The Open Door
by Fr. Rufus Pereira
It was during the Healing Seminar, held immediately after the Third National Charismatic Convention in October 1978 in St. Peter's Church Hall, Bandra, Mumbai, that there occurred unforeseen demonic disturbances. One such incident is referred to by Francis MacNutt in Appendix B of his widely acclaimed book, 'Deliverance from Evil Spirits'. A more serious one was of a greatly agitated young girl who was prevented by two strong young ushers in the nick of time from throwing herself down from the Hall. We had her escorted safely by her friends, who had come from outside Mumbai for the Convention, to a second floor flat nearby and at the end of the night's session the two young men and myself went there to pray for her.
She seemingly calmed down after some prayer, got up and went towards the toilet. I sensed however that she was not completely free and I instructed one of her young girl friends to accompany her to the used toilet and not the other unused one. But she darted straight to the unused toilet and quickly shut the door after her. I now became very apprehensive, as we heard her filing the bucket with water, fearful that she would put her head into the water. We could hear her struggling to open the window and immediately I sent one of the two young men who were with me, Norman Hayde, to go down to the garden and wait under the window to break her fall and hold her if she should throw herself down, while I kept the other young man, Ashwin Gracias, with me for support. All this while her friends were cajoling her to open the door but in vain. We even tried to somehow force open the door for we could sense her agitated actions through the ground glass pane. At one point I even contemplated breaking the glass pane with the owner's permission.
It was now midnight and there was no sign of an end to this impasse. As we prayed to the Lord for guidance it suddenly struck me that a prayer for deliverance could be effective even across closed doors. No sooner we made this prayer than we heard the girl dropping with a thud to the floor of the toilet. And now it was herself, who was crying out to us to open the door and questioning tearfully why I had locked her inside the toilet. Her friends again urged her to pull herself up and slide open the latch from inside but she cried out that she was feeling weak and lifeless and just could not move. They coaxed her from outside the door to try to lift her hand to reach the latch, but that too she could not do. It was now one o'clock in the morning and the couple, to whom the flat belonged, was losing their patience not knowing what was really happening.
Again we prayed for light to know what to do next. All of a sudden I remembered the dramatic story of Peter's release from prison - how the angel visited him and the chains fell off his hands and the iron gate opened by itself and he went out through it (Acts 12:5-11). I now found myself blessing the door of the toilet from outside and praying silently, "Lord, even as you released Peter from prison as the whole church prayed earnestly for him, we here, your church, a small flock, are beseeching you to do the same just now today." The group in the flat stared at me wondering if I was still in my right mind. Then I found myself doing something even more bizarre. In front of where the latch was on the other side, I made three movements in the air of opening the latch, acting as if I was on the other side of the door. The people now thought I was completely crazy.
Then I said within myself, "Lord, if, as I believe, you are alive and present here and if, as I believe, what you did to Peter you will do now to this girl, and I do believe that you are same yesterday, today and for ever, - then the door should open. With all the persons there watching what I was doing, I calmly touched the door ever so lightly with the tip of my forefinger - and the door just flew open! The girl was still lying on her back on the floor of the toilet, lifeless and sobbing. They lifted her up and put her on the bed. I sat down on a stool, finding it difficult to accept what had just happened. I said, "Lord, these miracles are meant to happen only in the Scriptures, and not now." I was skeptical. I went into the toilet and laid myself on the floor - and I found that even my hand could not reach the latch. The latch itself was very old and rusty since it was not used for a long time. It required much effort to open it with a lot of squeaking. When questioned the girl told me that as we were all praying outside and she was also praying alone inside, she saw a figure in white enter the toilet, slide the latch and open wide the door! (Jn 20:19).
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