You are sharing the Gospel with a couple in their home. Their hearts have been softened by your testimony and now it is time to ask them the central question of their spiritual lives. You take a deep breath and suddenly the phone rings. Or the baby wakes up screaming. Or the cat throws up on the carpet. The husband jumps up to answer the phone and the wife goes to calm the baby. The cat is momentarily ignored. Then the doorbell rings.
You are ready to tear your hair out in frustration. The couple were so close to committing their lives to the Lord. "Spiritual warfare!" you mutter darkly to yourself and you pray against the distractions.
Anyone active in sharing the Gospel knows that the enemy wants nothing more than to keep individuals bound to the kingdom of darkness individually. But are unreached people groups also bound corporately? Are certain places darker than others? What can we do to loosen the cords of darkness? Prayer Track director, Dr. Peter Wagner says that every Christian work is essentially a spiritual battle. "God is giving us new spiritual technology that has no precedent in Christian history." One such new technology is spiritual mapping.
GCOWE '95 delegate George Otis Jr., a plenary speaker and leader in the prayer track, coined the term "spiritual mapping" just six years ago to begin to describe his method of answering these questions. His book, Last Of The Giants, and his tape series, The Twilight Labyrinth, illustrate in often chilling detail just how specific the worldwide spiritual strongholds are.
His model is the Apostle Paul spiritually mapping Athens. Paul speaks with the local people, in this case Epicureans and Stoics, to find out their religious history. He reads their philosophy. He examines the inscriptions on their idols. The Bible says that Paul's spirit stirred within him when he saw the city totally given to idolatry.
Otis's theory is that when scattering from the Tower of Babel, each people group were confronted with a natural disaster. By this, Satan enticed them into a pact with a particular spirit being, usually represented by an idol. Through religious festivals and ceremonies, each generation renews their commitment to serve this diety.
In Spiritually Mapping an area of the world, a researcher visits the region, talks with the inhabitants, particularly the witches, pagan priests and mediums who act as keepers and perpetrators of the special relationship. He also studies the history to try to determine if there are strongholds such as national bitterness or lack of repentance for evil. He also determines God's purpose for the people, which always includes drawing people to Himself.
"A stronghold is neither a location nor a demon itself," says Otis, but rather the "invisible structure of thought and authority that are erected through the combined agency of demonic influence and human will. Strongholds will always repel light and export darkness. They are not demons, but the place from which demons operate. By identifying the stronghold, Christians can pray more effectively against the bondage." Otis has recorded dozens of cases where this method has resulted in significant spiritual breakthrough in a previously resistant area.
"Of all spiritual weapons, the most outstanding is prayer," says Dr. Wagner. "Whatever methods are used to share the Gospel, warfare prayer will make them work better. Prayer against known strongholds is strategic in order to have a church for every people and the Gospel for every person by the year 2000."
Otis has done field work in 50 nations, interviewed 1200 people and gathered 130 thousand pages of case studies. He will be making his information available at the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs, a new joint effort of several organizations. He is also publishing a field guide. Currently Otis's Seattle-based Sentinel Group is sending multinational teams to conduct spiritual mapping seminars.
Another new weapon is Identificational Repentance (see story on page 5). People groups may remain spiritually bound because of their hatred for, or lack of repentance toward, another group. Bitterness, anger and hatred are another stronghold which gives forces of evil a lease.
Marches for Jesus are yet another way of loosening the enemy grip on a certain area. Tom Pelton, the U.S. Director of the March, reports that last year 10 million people marched in 177 countries. This year, the March is scheduled to coincide with the return of GCOWE '95 delegates to their home nations. Pelton reports that last year in London, a church was doing door-to-door evangelism in a resistant area of England. Suddenly, they came to a street where the people were receptive. Many came to faith. What made this street different? Investigation showed that this street had been on the route of the March for Jesus.
Combining the concepts of identificational repentance and the March for Jesus, Reconciliation Walks are specific marches designed to spread repentance and love along the route of the Crusades. Planners believe this will be another strategic move on enemy-held territory in the 10/40 window and help to bring a church for every people and the Gospel for every person by the year 2000.
Meanwhile, Satan is seeking to increase his territory. A recent newspaper article carried the story of a small town in Japan which renewed its pact with the spirit world in an effort to revitalize. Prominent businessmen in China and Japan are often deeply involved with occult practices to increase their personal power and wealth. "It's spooky how pervasive it is," says Otis.
Many government leaders worldwide also employ mediums. Some are aware of the relationship to the occult world. Others are not but still think that an occult connection is somehow "neutral." Russian president Boris Yeltsin, for example, has developed a consultative relationship with a prominent female occultist from the Caucasus, even though he thinks of himself as a Russian Orthodox Christian. Russian ultra-nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has frequently consulted occult fortune tellers. He also appears to be familiar with the relationship of spiritual allegiances and political power.
Even Christians unfamiliar with international politics need to pray against occult influences when they lift up in intercession the nations of the world and their specific leaders.For more information on the World Prayer Center, contact George Otis Jr., The Sentinel Group, P.O. Box 6334, Lynnwood, WA 98036. For more information on Marches for Jesus, contact Erica Youngman, P. O. Box 39, Sunbury-n-Thames, Middlesex, TW16 6PP, England. For more information on the Reconciliation Walks planned for 1997- 1999, contact P.O. Box 61, Harpenden, Herts. AL5 4JJ England.