Monday, December 28, 2009

Psalm 23:4 and Mark 5:2-3, 9 My Name Is Legion

Scripture: Psalm 23:4 and Mark 5:2-3, 9 My Name Is Legion

Psalm 23:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Mark 5:2-3, 9
And when he had come out of the boat, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who lived among the tombs; and no one could bind him any more, even with a chain;
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion; for we are many."

News headline - January 16, 2008
A SURVIVOR of a suicide attack on Australia's Embassy in Afghanistan yesterday told of huddling with others in a gym change room as Taliban terrorists roamed the building hunting Westerners.

AS I read the above news headline I am sure I speak for everyone reading this that we can all thank God for our lives and the relative harmony that surrounds us.
This news headline reminded me of an interview I saw.
This incredible true story occurred over a decade ago. The text below has been taken from a review and the book.

The story - Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza - has inspired thousands.
No one can doubt that Immaculée has encountered evil in its most terrifying form and lived to tell about it.

In this graphic case of faith under fire, Immaculée found herself in a give-and-take dialogue with God throughout the genocide, particularly as she discovered the truth about its extent.
Upon finishing the book the common response is you are left with a single question: “Where in my life do I need to forgive people?”

The following is an excerpt from her book as it relates to the above scripture verses.


When we awoke the next day, we took turns stretching our aching muscles. Moving even an inch was a major production because we couldn't talk to one another. We quickly worked out forms of sign language that would become our silent shorthand for the remainder of our stay in the bathroom. We spent three months inside this bathroom. I grimaced at the pain in my cramped legs, thinking I'd have quite a tale of hardship to tell after the war.

It was my turn to stretch when a commotion erupted outside. There were dozens, maybe hundreds, of voices, some yelling, others chanting. We knew immediately that the killers had arrived. "Let us hunt them in the forests, lakes, and hills; let us find them in the church; let us wipe them from the face of the earth!"

I stood on my tiptoes and peeked out the window through a little hole in the curtain. The other ladies grabbed at me, trying to pull me down. Athanasia shook her head wildly, silently mouthing, "Get down! They're looking for us! Get down before they see you!"

I ignored them, knocking their hands away and peering through the hole. I immediately regretted my decision because I was petrified by what I saw.

Hundreds of people surrounded the house, many of whom were dressed like devils, wearing skirts of tree bark and shirts of dried banana leaves, and some even had goat horns strapped to their heads. Despite their demonic costumes, their faces were easily recognizable, and there was murder in their eyes. They whooped and hollered. They jumped about, waving spears, machetes, and knives in the air. They chanted a killing song of genocide while doing a dance of death: "Kill them, kill them, kill them all; kill them big and kill them small! Kill the old and kill the young. . .a baby snake is still a snake, kill it, too, let none escape! Kill them, kill them, kill them all!"

It wasn't the soldiers who were chanting, nor was it the trained militiamen who had been tormenting us for days.
No, these were my neighbours, people I'd grown up and gone to school with--some had even been to our house for dinner.

I recognized dozens of Mataba's most prominent citizens in the mob, all of whom were in a killing frenzy, ranting and screaming for Tutsi blood. The killers leading the group pushed their way into the pastor's house, and suddenly the chanting was coming from all directions. "Find them, find them, kill them all!"

My head was spinning. I fell backward onto the ladies. I couldn't breathe. "Dear God, save us. . ." I whispered, but couldn't remember the words to any of my prayers.

A wave of despair washed over me, and I was overwhelmed by fear.

That's when the devil first whispered in my ear.
Why are you calling on God? Look at all of them out there. . .hundreds of them looking for you. They are legion, and you are one. You can't possibly survive-- you won't survive. They're inside the house and they're moving through the rooms. They're close, almost here. . .they're going to find you, rape you, cut you, kill you!

My heart was pounding. What was this voice? I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as I could to resist the negative thoughts.
I grasped the red and white rosary my father had given me, and silently prayed with all my might:
God, in the Bible You said that You can do anything for anybody. Well, I am one of those anybodies, and I need You to do something for me now. Please, God, blind the killers' eyes when they reach the pastor's bedroom--don't let them find that bathroom door, and don't let them see us! You saved Daniel in the lions' den, God. You stopped the lions from ripping him apart. . .stop these killers from ripping us apart, God! Save us, like you saved Daniel!

The rosary beads helped me concentrate on the Gospel and kept the words of God alive in my mind.
Even as my body shrivelled, my soul was nourished through my deepening relationship with God.

I prayed more intensely than I ever prayed before, but still the negative energy wracked my spirit. The voice of doubt was in my ear again as surely as if Satan himself were sitting on my shoulder. I literally felt the fear pumping through my veins, and my blood was on fire.
You're going to die, Immaculee! the voice taunted. You compare yourself to Daniel? How conceited you are. . .Daniel was pure of heart and loved by God--he was a prophet, a saint! What are you? You are nothing. . .you deserve suffering and pain. . .you deserve to die!

I clutched my rosary as though it were a lifeline to God. In my mind and heart I cried out to Him for help:
Yes, I am nothing, but You are forgiving. I am human and I am weak, but please, God, give me your forgiveness. Forgive my trespasses. . .and please send these killers away before they find us!

My temples pounded. The dark voice was in my head, filling it with fearful, unspeakable images.
Dead bodies are everywhere. Mothers have seen their babies chopped in half, their fetuses ripped from their wombs. . .and you think you should be spared? Mothers prayed for God to spare their babies and He ignored them--why should He save you when innocent babies are being murdered? You are selfish, and you have no shame. Listen, Immaculee. . .do you hear them? The killers are outside your door--they're here for you.

My head was burning, but I did hear the killers in the hall, screaming, "Kill them! Kill them all!"
No! God is love, I told the voice. He loves me and wouldn't fill me with fear. He will not let me die cowering on a bathroom floor. He will not let me die in shame!

Whenever I found herself overwhelmed with thoughts of hate and revenge, I reflected anew upon Jesus’ sufferings.
If Jesus was dying for everybody, he was dying for even the killers. As the killers continued to stalk her and her friends, she latched on to the recorded words of Jesus before his death on the cross: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

I struggled to form an image of God in my mind, envisioning two pillars of brilliant white light burning brightly in front of me, like two giant legs. I wrapped my arms around the legs, like a frightened child clinging to its mother. I begged God to fill me with His light and strength, to cast out the dark energy from my heart: I'm holding on to your legs, God, and I do not doubt that You can save me. I will not let go of You until You have sent the killers away.

The struggle between and prayers and the evil whispers that I was sure belonged to the devil raged in my mind. I never stopped praying. . .and the whispering never relented.

In the evening, the pastor opened the door and found us all in a sort of trance. . . . The pastor called our names, but not one of us heard him. Finally, he shook us to awaken us from our stupor. I looked up at him, blinking, confused, and completely taken aback when he began laughing at us. "What are you ladies doing? For heaven's sake relax. The killers left seven hours ago.

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