My earliest memories are of nightmares. As a young boy living in Oklahoma I seemed to have a pretty good life. My mother and father worked and I grew up in daycare. I had three half brothers and a half sister though I never met her until years later. Family life was rough. My father was constantly in debt and addicted to alcohol and drugs. He abused my mother on a regular basis and I think it was this environment that left me open to such spiritual attack as a child. From the age of two I would have nightmares of monsters and boogie men.
One night I remember laying in bed trying to sleep after a particularly bad fight and looking at my night light. It had a glass base with a sculpture inside of a little boy who had been fishing. He was feeding his earthworms to some little birds in a nest. It had been a comforting scene in the past. This night though I remember the sculpture turning to look at me. It appeared then as if the boy came out of the glass and was a menacing presence. I got scared and shut my eyes. This had always worked in the past if I just shut my eyes it would go away. Only this time I didn’t. So I jumped out of bed and ran to my parents room. They had somehow made up after yet another fight and were both asleep. I stood in the hallway looking at them then I turned to look back down at my room and the boy was already on his way down the hall after me. I screamed and jumped into bed with my parents. The boy came into the room. I hid my head under the covers as my parents stirred. The boy had vanished and I found rest in their bed that night.
Some time later, when dad began to beat me, mom decided it was time for us to leave. So one day instead of daycare I stayed home with mom. My uncles from Texas showed up in trucks and a Uhaul and we left. We moved to Texas without my dad knowing that we were even thinking of going. I missed him terribly and didn’t understand why we had to go. I was almost five when we moved to Texas. Life was fun at first we stayed on my grandparents farm where I had fun with my two cousins and in many ways they became the serrogate brothers to replace the ones I had left behind.
I had a hard time differentiating between truth and story growing up. When my cousins and I would tell ghosts stories I would get overtaken by an intense fear. It didn’t help that my grandparents farm house was a two story farm home over two hundred years old and most of my aunts and uncles all had their ghost stories about it.
After a few months of living on the farm my mother found a job in the city and we moved into a duplex. I was still plagued by nightmares and scary visions. Our new home in town had a small berry bush outside my mothers window and I remember one time I saw a black almost shadow like substance dart into that bush and disappear.
My parents had attended a protestant church in Oklahoma and I had been raised with a basic Sunday School knowledge of God and Jesus. I didn’t understand why we had left Oklahoma and I cursed God on a regular basis for taking me from my father. I had a conversation at some point with my father over the phone and he told me that the Devil had my mother and that it was my job to pray for them to get back together. I got occasional letters from my father but when I was nine he died. It was at his funeral that I met my half sister for the first, and only, time. My fathers death embittered me toward God and I became increasingly iconoclastic.
While I was in elementary school I was also diagnosed with Aortic Valvular Stenosis of the left ventricle artery. My diagnosis was grim. I don’t remember all the ins and outs of it but I wasn’t expected to live long past my teens and I was immediately taken out of all athletics in school. Teachers were scared because I would come in from lunch pale and with purple lips after playing on the playground.
Life became harder. My mother couldn’t find any insurance to take me because I was a guaranteed loss. She was working as an accountant for a bar behind our house and was constantly worried and stressed out. My mother had been raised Catholic and left the church as soon as she left the house. She raised me to believe that organized religion was not to be trusted and that no one belief was better than another. She taught me that to experiment with drugs was expected but never to do anything too hard. She also introduced me to witchcraft. She unknowingly taught me that when dealing with spiritual things she had learned from some hippies in the 60’s that you were supposed to make a circle around yourself to keep out bad spirits.
It was around that same time that I discovered a passion for reading. My favorite books pertained to magic and dragons anything to escape and get me away from the pain of the real world. I delved at a young age into eastern mysticism and into Native American religions. I remember at one point I felt so in tune with the spiritual energies around me that i could run through my backyard out into the front yard and not even need to stop to open the gate in front of me. It would open before me and shut behind me.
In the midst of my growing interest with the very things I had lived in fear of for so long I remember telling God that I was tired of being “sick” and I wanted to be able to play like a normal boy.
I also remember making the conscious decision to no longer be afraid of the things that went bump in the night but to instead be the thing that people feared.
In the seventh grade I found a friend in english class who also read many of the same fantasy and horror books that I did. We became fast friends sharing this in common. It was around that same time that bullies became a real problem and he and I were both bullied by a group of older boys. That summer I hit puberty and became larger than the bullies and they quit bullying me.
I went on to high school but my middle school buddy did not go to the same school I did, so I had to start over and found friends once again that read all the same books I did. On one particularly bad day I was sitting in the lunch room with an older friend and began discussing a character out of one of our books. This character was easily identified with by me because of his sick weakly stature, but he became a wizard and soon both challenged and managed to kill a Goddess in the series. I remember asking my friend if he ever wished that all that magic stuff was real and looked me square in the eye and said that it was. He wanted to show me so I came over to his house for a sleep over one weekend. He pulled several store bought spell books and psychic manuals. We immediately began to try putting out candle flames with our minds and found some exciting success. That night I became a witch.
By my sophomore year there was a core group of five male witches at our high school. One of the guys mother was a member of the Texas Council for Magickal Arts and so we all had a pretty good hook up into the occult. We all frequented the new age and witchcraft shops around town. i became adept and finding and communicating with “Spirit Guides” reading Tarot cards and the like. My friends and I would all have sleep overs and practice witchcraft together. I lived this way from my freshman year of high School until I was 21 years old.
It was after I graduated high school that I delved deeper and more seriously into the witchcraft. Out of high school I had no goals or plan for life so I went to Massage Therapy school. I also learned Reiki which is simply another form of Witchcraft. I remember in the class at the end of it we went through a guided mediation to meet with a powerful spirit guide. In the vision I didn’t find a spirit guide but I saw myself standing at the feet of Jesus sitting on a throne frozen in a block of ice. The vision so disturbed me that I wouldn’t share it with the others in the class.
While I was in classes I found a job working at the mall in a seasonal Halloween store. There I met two lesbian witches and two Christians. I was really taken by the beauty of one of the Christians and instantly thought she was out of my league. By the end of the season though she and I were dating and sleeping together.
It was because of her parents that I first went to church. They were threatening to break us up if I didn’t at least visit their church. They had been told by their daughter that I attended another local church. So I did what any good witch would do for the sake of so called love, I geared up with all of my amulets and talismans underneath my shirt and I went with her to church. I had heard of this church it was a charismatic mega church and among the witchcraft community it was rumored that these Christians were crazy. I instantly disliked the businessy feel of the building but when I made it into the main Sanctuary I saw this bald, goatee clad man with an electric guitar rocking out in worship and I thought, “Man this looks nothing like my grandmothers Catholic Church.”
By the end of service I had so enjoyed myself that I told my girlfriend we could go back sometime if her parents forced us to.
Eventually the girl and I became engaged. One late evening after she had been hanging out with a witch friend and me, I asked her what she thought of my “religion”. Up to this point I had always been very confrontational about Christianity and could out argue her easily because she was lukewarm at best and had no idea how to defend a faith she herself didn’t practice. This night was different though…I had been explaining to my witch friend a new character I had developed for a role playing game I designed. When out of my mouth, not even in my voice, I began to quote scripture and explain the nature of truth to my friend. My fiance recognized it as scripture and was blown away by what I had just said, but I just played it off as if “just because I wasn’t a Christian didn’t mean I didn’t know what the Bible said”. My witch friend applauded my speech and went home. I was shaken by the experience and somehow was open to hearing what my fiance had to say about my religion.
So I asked her, “What do you think of my religion?”, she simply responded that it was demon worship. I flew off the handle with her and drove her home.
Later that night I was performing a ritual and cast my circle. I was surrounded by years worth of acquired witchcraft paraphernalia. Incense was burning as a sacrifice to my idols I had around the room. A Buddha, dancing Shiva, Tiki head, etc. and I sat on my bed enfolded in my robe and began to think this one thought. “What if she’s right?” My mind began to repeat that question and I grew cold and a cloud seemed to descend upon the room. Even though it was lit by many candles it became difficult to see and I once again got under my covers and tried to shut my eyes to lock out the fear, just as I had done so often as a little boy. I peeked out and it was as if a curtain had been lifted and I saw all around me not idols of wood and brass but laughing mocking figures that had no good intentions for me, but the evil had almost a physical presence. I despaired.
Just then in the deepest fear I had ever felt a voice spoke to me. Not like the voices of the spirits I had long communicated with but a voice of gentle rain, but also powerful thunder. It was a warm voice and a soothing voice and with two words it banished the fear and the images. The voice simply said “I AM“. The voice was so real and shocking that I jumped from my bed and began looking through my house believing that a friend was playing some trick on me. I found no one though and I blew out the candles snuffed the incense and as I began to fall asleep I heard another similar voice begin to tell me how much He loved me and I drifted off.
Six months later my fiance and I had completed our pre-marriage classes and went for our first meeting with the pastor she had chosen to marry us. He was a kindly older gentleman by the name of Phil Mercado. He began speaking to us and asked us where we were with the Lord. Now my fiance knew this was coming and she had been coaching me on the drive to the church to say that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior. I told her I got it and to shut up and leave me alone. So Pastor Phil says, “I don’t know you that well so tell me if you were to die today where would you go?” I said Heaven. To me heaven was an ambiguous place like the Elysian fields or the happy hunting grounds. He followed up by asking me “Why?”. I was dumb founded. I knew somehow I was supposed to say that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior but the words would not come out of my mouth. I sputtered some drivel about W.W.J.D. and always trying to do the right thing. Pastor Phils’ face fell, he opened his bible and shared the Romans road with me and then he said that for his own sake would we object to being led in a prayer. We agreed and got down on our knees there in his office in front of his desk. I repeated the words he was saying but in my mind it was as if I was kneeling before the feet of Jesus once again only this time he wasn’t frozen in a block of ice but was clothed in glory. I realized in that moment that my whole life everyone had been wrong. I realized that it didn’t matter that my mother thought religion was a crutch or that all my friends thought Christians were hypocrites. It only mattered in between me and Jesus and I accepted Him to be my Lord.
On the drive home I told my fiance that I had meant the prayer and she got visibly upset with me.
Three times before we were married God told me distinctly not to marry her but I did anyway. I mean the invitations were already sent out what was God thinking? He would just have to deal with it. As I grew closer to God she ran farther away. As a gift to her I set up a computer for her to use. Once again God told me in no uncertain terms not to set up the computer. I had promised already and did it anyway. Three months in to the marriage she met a guy online and left. She was the one thing at that point in my life that was more important than God and she was finally gone. I broke before the Lord and praised Him in my pain and sorrow. A few weeks later I lay on the couch and was reading my Bible. In Exodus Moses goes up the mountain to get the commandments and he questions God. He says to God how will the people know that I didn’t just make this stuff up but that it is from you. God says to tell the people His Name. Moses says what’s your name God and God replies “I AM“.
I got the chills and saw Gods providence in my life. That incurable degenerative disease? I was healed at some time. A few years after the initial disease I enrolled in Judo classes. One of the men in the class heard me talking about my condition and couldn’t believe the diagnosis. He read EKG’s and such. So he snuck me into the hospital (no insurance remember) and ran the tests on me. There was no heart disease. He told my mom to take the print out and have several specialists around the state and country read them but there was no disease there. His thought was that there had never been a heart condition. But my mother had the old printouts that showed it as well. I was healed. Even in my anger and hatred of God He had healed me, because He had a plan and a purpose for me.
After I was saved and my first wife had left I gathered up all the old witchcraft books and stuff I could find. Anything that wasn’t pleasing to God really. Cd’s, books, games, magazines, movies, etc. and I burned them all in my backyard. As the pillar of smoke rose from the flames I saw an evil face appear resembling one of the many evil spirits I had encountered in my years of witchcraft. The face came at me with the appearance of a scream and broke over me. Then it dissipated and the smoke continued to rise straight up into the night. I had Jesus now and for the first time in my life I didn’t have to fear any longer.
P.S. I am now a Youth Pastor and married to a beautiful Christian woman who loves the Lord and am the father of a wonderful little girl.