is never in a hurry. He will lovingly show people over weeks, months, and years if needed His character and His immense love for them. What a joy it is for us to be a part of whatever phase of the journey people are on with God.
One was ready.
One gentleman that evening did invite Jesus into His life to walk with Him as friend, savior, and more. But most needed to hear there was a God who made them, knew them, loved them, and wanted relationship with them.
I spoke to one lady who unbeknownst to me had moments before suggested to her friend they leave the ball early. She was frustrated with her boyfriend’s behavior, and expressed to her a desire to end the evenings festivities all together. My friend passed by and asked if they would like some encouragement. Intrigued, they said yes.
My friend and I shared pictures and strategies God was showing us for things coming their way in the near future. Everything we shared resonated with them. They opened up that they were leaving feeling discouraged by the night’s turn of events, but now were feeling the opposite. We parted ways leaving them feeling hopeful and excited for their future.
God knows every need and what every one of His kids needs to hear. One gentleman was healed of migraine headaches when a team member prayed for him. Another team member shared an impression from God that the woman she was talking to needed to know God made her and her life had purpose. The women confessed that she grew up with a mother who always told her that she wished she had aborted her.
I had the pleasure of talking with a gentleman for about an hour about the ways God reveals His love to me. We listened to him share his own struggle in life to find the source of love. He was so interested to hear about our experiences with Jesus, and was amazed at another girl’s testimony of how God healed her of cancer.
He mentioned having difficulty sleeping due to a condition causing his throat and mouth to dry out. We asked permission to pray over him for healing and peaceful sleep. He eagerly agreed. I wish I could unequivocally report his complete healing, but there was no way to test right then and there. What I do know is, healing is in God’s hands.
We believed and prayed for heaven to come make God known in this man’s life. What I can definitively report is God appointed our discussion and conversation with the man. In fact, he was the only person the whole night to approach us. He actually initiated conversation. What unfolded was beautiful and authentic dialogue that God was right in the middle of. God was drawing His son in to Himself and his true home.
My favorite part of the evening started with an elderly couple sitting on a bench outside the drum circle room. My friend and I asked if we could share pictures we were seeing for their life. My friend saw a picture of the husband bicycling in her mind’s eye. She sensed their was joy in riding, but something happened to his knee that kept him from that currently. The gentleman lifted his trousers exposing a prosthetic leg. He went on to share how a battle with Leukemia took his leg making riding a bike difficult. He did confirm that he use to love to ride.
My friend sensed God would restore his ability to ride and give him some new hobbies too. I saw a picture of brick walls being pushed off the wife’s shoulders and she confirmed battling with an auto immune disease that weighed her down with fatigue. We continued talking with them for awhile and then I asked if we could pray for them. They agreed, but when I asked if I could pray in the name of Jesus the wife looked surprised and confessed, “You know I am Wiccan.”
I assured her that God loved her regardless of what she believed and she agreed to allow us to pray to Jesus for their healing. We kept the prayer short and simple, but the Spirit of God was evident. Again, the diseases were such we couldn’t know right then if healing came. But my heart continues to think on this sweet couple.
I continue trusting that God showed us the pictures which led them to open up and share with us their physical conditions for a purpose. God sees into our issues and struggles that an outsiders mere surface perusal would not reveal. He knew what needed to be addressed that night in the lives of this sweet couple better than anyone.
God at work.
On and on through out the night many more people encountered the radical love of God. Police officers over seeing the evening’s festivities were blessed and prayed for by members of the team. God even worked out a way for one of the founders of the ball to receive powerful words from the Father’s heart that ministered so deeply, they asked if they could continue the discussion further over coffee at a future date.
I happened upon a young woman that through a picture God gave me and a bit of conversation I found out was in need of a better job. The picture I saw and some of what I suspected God was saying through the image gave the young lady assurance that a new job was coming. I spoke a blessing over her for what the Father was showing me, and she warmly received every word.
Towards the end of the evening I wandered into the drum circle room. The altar was lined with men banging on various drums and hanging over head was a pentagram. Each side of the room were rows of chairs with onlookers taking in the scene. In each corner, masked figures in robes sat in what almost appeared strategic positions, watching and over seeing the room’s activity.
In the center of the room, space was provided for dancers to move with the beat of the drums. Earlier when I was outside the entry way to this room talking with the elderly couple and praying for their healing, many times the drums and sounds of celebration from this room carried a strong presence that felt like unwelcome pressure crawling up my back.
An altar sacrifice.
I knew from members of the team attending the ball in previous years that this room would later hold a midnight ritual of some sort. Common sense would suggest steering clear from the room, but I felt the Holy Spirit’s leading to begin dancing and praising God right in the middle. Dance has historically been a way I enjoy engaging with God, offering my body as a living sacrifice to Him as I worship Him with all my heart, soul, and strength.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. ~ Romans 12:1
Just because I stood in the middle of a room with people worshipping who knows what did not mean I couldn’t worship Jesus, the only person truly worthy of our worship. So with all the strength in me, I threw my arms up in the air and began to worship Jesus with freedom and abandon right in the middle of the enemy’s little party.
Soon thoughts about the mysterious people sitting in the corner of the room came to mind. I began to think thoughts like, “You’re drawing attention to yourself. Any true witch, warlock, or person practicing pagan ideologies would be able to recognize the Spirit around you is different. They are going to detect you aren’t in here doing what everyone else is. You’re putting a target on your back. You better stop or you’ll be cursed and your children will be cursed.”
Since I already reckoned with God what place fear held in response to the ball, I quickly realized the thoughts I was thinking weren’t coming from me. I obviously knew God wouldn’t use fear to warn me about something He would protect me from. This left only one other source from which the thoughts could come from.
The enemy’s handiwork exposed.
Now I just laughed. Immediately I thought, “Wow, you are really scared aren’t you? My presence carrying the light of Jesus and worshipping Him here in what you think is your territory must be really messing things up for you, satan. Well, that just sets my resolve even further.” With that I dug deeper and found even more in me to worship Jesus with.
I began to declare the space belonged to Jesus as I lifted up His name. I broke out of the center and began dancing circles around all the people in the center, blessing them. Turning to the onlookers and drummers as I passed by, I blessed every inch of the room and the inhabitants to see, know, and experience the glory of God. With everything in me I lifted up the name of Jesus.
Our team left the ball around 11:30 pm before the attenders would be locked into the temple for the ritual. I have know idea what went on at midnight, but I am confident what Holy Spirit lead me to release in worship to Jesus earlier that evening impacted what took place at midnight. Some testimonies God reserves for us to hear about in eternity. I so look forward to hearing this one.
The take away.
All in all the ball taught me that everyone really hungers to know more about their purpose, and something in them desires to meet the One who made them for that purpose. Every believer in Jesus carries the light of God in them. Light is meant for the dark. The enemy will try to tell us to stay in places where the light already shines and to fear dark places, but God thinks differently.
If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you. ~ Psalm 139:11-12
God is light and we are children of light. Light was meant to shine in darkness. We aren’t meant to avoid the dark but we were designed for it. If we refuse to go where the light is not shining, then how will people see? How will they know that they too are children of the light and step into it?
When God is with us we are safe, covered, in full protection, and given favor to accomplish the very purposes He called us to. We are called to love and to share the light and love of God. People, even people hanging out in the dark, are hungry and so wanting to feel the light of Jesus. We must hold fast to the truth that no place is dark to God and no place is beyond the reach of His light. If we will go, His light comes with us lighting up whatever dark once held captive.
Light was made for the dark.
People, even witches and warlocks need and want to know they matter and that they are loved. Their hearts cry out for purpose and meaning. They want to belong and find their true home. Above all else, just like you and I, they desperately want to know intimately the Creator.
I am more convinced than ever that Jesus calls those in the light to shine the warmth of His love, truth, grace, and mercy to even the places we think are resistant. I am beginning to see the darker the night, the more welcome the light truly is. May all our lives open up and let the light of Jesus in. May we seek out the dark remembering the dark not only needs the light, but it is part of what the light was made for.
I leave you with one last testimony. The gentleman we prayed for with the sleeping troubles thanked us for coming. He told us he saw Jesus in what we were doing that night and in our conversation with him. In what was very close to a cry of desperation he questioned why more of the church wasn’t like this.
He seemed to think if more of the church were out telling people of God’s love, showing His love by going to where they were to bless them and pray with them, more people would be open to our Jesus. Perhaps he’s right. One thing is for certain, unless we go, we will never know if he is right.
Share your story
I so love hearing from you and learning about your journey with God. What places has He lead you to that you thought might be resistant to the love of God? What happened? What did you learn from the experience? Share these and any other thoughts and questions below.