Bangka is an island off the coast of South Sumatra. If you look at the above map of Indonesia, you will see a long island on the left edge of the map in white pointing northwest and southeast. That is Sumatra. Just to the right of the southern half of Sumatra you will see two smaller islands in green. The larger of the two islands is Bangka.
The beautiful coastline of Bangka
The Musl__ms are trying to institute Sharia law on Bangka, just as they are trying to do in all of Indonesia—the fourth largest in the world in terms of population just after China, India, and the United States. Because of this increasing pressure on the churches from the Musl__ms, the churches are now beginning to come together in unity. At the training in the town of Sungai Liat a number of pastors and full-time servants of God came together to be trained. They realized that without the miraculous they could be helpless to withstand the coming onslaught from the Musl__ms.
The island of Bangka traditionally has been a stronghold of Chinese ancestor worship. But in recent years impressive numbers of Chinese have been coming to Jesus Christ, especially through the ministry of Bethel Church of Indonesia and other like-minded churches.
The healing demonstration at the end of the first morning equipping session in the town of Pangkal Pinang was relatively difficult. Although one elderly woman testified that her eyesight, dimmed by a cataract, was restored, the others ministered to only experienced partial healing. Perhaps the heavy incidence of Chinese New Year activities on Bangka could have been an explanation. The population of Bangka is about 30% Chinese, a relatively high percentage for Indonesia. Chinese New Year is heavily accented by idolatrous practices; worship of this kind could release demonic power and thus spiritual resistance to what we were doing.
However, the healing service later that evening was remarkable. Even though the believers had only two hours of training in the morning, the Lord used them very powerfully. There were many testimonies of healings. Rarely have we seen believers so excited as when the people came forward to testify of what the Lord had done for them. They had been very hungry for what they just witnessed that evening—manifestations of great power from the God they love and serve. They had been set free from the terrible bondage of idolatry and ancestor worship and were very zealous for Him.
Miracles of healing in the town of Pangkal Pinang
The Lord healed many as the trained believers ministered, and ten people accepted Christ as Lord and Savior after they heard the gospel and witnessed the miracles. They were mostly Chinese idol-worshippers. The manifestation of the Lord’s healing power was unusual.
The evangelistic healing service the following evening in the nearby town of Sungai Liat was even more powerful than the one in Pangkal Pinang. The Lord manifested His healing power before all the people as the servants of God ministered through mass healing and then through the individual laying on of hands. Again, it was unusually powerful compared to what we usually see. What comes to our mind is that the Lord is preparing His Church in Indonesia for probable persecution from the Musl__ms in future days. The greater the persecution, the greater the power of the Church.
Some people suffering from crippling infirmities (stroke, severe motorcycle accident) were touched by the Lord during the mass healing. They stood up and walked as they could not do before. There was vast improvement in their condition. A paraplegic man was able to take steps when lifted up from his wheelchair on both sides after coming to both meetings. A spinal cord injury had left his legs immobile.
Evangelistic Healing Service in the town of Sungai Liat
Above & below: trained believers heal the sick in Jesus’ name
People on the platform testifying of their healing through Jesus’ name
The trained servants of God are excited and encouraged at what they have seen the Lord do through them after the training. Before they had things a bit backwards—they would directly rebuke entities in the heavenly realms while asking God to heal people on earth of infirmities and demonic oppression. On the contrary, Scripture clearly teaches that we are to heal the sick and cast out demons in Jesus’ name on earth when we proclaim the kingdom of God to the lost. If we are concerned about powers and principalities and territorial spirits above and the like, we should ask God to take care of such things in prayer. The “spiritual warfare” taking place in Daniel 10 was not a result of Daniel directly rebuking the “prince of Persia.” Rather as Daniel fasted and prayed to God, Michael and the other angel were engaging him. Moveover, it is not explicitly recorded in Scripture that Jesus or his disciples ever directly rebuked a power or principality in the heavenlies. They did however, directly rebuke and drive plenty of demons out of people down on earth. The servants of God equipped in Bangka now understand the scriptural order of things.
When we engage in the kind of “spiritual warfare” that is taught in some quarters today, we run the risk of going beyond what is written. For although “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” it does not mean that we are called to fight them directly. Such direct combat is not our role to fight in the war, but perhaps that of the angelic hosts in the heavenlies. Our role in the war is to pray, to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to make disciples on earth. Scripture does not contain any reference to a believer engaging in direct confrontation (not involving prayer alone) with heavenly beings. If anything, this is a very specialized area for those who are specifically called to it and properly equipped for it.
For example, in the war in Irag, not all the soldiers there are involved in direct combat with the insurgents—many are in “support roles.” To take another example, in any war, each branch of the armed forces has its own unique role. The air force fights in the air, the army does not. Although the body of Christ on earth is certainly involved in the war against the enemy, it is not called to go up into the heavenlies and to engage the enemy; we are “ground troops.” Our role regarding the venue in the heavenlies is instead prayer to God, asking God to take care of the enemy in that realm if indeed we are so led by the Holy Spirit.
When we engage in “spiritual warfare,” there is no way of knowing what kind of effect or non-effect we are having. But when we preach the gospel and heal the sick, we actually see souls coming to Christ, even from gospel-resistant people groups. That is what the Church is called to do.