In a culture where it is acceptable to watch movies about demon-possessions, witch hunts, and journeys into hell as entertainment, many times the reality of the spiritual world fades.
Pastor Joseph Thompson, founder of Light the Nation and associate pastor of the 11,000-membered New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., addresses the issue of the reality of spiritual warfare and discusses how the individual and church can overcome the battle and empower their church and nations.
Pastor Thompson helped form Light the Nations in Lagos, Nigeria in 1986 after experiencing first-hand the occult while he was a young adult and prior to becoming a Christian. His personal experience has led him to travel around the world to speak about leadership development, organizational movements, and networking with a focus on helping Christians escape from destructive habits that can lead to satanic bondage.
In his book, Im a Christian, So How Can I Have Demons? Pastor Joseph answers questions about Christianity, demons, and deliverance using biblical theology, his personal experience, and 16 years of studying the occult to guide Christians to a clearer understanding of the spiritual world.
The following are excerpt from a Sept. 21 interview Pastor Joseph had with the Christian Post:
I read that Light the Nations was formed in Nigeria. Can you tell us more about the history of the ministry? What inspired the formation of Light the Nation and how has it evolved over the years?
Nigeria, our nation, would have been destroyed under the throes of anarchy and genocide, but because there is a powerful praying church in Nigeria, what that has done is create a revival which has never been seen before in the history of the church, not even in the days of the apostles. Millions of people are gathering in Nigeria, at one time and in one place, worshipping God, which is an amazing feat. Certainly, the church has the greatest influence in the state right now. So we are passionate about it, we see that it is a battle to be won, one of a spiritual nature. We see ourselves as the body of Christ, as the front line army in a war against the wiles of the enemies. That is why our focus is also concentrated on deliverance and spiritual warfare.
We see ourselves as a sort of spiritual boot camp. In other words, we go around and do many conferences and seminars and I teach in churches as well as on deliverance and spiritual warfare. I have a team that travels with me and we help people realize and actualize their position of authority in Christ so they can walk with a greater sense of power and authority in defeating the wiles of the devil. For the Bible says, resist the devil and he will flee from you. But we find also that the Christians are the ones fleeing because they think that if they leave the devil and deliverance alone he will leave them alone.
Also deliverance sadly has the undeserved tag for being a ministry for weirdoes, maybe because there are many people who practice deliverance who has gone off on a tangent. But I say that if you keep the main thing the main thing always scripturally base and scripturally focus then people can hardly point finger at you and criticize you.
I have been doing deliverance for 20 some odd years and have yet to find a false accusation or someone suing us. We dont even have disclaimer forms that we have people sign before we do ministry. Because I just somehow find it hard to reconcile that picture in my mind of Jesus walking through the wilderness with a briefcase full of disclaimer forms. I understand when people say that Jesus time is different than ours, but his power and authority isnt. He said the same things he has done, we will do; so I think that if you keep the main thing the main thing, then you dont have to worry about those issues. And that has been our testimony up to now.
Can you explain more about your roles in the ministry and what topics you speak about at speaking engagements and conferences?
We have a number of facets in our ministry. I do a lot of leadership training and development, primarily in the ministry of spiritual warfare and understanding how to build leadership teams that will do ministry. All of those things have been at the forefront in our ministry the last few years. We try to keep our focus singular, on the things we been called to do, to be a full service ministry.
[On the topic of] leadership development and networking. So we take a lot of pastors and Christians from here go to Nigeria so they can experience what God is doing in Nigeria first-hand. We wrote a book Peter Wagner and I called Out of Africa. The book has 11 contributing authors that are all Nigerian pastors of the largest churches in the world. We have significant Nigerian leaders in the body of Christ globally who are creating a powerful impact, so we are doing a lot of networking in that context.
Like I said, we do a lot of leadership development and networking. We do a lot of seminars and training of deliverance teams in local churches and conferences. We tried to focus on only that aspect of ministry until recently we felt a very strong call to build what we consider to be a large multi-racial, multi-generational congregation [Church at the Well] in the Orlando, Fla., area. We are in the process of making that relocation that will happen right after the Light the Nation conference.
The Light the Nation Conference is next month. How is this conference different than your other speaking engagements? And are there any unique features about it?
This conference is a little different because I am hosting the conference and I am not just speaking at this conference. And at this conference all the speakers are Nigerian, pastors of the largest churches in the world. Notice our ministry is called Light the Nations. [This is] because our ministry is called to impact the nations. But this conference in particular is called to impact America. That is why it is called Light the Nation.
The focus is on the move of God that is happening, really a ubiquitous move because it is not just in Nigeria but around the globe. Some of the largest churches around the world are pastored by Nigerians. In Jamaica, Italy, Ghana, England, the Ukraine, the largest churches are all pastured by Nigerians. So with that in mind and with the unprecedented nature of this move, we feel like it is the greatest essence that we expose the United States of America to this movement.
You may ask why and I will tell you why. One: America is my adopted home and I am Nigerian by birth. But God doesnt make mistakes and he brought my wife and myself to America, almost 15 years ago for a very clear purpose. So America is our adopted homeland, we believe America is the greatest nation on earth, in every sense of the word, say spiritually. With the move of God that is happening in Nigeria today, we believe that if we network both these nations, these two incredibly powerful nations one spiritually, one economically, socially and politically; we believe if we can harness the strength of these nations together, we will create a powerhouse of God that will impact the world.
I think our audience will be interested in hearing what you think about the box-office hit Exorcism of Emily Rose, which opened in theatres on Sept. 9.
I will tell you this, I am a deliverance guy, so there are times I go to the movies to watch some of these deeply dark spiritual movie, such as there was one that came out a few years ago called Stigmata. I went to see that, I tend to do that, but I dont encourage people to go to see it as a general rule, because they are deeply demonic. But one of the reasons I go is that I am interested in how the secular world interprets spiritual truths. So I go to see it but I prepare myself spiritually before I go.
But this one [Exorcism of Emily Rose] I wouldnt go. I just felt deeply persuaded by the holy spirit to not to go.
I havent seen the movie, but from the trailer and what I heard, that this is a truly dark demonic movie. Whether the movie maker is giving full credence that these things are real and they do happen in todays world . And I know that it is supposed to relay a true story, but whether they think it is a movie story, or whether they realize it is happening more rampantly, more frequently than they understand and that more people are expose to demonic influence than they know .
I dont know. But I wouldnt be surprised if the cultural response is just another scary movie. But that is exactly how the devil works, through deception, making people think it is just another scary movie. The truth is that I think you expose yourself to a tremendous spiritual influx that is not necessarily healthy or positive, when you expose yourself to these movies.
You said you have been involved in the occult, can you please elaborate on this experience?
I have a book called, I Am a Christian, So How Can I Have Demons? and I talk a little about my story in there. But yes, I was involved in an organization back in Nigeria when I was in the university in the late 70s and early 80s . We ended up making blood pacts with the devil, through the shedding of our blood. I mean it was eerie similarity to scripture. It was inadvertent in that I didnt realize that I was pretty much signing a contract with the devil. But it exposed me to a lot of demonic stuff. I went through a lot of different things that I highlight in the book. I even talked about my experience where I went to see a native doctor and he chanted some incantations using candles. He had me standing in my underwear in the middle of a star he had drawn out of chalk, and all the points of the stars have incantations and a bucket of water he had chanted over and dripped candle wax into. Each point of the star had a candle lit that had different connotations. Yeah, I got involved in a lot of stuff before I became a Christian.
I went through a major deliverance myself.
The Light the Nation Conference will take place on Oct. 27-29 at New Life Church to focus on the movement of God that is occurring as well as expose participants to the reality of the spiritual world.