Re: forces of darkness repost Originally printed in CHARISMA AND CHRISTIAN LIFE Magazine,
From: Thomas Blackwolfe
Re: forces of darkness repost
Originally printed in CHARISMA AND CHRISTIAN LIFE Magazine,
Battling the Forces of Darkness
The conversion of former Wicca priest Eric Pryor is a
hopeful sign in the fight for a city under siege.
By Steven Lawson
Last Halloween, Eric Pryor stuck a small handgun into his
sock before entering Larry Lea's "Prayer Breakthrough" meeting in
San Francisco. If Lea blasted homosexuals as some media reports
had predicted he would, Pryor planned to shoot him.
This Halloween, when Lea returns to the Bay Area for another
spiritual warfare rally, Eric Pryor will be standing on the
platform at Lea's side and holding a weapon of another kind---a
Last Halloween, the afternoon before the opening of the
breakthrough, Pryor led about 30 pagans in a ceremonial cursing
of Lea and other Christians who would be attending the Prayer
Breakthrough at the Civic Auditorium that evening. That cursing
was carried by the media around the city and the nation.
This year, Pryor plans to teach participating Christians how
to pray for pagans and how to counter the curses of Satan.
Last Halloween, Pryor was one of the chief spokes people for
the 3,000 or so demonstrators who picketed the Lea meeting.
Covered by the national and local media, the rally was described
as "a classic clash between good and evil" in one report and
dubbed a "Halloween Holy War" by USA Today.
This year, Pryor will answer questions from reporters about
his defection from paganism and his conversion to Christianity.
At this time last year, Eric Pryor was high priest at New
Earth Temple in San Francisco. Now he has become a born-again
Christian, submitted himself to the discipleship of minister Dick
Bernal and launched his own ministry to teach people about
A City in Desperate Need
The dramatic spiritual turnaround in Pryor's life came as a
result of last year's well-publicized "Prayer Breakthrough" in
San Francisco. Larry Lea had come to city, purposefully on
Halloween, to lead Christians in prayer and spiritual warfare
against the territorial spirits that influence the region. A
month before the rally, Lea met with and sought the support of
about 200 area pastors, including Bernal.
For Bernal, the idea of spiritual warfare wasn't new. He had
taught the principles to the 4,000 members of his Jubilee
Christian Center in San Jose and had led prayer campaigns in that
area. Once, Jubilee members and other Christians had even gone to
the rooftops of buildings in San Jose and to nearby hilltops
where, in prayer, they bound the spirits that influence their
city. But to take the battle to San Francisco was to walk into
the devil's backyard.
San Francisco is well-known for its alternative lifestyles.
Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix romanticized drugs, rock music and
raucous living when they roamed the streets of Haight-Ashbury.
Even today, entering that neighborhood is like walking through a
time warp. It remains a haven for those searching out anything
and everything but the norm.
Throughout San Francisco, you'll find psychedelic shops, New
Age bookstores and transvestites shopping at Safeway. It's the
home of the Church of Satan, the base of operations for
homosexual activist group Queer Nation and host of the annual
national Hooker's Ball. Each year, a gala Halloween night party
draws half a million people to the Castro District, according to
some media estimates, where many dress in drag and others flaunt
San Francisco also boasts the second highest rate of AIDS in
the nation-7,000 residents have died in the epidemic. Half of the
city's homosexual community is reportedly infected with HIV, the
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen recently wrote:
"There's a craziness in the air, but that's the way San Francisco
has always wanted it, back to the founding Gold Rushers, only now
it's a bad craziness."
Caen was referring specifically to the huge problem of the
homeless and the shambles many once elegant buildings have
become. But his remark has broader implications. He even quoted
Rudyard Kipling, who once described San Francisco as "the
perfectly mad city."
For Lea, Bernal and the city's pastors, there is plenty to
pray about. Some, such as Lea and Bernal, believe specific
spirits need to be bound. Others, such as Lloyd Jacobson, pastor
of Bethel Temple (Independent Assemblies of God), just see the
need for prayer of every kind. "I welcome anyone who wants to
pray for us," says Jacobson. "We need all of the prayer we can
Bernal says the Bay Area is a composite of every imaginable
kind of evil. Greed dominates in the Silicon Valley, where the
computer industry was born. Murder is rampant in Oakland, which
has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. New Age thought
permeates Marin County, north of the city, and drunkenness spills
over the boundaries of the city's Richmond District.
The well-publicized homosexual community here is centered in
the Castro District and Noe Valley. But Lea, Bernal and other
pastors are quick to separate the sin of homosexuality from the
sinner, saying God loves every person. "We are not against
anyone," says Bernal. "We are against the spirits that influence
Setting the Stage for War
Lea has held Prayer Breakthroughs in several other major
cities, including Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. He's taught the
principles of spiritual warfare at Church on the Rock, where he
formerly pastored in Rockwall, Texas, and at Oral Roberts
University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was dean of the school of
Teaching an idea that's finding increasing support among
charismatics, Lea says demonic territorial spirits have
particular characteristics and strong influence over a region.
Each of these spirits gained entry to the region at a particular
time--- for example, the spirits of greed and rebellion would have
come to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Bernal agrees, adding
that Native Americans of the area long ago held powerful
ceremonies that were demonic in nature, setting the stage for
future demonic activity, such as the white witchcraft of Wicca
that Eric Pryor practiced.
The media showed an interest in what Lea and Bernal had to
say. But what reporters latched on to were the military terms
used to explain the reason for coming to San Francisco and the
militarist-sounding advertisements Lea ran on television
announcing the meetings. The phrases "spiritual warfare," "prayer
army" and battling for spiritual control over a city" have one
meaning for Christians who have heard Lea's and Bernal's
teachings. But to Pryor, homosexual rights activist Mark
Pritchard and others, it meant that Lea was coming to town "to
burn witches and hang gays."
It didn't help that a group of ministers had announced that
Christians would march through the Castro District on Halloween
as a demonstration of spiritual power. At the advice of local
pastors, that plan was canceled. Police feared there would have
been violence if it had taken place. Vineyard Christian
Fellowship pastor Michael Brodeur agreed, saying that he has
encountered violent reactions from certain homosexual rights
groups as he has ministered in the city.
The military terminology is also what caught Eric Pryor's
attention and raised his ire. "I wasn't about to let anyone else
have any spiritual control in this city," said Pryor, who openly
was a Wicca witch but secretly was involved in the occult. "I was
known somewhat as a general, and I was going to guard my
Pryor quickly rallied the support of homosexual activist and
pagan groups, who are closely aligned. A planned Halloween night
pagan meeting was canceled so adherents could picket the Prayer
Breakthrough. Both sides insisted they did not want violence, but
Pryor now says some of the protesters would have easily crossed
the line. As it was, they tossed rotten eggs at Christians
entering the Civic Auditorium and prevented one busload of people
from disembarking. Security was beefed up, and the police had to
escort participants in.
Pryor told the media that the curse he placed was one of
"binding" by which "the evil energy of Larry Lea would come back
upon him threefold."
"Larry Lea better be careful that he doesn't fall off the
stage and break his leg or something," Pryor told reporters. His
comments were picked up by The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and
the wire services.
Pryor was a bit stronger when he called Bernal's church and
left a message on the answering machine. He said, "You Christians
had better know how to pray because we really know how to curse."
Another Kind of Power
Nearly a year later, Pryor winces with embarrassment as the
tape of his telephone threat is played back to him during lunch
after a church service. "I can't believe it," he says, wide-eyed
and mouth agape. "Did I say that? So much has changed!"
He'd made that phone call while submerged in the oils of a
pagan ceremonial bath. "My feet were propped up on a huge
crystal, I was burning incense, and I was very incensed at the
nerve of Larry Lea."
The next day, Pryor had arranged to be on the same local
television talk show as Bernal, called "People Are Talking."
After the show, Bernal, who was given a full opportunity to
explain territorial spirits, invited Pryor to lunch-just to talk.
While Bernal and Pryor dined, the spiritual warfare was
intensifying back at Jubilee Christian Center. Bernal's wife,
Carla, was praying for Pryor, believing God would transform his
life. That prayer was interrupted by a phone call from C. Peter
Wagner. Wagner didn't know about the message or about Pryor's
meeting with Bernal. He didn't even know who Eric Pryor was. But
Wagner said he believed one of Satan's generals would be won over
during the Prayer Breakthrough.
Before he and Bernal had finished lunch, Pryor had accepted
an invitation to attend that evening's meeting as Bernal's guest.
He agreed that he should at least listen to what Lea had to say
before condemning the man. Besides, as an advocate of equal
rights for all, he didn't mind people praying as long as he
wasn't the target of their prayers. Little did he know...
Pryor arrived at the civic auditorium in full Wicca priest
garb, complete with a huge pentagram around his neck, a ring in
his nose, and black clothes from head to toe. Bernal, having no
idea that Pryor was carrying the hidden pistol, escorted him to
the front row, close enough to see the whites of Larry Lea's
But Pryor didn't hear a single word from Lea that upset him.
No gay bashing; no calls to burn witches; no threats to torch the
city. In fact, he kind of liked what he was hearing and feeling.
It reminded him of his days in Sunday school as a child. He heard
Christians singing about love, grace, mercy-the very attributes
he had futilely tried to espouse as a pagan priest.
"The music really touched me," Pryor would later say. "On
the dark side (his term for pagan practice), there is an evil
power in the music they sing. Music has a large role in pagan
services. But this was different. There was another kind of power
in this music."
He liked it enough to return the next night with his
fiancee, Sandra. He even had her go forward for healing of
repeated headaches. But he was prayed for, as well. Carla Bernal
had her hand on Pryor's head and was interceding so hard that he
was shaking. By this point, Pryor knew he was halfway home, but
it was such a dramatic change he didn't know what to say or do.
Pryor was still shaking when he and Sandra got home. "I told
Sandra that those Christians really messed us up," he says. "I'd
been involved in the occult since I was 12 years old. I know how
it feels when demons are present. That night there were demons in
out apartment. They were not very happy with what was happening.
And I couldn't sleep all night."
The next morning, Pryor met with Lea. In that encounter, it
became obvious that pryor was moving quickly toward wanting to
accept Christ as his Savior. But Lea cautioned him to count the
cost. "He told me that I needed to be sure that making the
commitment was something worth dying for."
On the final night of the meetings, Pryor's fiancee went to
the altar to pray for salvation. But Pryor waited nearly a month,
finally committing his life to Christ during a service at Jubilee
Christian Center in San Jose. That high, Carla Bernal stayed up
with him and Sandra, praying until Pryor was baptized in the Holy
"I was ready for all of God's power," says Pryor. "I had
seen what Satan could do. Now I wanted to know all that God could
do. I found out that Satan really is a lion roaming about seeking
whom he can devour. But he is a toothless lion of you have the
power of the Holy Spirit!"
From there things changed quickly. Without prompting from
anyone else, Pryor decided to burn publicly all of his occult
books and smash his witchcraft crystals and artifacts. He
estimates that he destroyed tens of thousands of dollars worth of
materials that had been part of New Earth Temple.
The Pagan Community
His old friends weren't sure how to react. Some denied
having ever known him. Others fidgeted in their own commitments
to paganism. A few thought Pryor was setting himself as a plant
they could use to disrupt Christian churches. But all of the top
brass from New Earth Temple have now accepted Christ and
denounced their former practices.
Pryor maintains that about 30 percent of the pagans are in
it just for the money or the power over people, about 40 percent
don't know what they are searching for and only about 30 percent
have any real demonic power. He recalls, for example, that as a
pagan priest he would provide counseling to people. If they could
be duped, he would perform a fake curse, then charge an
outrageous fee, perhaps in the thousands of dollars.
"Sometimes I had to go into the kitchen and laugh because it
was so absurd," he says. "But they usually came back and paid
At other times Pryor conducted real ceremonies, such as the
one he did when Sandra first came to him. She had been oppressed
by spirits since childhood. Prayers to God had not seemed to
work. Neither had secular counseling. But when she came to Pryor,
he was able to assuage the demons and keep them from harassing
her. Ironically, it was shortly after her "deliverance" that she
went forward to accept Christ at the October Prayer Breakthrough.
Pryor and Sandra have since been married and moved to San
Jose. He has started a ministry called Christian Gladiators that
operates out of Jubilee Christian Center. Pryor speaks at a few
select churches, providing his testimony and teaching about
A Spiritually Dead City
Though he looks forward to this year's Prayer Breakthrough,
Pryor is also a bit apprehensive. "Moving to San Jose has been
culture shock," he says. "There really is a different spirit sown
Most pastors in San Francisco would agree. While churches
have boomed in the San Jose area, in Contra Costa County to the
east, even in San Mateo County between San Jose and San
Francisco, the city itself has been as spiritually dead as any
city can be.
Larry Huggins, pastor of San Francisco's Gateway Family
Church, agrees. Before coming to San Francisco, Huggins was co-
founding pastor of a large charismatic church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
He also conducted huge missionary crusades all around the world
that drew thousands of attendees.
"You just don't know how strong the principalities are here
until you have lived here," says Huggins.
Since being in San Francisco, Huggins has seen family
tragedy, a failed church-building project and slow membership
growth--- about 100 attend his church regularly. In fact, in this
city of nearly 800,000 residents, it would be hard to find a
Protestant church service with more than 1,000 people.
Bernal is quick to point out that San Francisco has never
seen a revival of the proportions of Azusa Street of the Great
awakening. Nor does it have the spiritual roots that the Bible
belt has. Major evangelists have come here in the past. But
they've been few and far between.
Billy Graham was last here 30 years ago-few people even
remember that event. Luis Palau conducted a crusade two years ago
that drew fewer than 500 people. "People just don't go to
church," says Michael Brodeur of the Vineyard.
Brodeur grew up in San Francisco. He can remember the Jesus
movement and its impact in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Glad
Tidings Assembly of God was larger then. First Covenant Church
was active. Dick Keys led a revival among hundreds of hippies.
And Moishe Rosen started Jews for Jesus.
But today, Glad Tidings has dwindled in attendance down to a
few hundred. The Covenant pastor, who was charismatic, has moved
on to the denomination's hierarchy. And Keys has left the city.
Only two major ministries have their international headquarters
her: Jews for Jesus and Nora Lam Ministries.
Even so, there are signs of life. More non-traditional
churches--- such as the Vineyard, Gateway Family Church and Bethel
Temple--- have shown growth and evidence of spiritual vitality. The
leading candidate for mayor this year, Frank Jordan, is very
supportive of Christian activities and has, in fact, asked
Bethel's pastor, Jacobson, for prayer. Meanwhile, 30 Youth With a
Mission missionaries spent three weeks this summer walking the
streets, praying for repentance and revival in the city.
"The signs are small, but we will take anything," says
Brodeur. "You must understand that this is a very hard city. The
rank-and-file citizen of this city has yet to have the gospel
presented to them in a way that will correspond with the longings
of their heart. The church hasn't made the gospel apply to
people's lives in San Francisco."
Is the spiritual climate better in San Francisco this year
than it was last year? Every pastor interviewed who has a church
in the city says no--- it's worse. Bernal agrees that this can
happen when Christians come together in unity and become aware of
"We should expect a response," he says. "The enemy will not
sit still. But we must also remember that we have binding power
over those spirits."
After the Prayer Breakthrough last year, there were major
drug arrests in the Bay area, and the largest pornography dealer
was charged with murdering his brother, who was also his business
partner. But everyone agrees the conversion of Eric Pryor was
probably the biggest breakthrough.
What will result from the spiritual warfare rally at
Candlestick Park this month? Bernal thinks the region is on the
verge of a great revival and that each time they return to pray
it adds to the momentum. Pastors such as Brodeur and Jacobson
hope for revival; they say every prayer meeting helps, and they
will encourage their congregations to participate. But for tight
now, they're just as concerned with survival as they are with
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