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I Needed A Satan Bug (And So Do You!)

By Richard W. Greene

Many years ago, as I was preaching in a small Hindu village in a remote area of India, God taught me a powerful lesson that I have never forgotten. This lesson was so significant that it became a deeply held kingdom core value which has defined my life and ministry ever since.

It happened on my first trip to India. The searing heat of the day forced us to conduct our meetings in the late night and early morning hours. As we entered one village around midnight, I noticed that the entire community, including the Hindu priests, had gathered to hear the word of the Lord. I stood on the steps of the small Hindu temple and began to preach my carefully crafted gospel sermon. To tell you the truth, I was quite confident that we would see people saved; after all, I had my sermon and was wearing my best suit and tie. I must confess, however, that my confidence was more in my preaching than it was in the Lord. Midway through my message, as I was emphasizing a key point that Christ is the Son of the only true God, and that this God was the Creator of all things, a huge insect flew out of the jungle behind me and landed on my upper thigh. I had never seen such a large and ugly bug. It was heavy and moving in a strange way that seemed to indicate it was about to investigate my thigh more closely than I wanted it to. Without thinking too much about it, for this did not seem to be a moment when discussion, decorum, or strategizing was appropriate, I knocked the insect from my leg and quickly extinguished its life by aggressively stomping on it in full view of the villagers. The thought flashed through my mind that those in attendance might have been deeply offended by my action and I hoped none thought of this creature as being the reincarnation of someone’s grandmother. As I mentioned before, it was an unusually large bug and it made quite a mess when I squished it. In fact, after my message I had to clean my shoe. As I killed it, I made no mention of it and just kept preaching, not missing a beat in expounding the introduction, three points, and conclusion of what I considered to be one of my best gospel sermons. My translator was very good and kept up with me as I demonstrably and loudly called the people to receive Christ as their Savior. The response was powerful as the entire village, including the Hindu priests, came forward and with much emotion and earnestness repented of their idolatry and turned to the Lord.

After the meeting we were enjoying a cup of tea while picking diverse flying insects of a smaller stature from it and discussing the enthusiastic response of the people. With audaciously false humility, I mentioned to my translator that he must have done an outstanding job conveying my message to the people in their native tongue. He assured me most emphatically that the message – my preaching, mind you – had nothing to do with the response. This is not the kind of news a young preacher wants to hear, but I was curious, so I pressed him for an explanation. He responded that the people were compelled to repent of their sins and acknowledge Jesus as their Savior “because of the Satan bug.”

I was shocked and asked, “Satan bug?”

“The one you killed during the preaching. It is a very dangerous insect and has killed many of their people. They believe it is a god and that if they do not worship it, it will kill again. When you killed this insect it proved to them that your God is greater than their god. That is why they now believe in your God.”

The lesson I learned is quite obvious, and it was one I really needed to learn! I had put more trust in my own ability than I had in the Lord. I was trusting in my preparation, the content of my message, my ability to preach it with persuasion, and even in my appearance. While it is good to properly prepare, present the gospel accurately and with persuasion, and look your best, we know that none of those things can convert a soul. God didn’t use any of those things to redeem that village. He used my fear of a giant bug!

Our abilities, efforts, and appearance are nothing without the power of God. Jesus will more often use our weaknesses, doubts, and fears than He will our strengths. I thank God for that Satan bug. He taught me to value and seek God’s work rather than my own. He showed me that my best falls far short of God’s glory. I have often revisited that moment and wonder if the Lord was laughing as He flew that Satan bug onto my leg, knowing that it would not only redeem a village, but that it would reshape my life and ministry.

May the Lord bless you with a Satan bug moment!


The Keystone Project is a global missions network of churches and leaders committed to the fulfillment of the Great Commission in this generation.

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