Theophostic Prayer Ministry in Uzbekistan and Russia

In May of 2005 I was invited to bring a team to Tashkent Uzbekistan and Moscow Russia to train missionaries and Uzbek nationals.

In Uzbekistan, the invitation was to train three distinct groups 1) missionaries and lay counselors who had had an introductory training in Theophostic Prayer Ministry but who were having trouble implementing the previous training 2) a group of counselors with professional training – mostly in Russia and 3) a group of addictions workers with varying degrees of experience and training. We spent 3 weeks in Tashkent training and leading healing ministry groups. We had participants from 3 language groups, English, Russian and Uzbek. The sessions were translated into both Russian and Uzbek. Since you might recognize the name of many of the sending ministries of the humanitarian non governmental organizations at work over there I must be careful what to disclose herein. I hope you will be understanding of a lack of specifics which could identify the organizations. The government is very anti Christian. We worshiped daily with windows tightly closed. To be heard worshiping meant risk of arrest for our participants.

There are however, some personal healing experiences of the people who came to learn. I will share what I have permission to share. One thing I have learned over the years of doing this work is that confidentiality is very important. No one wants to hear what they have shared in a "safe" confidential place repeated! Below are 3 vignettes of healing experiences I have permission to share.

During the first two series of teachings it was our practice to meet in small groups after each teaching segment for the purpose of healing emotional pain stirred up by the teaching, to demonstrate the healing prayer process, and to provide practice with leading healing prayer.

Let me share with you several experiences from these groups.

In one of the first groups of the first series a young American woman volunteered to be prayed with. She was greatly troubled that she had never been able to be fully present, receive and give love in her marriage. She had a history of sexual abuse in her childhood – abused by a family member who should have been a protector rather than an abuser. In the process of the prayer time it became clear that like many abused children she had lost the ability to say "no." When a person has lost the ability to say no their yes is meaningless. In a very clear and powerful way Jesus showed her that it was not only ok to say no but an important thing to do. We coached her to reach deep down into her being and let Jesus restore her "no'. It was almost like giving birth! I thought that was it, and then she said, "There is something else that is tormenting me…" She shared that in the time she had been in Uzbekistan a tormenting spirit would not leave her. She would tell it to go, cast it out, pray for protection but soon it would be back weighing on her like a weight on her chest. We prayed, and the Holy Spirit directed us to have her voice her restored "no" and send that spirit to Jesus to deal with. She let out a powerful "no" that could be heard though out the building. The heavy weight left and has not returned. She returned to her home in rural Uzbekistan eager to hug and love her husband. Praise God! [Editor note: Her saying a simple "No" is consistent with post-resurrection "deliverance" of just "resisting the devil and he will flee from you." This is a basic TPM principle when dealing with the devil once the lies are removed.]

The entire Christian community there is fighting against heavy spiritual opposition. Much of the focus of their questions and discussions would come back to that issue. I have wondered with them there and since here, if the people of Uzbekistan who have been oppressed for generations and dominated by a religion full of oppressive spiritual stuff need to have their "no" restored!

The trainee's were amazed at how little attention we, "the team from Florida" (as they called us) paid to demonic activity. We regarded that as distraction and as much as possible refused to be distracted. We began to understand that this is one of the problems in a land plagued by demons and with a history of same – the demonic activity provides such a distraction that the healing work is delayed endlessly! [Editors note: Here again the lie is the problem and not the demon. TPM teaches that the person's will is the primary problem when not being able to move forward. When the will is engaged and the truth is known people will find release.]

The second "vignette" I can share happened during one of the small group sessions we had after the second seminar. In the group that met with me (Bobbie) an Uzbek woman asked to have healing prayer. As she spoke almost no English one of the other group members needed to translate for us. In the process of trying to minimize any confusion or distraction for the subject person, I began to write down the responses I had for the counselee rather than speak then. In that way we began to develop a list of responses. (what did that feel like, what did you believe about that, what does Jesus want you to know, etc.). The translator began to point to the responses she saw as possibly appropriate. I would nod or point to another. The translator would respond. The translator then was taking a major step in the transition from student to prayer counselor!

What a rich experience that was! I was just trying to cut down on the confusion of voices in the room. The Holy Spirit knew there was an opportunity to move a student from the familiar role of translator into a new role of prayer counselor.

The third "vignette" happened in our last seminar, the one with the substance abuse counselors. The group consisted of a wide range of experience and training – a few with a little formal training, some who saw serious substance abuse problems in their villages and wanted to be effective, and some recovering addicts who were beginning to be used as counselors but had little or no training. I was especially aware of a group or 4 or 5 men who sat together having come from a distant valley of Uzbekistan. They had the look and demeanor of the recovering addict- very tightly controlled facial features with no expression, still very sad eyes, rigidly controlled posture and no body language other than that still rigidity recovering addicts have consequent to the fear of relapse and the blame and shame of their past.

I began to teach the group about brain function and recovery. They leaned forward, listening intensely. Intense was the key word for their every move!

Finally I began to tell them of how dangerous hopelessness and what is called the "God sized hole" are for the addict. Addiction and compulsive behaviors are the only ways they know to escape that hopeless God sized hole in the soul.

I showed them a chart showing the progression from believing a lie as a child to the emotional pain that the lie generates to the behavior or substance use they use to stop the pain. Thus showing them the roots of the pain and the pathway out of the pain. It appeared that these addicts were very concrete thinkers. They required concrete models. This concrete model helped them put Theophostic Ministry into a form they could conceptualize.

I also told them of the research by specialists in the workings of the brain. Especially the research on what some call the "joy center." I asked them to look at me and watch me "smile with my eyes." I shared about how the loving parent does that with infants and connects emotionally in that way. They leaned even farther forward! Anyway, I made the connection between the addict's pain and recovery and this brain research. I then gave the class homework – to smile with their eyes at 4 people that evening.

The results the next morning were startling! Those 4-5 men came bounding in the door. Their faces were bright and eager. Instead of heading for the coffee and huddling together without eye contact, they reached out to grab my hand and said, "See, Bobbie (they say Bubbie!) eye smiles!" They got it! The need for connection and being valued to heal the brain itself, to build capacity for stress (even the stress of healing prayer!) and facilitate recovery.

After 3 weeks in Uzbekistan we headed for a week in Moscow. We were invited by a missionary family who, when they heard of our plans to train in Uzbekistan said, "Could you come here on the way back?"

In Moscow, after a Theophostic Prayer session with a young mother very troubled by issues in her family, she said, "I feel so free now. I want to sing!" We found her a guitar, and she sang and sang with a delightful true, pure voice." She gave us permission to take her picture at that moment of peace and release.

It was an amazing time of being sucked dry by people hungry to learn so they could help others. As they described it themselves, "We are like refugees swarming around a United Nations food truck." They recognized the desperate sense they had to wring us dry of every drop we could give them.

It was hard. The hours were long. But the reward is awesome.

Bobbie Maybee