The devil inside
The people who attend this church swear they see miracles. Who's to argue?
Published: May 2, 2012
The theology behind deliverance says Satan works to disrupt the world to spite God for throwing him out of heaven, says Bishop Terrence Joyce who, like Hawkins, is a guest minister here tonight. "God is everywhere but Satan can't be everywhere, he doesn't have that power and authority," he says. "He's not God. So what he does, he has demons that he uses. And what he's after, he's after God's creation, which is us."
Believers say those demons are responsible for many of life's ills. You might not be overweight simply for lack of will power; it could be a demon causing your obesity. Your nervousness isn't necessarily just your nature; a demon might be fueling your anxiety and shyness. Some curses are even generational, like when alcoholism runs in the family, like when a pedophile turns out to have been molested as a child too. As Triumph's website notes, "It is a shame and a disgrace that so many Christians are going to psychologists and psychiatrists who don't even recognize that their symptoms are caused by demons."
Deliverance is free here, no charge. What money comes in, Davis says, is through small, voluntary donations. And unlike exorcism in the Catholic Church, a priest isn't required to cast demons out. Anyone with faith can be taught how to do it. But for it to work, a person has to seek help themselves and believe in the reality of deliverance. It can't be imposed on someone.
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink," Davis says. "If they don't want it, forget about it. It's not going to happen."
Davis and his flock have heard people say this belief system is crazy, but for some truly despondent people, sometimes an addiction is so enslaving, a craving or a passion is so strong, a phobia is so paralyzing, it seems to have a life of its own, like a demon that invaded their body.
Regardless of whether it's objectively real, people come here because they have faith that it will work for them.
"If somebody already has a preconceived idea that they don't believe in this, we don't waste time arguing," Davis says. "But people want to be set free. We get people from all these different churches — Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist. Because it gets to the point where the person knows, 'I need to be set free. I'm bound. I don't care. I'm going.'"
Davis grew up in a nice home in Detroit's Boston-Edison neighborhood, which his father paid for by working two jobs to feed his eight kids. By his 20s, Davis himself had a high-paying career as a millwright and later an electrician at Chrysler's Warren Stamping Plant. "I was making money hand over fist," he says. "But I wasn't happy."
He's 56, stout, married with four kids, and he strides briskly despite using a metal cane to temper a limp. He's always been drawn to the down-and-out, and while still at the auto plant he got a side job as a Detroit Police Reserves officer so he could see that life up close.
But his religious instincts got in the way of the work. "Where many times officers will try to get parties to calm down, by me being a Christian officer I always tried to find a way, without trying to get into trouble, to interject Jesus," he says. "So many times a lot of the people who I talked to about the Lord, when there were domestic fights and all that, they'd start crying, my partner would be amazed — 'You're talking about Jesus and got them crying over there, I'm trying to get things together here.'"
Davis eventually found a better outlet for his mission — driving a cab in the inner city, where he'd give rides to prostitutes, junkies, criminals and drunks. "Not because I needed the money," he says. "It was just for the intrigue, just to have some fun. It was wild and crazy."
He remembers several other drivers getting shot on the job in his time there, but he always left his sliding window partition between him and his passengers open. The Holy Spirit told him to, he says.
"I had many pull weapons out on me," he says. "I seen the little Israeli Uzis; I seen shotguns, 9 mms; I had guns pointed to the back of my head, guns pointed to the front of my head, and I never gave up a single dime," he says. He had a survival technique — he would start talking to his assailant about Jesus, and sometimes would even reach back to try to lay hands on the gunman who had his life in their hands. It freaked them out.
"They're ducking me, they got the gun in their hand and they're ducking me — 'You're crazy!' Or they find out I'm a preacher — 'Oh, no, a preacher man, let me out!' The prevailing attitude is that if you shoot a preacher, if you ever need God to get you out of a mix, you can cancel Christmas."
But some would open up to him. Some cried and confessed their sins. Others swore God must've sent him to help them. He'd been ordained a preacher as a teenager, and believed in the power of deliverance, yet all his prayer, all his laying on of hands, wasn't working at all. Most people would politely listen and nod, but then ignored him once they walked away, like the prostitute he'd wasted hours talking with in his cab. "She jumped right back out and went back to selling her body like nothing ever happened," he says. Despite his ambition, he was just another true believer lecturing people.
> Email Detroitblogger John