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 abused mentally, emotionally, physically and sexually. Even though I tried very hard to be good -- it was never good enough.
Our religion was Buddhism and the church was a very big part of our lives. This religion was all I knew growing up. I was taught that Jesus was just a man who lived a long time ago and Christians 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 books 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.
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, that 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. 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. My life was so dark and depressed. It was 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 where I even refused any more counseling or medication because I just didn't care if I got better. 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."Yes," he replied, "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 burden in my heart for both of you and I want you to know that I'm praying for both of you."
I was rather stunned and didn't know what to say. I never heard anything like this before.
I was on my second marriage that was on-again/off-again, 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. 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. 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. She would try to comfort me and I would yell and push her away. "Don't you understand? I just don't care! I don't care about you, I don't care about work, I don't care about this house, I just don't care! Your mother doesn't want to be here anymore!"
Her face became like stone, she walked with her head down, and she buried 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. I would leave it on when I sat in my corner and even when I slept. I couldn't hear much because of the loud noise in my head. 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 about.
Upon returning to work after a leave of absence, Murph called me into his office. I thought I had done something wrong and was in trouble. It had been two and a half years since he told me he was praying for me. He had never mentioned anything to me about 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 and little Sara. I have prayed for both of you everyday since the time I told you that the Lord had placed a burden in my heart for you two. The Lord loves you so much and I just wish you could know just how much he loves you. 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. 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 about. 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, please forgive me."
"Jesus," I screamed, "they said that 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."
This voice surprised me and I sat up and answered back, "What?"
"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 have 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. You are no longer honored here or welcomed here."
I spent the whole next morning standing in the kitchen, looking out the window to the sky, singing and crying. My daughter finally returned from an overnight stay at a friend's house. She asked if I needed anything. I called her to me and cried, "He's alive!!! He's alive!!!"
"Jesus. Jesus is alive -- He's not dead, He's not just a story or someone in history. He is really alive!"
"Sure mom, whatever you say..." was her perplexed response.
I gently placed my hands on her shoulders and said, "Listen to me. This is very important. If you never listen to anything else I say, listen and believe this... everything I have ever taught you is a lie -- everything. I was so wrong and have lied to you all of your life. What I said about Christians was wrong. What I taught you about crystals, psychics, spirits, and master-teacher guides was a lie. The only truth is Jesus Christ!"
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 I was born-again. My daughter went to Alaska to visit her dad and 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 just taken 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 returned home and was still skeptical. She 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 had a mom that laughed. She had a mom that could hug her and love her. She saw a very, very different person. She decided 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 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 on it. Don't stop praying and please don't give up on this person.
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... remember my Buddhist altar? Immediately after being saved I was cleaning out all of my "junk" which included digging up crystals I had buried around my house. We went through and threw everything out -- crystals, tarot cards, wands, books, stones, chimes, bells, candles, and everything else. I got to my altar in the closet and the Lord told me to leave it. So I left it alone. About three months later for days I kept hearing, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit." I didn't understand what He meant. Then one day, on Halloween, I was in my kitchen and the Lord said to me, "Recall the altar."
"What?" I said, rather startled.
"Recall the altar. Give it back."
I told Him I would throw it away but He said to give it back. I told Him I would send it to my mom and again He said to give it back. I told Him I didn't know where to take it. He just said, "Take it back to where you received it!"
To make a long story short, I found the church in Dallas. I called to find out when I could come and entered into a conversation with a man. After much debate I told him to tell me where to bring it or I'll just throw it in the dumpster. He asked my name, I told him, and he told me his name. He just happened to be the man that was the head of the church in San Francisco, where I grew up, that taught me there was no Jesus Christ. He had been transferred to the Dallas headquarters. He agreed to meet with me saying that he hopes to convince me of the mistake I am making.