Amy Carmichael and demon possession

f b meyer, revival, forgiveness, prayer

While it is often overlooked, Amy Carmichael more than once faced ‘evil spirits’ and demon-possession in her ministry.  The first of these occurred in Japan in her first year and is noted in chapter 5 of “From Sunrise Land.” (This previously out-of-print book is now available in kindle and paperback).

amy carmichael, evil spirits, Japan, sunrise land

Friday night, July 14, 1893 —May the Spirit of Truth now hold my pen, as I try to tell you of yesterday’s life. A week might have been compressed into those twelve hours, one seems to have lived through so much.

Early in the morning we heard that quite close to us an old man was possessed by “the fox-spirit.” Demoniacal possession is much the same here as in Palestine, of old. I had heard about it, but barely believed in it. We listened now while they talked.

It was the old story retold. “Wheresoever it taketh him, it teareth him; and he foameth and gnasheth with his teeth and pineth away.”

And as we listened wonderingly, suddenly flashed the question, “Why could not we cast him out?”

Almost stunned with the thought, I went straight to my room, and asked Him. And the answer came, “Because of your unbelief.” Of the next few hours I cannot write.

Then I went to T. San our interpreter, and asked her, did she believe our Lord Jesus was willing to cast the devil out of that man. She was rather startled, but after praying over it, she too believed.

Our first impulse was to go at once, but “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” caused us to wait; in the meantime we sent a message to the people, asking might we go to see him, and they replied we might, but that he was very wild, “had six foxes,” and was tied up.

Then we waited, T. San and I, each alone, before the Lord. I cannot tell you much of these solemn hours, but just this much seems to His glory. Even physical strength and mental power left me, it was in literal utter nothingness we went forth in His Name. What was done, was all of God.

We went, and were taken upstairs. I had been prepared for much, but for nothing so awful as this. Stretched upon the floor, fastened crosswise upon two beams, bound and strapped hand and foot, his body covered with burns and wounds —it was terrible. . . . But nothing to what followed. At the name of Christ a fearful paroxysm came on. It seemed as though the powers of hell were let loose. Blasphemies which even I could recognise as such, were poured forth. A voice not his own spoke, and then his voice, dry and cracked, seemed to echo the other. He struggled to get at us, but they held him down, and covered his face. We knelt and prayed, but it seemed as though the devil were mocking us. He grew more violent every moment; it was worse than useless to wait. Can you think how I felt then? His Name dishonoured among the heathen, and I had done it. Far, far better never to have come! This was the fiery dart which was hurled against me. And yet, surely He had sent us, surely it was no self-movement. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” In the lull which those words brought, I could hear it again. “All power is given unto Me,” it said. “These signs shall follow them that believe: in My Name shall they east out devils. Fear thou not, FOR I AM WITH THEE!”

As the poor wife followed us to the door, with no thought of reproach for what must have seemed to her a cruel intrusion, I could tell her through T. San, what had just been told me, our God would conquer. When the evil spirit was cast out, we asked her to let us know, until then we would pray at home. And yet, I’m afraid my faith was very weak, for I was almost broken down, and when dear Sarah met us with loving sympathy, and told us she too was praying, it was very comforting.

One hour afterwards the Answer came, The “foxes” had gone, the cords were off, and he was lying, weak indeed, but himself again. At night they sent once more. He was sleeping, very prostrate after all the excitement, but well. We re­membered then, how when our Lord cast the “foul spirit ” out of the child, he was as one dead, but Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose. So we asked Him to do it for him.

This morning he asked to see us. I should not have known the man. Only the scars on the “sore vexed” body told of what had been. One could hardly speak for very gladness: it was such a transformation.

He sent for flowers, a lovely spray of scarlet pomegranate blossom, and offered it gracefully to me. Then iced water was brought, the first we had tasted this season, sugared, and served with chopsticks instead of teaspoons. Joy and peace reigned in the selfsame room, the fury had raged in, yesterday.

We talked to him, and his gentle wife, and prayed with them ere we left them. They knelt and joined with “Hai! Hai!” Yes, yes! when T, San asked for a saved soul, from Him who had saved the body. Clothed and in his right mind, worshipping the God he had reviled. How glorious it was!

As we came away, a priest passed, and looked at us with no friendly eye. Among them is a sect called “Fox Exorcists.” The spirits of evil are supposed to take the form of foxes, one or more take possession of the victim, henceforth he lives a dual or a complex life. There are various medical explanations, which I don’t understand. It is mysterious enough to be considered fabulous by those who do not know how true it is. Certainly we are in a land where the Prince of Darkness has power. The dreaded Fox Spirit is worshipped, shrines are dedicated to him. Little stone foxes are often set side by side with the Buddhas by the wayside. The strangest tales are told and believed, many of course superstitious, but many based on fact. Fox Spirits have been known to lead their prey into deep mountain pools, and there leave them to drown. This poor man, out of whom our God cast six, according to their count, was bent upon destroying himself. “Ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water,” it sounds very much like that.

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