Ad Clerum on the Reality of Evil

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.(1 Peter 5:8)

Linda grew up in the Chicago suburbs and after high school attended Cornell University in the late 1960s, majoring in Far Eastern Studies. After graduation, she headed east, spending time in Egypt, where she had a relationship that resulted in an unexpected pregnancy. She continued her journey eastward and eventually found herself in what appeared to be an isolated hippie commune on the west coast of India. What Linda didn’t realize at first was that it was a community that worshipped Satan and even practiced human sacrifice. Having made this discovery, Linda began to plan her exit, but before she could do so she was approached by two of the elders of the community – whose intentions were clear. She, and her unborn baby, were to be their next sacrificial victims. Terrified, but having nowhere to hide and no-one to help her, she went back to childhood memories of being taught that she could always call on the name of Jesus. She had put aside her Christian faith in college, but in absolute desperation she began to call on the name of Jesus, begging for his protection. To her amazement, the men stopped and inexplicably turned away – it seemed that for the moment she was safe.

With no time to lose, she escaped and headed north for Nepal. Once she arrived in Kathmandu – the capital city –she found a Dilaram House. The house was part of a friendship evangelism ministry of Youth With A Mission (YWAM) – established with special concern for seekers from the west – people like Linda. They welcomed her and gave her a safe place to stay. As she shared her story, and especially her miraculous deliverance, they gently explained that Jesus was real and more powerful than any evil adversary that she might encounter. She was grateful for their encouragement and teaching and made her own personal commitment to Jesus as her Savior and Lord.

Around Christmas time she gave birth to a baby girl and the Dilaram House leaders encouraged her to contact her family with the news. She was unsuccessful at first but then realized that she really did want to go home, so they helped get her a ticket to the US. She landed at Kennedy Airport in New York with still no contact with her parents. Her only contact was Judith, a friend from college who had reached out to her. Judith had lived with us for a time in Darien, Connecticut, and had given Linda our contact information. Linda called and explained her dilemma, and Angela said she was most welcome at our home for as long as needed.

I met Linda at the Connecticut Limousine stop in Darien and paid for her ride, and then we headed home. She was still dressed in Nepalese clothes, with her baby in a pouch, and they were both hungry and exhausted, having been traveling non-stop since Kathmandu. By the next day, mother and baby had begun to revive, and I asked if I might call her family with the news of her return. She agreed, but when I spoke to her father, though he was appreciative of my call, he was less than thrilled with the news. I promised to stay in touch.

After a couple of weeks, he told me that they were most grateful for us caring for Linda and the baby and that they had now purchased a crib and were ready for their daughter to come home. While we were sad to see her leave, we were grateful for the beginning of a reconciliation with her family. Over the years we stayed in touch, and Linda told us that one of the hardest aspects of her return was finding a church home. She was grieved that so few people recognized evil as a reality and that our only protection was in the name and power of Jesus. When she shared her testimony, people told her that she was exaggerating, but she knew that Jesus had saved her from a brutal death. For Linda, the Christian faith was not an optional extra –it was quite simply a matter of life or death. But that was simply too much for the suburban world to which she had returned.

What about you? What do you believe about the reality of evil? For Jesus there was never any question about its existence – it was his daily battle that eventually took him to the Cross. But even though Jesus won the victory over sin and death, he knew that his followers would still need to be delivered from evil and taught us to pray for that. If we ever need to be reminded of the reality and power of evil, we have only to look around and see the horrors that confront men and women – and especially children – on a daily basis. The sickening, regular reports of the abuse of women and children in places like Nigeria and much closer to home are also a constant reminder of the reality of evil.

One man who witnessed first-hand the work of the evil one was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), a Russian novelist, philosopher, and political prisoner. His brutal imprisonment in the Gulag concentration camp system brought him face to face with evil on a daily basis. It also brought him back to the Christian faith of his childhood. He warns us about our inclination to either ignore evil or consider it to be someone else’s problem.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? (The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956)

Evil is real – both in the world around us and in our own hearts – but we are not powerless before it, nor do we need to be fearful. As Linda and millions of others have discovered, there is power in the name of Jesus.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.(Philippians 2:9-11)

Your brother in Christ,