“I told the witch doctor, I was in love with you. The Witch Doctor told me – he told me what to do. Ooh eeh, ooh ah, ah.
David Seville. Witch Doctor. “Ting tang, walla walla, bing bang? Takes you right back, doesn’t it! But that’s just a pop song.
Then there’s Malidome Patrice Some’, a West African man, kidnapped by French missionaries as a child and later returned to his family where he is re-initiated into tribal society. In his book, Malidome tells the story of being catapulted into another world – like the other side of Alice’s looking glass. One moment he’s dancing with the other men on hard ground. Next, it’s his turn to jump through a hole between two animal skins held by the village Shaman and wham! He’s falling through space. It’s completely dark except for a lattice work of light beams. Without being told anything, Malidome knows that he must grab and hold onto a strand of light or continue falling – forever lost to the “real world”. Ding, dang! Major, “bing bang!” Jumping through an inter-dimensional portal? Latticework’s of light where just a moment ago his pals were standing?
Lets’ skip the part about whether or not what happened to Malidome Patrice Some’ was real. And if it was real, what does, “real,” mean? It just goes on and on, and we’ve heard it all before. What’s interesting is the fact that the majority of adults believe in alternate realities and spirit worlds. Most adults actually practice magic. Though it numbers in the billion, few in this “group” understand or would be comfortable admitting that liturgical practice is just a very classy method of trance induction. And, Transubstantiation… wine into blood! If so… why not lead to gold?
Spiritual power – access to spiritual power and how best to gain the favor of powerful spirits. Last and far from least – protection from harmful spirits and people who give them entrance to our world. This is the central focus of street level, religious activity.
Fifteen to twenty year ago, Rick Joyner and George Otis were writing about this subject. They approached it from different angles but both were writing books that waded right into the middle of the spirit world. So, when I heard that Rick Joyner was opening a school of prophecy I put my life on hold and packed the car. By the end of August, 1997 I was sitting in the front row of the first class session. I was going to learn to preach and prophecy. The fire of heaven was about to fall!
Because I’d attended several of Rick’s conferences before moving East, I knew the layout of a particular building quite well. It was the Grand Ballroom on the former PTL grounds – Jim Baker’s Christian theme park creation. It was there that another interesting guy, C. Peter Wagner had meetings scheduled a few weeks after my arrival. Tickets to this two day event were $200.00. With all the expenses of moving to North Carolina, that was more than I could pay. But maybe they needed help? I made sure I was in the right place at the right time to offer if they did.
Others had the same idea and there we all were, standing in front of the conference hall when a van pulled up and out stepped a guy I recognized from photographs. Chuck Pierce was Wagner’s advance man. As though a spot light was shinning on me – without so much as a sideways glance at the others, Chuck stepped out of the van – walked directly to me and asked if I knew my way around the place. Home run… I was in! For the next three days I was the go to guy for his go to guys. Lighting crew, sound techs, security, caterer’s, you name it – Chuck saw to it that my face and name was familiar to everyone.
Chuck was one of the good guys. An accomplished speaker and teacher, this was a man with a reputation of his own. For whatever reason, he had decided to help Pete Wagner rather than promoting himself. Before that first afternoon was over we had solved problems, shared laughs, and made sure that all the details we could think of were covered. The doors were ready to open for the evening, introductory session and everyone was in a relaxed friendly mood.
It was then that Chuck extended an invitation for me to join them behind the scenes as part intercessory prayer team. Member of the intercessors team! Definitely, hot stuff! Cindy Jacobs was the high priestess of Christian prayer at the time. I mean that in the nicest way – simply saying that in Christian circles her books on prayer had earned her an international reputation. And I would get to hang with Cindy’s crew!
Cool as this was I had an even bigger target in my sights. George Otis Jr. was scheduled to speak that next afternoon. Having read his work with as much enthusiasm as Joyner’s, I was looking for a chance to meet the guy and talk about his latest book, “The Twilight Labyrinth – Why Does Spiritual Darkness Linger where it Does?” What a great title! The book was pretty good too. There was much to do in a short time and things were happening quickly. But busy as I was – I kept a watchful eye for George. Poor guy… Write a good book and strangers want to pull the buttons off your cloths. I didn’t want George’s button’s – but you know what I mean.
I didn’t see George until the next day – ten minutes before he was scheduled to speak. He must have just flown in. Otherwise he would not have escaped my lookout. When I caught up with him back stage, he had his head buried in his notes. Out front, a couple of thousand people were already seated, waiting for him to take the microphone. Clearly, this was not the time. Knowing that my chances of talking with him after he had finished on stage were slim – still, I would wait. Just in case, because… you never know!
There we were. George was prepping and I was pacing just around the corner. The building was originally designed as a TV studio, so back stage, there were a bunch of little rooms, each with wide counter tops and bright lights, all designed for applying makeup and last minute hair styling as guests tweaked their appearance and screwed up their courage before going out to face the cameras.
It was in one of these rooms that I saw it. Dog poop – the Tootsie Roll kind. Hard, with evenly spaced indentations. I remember thinking that if someone had been so careless as to allow their dog to crap in the building – at least it could serve as a purpose. With that thought, I toe’d the little pieces of poop together into the shape of a cross. “Purpose”? What was I thinking! I just didn’t want to clean it up. Cross complete, I left the arrangement for the next person to puzzle over. Maybe they would be more humble and pick it up. I had bigger things to think about. “How was I going to become George’s new best friend?”
I listened from the wings as he spoke – off to the side of the stage but hidden by the curtains, he wasn’t saying anything new – nothing that had not been covered in the book. So, along with a couple of thousand others, I listened as he delivered a forty five minute advertisement to spark new interest and boost sales. Perfect strategy but not what I wanted to hear. Upon finishing and accepting a round of applause, Otis exited the stage and without so much as a glance at me, retreated to the one place I was not welcome, the VIP lounge. Walking in there would have meant instant ruination.
Fame is a curious thing. On one hand, fame is saturated with presumption and pretension. On that other hand, fame tolerates little presumption from those less than famous. But that’s an old story. In the meantime, famous people need places to meet with their equals, un-watched or bothered by the public. To be on the included side of the exclusive equation… sweet deal! Ah well, yesterday I’d been $200.00 short of entrance to anything and now, though not a VIP, I’d done pretty well for myself. Time to pack it up, I left the building, planning to return in time for the evening session.
Afternoon turned to evening and it was time to be an intercessor. I was still thinking about how to politely insert myself into George’s world as I made my way down to the basement level, passing under the suspicious gaze of the security team, on my way to a minor league, “Important Person” room. That would be IP rather that VIP – the Intercessory Prayer Team room. The hysterical mood I was met with took me completely by surprise!
“Witches have been in the building!” someone exclaimed loud enough to be heard over all the other voices. “They have used “excrement” in the sign of the cross to curse the meetings!” Poop, and other common words for anal excreta are all four letter words – and all have long been deleted from Evangelical speech. So it was excrement that those witches had used. I had worked in another medium – common dog poop. So you see, my initial confusion was understandable.
I was a little slow putting it all together, but… Ting Tang, Walla Walla, Bing Bang! My back went all sweaty and I felt a flush rise up my neck and cheeks. Realization was dawning. I clamped my mouth shut. Experience had taught me that honesty is not universally appreciated. The room was packed with fifty or more, over amp’ed, self styled, “Prayer Warriors.” Some of them traveled with Wagner exclusively, while others were in Cindy’s orbit. That last part of the group was composed of locals – several of whom were my new friends and fellow students from Rick’s organization – Morning Star Ministries. They were going to get their pound of the flesh from somewhere – it could have just as easily come from my backside as from an innocent witch.
Thankfully I was not famous. No one was even looking in my direction. Even better, no one wanted my opinion. Though guilty – the perpetrator of this heinous crime, I was hidden in plain sight. Feeling like the invisible man I was increasingly fascinated, listening to imagined scenarios as each intercessor snatched at the slimmest of openings – often beginning before another had finished – each valiant combatant vocalizing dramatic prayer strategies – instructing God almighty as to how He could best deal with the situation.
The thing that stole the humor from this comedy was the fact that these were supposedly men and women with prophetic insight. There were no Seers in the room. Or if there were – they were not saying anything to set the group straight.
Knowing what I did – literally, what I had done, maybe I should have spoken up. But even if I had been that brave I could not insert a word as one “prayer” followed the previous one seamlessly. But really – I could have shouted them down. I could have but I knew better. They were having way too much fun. Having been transformed from normal, fragile human spirits to Spiritual Warriors! The truth would have been an insult and a crushing let down. And yes – I knew that I would not be forgiven – Had humor been oxygen everyone in that room would have already suffocated. If self absorption had suddenly turned liquid, we would have all drowned.
But then, what had I been doing for the past two days? What was my highest priority as I turned the door knob and walked into the prayer room? What is evil and why does it linger and dwell so comfortably among us? Not, Voodoo Crosses but selfishness served up hot, cold and in between – all the ways we’ve learned to love it. Why does spiritual darkness linger? Because we like it, we want to keep it handy. Ting tang, bing bang. How about that George?