Major Christian Ministry Destroyed - Tragic Victim of Unwise Spiritual Warfare

Cornerstone Christian Counselling a major source of spirit-lead Christian prayer counselling in Ontario, Canada, is no more.  You will see by the letter sent out before it went out of existence, that it was experiencing major difficulties on many fronts. 

I believe that this was self-induced spiritual warfare brought about by an unhealthy addressing of demons at the start of prayer therapy sessions.  This practice may have origens that go back to practices originally advocated by Ed Smith Ph.D. - the innovator of TheoPhostic prayer ministry. 

This article is meant to focus on a unhealthy practice and is not a criticism of those involved in the work of Christian prayer therapy or of listening prayer. 

I believe that discernment is needed when implimenting practices derived from the work of Dr. Ed Smith (TheoPhostic = God's light).  While the core insights are very helpful, the  practices described here are unhelpful.

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Tragic Example of Unhealthy Spiritual Warfare - A Christian Ministry Destroyed

Article by George Hartwell M.Sc. 2011,, Mississauga, Ontario, All rights reserved.

Cornerstone Christian Counselling, based in Kitchaner-Waterloo, Ontario, was founded by Rev. Art Zylstra.  It is tragic that it is no longer in existence.

One of the final communications from the counselling service will show that it was clearly under spiritual attack. 

It is my opinion that one of the tragedies of this attack is that practices of addressing demons at the start of counselling sessions may have opened the ministry to attack.  I believe that there is a loss of spiritual protection brought about when one addresses, commands and binds demons at the start of a ministry session.

The principle is that you get what you invoke.  When you start off by addressing demons you are in danger of getting more demons.  My concern is the initial focus on demons will likely call in demons.

By the way, the same priniciple works with higher level dark powers - the ones the Bible calls princes.  If you address, bind and command higher level powers of darkness, then you are in danger of attracting higher levels of darkness.  The focus of prayer energy against the powers of darkness is not a good strategy and almost guarantees loss of spiritual protection and increased attack on your physical health, finances, supply lines, unity and communication in family or other key relationships.

Mark Garner confirmed to me in personal communication that Cornerstone Christian counselling followed the practice of addressing, binding and commanding demons at the start of a Christian counselling session. 

"Dear Friends of Cornerstone,

We have had a few areas of attack and also reasons for praise over the last few weeks.

It seems the enemy would like to destroy Cornerstone and is trying to put some heat on this ministry.

On the negative side, Angie was hit from behind in her car last week and sustained a brain contusion, a bruise on the inside of her head. She is recovering nicely.

Her husband had 3 close calls on the same day. Angie has the challenge of being the office manager and bookkeeper which is a responsibility she is doing well in.

Don Hutchinson's wife and daughter were also in a car accident. Both are fine but the car's a wreck. 

We have had some people seeking counselling that have been difficult for the office staff to handle - demanding in knowing how to respond.

We have had loss of income as a result of client difficulties, me being away because of  prior commitments and one of our counsellor's resigning .

But expenses continue.  This has meant myself and one other office staff member have not been paid for the last two pay periods.  We have concerns brought to our attention by counsellors and others which we need wisdom in order to answer. 

Please pray for God's wisdom in that area.  Please continue to pray for all the counsellors and staff.

The ongoing uncertainty about the re-location of this ministry -

and the water damage to the office during recent heavy rains has been stressful.

We were also served with an eviction notice to leave here when our lease expires at the end of June but we joyfully anticipate having a new place to work from in downtown Kitchener. We expect this to be confirmed in the near future. 

Praise God, it seems like we are moving into a new phase of ministry.  The pruning process, in His hands, will bring forth more fruit!  Let's hold each other up before God in this season.  A fresh harvest lies just ahead.  God be glorified through us all!   Peace, Mark'

In this letter you can hear that they were under attack in various ways:  a staff member left, two car accidents effecting the office menager and her family and causing brain damage, difficult clients, water damage at the office, loss of their lease, some staff were not getting paid.  I believe there was additional stress being caused by lawsuits from clients. 

This is not pruning to enter a new phase of ministry; this is an all out spiritual attack on a ministry that was successful in destroying the ministry. 

I believe that is a lesson in this for those with ears to hear.  You need to discern the practices that you are being taught.  Here are some tests to use.

  1. Does this practice focus our eyes on God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit?

  2. Does this practice focus our eyes on demons, dark powers and the work of  Satan?  

  3. With this practice are attributes of God named, is praise directed to God, are we lifting up God.  Is our faith clearly in God.

  4. With this practice are we responding to the devil, his demons, his actions, his lies and without realizing it putting faith in, giving glory to and worshipping Satan? 

  5. With this practice are we relying on our prayers, our wisdom and our techniques to defeat Satan.  Do we have too much faith in ourselves?



For more about spiritual warfafe read John Paul Jackson's book "Needless Casualties of War."


George Hartwell M.Sc. is a Christian counselor with a masters degree from the University of Calgary, 40 years experience integrating prayer therapy into his professional counseling practice.
To learn all About George or his professional practice see: George's Professional web site, Christian marriage counselling, Christian phone therapy, and Christian Marriage Retreats.  To e-mail George click on:

Mr. Hartwell'sain professional web site is:  I offer phone counseling and brief informational consultations as well as regular in person individual and couple counslling sessions and intensive therapeutic marriage therapy.

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