THE retreat master, Fr. Douglas Rowe, arrived late. He looked pale and weak. He said he had bronchitis and had no voice.

I ushered him inside the room. Thirty-eight people were waiting for the Awakenings retreat to begin. He inspected the place and told me that the sound system would not allow him to be heard.

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I asked one of the participants--Rosendo Menchavez--to get a bigger sound system. But when he brought it in, we failed to make it operate.

The whiteboard pen we prepared didn’t write while the blackboard we offered as backup was too small.

The priests of the parish had gone out, and there were no lay workers for us to call upon for help. “Let’s just cancel this,” the priest told me.

I thought, “We had arranged everything for the retreat to happen, we can’t just quit.”

For a month, we asked permission to hold the retreat in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Glen Eden, Waitakere City.

We publicized the activity in nearby parishes. We invited family, friends and associates to attend.

As I went about trying to figure out a solution, I prayed hard that things would turn out right. I prayed. I was at peace in the middle of a crisis.

Suddenly, things turned around. One of the priests, Fr. Reno Alima, came back early and allowed us to use the church, with all its sound facilities, including a lapel microphone.

We all marched to the church, eager to listen to the retreat master. A participant bought a set of whiteboard pens. Fr. Rowe regained his voice to lead us through a journey of faith for four hours.

The teachings penetrated the hearts of the participants, a multi-ethnic mix of people. Fr. Rowe said that while all people are children of God, those baptized are sons and daughters of the Father. He said that our life should be focused on God, that we should be passionately in love with God.

Josephine Matiga, who asked us to organize the retreat, said that the devil worked to prevent the activity from happening.

Later, I was informed that one family which was on its way to the retreat figured in a vehicular accident. (Had they arrived, we would have overshot our target of 40 participants).

Satan created stumbling blocks so participants would miss a spiritually uplifting experience. But we fought the devil in each and every corner he turned up. Our prayers became the weapon, God’s word our sword. Satan lost.

When the devil comes, you need to “put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil” (Ephesians 6:13).

Pray. “Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

Surely, Satan will be afraid. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We will be fighting the devil for as long as we are alive. We will prevail. “Every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Aptly, we joined in a shared meal in gratitude for the success of the retreat and to celebrate the birthdays of some of the participants. We sang our hearts out through the night, knowing that we had conquered the devil and that God won.