In January ’03, I was in Genoa, Italy, at one of Betel’s men’s houses. It is a large twelve-room house in the mountains north of the city. At the time, it was one of Betel’s most challenged communities. Since it’s founding, it had a four-year heartache of repeated leadership failure, community division and rebellion. The new guys left disproportionately distressed, and the residents complained of frequent nightmares. The centre never grew beyond ten men.
As soon as I stepped on site, I felt creepy. That feeling intensified as my hosts took me on a welcome tour. Thereafter, we had supper, and as it was late, we went straight to bed.
That night, I had an interactive nightmare. Out of nowhere, a huge, dark grey cat attacked me. It was so vivid I sat bolt upright, and doing so, I whacked my head on the bunk above me. Nursing the goose-egg on my scalp the next morning over breakfast, I asked if the house leader knew any of the local history. (This is not the sort of question I typically ask, for I am far more interested in the mysteries of God than I am in the intrigues of human history.) The house leader told me that this was called Casa Negro, the “Black House.” It was Mussolini’s headquarters during World War II. Many of the Partigianithe Italian Resistancewere mercilessly tortured in the basement of the building.
At the devotional that followed our coffee and rolls, I taught about Legion’s deliverance and his familiar spirits. I underlined that they were squattersillegitimate residents. We then turned to Matthew 10:12, and the apostolic commission: Speak your peace to the house that you enter. Implicit is a Kingdom peace that can be imparted, one that is greater than any turmoil. I then spoke about consecration and anointing.
Twelve of us then paraded up four flights of stairs, ducked under the low roof of the attic, and scrambled onto the tower...
In the name of Jesus, we commanded all unclean spirits to depart, and give place to the Holy Spirit. We consecrated a large bowl of olive oil, poured portions of it into cereal bowls, and sent the guys out to anoint anything that seemed unclean. They oiled everything in sight, all the while speaking God’s peace.
I received an email from the director of Betel Italy, Lindsay McKenzie, two months later. The community in Genoa had suddenly grown quite quickly to over 30 men and it was now the strongest and healthiest Betel in Italy. The new guys no longer seemed distressed. The leadership was strong, godly, and graced. Community conflict was “normal.”
Lindsay concluded with this last update: one of the guys had painted a sign that hung outside on the wall. They had re-named the place Casa Luce, the “House of Light.” The new name is a wonderful testimony to the transformative revelation of ultimate reality dispelling the inferiorwhatever is exposed to the light itself becomes light.
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