So glad you are here. I hope my testimony can be a blessing and a help to all who read it.
My childhood was the fairly normal southern California childhood. Public school, Brownies, family outings, and an occasional visit to church each Christmas and Easter. My parents divorced when I was five and my younger sister, Natalie, and I lived with our mom. I was involved in the normal things gymnastics, GATE program in school, and Friday night pizza parties with friends. My mom re-married when I was 11 but within a year he died of lung cancer. Shortly after this I moved in with my dad. For my seventh grade year of school, my parents sent me to a private Adventist academy. At the beginning of this year I began to have an interest in Satanic things. I hated anything that had to do with God. After school I would go to the bookstore at the mall and browse the section about New Age and the Occult. I bought and studied the Satanic Bible and began to practice some of the things taught in the book. One afternoon when alone in my room I knelt down on my knees and said a prayer. It was not a prayer to God, but to Satan. I made a "deal" with Satan. I told him that if he made me popular in school, then he could have my soul. The window of my room was closed but the moment I said these words, a wind came rushing through my room and knocked me over on my back. I felt a dark evil presence at that moment that did not leave me until the day I was saved.
At first my life seemed to be perfect. I did become popular in school. I had one best friend and we "dated" all the popular guys. As the year progressed however, some things began to change in my life. I began to hear four distinct voices in my head. I now realize that they were demons. They had four names and four personalities. As I gave myself even more over to Satan by continuing to practice Satanism, they became more powerful. Sometimes I could hear myself saying things, thinking, "why am I saying that?" They would speak through me and try to control me completely. Every night became a nightmare. I began to sleep with the light on. I was terrified of everything. Terrible thoughts and visions made me a nervous wreck. Finally the demons said some terrible things through me and I was sent to see a psychologist once a week. I would tell him everything that I saw and heard, but I don't think he believed me! Finally, after a few months, he sent me to see another psychiatrist. I went to the appointment, and within five minutes he said it was over. I believe it was within a week I was placed in a psychiatric ward diagnosed as a paranoid schitzophrenic. There I was given a lot of drugs to control the symptoms and the voices began to go away. I was released after three weeks I believe.
I began 8th grade in a new public school, still taking medication. One day the janitor of the school found me wandering around campus, lost, because I could not find my way to my next class. I became extremely depressed and wore black every day. For Halloween that year I dressed up as a witch. One of my teachers was taking pictures of all the kids that came to school dressed up. She did not call me to take a picture, so I asked her "what about me?" She said she did not realize that I had dressed up! I began to have thoughts about suicide and even had a plan. The school counselor found out and within a week I was placed in the County Mental Hospital. I was there for three months.
During this time I was taken off of the medications and I sincerely wanted to change my life. I was still a very angry, depressed person. After being released, I enrolled in a different public school. At this point I started to steal vodka from the liquor cabinet at home and drink before school. Pretty soon I was taking hard liquor to school to drink between classes. I also started to take a lot of prescription and non-prescription pills every day. As the school year ended I decided that I wanted my life to be different in high school. So, I tried out to be a cheerleader and was accepted! Becoming a cheerleader did not fill the void in my heart however. I thought that if I was a popular cheerleader, then I would be happy. Happiness did not come so I continued my search in other things.
Half way through my freshman year of high school, I turned to street drugs to try to fill the void in my heart. Very quickly I became addicted and soon I was skipping school to hang out with my older friends (all high school drop outs!). I also began smoking cigarettes at this time. (YUCK!) Through a series of circumstances I ended up in a shelter for girls. I was there for one month. After getting out, I decided that I was not happy at home and I ran away. I ended up being caught by the police in Arizona and had to spend the night in juvenile hall waiting for my parents to come pick me up. As I started school the next year, I again decided that I wanted my life to change but I did not know how to change it. I stopped hanging out with my older friends for a few months and started trying to do better and to stop using drugs. I found myself in a helpless cycle of addiction, not being able to quit on my own.
A few months into my sophmore year of high school, a friend of mine came up to me and said, "You have got to come meet this guy. He is in front of the school and he is crazy!" I went with her and she introduced me to what appeared to be a high school student doing a survey. I thought he was a psychology major and had an assignment to finish! He asked me if he could ask me a few questions. One of the questions was what I thought love was. I told him I did not know. He asked if I believed in God, and I told him, "No". I told him that I used to be a Satanist and I did not want to have any thing to do with God anymore. We said good-bye. Little did I know that this one chance meeting would change my life. He turned out to be a youth pastor from a non-denominational church that was trying to reach teenagers with the gospel. He came on campus dressed as a teenager so the school authorities would not kick him out. Later he told me that after that he began to have a lot of other teenagers begin to pray for me on a daily basis.
Soon after this first meeting, I began to notice a stange thing happening to me. It seemed like everywhere I went, I was being followed! I would go to the beach and someone would walk up to me and say, "God loves you." I would go to the mall, and the same thing. "Did you know that Jesus died for you?", I would be asked. It got to the point where I literally did not want to leave my house because I "knew" some Christians were going to come up to me and try to tell me about Jesus. This went on for about 2 months when I finally decided that I was going to go to church. Another friend of mine had gotten saved and had witnessed to me but I had not wanted anything to do with God at that point. I contacted my friend, and they took me to church on a Wednesday night.
I was sure surprised when we walked in the doors and I heard rock music being played! I was dressed very appropriately . Red jeans, black leather jacket, heavy metal t-shirt, and a black cowboy hat and black boots! Well, I went to church and for the first time I heard a clear presentation of the gospel. A friend who went with me was saved that night. I however, was not ready to change. Something kept bringing me back however and after about six weeks of attending church, I had heard the gospel over fifteen times.
December 13, 1990 I was alone in my room. The same room that three years before I had prayed and given my soul to Satan. I had wanted to go out with my friends, but no one was available. I was thinking about suicide and I so much wanted to talk with someone, that I finally did what so many people had been praying for. I cried out to God and said, "God, I don't know if you are real, but if you are, I give my life to you. Please take my life, I give it to you." In that moment, peace swept over my soul like I had never experienced. I experienced true joy and love and fell asleep in the spiritual arms of my Heavenly Father. The next day was a Friday. I had not realized that I had "gotten saved", I just knew that I had prayed to God and that something was now different. When the youth pastor came to school that day, I went up to him to talk to him about something. Then I said, "Oh, I prayed to Jesus last night and asked him to save me." I could not understand why he got soooooo excited! Well, I continued to go to church with them and soon the youth pastor was driving all the way to my house to pick me up for every church service.
Once a week the youth pastor's wife came to my house and discipled me. I credit this for being the main reason why I am still serving the Lord today. We followed a basic program, but more importantly, she taught me the importance of daily prayer and Bible study. About a month after I was saved, I asked the youth pastor's wife what the pastor was talking about when he mentioned the "fruit of the spirit." She said that there was a verse in the Bible that said that the fruit of the spirit is love and that after we accept Christ there should be some changes in our life. I asked her what kind of changes and she told me about not listening to secular rock music (at this church "Christian rock music" was okay!), and not owning things that would give honor to Satan and not to God. Well, I invited her to come to my house that night after church and to help me figure out what I owned that was not appropriate. She came and we cleaned out my room! She did not pressure me to get rid of anything that I did not want to, but rather simply told me that she would not own the item. We filled up two garbage bags of junk rock posters, satanic items, satanic books, drug paraphernalia, and too much to name. The next day after school she came to pick me up and we took all the things to a firepit on the beach and had a bonfire! (I wonder what my dad thought!)
At school I quickly became known as the "preacher chick"! The youth pastor told us that we should hook up with someone from church to be accountable to at school and to pray with during breaks. A wonderful Christian girl named Hannah Lawrence took a leap of faith and asked me if I wanted to be her prayer partner. We soon became best friends. At school we had weekly Bible studies with the youth pastor, but that was not enough for me. There was a campaign to pray at the flagpole on a certain day. We did and after that I started a prayer meeting that met every day at school at the flagpole. Well, the school officials did not like that very much so I ended up in the principals office. She was VERY surprised to find out why I was there. She was used to seeing me there for being in trouble for bad things! Well, being the nice, submissive teenager I was (LOL!), I agreed to move the meetings to a less public area. Hannah would bring her guitar to school and pretty soon there were 20-30 teenagers meeting every day before school to sing and pray. Hannah did not like talking in public so pretty soon I was also giving a short Bible study. During lunch, Hannah and I would spend the hour passing out tracts and talking to people about God. At least once a week we would gather a crowd of about 30-40 teenagers that wanted to hear what we were talking about. Usually it would be a debate between one person and me about the Bible and salvation and the others just wanted to hear. During classes I would use every opportunity I had to give out the gospel. More than once this landed me in the principal's office! During one lunch hour, I was handing out tracts and I gave one to the vice-principal of the school. She said, "What is this?" I told her it was a gospel tract. She said, "Yes, but why are YOU handing this out?" I told her, "I got saved and I'm a Christian!" She said, "No, you didn't, you are lying. Why are you really passing this out?" My friend Hannah spoke up and said, "Yes, she did! She goes to church with me all the time!" I then showed her the Christian t-shirt I was wearing. Her mouth dropped in shock and she started shaking her head in disbelief.