Simba's Story of Spiritual Warfare
Twenty-three-year-old Simba Mohammedovich read the letter from his uncle.
What a great opportunity! he thought.
Already studying economics at a university in his native Turkey, Simba (not his real name) had just learned from his uncle that he could transfer to a school in Russia that trained people primarily of his own ethnic nationality. He had often wondered what life was like for his uncle's family in their ancestral region, a small province of southern Russia in the Caucasus Mountains. Now he could find out.
Simba had grown up in north-central Turkey, on the southern coast of the Black Sea, and practiced the Sunni Muslim faith of his family. But from about age seven, he became aware that he possessed unusual spiritual sensitivity. The figure of a man had appeared to him repeatedly in visions at night, talking with Simba and gaining his confidence. The boy had found that he could tell fortunes to children at school and predict the future with uncanny accuracy. Soon people were coming to Simba asking for spiritual guidance through readings of cards, coffee grounds or their palms.
At night when the spirit figure crept into his room to communicate messages, it had often asked Simba, "Do you love me?"
"Yes, I love you," the boy had responded, "because you help me to help people."
Simba was intoxicated by his ability to understand the supernatural realm and do good for others through the information he received. Now in college, the dark-haired, handsome young man had drifted into practices of "folk" Islam, a popular blend of classical Islam with belief in spirits and supernatural power.
His uncle in southern Russia arranged for a visa, and in the fall of 1991 Simba arrived in the Caucasus city as one of eleven foreign students at the university there. Although his grandfather had been born in this region, Simba spoke only Turkish and spent many months at school in intensive language classes. Nine hours a day he studied-three hours each of Russian, English and the local Caucasian language-and lived with his uncle and family in their second-floor apartment.
Simba also began to make new friends, including Martha, a European Christian working with a Russian Bible mission in the Caucasus region. One day Simba told her, "You know, I'd like a copy of the New Testament in Turkish."
"I'm so sorry, but I don't have one," Martha apologized, "and it might take me quite a while to get a copy for you. Why don't you come to our Christian meetings on Friday afternoons where we talk about the message of the Bible?"
"I'm not interested in that," replied Simba. "I just want a Turkish New Testament."
Several times more Simba asked Martha for the Scripture in his language. While she worked on it, she again invited him to attend the Messianic Muslim Christian fellowship with people from his ethnic group. Finally he agreed to go.
On a Friday afternoon in late September 1992, Simba walked into the strangest meeting he had ever experienced. As a Muslim he thought he knew all about prayer, a five-times-daily ritual. But normally Simba prayed just for himself, his family or perhaps a close friend. These Christians prayed for anything and everything, even him. It set his mind spinning. Sincere love oozed out like warm honey, and Simba could not help but feel attracted. On his way home that Friday afternoon, he caught himself singing.
What am I doing? he wondered, almost embarrassed. Why am I so happy?
He had no answer, but the next Friday he returned to the fellowship. He listened to the teaching about Jesus Christ and found it different from what he had been taught in Islam. Once again the warmth of the Messianic Muslim believers reached out and wrapped him up. Simba exchanged names and phone numbers with a few new friends.
The meeting ended about 6 P.M., and Simba returned to his uncle's apartment with a light step. Everyone was gone except his uncle, snoring in the bedroom.
A little too much vodka today, I guess, Simba thought with a wry smile.
He fixed himself a bite to eat, then went out on the second-floor balcony to smoke a cigarette and enjoy the fresh air.
What a beautiful day, he mused, gazing over the city as the setting sun glowed warm and yellow.
From inside his soul he felt words stirring-words his mind hardly understood: O Lord, please show me this way, this faith way. I really need You.
The next moment a curtain of darkness descended over Simba.
"What's happened to my eyesight?" he mumbled, waving fingers in front of his face.
Wait, Simba, don't panic, he told himself. Stand up slowly and go inside.
His left hand groped for the balcony door but he could not get up. All the strength seemed to have drained from his legs.
Suddenly he heard a voice (was it only in his mind?)--a strong, deep voice laughing with icy cruelty.
Ho, ho, ho, ho, it bellowed. You are mine and you will serve me. Believe me--no one can help you.
Simba's flesh began to crawl.
"Who--who are you?" he stammered.
From the right side of the darkness in front of him, Simba could make out eyes and the shadow of a face smirking at him. The harsh voice started to laugh again.
"Help! Somebody help me!" Simba cried, scarcely louder than a whisper.
Just then he saw a ball of light rise on his left. Slowly it took shape into a figure so bright that Simba could not keep his eyes on Him, although he longed to. The Man seemed to be dressed in a white robe, and Simba heard a voice like a song, full of mercy, call out, "I'm here."
Then the bright Man turned His attention to the figure in darkness.
"No, he isn't yours!" came the melodic voice, brimming with authority. "He will be Mine. Simba is good and he will serve Me. He's coming to be with Us now."
At this the dark figure on the right writhed and moaned in crazed rage. As Simba watched, he seemed to lunge at his opponent, but the Man in shining brilliance disappeared and everything went black again. Before long the curtain in front of Simba's eyes dissolved.
He stood up, heart pounding, and stumbled inside, where he collapsed into a living room chair.
In a moment he recognized the dark voice hissing again. See, you're alone. Nobody will help you. Come to me. You'll be mine.
Something deep in Simba's heart seemed to answer, No, he won't.
With a burst of courage he cried out, "No, I won't!"
And the battle was on. Simba's temperature shot up as he felt invisible forces fighting over his very body. Breaking into a sweat, he peeled off some clothes and called feebly, "Help me! Please help me!" But the rumble of snoring from his uncle's room droned on.
Then, like a flare of light, a thought flashed to mind: Phone that man you met, one of the Messianic Muslim believers.
Simba felt restrained physically from reaching the telephone, his strength gone.
Please, help! his heart cried out to the bright figure he had seen.
Then he managed to find one of the numbers he had written down at the meeting and pick up the phone.
Now his voice failed him.
"Hello? Hello? Who's there?" said his new friend Mufar on the other end of the line.
After a moment Simba croaked out, "It's Simba. I'm in a very bad way." He gave his address. "Please come."
"What's the problem?" Mufar asked.
Simba could only stammer incomprehensibly.
"O.K., hold on. I'll be there as soon as I can."
Before long Mufar, probably fifteen years older than Simba, arrived. The door was open, and he found Simba sprawled out, breathing hard.
"What's wrong, Simba?"
The young man began to cry uncontrollably.
"I don't know, it's just so bad--so bad," he gasped. "I can't even describe it, it's just so bad."
Mufar knitted his eyebrows and started to pray. After a while he paused. "I feel a dark, evil force in this room. It would really be better if more than one person prayed for you. Do you think you can come to another believer's home where we can get two or three intercessors together?"
Simba nodded weakly, but the evil voice kept tormenting him as they made their way across town.
Nobody can help you, the dark voice growled. I'm stronger than Jesus. You're alone. Believe me!
Every time Simba's spirit answered, No, I won't! he felt physical pain, as though the demon were beating, stabbing, shaking him.
Mufar and a weeping, nauseated Simba reached the apartment of a younger believer, who soon left to fetch the pastor of their group. While he was gone, Simba suffered another demonic attack that left his limbs stiff. In a panic he implored Mufar, "Call an ambulance!"
Mufar dialed anxiously but did not know the building number. So he helped Simba downstairs, where they waited on the street to flag down the emergency vehicle.
Simba did not dare tell the medic about the voice, but the man seemed to discern the truth. After checking Simba's blood pressure and finding it normal, the medic ventured, "You know, I think this is not a medical problem but a spiritual problem."
Just after the ambulance left and the pair returned to the apartment, the host arrived with their pastor, whom Simba had met at the Christian fellowship. For some time the three believers prayed for him, stopping often to explain truth from the Word of God. The more they talked and prayed, the more Simba began to relax and feel at peace.
"Don't be afraid," the pastor told him. "Jesus will help you, and He's stronger than anything the devil might try to do to you."
Eventually conviction of this truth rose in Simba's heart. When he was ready, he prayed to repent of his sins and confess his newfound faith in Jesus as deliverer and Lord. Then he saw another vision, this time of white doves fluttering from the sky and into his heart. His body felt warm again, but now the heat brought a feeling of joy, almost exhilaration.
Close to two in the morning, Simba, Mufar and the pastor headed for home.
"If the devil tries to harass you again," the pastor advised Simba, "rebuke him in the name of Jesus."
Just after going to bed, Simba heard the dark voice whisper a few parting shots.
"No, I'm not alone," Simba called out quietly but firmly. "Be gone, in the name of Jesus."
He heard a sound like a door slamming shut, and then felt the room fill with peace and joy.
Simba, a new believer in Jesus Christ, slept well that night.