After a few months on "our" mission field, a post-communist, dead, atheistic region, my family and I were reeling from the shock. No, not culture-shock, though there was plenty of that. It was the shock of coming face to face with demonic forces beyond our comprehension.
Numerous strange events had transpired: liters of urine poured into our stroller, blood splattered on our apartment door, a small hole had been drilled into our front door indicating a planned break-in (the hole is used to insert a small probe camera), much sickness, poor sleep for us, and even sensing an evil presence in our room.
At first we thought we must be imagining things, but the horrid climax was the nightmares that tormented our two-year old son. For many months he’d wake up screaming bloody murder and we could not settle him back down easily. At two and a half, he was finally able to verbalize what he’d been dreaming about for the past few months. One of his most vivid dreams was about a woman with black hair and red eyes who wore only a bra and black pants and would offer him a basket of rotten fruit and force him to eat. His nightmare was x-rated, not a typical toddler-being-chased-by-a-bear dream.
Satan was not playing fair. Now the shock turned to anger. I scanned the recesses of my brain. What had seminary taught me about demonic activity? I couldn’t recall any class where we had discussed anything remotely similar to what we were experiencing nor was “Demonology 101” offered at Westminster seminary when I attended! But what seminary taught me was not to panic in the face of theological conundrums. The study of theology has a great way of putting things into their proper perspective. My seminary education gave me a reformed lens through which I was taught to see everything. God’s sovereignty became more precious and true to me as we wrestled through what was happening to us. We held fast to God’s promise that the earth belongs to God, and all that is in it. Satan and his power are real but God is sovereign over him and his minions. Satan is not allowed to play with us (though that is what it felt like at the time). He is only permitted to do what God has decreed and his doom is sure.
Because we were so overwhelmed with our situation, we called our teammates to come pray with us. While he was asleep in another room, we prayed at my son’s bedroom windows, that God would not allow any evil to enter into his room and that he would sleep peacefully. The next morning I asked him, “Did you have a nightmare last night?” His answer was flabbergasting: “Yes, but this time the woman was outside my window and she couldn’t come in.” Sometimes in reformed, highly rational circles, we fail to see when God is giving us a glimpse into the supernatural world. But this time, we saw it! God, in his sovereignty, was ministering to my little boy and comforting him in ways I could not. We were given a sneak peek into how He uses the prayers of his people to accomplish his will. How that comforted and ministered to our souls! Where the darkness is thickest, Christ’s light shines all the more brightly. One day all evil will be eradicated and His glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea!
Eowyn Jones Stoddard (MABS '97) has been serving with Mission to the World, in Berlin, Germany with her husband David (M.Div. '99) since 2001 where they have worked in church-planting and theological education. They have 5 children. Eowyn enjoys teaching the Bible, creative forms of evangelism, and writing. You can find a longer version of this story at the Gospel Coalition. Other Gospel Coalition articles by Eowyn include "When Women Lust", "The Introverted Mother", and "I Am the Silver Man". She blogs regularly at The Eowiggle.