Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Rational faith and Claudia

Claudia Lucia de Souza Fernandes is from Rio de Janeiro, and came across my contact information at the beginning of 2015.  She wrote asking for advice a few times, and I hadn’t heard from her since then, until just this past week, when she surprised me with an amazing testimony of change.  She’s been practicing all the principles I’d taught her on her own, and I want to share her experience for various reasons.  One is that there are many possessed believers in churches all over the world who are in need of help and not condemnation.  Another is that the principles of God work no matter who you are, where you’re from or what kind of past you come from.  And thirdly, those who approach those principles in a rational way by simply practicing them, even when they don’t feel like it, are those who find miraculous blessings.  I am so happy for Claudia because she didn’t depend on me or any other person to do what she needed to get free, but simply did as God led her through our correspondence. Read the first section of our email exchanges, and each day I’ll post more.  See if you can identify with her feelings, her mistakes, and the instructions she receives from me as well:  

>>1 February 2015 22:20<<


I’m 40 years old, and I can honestly say that they’ve been 40 years of shame, humiliation and suffering. I’ve been a Christian for 12 years. 8 years in another denomination and now I’ve been in Universal (SiLC) for 2, but even now I don’t know this God who transforms lives because mine has changed very little, if at all… I’m no longer living in sin, no longer a hypocrite, I’ve sealed up all the gaps, I’m a tither, take part in challenges, but haven’t yet seen any answers. I’ve participated in 3 Israel Challenges, I’m currently in the Fast of Daniel, but because of all that I’ve been suffering I’m beginning to think that my sacrifices are in vain. I attend the meetings on Friday for deliverance, Sunday for the Holy Spirit, and Monday for my finances.

I need a sign. Something from God. Bishop, help me discover what I might be missing to find God’s favor.

>>1 February 2015 23:02<<

Hi Claudia,
Can you tell me more about your life?
What’s going wrong?
What changes do you want to see that you’re not seeing?
What negative thoughts go through your mind?

>>3 February 2015 19:18<<

Bishop, I’ll try to sum up a little of my story.

As far as my family goes, I have none. Both my grandmother and my mother died early. I was all alone because my father didn’t want me and I never got to know his side of the family. Since 17 I’ve had to work hard to provide for myself, I’ve always rented rooms, apart from the times that friends have put me up.

I spent 12 years in the world, all alone. Imagine the suffering. I drank, smoked, was out on the streets at night. I got involved in some relationships, but only a few, because I met a guy and got engaged for 10 years without ever getting married. We separated and then a humiliating phase of my love life began.

I became a Christian in 2003. I got baptized in a Pentecostal church, received all the gifts you could image, served a great deal in the church, was an exemplary role model, was active and courageous, had an unusually strong faith for where I was at the time, and yet, my life never really changed. I was lonely, miserable, lived in a tiny studio apartment in a slum, had anger problems, was depressed—I had no idea that I wasn’t filled with the Holy Spirit because I thought the gifts were a sign of the baptism.

I met the man who is now my ex-husband, who was a pastor in another Pentecostal church. I thought I would finally have a family and be happy, but my greatest dream turned into my greatest nightmare. In our 3rd year of marriage he began cheating on me with various women and I just kept forgiving him. Then I discovered he was using drugs. In the end he began to steal from me, and out of desperation, I determined that either he’d have to admit himself into a Christian rehab or he’d be out on the street, because the landlord of the house I still live in said that if he didn’t leave, he’d kick us both out. And so my husband agreed, went to rehab, and then asked for a divorce, saying, “What happened was the work of the devil and you cooperated with the devil to get me kicked out of the house.” He went back to being a pastor, but is now with another woman, and here I am humiliated.

I decided to attend another church, because everyone there turned their backs on me. In their minds I was the reason my ex-husband had backslidden—I had destroyed his ministry. (Bishop, I want you to know, ever since I’ve become a Christian I’ve never backslidden, never gone back to the world, and have never cheated on my husband.) At that point I felt like I had to go to Universal (SiLC) to stay in the presence of God. I attend on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays.

In these 2 years of seeking, I’ve only manifested a demon once—when I was sick, recently separated, and my grudges and sadness were like a curse. But I learned to forgive, prayed for all who had offended me, and now no longer hold resentment.  I’m not angry and don’t curse—because I used to do that—I don’t have lustful desires, I’m careful about what I think and rebuke all sexual immorality and evil… I’ve always been faithful in my tithes and offerings, and have participated in Israel Challenges… Bishop, I’m fighting, but I’m still miserable, lonely and hopeless. I see so many people receiving miracles and being transformed, while I’m stuck with the same old life as always.

A few days ago I changed the hose on the gas canister for my stove at home, but because I forgot to tighten it properly it was leaking. I was woken up from sleep by my landlord calling my name. I quickly got up and started explaining what must have happened, and he said, “I thought you were trying to kill yourself.” Bishop, for him to say that, he must think I have reason to do such a thing. My life doesn’t glorify God. I say that I serve God, that I follow Jesus, but I’m miserable, ashamed and totally humiliated.

I don’t know why I can’t find the grace of God. I know it can’t be a lack of faith, if it were, I wouldn’t have been able to remain pure-hearted until now. It’s not because I don’t do my part, because I go to school, travel a long way to college, and keep a limit on what I buy so I can pay for it. I pray every night at midnight, pray as soon as I wake up in the mornings, and drink blessed water from the church…

I dream about armed robbers. In all my dreams I get shot. In one of them a robbers say that he kills other people quickly, but that he’s going to kill me slowly to make me suffer. I also dream about homeless people at an intersection with red hot coals that they throw on me as I pass by.

I know I’m in a spiritual battle, and because of that my hair has begun to fall out. There are bald spots all over my head and so I have to tie up my hair. I went to the dermatologist, and she doesn’t know what it is. She says I’ll need to shave my head and asked me to take various exams.

Bishop, I am so tired. My entire life is one of defeat. It seems to be a fight that will never end. I see testimonies that used to give me hope, but now they cause me pain because I feel frustrated at not being able to have a decent life.

If I die today, I don’t have the money for a funeral or anyone to bury me, and if I were to end up in a hospital bed no one would visit me. There would be no family member or friend for the doctor to talk to. Bishop, I can’t even die without suffering more humiliation. This is difficult, Bishop. Very difficult.

...Do you know anyone suffering like Claudia? Would you know how to help someone like her? She seems to be trying her best—has God abandoned her? Check in tomorrow for my response to Claudia.  

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:4-7, MEV

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bishop!

    For sure, I will tune in tomorrow. I know someone as I write. I too suffered a long strain in my walk with God. Something very wicked kept fighting me and my spiritual life did not move. I felt exactly what she felt. So I totally understand. I will share Bishop. Thank you