The Gun That Never Fired

BY VICTOR HEDMAN
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Hearing a loud crash, I ran into the church. I saw the pastor kneeling beside a man on the floor who was wrenching about and screaming obscenities. I knew immediately the man was demon possessed.

That morning I had traveled south from Cordoba, Argentina, to visit the pastor of a church my wife, Janet, and I had planted. At 11:40 a.m., the pastor and I were sitting under a shade tree near the church when a well-dressed man approached us and asked to speak with the pastor. As the pastor escorted the man into the church, I remained outside to walk about and pray.

Inside the church, the visitor pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the pastor’s face.

“I’m going to kill you, and I’m going to kill your friend out there,” he shouted.

The Lord gave the pastor an unusual sense of calm as he tried to reason with the angry man’s ranting.

“A witch told me that I’m going to die in a pool of blood,” the man went on.

“Why don’t you put down the gun and talk with me?” the pastor asked.

“I can’t understand a thing you’re saying,” the man responded, securing his gun under his sweater.

The pastor asked to pray for the man and placed his hand on the man’s shoulder. At that moment, the demon flung the man to the floor.

When I entered the church and saw the pastor battling the demon-possessed man, I laid hands on the man and began to pray. As I quoted Scripture, the man became so wild that the pastor and I could hardly hold him.

Suddenly Mark 16:17 came to my mind and I proclaimed: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils.” Then, through the power invested in me by Jesus, I shouted, “Get out!”

The devil left, and the man suddenly became lifeless. The pastor and I lifted him onto a bench.

“Do you have something to give me?” the pastor asked the man.

The man reached under his sweater and pulled out the pistol.

When the police arrived at the church, the man showed us a pocketful of bullets he had intended to use that day. Because a witch had told him he was going to die in a pool of blood, he was prepared to kill others until the police came to shoot him.

I didn’t realize the full extent of God’s grace until I arrived home around 3 a.m. the next morning. When I entered the bedroom, my wife asked, “What were you doing yesterday morning at 11:40?”

At that moment, Janet had felt an urgent burden to pray for me. She lifted her hands to the Lord, weeping and groaning utterances only the Spirit of God could discern.

Thank God for intercessory prayer. Because of it the gun was never fired, and the devil had to flee.

Victor Hedman and his wife, Janet, served as missionaries from 1969 to 2011.

Risks and Rewards

Following God’s call to the lost in Peru, Frank Isensee and his wife, Elsie, went to minister in Trujillo, an ancient city on the nation’s northern coast. From this base, Frank and a national believer worked to establish a witness for Christ where none had existed.

On a visit to the hospital, Frank met a seriously ill boy who had an obvious hunger for God. When Frank explained the way of salvation, the young man immediately received Christ as his Savior. From that day forward, the boy eagerly awaited Frank’s visits to learn more about God’s Word.

The hospital attendants resented Frank and the message he preached. At every opportunity they invented excuses to prevent him from visiting the patients.

One day when Frank arrived to visit the boy, he was refused admittance. He walked around to a side door, but again he was barred from entering.

Refusing to give up, Frank tried a third entrance. Once more the doorman stopped him.

“I won’t let you in,” the doorman taunted. “But I might if you agree to be vaccinated for smallpox. How about it?”

Frank knew these attendants were enemies of the gospel he represented. What if, instead of a vaccination, they injected him with poison? Stories of such things had been told. Was his visit worth the risk?

Then Frank thought of the dying boy and his deep hunger for God’s Word. Without hesitation, he held out his arm to receive the injection and was permitted inside. Shortly after his visit, the boy went into the presence of the Lord.

Not long afterward, Frank and a national pastor set out for the village of Huayaucito, a remote place where Frank was discipling a small group of believers. The place was difficult to reach, but the needs of the people lay heavy on Frank’s heart.

After riding a bus as far as possible, the men continued the trip by mule. As evening approached, they found themselves in a wild, desolate area.

With daylight fading into nighttime, the men approached a pitiful little shack. Seeing a feeble light shining from inside, they alighted from their mules and rapped at the door in hopes of finding a place to rest for the night.

Two women offered to give them food. In the faint gleam of a candle, the men ate the simple meal before stretching out on the floor to sleep.

At daybreak the women prepared breakfast. As sunlight filled the shack, the travelers were horrified to see that the women’s arms were covered with scaling, black smallpox!

The men knew a long wearisome day lay ahead, and it was important that they eat. From the depths of their hearts they asked God’s blessing on their food and His protection against the dread disease to which they had been exposed.

Then Frank remembered the incident at the hospital in Trujillo. The attendants had given him the smallpox vaccine as a means of harassment, but through it God had prepared his body to meet this very test. What was intended as a trial became his escape from harm.

Frank Isensee and his wife, Elsie, served in Peru from 1945 until Frank’s death in 1951.

Racing Through the Night

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During the Christmas season in 1968, missionary Ron Hittenberger thumbed through the greeting cards he and his wife, Carolyn, had received. A message written on one of the cards immediately caught his eye.

“What happened to you last February?” the writer asked. “One day as I was returning from work, the Lord impressed me to pray for you. I felt that you were in mortal danger.”

Ron turned the card over in his hands. Its sender was a man in Arizona. The Hittenbergers had been to his church for a service, but as far as Ron could remember, he had neither met the man nor corresponded with him. But he certainly remembered what had happened the preceding February!

Along with Pastor Telemaque Theagene, a district presbyter, Ron had gone to minister in a remote region of southwest Haiti. They had started very early and traveled on horseback for hours to reach a mountain village in time for a service. When they arrived, the mud-and-thatch church was full of people, many of whom had walked for hours to attend the meeting.

After the service, a pastor from another village approached Ron and Pastor Theagene and asked them to travel two hours farther into the mountains for a service at his church. Because of the town’s remote location, this pastor seldom received visits. Ron and Pastor Theagene knew they could not disappoint him by refusing his request.

When they reached the church, they found it filled with people. Many of them had walked over some of Haiti’s roughest terrain to be in the service. Ron and Pastor Theagene ministered, and God gave a gracious outpouring of His Spirit.

It was very late in the afternoon when the two men started for Belle Riviere, the town where they planned to stay for the night. Soon the sun faded into pitch-black darkness. Ron and Pastor Theagene cautiously picked their way along a rock-strewn trail at the edge of a ravine some 500 feet below.

Without warning, Ron’s horse suddenly took off running. Ron desperately tried to rein him in, but it was impossible. He could only cling to the saddle and cry out “Jesus! Jesus!”

For nearly two hours the horse ran full speed through the darkness down the dangerous trail. Pastor Theagene hurried to keep up but was unable to do anything to help.

Finally the men reached Belle Riviere, and the horses stopped. Ron and Pastor Theagene were exhausted and trembling, but safe. This, they knew, was a miracle.

The extent of the miracle did not become clear until Ron read the message on the Christmas card. Impressed by the Holy Spirit that Ron was in danger, a man far away in Arizona had gone home, fallen on his knees, and prayed for nearly two hours—the very same time that Ron’s horse had been racing madly through the night.

Ron and Carolyn Hittenberger were missionaries to Haiti for more than 20 years. They retired in 2013 after 47 years of missionary service.

Appointment With a Piachi

BY JUDY GRANER
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“God, if You are real, reveal yourself to me!” the witch doctor cried.

Suddenly a man’s face appeared before her, and she heard someone say, “This man will show you the way to God.”

The woman was one of nine powerful piachis (spiritist witch doctors) in a desert region of Colombia known as La Guajira. In this area, people feared the piachis and refused to go near the trees where they performed most of their rites.

The target of much of the piachis’ work was the local church established by a Guajira Indian woman. Her family belonged to one of the wealthier Guajira clans, and she and her siblings had left the region to study in the cities. After hearing the gospel and dedicating her life to the Lord, she felt called to leave law school and return to La Guajira as a missionary to her people.

A church was planted among the Guajira, but the believers faced persecution. The area was suffering from severe drought, and the local people blamed the Aleluyas because they clapped their hands when they sang, thus scaring away the spirits of rain. When the people threatened to cut off the believers’ hands and ears, many churchgoers fell away. But a praying remnant remained.

The Lord answered the prayers of His people in a remarkable way. Rain fell, but only in La Paz, the 10-square-kilometer area where the church people lived. When neighboring shepherds and goatherds learned that desert forage was available in La Paz, they brought their flocks to graze. There they heard the gospel.

When the Lord sent rain to the entire region, the herders returned to their homes as new creatures in Christ, eager to share the message of salvation with their families.

The strength of the church did not go unnoticed by the nine piachis, and the spiritual warfare became more intense. One piachi, however, was curious. Just what power did the God of the Christians possess? To find out, she prayed that God would reveal himself to her.

Meanwhile, in Barranquilla, my husband, Steve, felt the Spirit prompt him to go to La Paz. There, by divine appointment, the piachi met him and realized he was the man who had appeared to her in her vision. Steve shared the gospel with the piachi. She was delivered from demon possession and accepted Christ as her Savior.

Before long, all the area piachis and several from other regions accepted Christ. The demonic stronghold over the land was broken when the piachis cut down their sacred trees and burned their implements of magic.

The church in La Paz continues to grow, and the congregation is reaching out to other parts of La Guajira. God is sending revival rains to His people.

Our God Is Able

BY FRANCES FRIGOLI
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“Join our ranks,” the rebels told the new believer. “If you refuse, we will make a spectacle of you.”

For several years, the Shining Path, a rebel terrorist group, had caused fear and devastation across Peru. Before this group came to prominence, the gospel of Jesus Christ had reached many remote areas of the nation. Now believers were being tested as Shining Path forces attempted to spread their message through intimidation and violence.

When the new believer refused to deny his faith, the rebels set out to make good on their threat. After calling the community together, they stood the man before a firing squad. But their bullets bounced off him.

Angered, they beat him and tried to decapitate him with a machete, but the blade would not cut. They dragged him away, sharpened the machete with a stone, and tried again. Their attempt failed.

Frustrated, the rebels left. Believers in the area rejoiced at the Lord’s supernatural protection.

Occasionally my husband and I have received news of other instances of God’s miraculous deliverance. These accounts remind us that God has not forgotten His children.

In one community, area Christians planned a fellowship meeting. Expecting a large crowd, local believers rented a town hall.

On the day of the meeting, some 1,000 people filled the building to praise and worship the Lord. Annoyed at the Christians’ defiance, terrorists planned to destroy the building with dynamite stolen from the local mine. They warned the worshippers to vacate the building or face sure death.

Most of the crowd hurried to safety, but several women felt impressed to stay and pray. The dynamite exploded, demolishing the building, but the women emerged unscathed.

“Our God is able to deliver us!” they proclaimed.

Another miraculous deliverance took place high in the mountains as a group of terrorists gathered to execute a local pastor. They dragged the man out of town to hang him at the area’s only tree. Standing him on a chair, they tied a rope around his neck and threw it over a branch. As they kicked away the chair, the knot in the rope came loose.

They retied the knot and tried again, but the branch broke.

They tied the rope to another branch and kicked the chair. This time the rope broke.

Six times they tried to hang the pastor, and each time they failed. Finally they left in defeat.

Other people have not escaped the Shining Path’s forces. No one can explain why some lives are spared and others are not. We can only join our Peruvian brothers and sisters in intercession, believing God has all things in control. With these courageous believers we proclaim, “Our God is able!”

Frances Frigoli and her husband, Bruno, served in Latin America from 1971 to 1998.

A Greater Power

BY BERNHARD JOHNSON
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Paulo pointed his gun at the elderly woman.

“Say your prayers quickly, Grandma,” he growled. “I’m going to kill you.”

Calmly the old woman looked Paulo in the eyes and declared, “I rebuke you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Immediately Paulo began to shake uncontrollably. Jamming his revolver into his pocket, he ran away as fast as he could.

Paulo did not usually run away. The leader of a gang of bank robbers who had wreaked havoc in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he was constantly pursued by police.

This particular morning Paulo and his fellow thieves were standing on a street corner, planning their next robbery. Across the street an elderly woman with a Bible under her arm walked by.

“I’m going to have some fun and scare that little old lady to death,” Paulo informed his buddies.

But when he threatened the woman with his gun, she spoke the Name that sends even demons fleeing. Paulo, the fearless bank robber, trembled and fled.

“What happened?” his gang asked when he caught up with them. “Why did you run away from an old woman?”

“She had a power that tore me apart,” Paulo answered. “I had to get away from her.”

A few days later Paulo was arrested during a bank robbery and sentenced to 11 years in the penitentiary. Shortly after arriving in prison, he began attending gospel services conducted by AG laymen. There he received Jesus Christ as his Savior.

Paulo’s character was so transformed that he was released early for good behavior. He immediately joined a local assembly where he was nurtured in the faith. Soon he began receiving invitations to share his testimony.

As Paulo grew in his spiritual life, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit. The same power that frightened him when he accosted the elderly woman now dwelt within him.

Bernhard Johnson and his wife, Doris, were appointed as missionaries to Brazil in 1969. Bernhard went to be with the Lord in 1995..