Who do you talk to about being plagued by demons? Most people are going to think you’re crazy. But our experiences with them were real and, as far as I’m concerned, incontrovertible. In Utah, we’d spoken to some Pentacostals who suggested that we could get rid of the demons ourselves by just ordering them out in the name of Jesus. That was only partly true. The demons would leave, but they wouldn’t stay gone. My pastor in Denver suggested that someone here in Harrisonburg could help. After our move, we talked to him, as well as to another couple we trusted. Both suggested that if our problems were severe, Isaiah 61 Ministries might be able to help.
Our problems were severe, disrupting our daily lives with illness, depression, and despair. So we contacted Isaiah 61 and spoke with Roger. He warned us that if we pursued deliverance, the demons would try hard to stop us. He was right. By the time we had completed the application process, I was beginning to wonder if I belonged to the demons and was beyond help.
The deliverance process began with a 15-page application. I submitted my genealogy, information about sins I know my ancestors committed, my own history, and my own sins and infirmities. My past is less than clean, so I was somewhat encouraged to see that there were sins listed on the checklist that I had never heard of. I filled out the application as thoroughly as I could, withholding nothing. Some of my history I felt embarrassed to share with people I barely knew, but I was desperate, and what’s the point of the process if I’m not going to be honest?
The deliverance itself took three 5-hour sessions for my wife and me. Everything the four-person team did or proposed was firmly based in scripture, though I have to admit much of it was foreign to me as a Mennonite. And, as the sessions approached, I became quite nervous. I was about to bare my soul to four strangers. But, more importantly, what if my faith was insufficient?
My first session began with a prayer, which among other things acknowledged the team’s power and authority over demons before God as justified in the Gospel. Then came the first part, a lengthy interview to clarify my answers on the application. In the second part, I repented and renounced my sins and the sins of my ancestors, renounced my vows to other religions, and acknowledged my broken vows, including my marriage vows to my first two wives. The team also broke any and all curses that may have been upon me.
Yes, really. Though I have no intellectual framework to support the idea, I now accept that curses exist, and that they pass down through generations. (Not long ago, a psychic told my wife she was under a multi-generational curse that was over 400 years old. Ironically, though she was correct, consulting her worsened the infestation of demons.) There are specific curses mentioned in the Bible, such as that of Adam and Eve after they disobeyed God, and that of the Jews, who claimed responsibility for the blood of Christ when they demanded His crucifixion. There are curses spoken or written, some even by our own selves as when we “claim” a certain negative characteristic through our self-talk. And there are curses associated with specific actions. Roger claims that the French are under a curse for the killing of the Hugonots. I also discerned a curse associated with the House of David I of Scotland, though for what specific act I could not tell.
In the third part, the team “tested” for spirits. This involved the team leader, Roger, calling out the spirits one by one and commanding them to leave. I was amazed at how many of them came out. There were at least dozens, possibly more than a hundred, though I have no way of counting them. Most surprising to me was a strong Norse presence, which I saw manifested as a steel helmet. I know I have Viking ancestors, but they’re so far back I doubted they would have any effect on me. Apparently, they did. I also have one ancestor who seems to appear from nowhere, and I suspected he might be Native American. When Roger called out any Native American spirits, I saw a vision of a Native American village in which a blonde woman was bound with leather things, leading me to believe that my ancestor was in fact half Native, the child of a kidnapped female settler (which apparently happened quite often on the frontier in Maine). Perhaps the oddest encounter, though, occurred in my second session. There was a darkness lodged in my abdomen, and Roger called it out but it refused to move. He asked what it was called, and it replied, “Flexus.” He asked why it was still there, and it replied, “Because it’s warm.” He asked its purpose, and it answered, “I’m the defiant one.” Which, obviously, it was. Roger then began a very legalistic prayer, terminating its rights and canceling its assignments, and it left very painfully through my head.
But let’s back up a moment. As part of my interview, I was asked the date on which I was “saved.” I left it blank. Though I believe in God and Jesus, I had no faith whatever that Jesus’s sacrifice had anything to do with my sins. I felt that somehow my sins were so bad that I could not be forgiven. I was very clear about my lack of faith.
And here’s the problem:
“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26)
Without sufficient faith to fill oneself with the Holy Spirit, the demons return in even greater numbers. That had been our problem in the past.
During the interview, I was again clear about my lack of belief. They asked me if I believed in eternal life, and I answered (honestly) that I didn’t, and I didn’t much care about eternal life. They asked me if I believed that my sins could be forgiven by Jesus, and again I answered in the negative. But after some discussion, I was able to envision giving Jesus a suitcase full of my sins, and letting Him do with them as He sees fit.
That turned out to be sufficient. I can now say with my heart, though not with any theological or intellectual backing, that I believe my sins have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus’s self-sacrifice.
There’s another catch. Jesus asks for repentance, from the verb “to repent,” which is “to feel or show that you are sorry for something bad or wrong that you did and that you want to do what is right” (Webster). Obviously there is a question whether repentance is sincere if you keep doing what you were doing. But there is a more practical concern. If committing a sin opens a door for a demon (or multiple demons) to enter, then one must stop committing the sin in order to keep the demons out. My wife and I cleaned our home of all representations of other religions, including my Buddha collection and her Alan Watts tapes. We burned our tarot cards. We threw out books and pictures. I deleted much of my old music from my MP3 player and computer. We’ve virtually eliminated course language. We’re careful about what we watch on Netflix and listen to on Youtube. This hasn’t been easy. Some of the items we disposed of were antiques and rare books. And some days, I miss Black Sabbath!
But how much are these things worth compared to peace with God and a life free from demonic oppression? The answer is clear. Since my first deliverance session over two weeks ago, I haven’t been angry or depressed. I’ve experienced a feeling of comfort and settledness I have never felt before. I have not been struck perfect. There are days I still struggle with vulgar language, fear of financial insecurity, and inappropriate sexual thoughts. They won’t be canonizing me any time soon. But the peace that I’ve found, after literally years of torment from these things of darkness, is incomparable.