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The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan spacer The Vacuum - Issue 16 - Satan
Encounters with the Devil
by Ruth Graham
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Reverend Canon William Lendrum has carried out many exorcisms in his lifetime and is an expert on casting out evil spirits. He spoke to Ruth Graham about his battles with Satan.
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RG: I read that in the beginning you weren't convinced of the Devil's existence. What convinced you and how did you become an exorcist?
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WL: I was brought up with what you might call a scientific world view and it didn't come naturally to me to believe in a personal Devil or to believe in the existence of evil spirits. It wasn't part of my way of thinking. It was only after I was about twenty years ordained that I came to believe that there were things that existed outside my understanding and among them were evil spirits.
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Around about 1972, I became involved in what was known as the Charismatic Renewal. This was concerned with the Holy Spirit in the Christian's heart and life and through this I began to see God in a different way. Prayer became a time of joy and the Bible was like a new book for me. I found, as a lot of others have found, that the more real God becomes in your life, the more real the Devil becomes as well.
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Shortly after that, I met a young woman in the hospital where I was chaplain and we talked about how God could help with her problems. At first she responded fairly well and made a definite commitment to Jesus. Then things went wrong and I found out that before her conversion, she had been initiated into a satanic cult. The person who lived with her sent me for one day. She was very argumentative and truculent and when I tried to calm her down, I noticed something strange. I began to realise what was happening, she was talking about herself but it was all in the third person. Something else inside her was talking about her to me. 'You can't get rid of me. .. She belongs to me ... I have been with her for years'. All that kind of talk. It was my first experience of being addressed by a demonic spirit through someone else's lips.
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I exercised the authority that I believe that Jesus has given to his church and commanded the spirit to leave. At first it refused to leave- it defied me - it mocked me - then suddenly a tremendous yell came out of her lips and she fell to the ground. I took it from that that the spirit had departed.
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Everything was alright for a while and then things started to go wrong again. I had another exorcism session but this time I brought a doctor and his wife with me. We commanded the spirit to leave but she turned her back on us and walked into a corner whispering 'They're trying to take me away from you but I love you and I'm not going to leave.' She was obviously praying to something other than the Lord, something evil. It was not possible to help her because she did not want to be helped.
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RG: It's interesting that you had a doctor with you because I was wondering how you decide whether a person is mentally disturbed in some way or possessed by an evil spirit.
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WL: Well she showed no signs at all of mental disturbance. She was quite a rational girl most of the time. Naturally one begins to suspect that there is something mentally wrong but it wasn't like that at all. She was a girl who was dominated by evil and its associated manifestations : alcoholism, drugs, prostitution, stealing and a general inclination towards everything that is wrong.
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RG: Is there any type of character, in your opinion, that is more susceptible to coming under the influence of the Devil? Does it have anything to do with strength or weakness of will?
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WL: I don't know if it's a matter of weakness or strength. If you open yourself to him he will take over and once that happens he is very hard to get rid of. The girl I was talking about was initiated into a satanic cult and went through the whole process of bloodletting and sex orgies - they use all sorts of methods to hold you in and that's why it's so difficult to have a successful exorcism.
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RG: Is it harder to exorcise an individual rather than a place?
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WL: Oh yes. I have not been involved all that often in exorcising an individual. I have no great desire to do it either because it is a very unpleasant business. If somebody was brought to me who needed to be exorcised, provided that the person was willing, I would do all I could to help but I wouldn't exorcise a person against his will. God has given us a free will and we can decide whether we are going to live for the Lord or for Satan but once you get into Satan's camp you find it very hard to get out.
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RG: Do you think that certain societies can come under the influence of the Devil?
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WL: I think it's a possibility. The war in Iraq, for example, it may well be that those in positions of Government have taken the wrong course through the influence of evil and now we are in this horrible mess.
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RG: Yes, even the language used during the war was almost biblical ; ' Axis of Evil' and 'War on Terror'.
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WL: That's right, but it's easy to be wise after the event. I think it is possible for societies or communities to be under the influence of the Devil. They may know it or they may not know it.
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RG: Is there any difference between the churches in their approach to the Devil and exorcism?
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WL: There is no official policy on how to deal with people who have come under the domination of evil. Neither church has an official policy on how to deal with it but all the main churches acknowledge the existence of the Devil.
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RG: Have you ever seen an evil spirit?
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WL: Me? No. I've never been molested by spirits of any kind.
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RG: Do you think that is because you have God there to fill all the gaps?
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WL: As I see it, the Lord has given authority to his church to do this work and as I believe he has supreme authority, I exercise his authority and all I can say is in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, there is a good result.
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RG: Is there a set method for doing exorcisms?
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WL: There's a set way as far as I'm concerned. I'm an Anglican and we tend to put greater emphasis on the Eucharist or the Holy Communion. When we celebrate the Holy Communion we are proclaiming the victory of Jesus at the Cross in which he overcame everything that the enemy threw against him. By the enemy, I mean Satan and his servants. I speak to the spirits and command them to leave and they have to go. I believe they have to go simply because I have the authority to command it of them. It's not me - I have no special powers.
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When an ordinary person puts on a policeman's uniform then everything changes. He puts on his hat, his suit and his white gloves and can stop traffic with a wave of his hand. He has authority- not because he is anything special but because he has been handed that authority.
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I do not feel fear because I have the protection of the Lord. I've got his angels and all that I need so why be frightened? And yet if somebody broke into my house, I wouldn't be so brave - particularly if I had just got out of bed and was in my bare feet.
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RG: Can the Devil inflict physical as well as psychological harm?
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WL: Undoubtedly he can do physical harm - there's no question about that. You've only to look in the Bible. He can make people ill, He can destroy their livelihoods and he can make life miserable. Of course he can also do psychological harm as well by creating mental illness. There are a lot of people in Purdysburn who wouldn't be there but for Satan.
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RG: Can you give any examples of damage Satan has done to our society as a whole?
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WL: We could start with the situation in Northern Ireland. I'm absolutely convinced that Satan has been very much involved in that. Take that girl I was talking about earlier on, who was initiated into a satanic cult. During the exorcism we asked her what organisation she had been initiated into and she wouldn't tell us but we managed to squeeze it out of her. It was the Ulster Assassination Squad. Whether she was involved in assassinations or not, I do not know.
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RG: Have you had any other experiences of satanic cults in Northern Ireland?
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WL: No I haven't because they are completely secret. They have considerable power of course because Satan gives it to them. He gives them things that they can only enjoy when they are under his influence. These things give them happiness for the moment but ultimately bring misery.
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RG: What are poltergeists? I know what they do but would they be classed as evil spirits?
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WL: There is an organisation called the Society for Psychical Research who have studied these things scientifically and have a theory about poltergeists. They don't regard poltergeists as 'spirits' and talk about poltergeists as 'activity'. Poltergeist activity has several characteristics: disruption in the form of noise - banging of walls or doors - electricity : leaving on lights, buzzers going off, front doorbells ringing or objects moving around. The question is - what causes this if it is not a spirit? The theory put forward by the Psychical Society is that the objects are moved by psycho-kinesis, which is basically mental energy, usually from someone who is living in the house. That someone is often a disturbed young person: a person who's going through a period of tension or anxiety and this is what supplies the energy that is required to do all these things.
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I had an interesting case in Randalstown. The lady of the house had been out for about twenty minutes taking her daughter to school. When she returned she found that the girl's bed had been taken out of the bedroom and moved to the landing. All the bedclothes were folded and tucked in and the little girl's toys were arranged neatly on top of the bed. I didn't see it happening but I saw the bed on the landing.
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There is a story in my book about poltergeist activity in an old people's home. They would go into a room and everything would be tossed around ; drawers would be emptied, all sorts of strange things. The buzzers would go off in the night and when the nurses came to see what was wrong they would find the patients fast asleep. They also saw a strange black figure which suggested that there was more than poltergeist activity going on. This figure confounded us and the staff were getting distraught so I went back and although I wasn't sure if it would work, I did an exorcism on the place. It was successful and things went back to normal.
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RG: What is the demand like for your kind of work?
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WL: I'm officially retired now but this keeps me rather busy.
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