By Joy Maschhoff
Every mommy missionary wears many hats: nurturer, caretaker, doctor, superhero, teacher, therapist, chef, scientist, specialist in the cleanup of infectious diseases…we all know the list goes on and on. What a privilege and a calling. Life as a mommy missionary in the Caribbean has honed my skills in the wearing of this crucial hat: soldier/warrior.
The Caribbean is a hotbed for religious indiscretion. It has a long history of dangerous play with voodoo, witch doctors, and black magic. This history runs especially deep in the island of Hispañola, which holds the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, home to a largely poor and sometimes desperate people.
Jesus warns us that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The battle is real.
Just the Name holds such power. Just the Name causes evil to tremble. His Name. The Holy One. Emmanuel.
This Name is a battle cry and a victory cheer all in one.
And we’ve tasted His victory in our home in significant ways in these last years.
Within our first year living and ministering in the Caribbean, we saw the Lord begin to open doors and soften hearts among young people we were reaching out to in a new way. We found ourselves sitting in our living room reading the Bible with young people whose family trees included generations of godlessness. Some were students who came from very powerful families in the country. Students, whom by all other accounts, were completely closed to the gospel. Students who would declare “I don’t believe this or I’m not sure this is for me” yet all the while continuing to say “yes” to reading the Bible with us, and continuing to want to keep talking and watching and discerning for themselves, “Who is this God? What is this message?”
In the midst of this opening for the Gospel, there began, what I believe, to be a vicious spiritual attack against our children. All three of our children faced weeks of a strange, undiagnosed illness with bizarre and debilitating symptoms. We spent weeks trying to rid our family of whatever it was that was making us sick.
Meanwhile, our daughter Noelle saw a demon multiple times in her bedroom. This same daughter had an unusual episode of very dark and evil thoughts. Our son was stung over 40 times by a sea urchin. He also developed a repetitive, nervous habit.
Oh how my heart ached. As Mommy, I was so angry at the devil and so overwhelmed at the suffering of my children. Here the Lord reminded me to don my hat as soldier/warrior. I found deep hope in his promises that “greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), that “the prayer of a righteous woman is powerful and effective”(James 5:16), and that “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have the divine power to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
This warrior fights on her knees. I prayed, and my husband joined me in praying for and over our children. We asked the body for prayer; many of you prayed! And the Lord answered and delivered.
Two weeks into the battle on my knees, something started happening. My children, each in his / her own way, began to whisper aloud their soul-ache for Jesus.
Out of the blue, my oldest, Noelle, could not get enough of the Word of God. She read and read. She wanted new stories, new passages, wanted to discuss the workings and ways of God.
I found my middle child, Sophia, multiple times, sitting alone, unprovoked, writing little love letters to Jesus. Writing words like…”Jesus, you are so powerful.” “Jesus, you are so loving.” “Jesus, I love you more than anything else.”
And my youngest, my son Augie, came to me 5-10 times in that time pleading, “Mommy, please, all I want is to go to heaven and see Jesus. I just want to see Jesus. I just want to be with Him.” I weep now as I remember and type because, He wins! Jesus wins! The devil attacks, but Jesus wins. And when even a mommy is helpless to come up with just the right words, just the right comfort, just the right solution to make things right, we can battle on our knees and with the Word of God. And the Hearer of our prayers is never helpless. Never limited. Never puzzled or overwhelmed or defeated. Jesus whispers to the souls of our children. He reaches them in a manner they understand. In a manner that leads their tender souls to worship. To awe and adoration. To longing for more of Him. Hallelujah!
Joy Maschhoff lives and serves with The Navigators in the Dominican Republic with her husband Joe and three children (Noelle, Sophia, and Augie). She has a big heart for Nav kids, being one herself, marrying one, and now raising three! Her joys include passing on a love for the Word of God, crafting, trying out new recipes, and anything to do with coffee, chocolate, or chips and salsa.