The home I grew up in was very chaotic. All my life I just wanted a family, a safe place to belong and be loved. My dad often abandoned the family leaving my Mom to raise three daughters. When he was home I was constantly being physically abused as well as emotionally, mentally and sexually abused.
Our religion was Buddhism and the church was a very big part of our lives. This religion was all I knew growing up. It was taught that Jesus was just a man who lived a long time ago and Christian were lost people living by a lot of rules. As a young girl, I was very shy and timid, and the church had a mind set to make a leader out of me.
In my early teenage years, I became intrigued with the occult. I started reading ooks and buying ingredients to cast spells. I found power in the occult, and most importantly, I found a place to belong. For the first time in my life I was in control. Then at age 15 I made a decision to give my life and will to Satan. From that moment, my life made a downward spiral. Satan fed my ego and gave me strength, all the while, he was sucking the life out of me. I forfeited everything good about me.... all morals, values and beliefs. While still participating in Buddhist activities, I secretly worshipped demons and Lucifer.
I practiced black magic and later white magic (I thought it was good -- as it was not in the name of Satan). I would like to add, especially for the benefit of those who just "dabble" in the occult, no matter how minute your dabbling might be, when you open the door to the occult you open the door to an evil that only Jesus can shut. When I became an adult I received my own Buddhist altar, at the urging of my mother, and became heavily involved with the new age movement and also became a student of eastern philosophies and doctrines. I was even teaching my daughter about these things. During this whole time no one ever shared the message of Christ with me -- not in all my life. I know this may seem hard to believe but I bare witness to this fact and I hope that anyone that reads this will become a little more aware of how their witnessing does make a difference. Just because you were born in America does not mean you have heard the message.
My life ultimately ended up in a severe state of depression. I was suicidal and was hospitalized twice for severe depression. The group of people I called friends were just users and being around them would suck the life out of you. Depression is like being sucked into a black cloud and you don't have the energy or will to even care if you get out or get help. I reached a point of refusing all help and medications. I finally reached a point of becoming fully convinced that I had already lived my life, died and was in hell. This was hell. Suicide attempts failed and reinforced my beliefs that I could not die because I was already dead.
One Monday morning a co-worker approached me. He was an Army Colonel and we called him Murph. He said that he thought about Sara, my daughter, and me over the weekend.
"Oh???" I said, rather surprised and suspicious.
"Yes," he said, "I was in church and the two of you came to my mind and I just want you to know that the Lord has placed a heavy burden in my heart for both of you and I want you to know that I'm praying for both of you."
I was on my second marriage that was on-again/off-again and abusive, finally ending with the death of my father-in-law. His name was Chuck and he was dying of cancer. We loved each other and needed each other in our own ways. My husband and I reconciled during this time of crisis and we all moved into my house. Chuck became so special to me and I shared a tenderness with him that I never knew with my own father. One night I was talking to him about dying and he said he wasn't afraid because he was going to heaven. We held hands and as he dozed off I cried and for the first time I prayed to God.
"God, I don't know if you can hear me from hell, but if you can, please hear me and answer my prayer. I don't believe in you but I know Chuck does. And I know I deserve to be here but Chuck doesn't belong here. Please heal him or bring him home to You. No one should ever suffer like this."
About 36 hours later Chuck died in my home. After they removed his body, my husband expressed his deep appreciation for my help and then informed me that he was ready to finalize our divorce.
My whole world fell apart. I would sit in the dark in a corner of my bathroom. I would curl up in a fetal position, hold my head, pull my hair, and cry out in agony.... many times I would cry out what I call the silent scream. That's a scream so loud that is internal. The torment was beyond anything imaginable. I would walk through the house screaming at Chuck's God.
"GOD, get me out of here! I don't want to be here anymore! You took Chuck when I asked you, so I KNOW you hear me! Get me out of here!"
My daughter would just watch me in numbness. Her face became like stone and she walked with her head down, burying her emotions deep inside.
One night I was flipping through the television channels in my room. I ran across a Christian station and began to watch even though I could not comprehend the things they were saying and I couldn't hear much because of the loud noise in my head. In some small way, it brought a sense of comfort just to have it on. Gradually, I began to sit in front of the television. I had no idea of what they were talking about since I had never been around Christianity but I began to want to know the person of Jesus they kept talking
Upon returning to work after a leave of absence, Murph called me into his office. It has been two and a half years since he told me he was praying for me. He never mentioned anything to me bout this since that time. I walked into his office and he shut the door. He walked back to his desk, sat down and began to sob.
I remember him telling me, "Linda, Jesus loves you so much. I have not stopped praying for you since the time I told you that the Lord had placed a burden in my heart for you two. He has such a good life planned for you and wants so much for you to just believe in Him. Please, please trust Him."
I was shocked. No one ever told me anything like this before. (The closest thing I guess would be a neighbor that constantly told us we were going to hell, but never shared "why" we were going to hell or the plan of salvation.) I think I was more moved by his tears and sincerity. No one ever cried for me before. He later mentioned Christian television and asked if I would maybe just watch. I very arrogantly told him I already was watching. Very soon after this Murph moved to Alabama.
I continued watching these Christian programs for about three months and all I really remember is that they kept talking about Jesus and the wonderful things He has done and continues to do this very day. I wanted so much to have this "faith" that they kept talking a bout. Faith that Jesus could heal my mind.
Every time anyone would say the sinner's prayer I would cry and pray. I just wanted to know this Jesus. I prayed this prayer every day but just felt myself sinking lower and lower.
One night, as I stood in front of the television, I saw a joy and a peace that is beyond description. A joy and a peace I thought I could never have. Satan said to me, "That's not real. I put that on to taunt you, to show you what you could of had but instead you gave your life to me. You're in hell and you're mine forever."
Ice went through my body and tears ran down my face. My thoughts turned to complete hopelessness. I can't get out of here. I have no where to go. I can't die, I can't live, I'm stuck. As I walked to my living room I said to Satan, "I know I'm yours, I know I'm in hell, but I'm not a willing participant anymore!!! I know this is your domain but I will defy you all the way from now on. If you want to cast me out of hell and into an eternal nothingness I will gladly go. I would rather spend eternity in complete nothingness than to spend it with you!"
Then, out of total broken desperation, I stood up in the middle of my living room, looked up and raised my hands to heaven and cried out, "JESUS, get me out of here! I don't want to be here anymore. I'm sorry for whatever it is that I've done to make you send me here. I'm so sorry, please forgive me."
"JESUS," I screamed, "they said if I call on You, You would save me. They said that if I confess You as my Lord and Savior that You would come into my life. Jesus, get me out of here! I believe You are the only one that has the power to reach into the depths of hell and save me. I believe that You are the Son of God. I believe You died for me and was raised from the dead. I confess with my mouth that You are the Lord and I believe with my whole heart. Please forgive me. Please save me!"
By this time, I was down on my knees. Suddenly, I stopped crying, got up and sat down in a chair. I noticed something was very different. I wasn't laughing or gushing with joy at that moment but what I noticed is that for the very first time in my life -- the noise in my head stopped. All of the confusion was gone. I heard quiet for the first time. My Lord Jesus restored me to my right mind.
Suddenly, I heard a different voice. One I've never heard before. He said, "He's a liar! Everything he has ever told you is a lie."
I thought about that for a moment and then replied, "Wait a minute, if he is a lie, then I'm not in hell. If he is a lie, then I'm not already dead. If he is a lie, then my life isn't over, it's just beginning."
I stood up, angrier than I've ever been and yelled, "Satan! You're a liar!!! Everything you have taught me is a lie. I gave you my life as a child and it wasn't my life to give you. I'm taking it back. My life belongs to Jesus Christ. I invited you into my life and now I'm kicking you out in the name
of Jesus. You are no longer honored here or welcomed here."
I was in complete and absolute awe. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I immediately took some vacation time from work. I had no idea of what happened to me -- all I knew was that I wasn't the same. I knew so little about Christianity that it wasn't until about a month later that I realized that I was born-again. [note: so I can't tell you the exact day I got saved, all I can say is that it was 5 years ago at the end of June or very first part of July.] I spent all of my time reading my Bible... the very Bible purchased to use against God was now being used to His glory. Every word was exciting and alive. The Lord ministered to me in such a marvelous way as only He could.
Just a note... everything in the occult can be found in the Bible. Everything from gem stones to consulting psychics to conjuring the dead to sacrifices. Satan had taken all these things and twisted them into perversity. I used the Bible to show people raised with religion that these things were OK because it
was in their Bible.
My daughter watched me very, very carefully. What she discovered was a very real, very new Mom. She watched me grow in Christ. She saw a new strength and life in me. She has a Mom that laughed. She had a Mom that could hug her and love her. She decided that she wanted to follow Jesus too and together we were baptized.
A couple of months later I had an opportunity to talk to Murph. I told him what happened to me and he truly rejoiced with his whole heart. He cried and just kept saying, "Praise the Lord, thank You Jesus." I just want to add here, if the Lord has put a burden in your heart to pray for someone, please, please don't stop. Their very life and eternal life may depend n it. Don't stop praying and please don't give up on this person -- the Lord is faithful. Very soon afterward Murph went home to be with the Lord. I was not sad, but rejoiced, knowing that he was standing face to face with our Lord.
One more thing about my Buddhist altar. I intended to throw it in the trash but the Lord told me to take it back. It had been over 10 years since I had been to that church. When I took it back, I gave it to the man who is the head of the Dallas area. This man just happened to be the very same man that was the head of the church in San Francisco where I attended as a child. This is the very same man that taught me that there is no Jesus Christ. He had just been transferred to the Dallas area.
He kept insisting that someone put me up to this and he must have asked two dozen questions on how this could happen. Was it a boyfriend, husband, friend, relative..... did someone come to my house and give me literature....etc. He asked about my friends and I laughed and told him that every single one of my "friends" abandoned me when I became a Christian. I finally said to him, "You don't understand, Jesus Christ Himself came into my living room, in Grand Prairie, Texas, and touched me."
He then proceeded down the religion path and I told him I didn't know what religion I was. I just kept telling him I was a Christian. He named a dozen or more religions and insisted I must belong to one of them. Frustrated, he asked what kind of Church I go to. My response was, "I go to the kind that love Jesus."
Seeing that he was becoming extremely frustrated with my answers, I said, "I apologize for being so difficult but I really don't understand the question. If I knew what I was I would tell you. I don't know what all those denominations mean." He insisted that if I were a Christian that I must belong to something.
I said, "Well... all I know is He's alive and He came into my living room and saved my life. I have read my Bible and the only 'Church' I found was the Body of Christ. If I must belong to something I guess you could say I'm a member of the Body of Christ."
Right at that moment the Lord said to me, "Not by might, nor by power, not by religion or man were you saved, but by My Spirit you were saved. Let this be your testimony."
And so, this is my testimony that I share with you today. My life has never been the same. I thank the Lord, Jesus, for never forgetting me. I was really a most horrible sinner yet He didn't forget me or leave me behind. In spite of everything I have done, He has forgiven me. I'm still amazed and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't give thanks that He remembered me and saved me.
Jesus is truly the most precious thing I have. Without Him I know that I am dead. It's only because of Him that I have life and really do have it more abundantly.