I grew up in a Lutheran home. I heard about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, about believing in Christ and His death and resurrection- and doing good works. I didn’t hear about my desperate need to repent of my sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation though. I was reassured my baptism, confirmation and good works kept me in good stance with God.
I was a kid that hardly got in trouble. At 18 I met my soon to be husband. He was a cradle Catholic and his parents were devout. After we married and I was pregnant with our first child, I decided to become a Catholic too. As a so-so Catholic, I figured I was a good enough person to make clearance on Judgment Day being I didn’t murder anyone or rob banks. I believed any other small sin of mine was forgiven through the works I did and because I believed in God.
I was around 23 years old, a wife and mother to a one-year-old. I started watching John Edwards. He is a practicing medium with his own talk show. I found it entertaining. I definitely questioned the validity of it all, but I was still intrigued and tuned into every episode. I thought either the man’s claims were true or the whole show was a farce. I didn’t even think about there being a third option- like say…demonic deception.
I soon found myself deep into something I NEVER thought I would be. It all started off with me seeing a figure of a man walking behind me as I stared at a darkened computer screen with the lamp on behind me. No one was there when I turned around. I wondered, an overactive imagination or a ghost? I tried to ignore it. But soon followed several other encounters; hearing voices, seeing things move that shouldn’t and even feeling a mouth blow hard in my ear as I sat in my living room. I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore. Most people seemed hesitant to believe me, except those in the Catholic faith, kid you not, who would then proceed to tell me their own stories! I knew my experiences were real, I knew I wasn’t making it up. I was just trying to make sense of it somehow. Someone reminded me that the previous owner of our house talked about someone dying in that house years before. So I started entertaining the idea of a dead person making himself known to me. I stuck with that story, because I really didn’t know what else to think.
Weeks after all of this began I entered college. I enrolled in Psychology 101 and about a week into the class our fun-loving, charismatic teacher started talking about her ability to read people’s auras, tap into past lives and speak to dead people (yes Psych 101 at a decent college. Be warned parents! The college let her stay there for years knowing she taught this stuff during and after class. Scary!). She told us it was a “gift” she had since the age of 4. She would go around the class and tell people what injuries they had, what they had done earlier that day, etc. Some kids seemed uncomfortable with her unexplained knowledge, yet with all that had been going on in my own life, my ears perked up and I was intrigued.
One day, early on in the semester, she made the statement that when we find a feather in a peculiar place, it’s an angel telling us we are on the right path. The VERY next day while taking a shower I reached up to put shampoo in my hair and felt something poking out of my hair- it was a HUGE feather!! I mean, it was a big one, not a soft little fuzzy one. I thought, hmm, maybe this lady’s teachings were the right path and an angel is telling me so? As silly as it sounds, when you are given a “sign” that seems to validate prior feelings or information, it gets your attention – and without necessary discernment you are soon locked in.
I became locked in as I kept hearing voices and having unexplained spiritual experiences. This teacher would invite a few of us naïve ones to hang out at her place and call on the dead. She would school us on all the ins and outs of the spiritual world, on her experiences and how to orchestrate our own encounters. She taught us “thought-ology” as she called it, which is the practice of thinking positive thoughts enough that they come true because of the energy they possess (I later found out this is what Word of Faith circles teach, but with all the right words). She would give us Bible verses (and twist them) to show us that reincarnation was biblical and she would tell us that we had past lives and that we need to tap into those lives to grow in our knowledge. I was taking notes, buying books she recommended and worst of all, telling my family and friends all of this ‘wonderful’ insight, trying to get them to fully endorse it. Most did. I was reading auras on other people, using crystals and tapping into the spiritual world as this woman had instructed me. The semester ended but we kept in touch over phone and I met with her and a few others occasionally. This teacher would tell me, while in front of the others, that I have a special gift in the spirit realm and would treat me with special gifts and praise. I enjoyed the limelight. Boy, I was in deep. Blech!
A week after 9/11, I realized my husband found someone better. I was headed for a divorce while pregnant, in the middle of college and unemployed. I was utterly devastated. It was extremely difficult, but it was the very thing I needed in order to eventually fall on my knees before God. At a low point, when I felt I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself, I remember crying out, literally, “I just want the truth. Is there such a thing?!” I desperately hoped that God, if there was a God, would help me. The “dead people” sure weren’t helping!
My aunt Tami was recently saved herself and heard of what happened. She also knew of my history in the occult. She took the opportunity to reach out to me in truth. Email after email she talked to me with much patience and compassion, yet with boldness and clarity, the Word of God. I kept arguing against her beliefs with things I believed to be true in the occult practices. But as hard as I argued, she didn’t waver – and I still listened. After all, I claimed to be a Christian, shouldn’t I be ok with talking about the Bible? I began to be very surprised with myself – of how irritated I got with Scripture and the name of Christ being discussed for more than a few seconds. I could tolerate an hour long church service at the Catholic and Lutheran church talking about God but 5 minutes of Aunt Tami talking about Scriptures or Christ, was torture.
As months went by and as I tried to rely on the occult practices for strength and guidance, I would see more holes appear in its authenticity. This would eat at me! I tried so hard to make it all fit. I poured more into the occultic books to reassure myself. I had sold this so hard to everyone, including myself, so I wanted to hang on to it even harder. My psychology teacher had taught me that we have the control over spiritual beings, spiritual matters, and all outcomes in our live if we just thought right. But seeing that wasn’t exactly panning out, I didn’t know what to do about it.
Right after my daughter was born I moved back to my home town to be closer to family. Looking back I could see God working in getting me there. What would end up being the most crucial part of the whole thing was the fact that God was moving my aunt Tami back there as well. After we were both moved into the same town we would visit one another, just getting to know one another even better. She would increasingly bring up the truths of the Scripture to me; of how to be saved.
One day I went over to her house to help her paint. We were side by side painting a wall when we both heard a man’s voice say VERY loud and clear as if he was yelling at the back of our heads, “Hey!” We both quickly turned around and saw only our little kids playing behind us. Then we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, “did you hear that?!” All of a sudden my right shoulder started to tingle and her left shoulder started to tingle really hard as if something was standing right in between us. She said later that when that happened she first freaked out a little but knew right away what was happening – it was apparent that God was allowing her see the world that I was living in; the world of dark, demonic deception. Right after it happened, she silently prayed and I just kept saying, “See, this is what I’ve been talking about!” She came over to me with fervency and said something like, “Gina, these are demons. There is no such thing as dead people walking around. In Christ’s presence, the demons tremble. Jesus is the only One Who can make the demons flee out of your life.” I believed her for some reason, probably because God had been working on my heart. I was relieved to know the identity of the spirits that kept taunting me and that there was someone who could deal with them once and for all, Jesus!
Shortly after that incident, she convinced me to attend a Bible group. I wasn’t sure if I could handle an hour or so of talking about Jesus and Scripture so I was hesitant but I loved spending time with the other women and talking. After attending a few times we were discussing a Scripture verse on ‘inheritance’. I think the verse literally slapped me across the face. I can’t remember the Scripture reference because at that time I didn’t pay attention to those things, but God was letting me know that I will not share in His heavenly inheritance if I don’t repent and go to Christ in confession and faith.
At that moment, without making it aware to anyone else, I understood exactly what I needed to do! I don’t remember anything right after that, just getting home and running to my bedroom, falling down to the floor and crying to the Lord Jesus to forgive me, something Tami had told me many times before that I needed to do. I finally saw that I didn’t really have Him but that I needed Him and I wanted Him. Instantaneously my eyes were opened. I remember standing up and realizing I saw sin differently, or rather for the first time. I remember thinking, “oh my, lying and bad language is such a sin” I was thinking of family and friends and the desperate state they were in and knowing I had to tell them about their need for Christ. I soon went to all those that I shared the occult with and told them I was wrong, it’s demonic and Christ saved me out of it. I asked for their forgiveness and I gave them the Gospel. I looked at my precious kids, who were so little and unaware of what was going on in my life, and knew life just drastically changed for them too! Praise God!
From that day on I was going 100 mph towards God. I could finally understand God’s Word so crystal clear (it no longer seemed as if I was reading a different language!) and I soaked in it. I talked till early morning with Tami on the things of God and asked a billion questions. I joined Bible studies, attended Christian seminars and ate, drank, and slept Jesus! I couldn’t get enough of His Word. He poured so much life and truth into my heart as I read His Word, it was beyond amazing. I eventually got what I asked for on that dark day I cried out for truth. God in His great mercy gave me saving TRUTH. Thankfully, not too long after my salvation, I was able to witness my sister’s salvation and transformation. What a blessing!! I just think of how awesome it is that God saved Tami, my sister and I within just a few years time. Thankfully so – because as the Lord was growing us the devil was attacking us and we were able to lean on the Word together to encourage one another in God’s truth as we battled. Thankfully I now also have a solid Christian husband who encourages me to live out my faith; who I lean on for encouragement as well.
Tami was right. Demons were kicked out once Christ gave me new life. But they were not happy about it and the attacks came in different ways, especially when I tried to share my faith- but I kept remembering the power that I possessed, the Lord, and because of Him I was no longer in their snares and thankfully became less and less naïve to their devices.
I’m reminded often when reading the Word and thinking back at what Christ saved me out of that I must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). Christians these days want to turn a deaf ear to a lot of what Satan is up to. It sometimes frightens them, yet there is nothing to fear when we are in Christ. Sometimes demonic activity just doesn’t concern them and they end up buying what the demons are selling in a saint’s suit. Christ just wants us to be aware of the powers that want to destroy us so that we can resist them by holding fast to the Truth of God’s Word. Through Christ we have victory!
Since my salvation, I have a growing desire to witness to those who are lost but to those especially ensnared in Catholicism, mysticism, spiritism (which is heavy in Catholicism as they do much conjuring of the dead, supposedly) and other false teachings-some of the avenues through which Satan tries to kill, steal and destroy.
Demons are clever, fast and seasoned. They parade as an angel of light/godly, or as something innocent and non-threatening. We need to be on the alert. Tami was the ONLY person in my life to warn me of the dangers that I was entangled in and to give me the Gospel straight up. I’m forever grateful! And I believe we all need to do more of that.
I was a sinner deserving of Hell. I was what Revelation 21:8 speaks of, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” I was also what Leviticus 20:6 speaks of, “As for the person who turns to mediums and to spiritists, to play the harlot after them, I will also set My face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, He didn’t let my story end there.
By the way, I tried to reach that psychology teacher after I was saved. She wouldn’t answer the phone or respond to my messages. I’ve continued to pray for her and all of her students over the years.
I was saved from MUCH. ALL glory to God! I most definitely cannot boast. Thank you Lord Jesus!
Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!