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                      FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

                           Teri's story

     The occult, ESP, and psychic phenomena have been popular subjects in America in the last two decades.  The New Age movement is also a part of that.  Yet many people have not experienced the supernatural, so they assume it is all a product of overactive imaginations.  That is what I would have believed, too, if it had not happened in my own life.

     My early childhood was mostly happy. My parents and my younger brother and I lived in a small town in Florida in the early 1960's. We lived in a nice country home with a small yard.  Mom didn't work, but when I was six and my brother was five, she started taking us to the babysitter every day.  We both began to have horrible nightmares.  I was afraid to go to sleep and my brother would sneak into my room to get away from the terrifying man he saw in his room.  Mom blamed my brother's nightmares on his asthma medication.  Young as I was, I had the feeling that something was very wrong. "Something bad is going to happen between Mom and Dad," I whispered to him one day. "Yeah," he answered.

     Just before the next Christmas, Mom began to pack up all our things in front of our father. She showed no emotions at all as she coldly said to my Dad, "I'm leaving you. I'm taking the children." I will never forget the look of shock and betrayal on my father's face.  We drove straight to the house of the man Mom had been seeing, and the three of us moved in.  Not long after that he and Mom were married.

     For a wife to leave her husband in the manner my mother did was very unusual during those times. Since the courts always presumed that a mother was the better parent for her young children, my father had almost no legal ability to get custody of his children, or even have many visitation rights. From then on, he was known as our 'real father' in a society where a step-parent family was not common. Meanwhile, my new stepfather forced us to call him, "Dad."

     When we first moved in, my stepfather Bruce seemed nice. But this did not last long.. He began to have uncontrollable fits of rage, which became worse over the years. He was a very big man and I was terrified of him.  He could be extremely nice one moment, and the next moment extremely cruel.  My mother had never been a very affectionate person, but after her divorce and remarriage she began to change.  Even her family members noticed  she had changed, but they had no idea how much! Both my mother and stepfather could be very nice to us in front of other people, but that was not how it was as soon as we were not in public or in front of their friends  They were complimented often on the nice, quiet children they had. No one knew that my brother and I were too afraid to speak!

     Mother told us almost every day that our real father did not love us. After a few years of that, she forced us to tell him we did not want to see him again.  That was very painful for me, because I did not want to do it, but my mother was filled with hate toward him, and seemed obsessed with finding ways to hurt him. I understood even at my young age, that she made us do this in order to hurt my father.

    My mother also demanded total perfection of us children, and we were never able to live up to her standards. If we made the slightest mistake, we were accused of doing it on purpose; and if we protested, we were accused of lying and locked in our room. One time, my brother was locked in his room for three days without food or drink until he decided to "tell the truth."  The "truth" of course, was only what my mother or stepfather wanted to hear, and we had to guess which version of the "truth" they wanted.  My stepfather very much agreed with my mother's accusations, and so we were both screamed at so much we were afraid to talk above a whisper.

      My brother bore the brunt of most of the attacks because he could not control his asthmatic wheezing and coughing when he was sick. Consequently, he was yelled at constantly for his difficulty breathing.  Almost daily my mother and stepfather threatened to send him to Shiloh Youth Camp for delinquent boys and me to an insane asylum because I "was crazy."  Once, I privately asked our elementary grade school bus driver if the boys' camp would accept girls; I wanted to be sure my brother and I would be able to stay together.  We were so young, we believed every wild story or threat they told us.

     Even before we moved in with my stepfather, he and my mother consulted mediums (psychics who will talk to the spirits for you). When I was older, they took me with them sometimes. My mother and stepfather loved to talk about the thrills of their astral projections and the power of the mind.  My brother and I were fascinated by all they told us.  Looking back, however, I could see that the more they became involved in their quest to become 'higher beings', the more they became abusive and paranoid.  The most dramatic personality change was in my mother, but I did not want to admit that to myself because I clung to memories of an earlier, nicer Mom.

     The mediums often spoke of the spirits guides that surrounded my mother and stepfather.  Apparently, these 'spirit guides' attached themselves to us when we were with the medium, and followed us home to stay with us.  You could actually feel their presence, and strange things kept happening. Doorknobs would move when no one was near them, and our cats would follow something around and meow at it. Although my brother and I were both scared, my mother and stepfather always laughed, insisting that they were friendly spirits, who were just playing jokes'. They themselves also experienced the presence of their various 'friends', and were not alarmed.

     I knew nothing of Jesus or God, except what my stepfather taught me.  However, when I was eleven a friend from school invited my brother and me to a Baptist revival where we heard the gospel for the first time.  I  wanted to go to heaven and not hell, and so that night I prayed to Jesus for the forgiveness of my sins.  As I knelt down, I felt the sweet touch of a different spirit, but I didn't know then that it was my first encounter with God's Holy Spirit.  My brother and I were baptized in water during that same night, but we agreed not to tell my mother, because she would be furious.  Sure enough, when she did find out I believed in God, she overwhelmed me with many questions I was too young to answer.  Mostly out of self-defense, I abandoned my new faith, and did not speak of God again.

     The abuse got worse and worse for my brother, who one day told my mother he was thinking of suicide.  There was a few days of peace after that, until my Mom found a way to blame my brother's distress on my father.  Later, when my brother was eleven, Mom threw him out of the house and told him to go live with his (curse words in front) father.  I was devastated.  My brother and I had fought like brothers and sisters do, but we were very close.  I felt he was the only family I had.  Suddenly, I comprehended the magnitude of the hatred in that house.  Losing my brother forced me to make a decision:  I had to survive or let the hatred destroy me.  I decided I would become a survivor.  However, I was to pay a price. My mother and stepfather turned the full force of their rages upon me once my brother was gone.

     In spite of my best efforts, the rejection I suffered turned me into an angry child who hated her parents (meaning, my mother and stepfather).  I was convinced the world was ugly and that everyone hated me.  I did not like the person I was becoming and I longed to be free of the hatred.  I studied many of the major religions for awhile.

     When I was twelve, I began to see what the mediums saw in the spiritual realm, even at home! My stepfather was very excited, since all the mediums he took me to had very positive things to say about me. They told him that  if I chose to, I could become a very powerful medium and help many people. Thrilled that I seemed to be a gifted psychic, my stepfather made sure that I was given all the literature I needed about spiritualism.  With his encouragement, I explored hypnotism, ESP, numerology, palm-reading, and auras.  Eventually, I decided to concentrate my studies on astrology and what was then called white witchcraft, which is the practice of removing a hex or curse or invoking good fortune on someone.  Like him, I was very interested in helping people.

     Of all of my 'supernatural' experiences, there was one that puzzled me the most.  One morning I woke up filled with an overwhelming appreciation for God's creation---even though I no longer believed in God.  This was not my usual angry state of mind, and I wondered at the joy and peace I felt.  As I tried to get out of bed, an invisible hand pushed me back.  Suddenly I saw the incredibly beautiful underside of a white dove, made completely of light, flying by at great speed.  A gentle voice in my mind whispered, "Father, Son, Holy Spirit."  I  knew' the vision was from heaven, but I honestly had no idea what the words meant.  Later that summer when I attended a Catholic Church with my maternal grandmother and heard the same phrase during mass, I at least understood that it had something to do with the Bible.  My Mom bought me a Bible at my request, and my stepfather did not object to my reading the Bible because he quoted parts of scripture sometimes. However, he was an atheist and he could become hostile at the mention of God or Jesus, so I did not tell him everything about the vision.  For some reason, I had difficulty reading my Bible, so I eventually gave up reading it. Afterwards, I did not think about the strange vision much.

     My stepfather's mother practiced a kind of witchcraft meant to hurt people called "black witchcraft" or the "black arts", and my stepfather was afraid of her. He firmly believed she was determined to destroy him. After several incidences of her placing  hexes', or curses upon him, he rallied his family behind him to "return her hexes", explaining to us that he was weary of her influence in his life.  She soon became ill and was hospitalized.  Before her death, she sent me a letter telling me that I was "her favorite."  On the night she died, I was awakened from a dream with a very loud knock on my bedroom door. In the dream I had seen an image of Jesus at a door, knocking, and I heard a voice warn me, "The devil knocks, too.  Don't let him in."  But in reality the knock was so loud that my mother and stepfather heard it too, and ran down the hall to my room.  That same night, I felt a cold chill enter my room and witnessed objects move around.  This 'poltergeist' remained in my room for the next few years.  I did not tell my mother and stepfather about all of this, because they had become unconcerned once they realized that the knocking was just another spirit.

     My stepfather began to include me a little in helping those who asked him for help, and I was successful in the tasks he gave me.  I liked the power and recognition, and felt I had found my purpose in life.  But the more I worked to increase my powers, the more I was tormented by an irrational sense of dread.  I compulsively charted my astrological signs every day.

     You would think that my success in my 'powers' would improve my relationship with my parents. But it most definitely did not. Mother was becoming even better at twisting everything I said, did, or didn't do, into some evil motive.  My brother visited once or twice and said he felt sorry for me, but he also told me of how my father still spoke of the day I told him I did not want to see him when I was younger, and so I was too afraid to ask my Dad if I could live with him. However, I knew I couldn't take the pressure much longer.  I needed help but I had nowhere to turn.  If I ran away, who would believe me? Bruce and Mom kept up appearances well, and I had no bruise marks to show for their abuse. But because of their constant cruelty, and because of the fearful experiences I had in the occult, I began to mentally feel like I was 'cracking up' by the time I was fourteen years old. I was afraid I might really go insane as my parents had said I would. Desperate, I found a quiet place and prayed for help from a God I didn't really believe in.

     I was an excellent student and loved school.  It was my only refuge, even though I did not fit in well at all socially.  In junior high school I was in the special classes for the smarter students, and I will never forget my science teacher,  Mr. Smith.  He taught at college level and I was one of the few who could keep up.  Our last assignment was to explore the theory of evolution ourselves and come to our own conclusions.  I took the challenge to heart!

     As I studied, I decided that there had to be a God.  My conclusion was based solely on logic.  I realized that there had to be an intelligence behind the intricate perfection of natural phenomena, mysteries we humans have not yet been able to decipher. Random chance could not explain these things, and so there had to be a Creator to orchestrate it.

     When I was fifteen I thought it would be fun to use my powers on a boy at school to make him become my boyfriend.  But even as I did this, I felt ashamed for trying to control someone. Wavering between spiritualism and Christianity, I prayed for God's forgiveness, sincerely asking Him to show Himself to me. Not more than fifteen minutes later, I met a Pentecostal girl who listened to me boast about the powers of one of the popular psychics of that time in America. When she asked me if I had ever heard of the Holy Spirit, I was very astonished!

     Miraculously, Mom let me spend the night with this total stranger.  When I did tell her about Donna's church, she seemed happy I was exploring 'new power'.  Donna and her friends were sincere and loving Christians. I challenged every statement they made about the Bible.  I often shouted at them that I didn't want to hear their nonsense, but they remained patient and did not reject me.

     The nights I stayed with Donna and went to church with her, I was tormented by very severe headaches and a loud, fast talking voice in my mind, arguing against the existence of God and repeating the teachings of spiritualism.  At first I thought it was just my own mind reacting to the confusion inside, but as I began to argue with that voice in my head, I realized it was not my own thoughts!   I remembered the vision from heaven and the other gentle voice whispering, "Father, Son, Holy Spirit," and I thought hard of the possibility that Jesus was more than a great teacher.

     The more I attended the meetings with Donna and her friends, the more I became convinced that I was in the middle of a spiritual battle. I realized I had to make a choice between the powers of darkness and the light of God--and I wanted more of God.  Just before one of the meetings I made my decision, and as I sat there preparing myself for this step of faith, I heard singing. It sounded like a choir of thousands of people praising God with the most beautiful song I had ever heard. I looked around to see who was making that music, but realized that no one else in the room could hear it. Then I looked up on the walls for speakers since the sound came from above my head, but there were none!  It became clear to me that I was hearing angels sing.

     With joy in my heart, I went forward to the altar and asked to be prayed for. I told them I wanted to be free from the demon that harassed me, and that I wanted to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. They prayed over me in the name of Jesus for the spirit to leave.  I felt something change inside, and then in my mind I heard a voice beg with fear, "Please don't let them make me leave.  I will be good to you from now on, I promise!"  But I thought back, "NO", and then I felt it break apart and leave!    Then as they continued to pray,  I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and prayed in another language. Afterwards, I had no trouble reading my Bible!

     Of course my mother and stepfather were furious. They decided not to let me have any contact with my new friends.  They kept me a virtual prisoner for the next six months, while they tried everything they could to break me, and get me to stop being a Christian.   I would not have believed their level of hostility could rise any further, but it did.  I was careful never to preach to them.  In fact, I avoided them as much as possible, but they went out of their way to provoke a confrontation.  They would ask me a question, then explode in anger when I answered.  Bruce's rages lasted for up to five hours, as he cursed me and my friends with every vile curse he could invent. When he tired, Mom took over. I had removed all my occult books and studies from my room, and told the poltergeist to leave my room in the name of Jesus. Soon afterwards my Mom became very angry because the spirits complained to her that they could no longer get into my room.   So she burned my Christian books and hid my Bible, forcing me to read their books instead.

     But God enveloped me with a new strength and love that was not my own. As the Bible says in II Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." Expressions of love to them made them even further enraged and more frightened.

     Finally, Mom threw me out of the house and I went to live with my brother and real father.  I was worried that my Dad would believe the lies she told him about me, but after the first month he said that what convinced him most was the cold, heartless manner in which my Mom parted from me.  "Frances used to be nice when you kids were young," he said, "I don't know her now."  Over the years, her family began to ask me and my brother questions, for she had become hateful to them too at times.

     Bruce and Mom moved to the state of California and became part of a small cult called "Unarius." One of my cousins joined them there--and nearly died because she refused medical treatment for a condition that aliens from another planet were supposed to heal. Bruce lost large sums of money because he gambled on UFO landings which never came to pass, but to this day Mom denies what they were involved in was a cult.

     After they joined the New Age Movement in California, my stepfather became a respected minister of a Universalist church.  Occasionally, Bruce would send me letters full of threats, curses, and horrible predictions which never came true.  One of those letters gave a  burning sensation to the hand of the first person who touched it. He never could accept my forgiveness, and remained convinced that I hated him. He and Mom proudly wrote books and sent papers about their occult ministries to her relatives.  Eventually, they sent a video tape to my mother's family of my stepfather's T.V. interview about the  healing center' he was attempting to build. They saw the sad display of a once intelligent man, who now spoke in contradictions and twisted logic!  A few years after making this tape,  Bruce died of a heart attack. He left my Mom penniless and in great debt due to his failed  healing center' project.

     My stepfather believed and followed everything his spirit guides' told him, and he began this 'healing center' project because of what the  'spirit guides' told him through a medium (now called 'channelers' in the New Age Movement).  One of their friends wrote to me, blaming his death on the medium which told him this advise, stating the medium must have not heard well from the spirits.   She had no answer for me when I told her what she did not know:  these 'spirit guides' were making similar promises through other 'mediums' years ago, all through my stepfather's life.

     The New Age Movement is nothing new. It includes the basic teachings of spiritualism, which teaches that we are gods within ourselves and can control our own destinies. This is what attracts people to it. They rely on spirits for guidance on what to do in their lives. But I know from experience that these spirits are liars, and do not have our best interests at heart!   Christians also rely on God for guidance, and I also  know from experience that God does have our best interests at heart!

     It is true that we have a "soulish" power within ourselves. However, throughout history man has proven he cannot be trusted with any power that is meant to be submitted to God. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Anything we don't surrender to God is automatically given over to the god of this world, whom Jesus calls "the father of the lie" and "the evil one."

     We are created in the image of God, and our greatest power is the God-ordained power of choice. We have the right to choose between good and evil, loyalty to God or to Satan, eternal life or death. He gave us the freedom to reject Him, even though He never rejects us when we seek Him sincerely and with humility. "I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing joy of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:8)

     It has been almost twenty years since I decided to turn to God's ways instead of Satan's. I have never regretted this decision! I began a whole new life when I accepted Jesus and gave my life to Him. He has healed my mind of the terrible damage done by my parents and the occult. He has replaced hatred with love because He is the God of Love, and turned my sorrows into joy. God has given me a sound mind instead of fear, just as he promised he would, and so much more!  It is because of God's love for you that I write this account for you, exposing the pain of my past for the sake of your soul. I have played with the fires of the occult and have been burned. But I am thankful that I have stumbled in the darkness and have known true evil so that I could recognize the true light, who is Jesus, and I can tell you about the difference between a life lost in the darkness of the occult, and a life found in Him!

     How about you? Will you be a friend of God, too?  God himself says, "They that diligently seek Me shall find Me." (Proverbs 8:17), or will you get lost in the twisted maze of the occult, and lose your soul in exchange for so little?


     And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself." (Acts 2:38-39)

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