The death of a Mom or Dad can be a difficult adjustment,
even if this special person has enjoyed a long life and we
have families of our own to comfort us in our time of grief.
But when a parent dies while his or her children are still
young, those left behind may suffer financially as well as
emotionally. Such was the case of Os Hillman, whose Dad
was killed in a plane crash when he was only 14.
"Our family had to make an adjustment in our standard of
living," Os recalls. "When I heard my mother complain about
finances in the home, I subconsciously said I never wanted
to experience financial need again."
In 1984, Os began a full-service advertising agency in
Atlanta known as the Aslan Group, named for the lion in C.S.
Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The agency became extremely
successful, and Os was determined to keep it that way.
Because he had such a strong motivation to succeed, Os felt
the need to control employees who had authority to make
decisions that might have a negative impact on his
finances. "If they failed to live up to my expectations, I
would put restrictions on them," he says. "I would instill
punitive actions that would make them pay for their
actions if they failed."
Looking back on the situation, Os realizes he wasn't
consciously trying to afflict his employees. Instead, his
actions were subconscious, natural responses to the events
taking place around him. And as he would later learn, there
was a spiritual dimension to those responses. Satan had
established a spiritual stronghold of fear and insecurity in
his life, and the formation of this stronghold dated back to
the lean times after his father's death. But it wasn't until
God allowed his world to be shattered that Os came to grips
with his problem.
In March of 1994, his wife of 15 years filed for divorce,
and during that same week, he lost a major client who
represented 80 percent of his business. In addition, Os
learned that the Securities and Exchange Commission had
seized the assets of an investment company in which the
Aslan Group had put $100,000.
To make matters even worse, his company lost another
major client due to what he calls "a comedy of errors by
our staff and vendors." This string of events would be
enough to test the mettle of even the strongest executives.
But Os' trial wasn't over.
The two clients he'd lost refused to pay their balances,
which together exceeded $160,000. He lost his relationship
with his only child for a period as a result of his
separation. And another investment company called to
report that some $200,000 of the Aslan Group's money and
Os' personal money was being frozen due to embezzling by
one of the investment company's partners.
Because the timing of these events was so unusual, Os
knew beyond a doubt that God was trying to get his
attention. Now, he was ready to listen. Through the
influence of a Christian couple, Mike and Sue Dowgiewicz
(pronounced Dog-i-witz), Os was able to see the source of
The Dowgiewiczs had served as administrators of a church
retreat center in New England for 10 years. They'd taught
more than 5,000 people from a variety of denominations
and served as "pastors" to the pastors, who ministered to
their congregations but had no one to minister to them.
"Mike researched and wrote about the influence of spiritual
strongholds during this period," Os says.
"During those 10 years, he saw some interesting patterns.
"Without exception, when one individual discovered what
strongholds were influencing them, they discovered their
brothers, sisters, and parents had the same stronghold
"He found that some churches often attracted people with
the same stronghold. He also found that key employees in
businesses, such as mine, often had the same strongholds."
Some other important points on this subject, found in the
Dowgiewiczs' workbook Demolishing Strongholds, are as
* People are comprised of body, soul, and spirit. Although
the spirit world is hidden from our vision, it is very real,
and it is the place where strongholds exist.
* Strongholds consist of a demonic fortress of thoughts
housing evil spirits that:
(1) Control, dictate, and influence our attitudes and
behavior; (2) Oppress and discourage us; and (3) Affect how
we view or react to situations, circumstances, or people.
* We have seven basic needs, including security and
intimate love and companionship, which should be met
according to God's design. When we try to meet those needs
in other ways, we make it possible for strongholds to
develop in our spiritual lives. For example, strongholds are
formed when we "entertain thoughts and participate in
activities that are contrary to the will of God," the
Dowgiewiczs say. "When these thoughts and activities
become habitual, we allow a spiritual fortification to be
built around that spirit and its influence. We become so
accustomed to responding to the 'voice' of that spirit that
its abode in us is secure."
The couple identify 15 strongholds and their symptoms. For
example, the stronghold of fear and insecurity, which had
affected Os' behavior for so many years, is evidenced by
symptoms such as inferiority, lack of trust, perfectionism,
and dread of failure.
To conquer strongholds, Christians need spiritual weapons.
"Each believer has the power of the Holy Spirit to renounce
these strongholds with the authority of the name of Jesus
our Lord," the Dowgiewiczs say.
As 2 Corinthians 10:4 points out, "For the weapons of our
warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the
destruction of fortresses."
However, believers should remember that once a stronghold
is conquered, it can be formed again. That's by they need
accountability relationships with other believers who will
help them see the outward symptoms of old strongholds
that may be in the process of rebuilding. In addition, other
believers can help them avoid behavior that could start the
rebuilding process or lead to the formation of an entirely
Meanwhile, believers need to keep a watch on themselves to
help ensure that their victories over strongholds are
maintained. After dealing with his stronghold, Os took the
Dowgiewiczs' material to his four sisters in South
Carolina. Remembering that Mike Dowgiewicz had recorded
the same strongholds in numerous families, he presented
the list of strongholds to his sisters and asked them to
choose any that might apply to them. All of them selected
fear and insecurity.
Learning about strongholds, as it did for Os, resulted in
dramatic changes in his oldest sister's life. She had a
history of severe clinical anxiety and depression and had
been on prescription drugs for many years. He spent a few
hours praying with his sister over each of the strongholds
that had affected her life. "Many were the exact strongholds
I had been influenced by," he says, noting that after their
prayer, he saw an immediate change in her countenance.
"About three weeks went by. She called me one night and I
asked her how things were going. 'Great!' she said. 'I am off
prescription drugs completely!'
For Os, conquering his stronghold has changed his
relationship with God, his business, and the people who are
close to him. He has a growing awareness of God's voice in
his life; an increased ability to walk free of fear, even in
the midst of financial difficulties; a greater level of peace
and assurance that God is in control; and a new ability to
relate to other people on a deeper, more caring, level.
But the Dowgiewiczs' teaching on strongholds isn't the only
thing that's affected Os' life and business. He's also
following the principles taught in another of the couple's
books: Reclaiming the Early Church.
"Throughout the world today, God is calling the Jewish
people to the land of Israel and restoring the Hebraic
principles of the early church, which made it a powerful
force during its time," Os says. Under Hebraic principles,
the church relied on God's power to accomplish things that
only God could do. As the Apostle Paul wrote, "And my
message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of
wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but
on the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
"This was a way of life for the early church," Os says. "But
Mike and Sue's research shows that by the 3rd century,
many anti-Semitic writings and practices had entered the
church through the teachings and philosophical influences
of converted Greek philosophers."
For example, consider some of the differences in the
Hebraic and Greek approaches to living out the Word of God.
* Active-appeals to the
* Process Oriented
* Emphasizes direct
* Emphasizes age and
* Cognitive-appeals to the
* Program Oriented
* Heavy program emphasis
* Emphasizes education
* Doers of the Word
* Bible-reality that must
* Belief without cost to self
* Bible-data that must be
* Small intimate groups
* Leader as facilitator
* Large impersonal groups
* Leader-directed and
* Love, acceptance,
* Transparency encouraged
* Mutual toleration
* Transparency discouraged
"I realized I was a product of the Greek influenced church,"
Os says. "I had gained a great deal of head knowledge but
was bearing little fruit from that knowledge."
Os notes that today's churches are full of devoted
Christians who serve God but do not see Him at work in and
around them. In the eyes of unbelievers, these Christians
are living in their own strength. There is nothing about
their lives that can only be explained in terms of the
activity of God.
These Christians aren't undertaking anything that requires
supernatural power. In contrast, the Apostles, though very
small in number, set out to take the gospel to the ends of
the earth. And through their success, as well as the
miraculous events that accompanied their work, God's
supernatural power was evident in their lives. Furthermore,
Os notes that caring also was a vital element of the early
church. And, he adds, "Someone once said that 'nobody cares
what you know until they know that you care'."
Os has shared his testimony with other businessmen, and
the result has been changed lives. "I've never been around
anything that bore more positive fruit in helping
relationships be rebuilt," he says. "God so very much wants
us to have a love relationship with Him. He wants to be
first in our lives. If we will do that, He promises to give us
a life that is full and rich in His blessings."