When I worked at the little Southern Baptist church in Southern Indiana, I had an event happen that I have only told a few people about. Last evening, my wife and I and my mother-in-law watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose. One of the themes of the movie is the priest seeling it as vitally important that Emily’s story be told. And in the end of the film, you find out that telling her story was Emily’s last wish before she died. The reason? She felt that people could not deny that God existed if she showed them the devil.
Now, that is not why I am going to tell you this story. I don’t think that people have to see the devil to believe in God. That seems silly to me. But I do think that telling this story is important, especially in this day and age when, within the Evangelical community, there is an overwhelming denial of the power of the spiritual. Afterall, if there wasn’t, why would we resort to medicines to treat every single problem in our lives? Could it be that restless leg syndrome, schizophernia, and other such “disorders” are actually the demonic at work? And could it be that treating them with pills is just giving them free reign over our lives?
I’m not suggesting that we all stop seeing doctors and stop taking medicines. There is a vast difference between taking an asprin for a headache and taking a pill to suppress voices in your head. All I am suggesting is that, maybe, just maybe, there is actually power in the spiritual world. That is what this story is to show. The power of the spiritual. Names have been changed.
The House on North Broadway
It was a Sunday evening, and we had just concluded a music service. Once a month, other churches in the Princeton area would meet somewhere and people would present solos, and poems, and we’d sing hymns. It was just a time of celebration and fellowship.
There was a family in the church, and most of the family had just recently converted to the faith. The mom and dad came forward on a Sunday morning and got saved and the oldest daughter came down the very next week. The other two children were young and didn’t understand everything.
Upon their conversion, this family came under strong spiritual attack. The father, Samuel, lost his job. The mother, Jennifer, had sudden health problems. They hit financial roadblocks and were unable to apply for bankruptcy, food stamps, or any other government assistance. They were trapped. Around this time, Samuel’s father died and his mother passed away soon after. Their faith didn’t waver, though.
They became friends with their neighbors. The wife was a terot card reader and fortune teller and her husband was a factory worker. They began to try to share their faith with this woman. This is when, no pun intended, all hell broke loose.
They hadn’t been at church for weeks and they were seen again, finally, at that music service I mentioned above. Jennifer and Samuel took the pastor aside and shared with him some things that had been going on. Jennifer, who to this point had never read the Bible on her own and her only exposure to it was in the service where topical messages were preached, was having visions. Her visions were almost verbatim things from the book of Revelation. They focused mainly on the the battle between Satan and God at the very end of time. She was also having visions of her family being attacked by demons. Given the content of these visions, one can understand why she would be scared and need pastoral counseling.
But on top of these visions, they told Pastor, and myself later that evening, they had not been to their house in a week because “there was something there.” Their younges child, their son, was scared to be in his bedroom. He said it was always cold in there (the heat was on because it was winter). He was also unable to sleep because he saw a shadow standing by his bed at night. One could chock this up as a child’s general fear of the dark had it not been for Jennifer having seen the shadow herself moving through her own bedroom when her husband wasn’t there. A short time after this started happening, the fortune teller told Samuel that there was something in his basement that he would be interested in. When he went to the basement, he found a Quiji board. He removed it immediately and burned it. The strange manifestations didn’t stop. They came to the pastor wanting him to come and exorcise their house. To pray the demons out of it.
Pastor refused. He more or less scoffed at them and passed it off to me to go and pray with them. He also told me to make sure they knew that demons didn’t do things like that. I said I would and I went with Jennifer and Samuel to their house.
Myself, Samuel, and two other men from the church went into the house together. We all had our Bibles because the intention was to go in and just pray over every room of the house and then read some Scripture together as a teaching moment. What was in that house was overwhelming and something I probably would’t believe had I not been there (Note: I went into this thing pretty skeptical about what they were saying. My faith tradition didn’t leave me room for acceptance of things like this).
We walked in the back door, which lead right to the kitchen. Dinner was on the table from the week before. The house was so cold that the food hadn’t even begun to rot. The heat was shown to me as being turned up to around 90. Hot air came from the vent, but the rooms remained cold. Samuel and Jennifer walked myself and the other men through the house telling us where they had seen things and what they had seen, explaining that their bedroom was the worst. Their bedroom also happened to be the room situated directly above where Samuel had found the Quiji board.
We went first to the son’s room. The room was cold, yet hot air blew from the vents. Examining the room, I found something wholly strange. The window was a double-thick thing. Like…it was two panes of glass in the part of the window that goes up and down. An upside down cross was drawn in between the panes. On the inside. It was strange. We all reached our hands out and prayed over the room. You could feel something change and then we heard a terrifying racket. A creaking, slacking sound like little feet running from the room in the ceiling.
This kind of stuff continued through the entire house. We prayed over the basement. We prayed over the kitchen. We prayed over the two little girls’ room. We prayed over the living room and the bathroom. Each time we finished praying over a room, the room would immediately go from being so cold that one can see their breath to being comfortably warm. And when I say immediately I mean just that. Immediately. In the blink of an eye. Instantly. And every time we prayed over a room, that sound of running feet was heard in the ceiling. each time it was liuder and louder as if more feet were running.
We saved Samuel and Jennifer’s bedroom for last. When we opened the door to that room, the sound was terrifying. We could hear so many clacks. The sound of so many running feet. We even had to raise our voices a bit to be heard over the sound. And the room was so cold. The coldest room we’d been in all night. It was almost as if the cold had moved with the little running feet. We prayed here and there was a sound that I can only describe as a screach. The clacking feet stopped and, as if in extreme agony, there was a loud screaching scream. Not like in those movies. More like an animal dieing. But there was this screach and then silence. The room was warm. All was calm. All of us adults gathered in the living room and prayed prayers of thanks to God.
We brought the rest of the family in and asked them to look around. They didn’t know what we had been in there doing because they had been at the church playing in the nursery. I asked the little boy if he felt scared when he went in his room. He said no. Neither did the other children.
To this day, I have a hard time talking about this in much detail. What I have shared here is everything exactly as I remember it. I share this story with you because I want you to at least consider that what you have been taught about how the devil works may be wrong or based on myth. This was real. I was there. And I believe that the things I saw and heard we real and were spiritual in nature and not in a good way.