Here are some experiences of mine from 1984-85 that I wrote in an online memoir:
*I tried going to a county college that fall. After one week of classes, I twice left my car on campus and walked twelve miles to my home. And my head hurt as if I had a clamp on my head. And I would strike my head with the palm of my hand, which would temporarily take the pain away from my head. And I did not sleep for two days. My family had deep concern about my lack of sleep, the way I would repetitively strike my head, and that I couldn’t remember that I drove my car to classes. They encouraged me to go to another hospital, and I went to a hospital in September of 1984. Again, the doctors diagnosed me with substance abuse and psychotic delusions with audio and visual hallucinations
I want to summarize that both times when I went to a hospital, I heard voices and had strong mental ideas that encouraged me to pray to demon spirits. And this praying to demon spirits is a form of witchcraft. And around the time of my mental hospitalizations, I was convinced that I needed to pray to demons for help.
On the other hand, during my second hospitalization, I tried to read the Bible, which I had tried for about six months. Sometimes I read the Bible to see what I supposedly wrote in past existences. Other times I thought Bible reading might help me. About a week into this hospital stay, I read a verse an aunt of mine highlighted for me in a King James Bible, 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”. I typically prefer modern translations of the Bible, but that passage worked for me in the King James. From then on, I developed a growing conviction that God would deliver me from my fears and anxieties, and that he would give me strength, the ability to love, and sanity.
Later one Sunday, a sister of mine took me from the hospital to visit an independent Pentecostal church. Because of my medication, I walked as if I wore an invisible straight jacket and my eyes were glossy and half shut. The pastor, a Marine vet, prayed for me. He looked into my eyes and placed his hand on my shoulder. He said, “Lord Jesus, deliver Jim from demonic spirits, generational curses, and drugs.” After a few minutes of praying, I felt something inside my neck break off, drop to my feet, and go outside of me. I felt freedom as I never had before, but I soon feared that whatever left me was an important part of me. I asked all the spirits to come back inside me. Fortunately, dozens of people at the church began to pray for my healing.
I went back to the hospital and experienced a vision while lying in my bed. In my vision, I sat as the skipper of a sailboat during a race while I controlled the rudder and mainsail. This was a familiar setting for me. I sailed in over a hundred races and was the skipper for a couple. The first leg of every race points directly into the wind. Buoys, called marks, determined the course of the race. The sailboats zigzag upwind at roughly forty-five degree angles toward the first mark.
This race in my vision had a strong wind, about thirty to forty miles per hour. Sometimes during a race with strong winds, inexperienced sailors gain little ground upwind. It once happened to me when I crewed in a race, and I felt both frustrated and humiliated. In my vision, other sailboats surrounded me. I periodically changed my tack from the right side of the boat facing the wind to the left side of the boat facing the wind, while trying to zigzag toward the upwind mark. Other racing boats always surrounded me, and I noticed that I never got closer to the mark. I kept misinterpreting the wind shifts, failing to gain ground. After a while, I felt so frustrated that I gave up and yelled, “God, I missed the mark.”
Immediately after my yell, the boat transported passed the first mark. Instead of holding the mainsail and the rudder, I sat as a crew. I looked at the mainsail and rudder and sensed an invisible being–God–took control. I don’t know how I knew that he was God, but I just knew. Soothing warmth traveled through my body, and I knew that everything would be okay. The sails looked perfectly trimmed, and the boat balanced at a perfect keel. I thought: oh great, all I have to do is keep the boat in balance. However, I floundered and tripped all over the place while the boat kept its perfect keel. Finally, I relaxed and enjoyed the ride. After the trance-like vision, I knew that God would eventually heal me.
A couple of years later, I learned more about the vision while studying theology. I was reading my class assignment about the doctrine of sin. One New Testament Greek word for sin is hamartia, which compares the idea of sin to an archer that misses the mark. While reading my textbook, I felt ecstatic as I remembered the vision from a couple of years earlier. Before I knew anything about Greek, I confessed to God with a yell in a vision that I sinned by missing the mark. I did not hit the purpose of my life. After I acknowledged my failure to God, he put my life back together better than I could imagine.
Meanwhile, back at the hospital I felt inspired by my Bible reading. I said to some of my fellow patients, “This is not the way I am going to live. No, I’m not going to have one breakdown after another. God will heal me, take away my fears, and give me a sound mind according to the verse in the Bible. I just have to figure out how to get his Spirit. I know it has something to do with faith in Jesus and him dying on the cross, but I’m not sure.”
Sometime in early October, my psychiatrist thought I was well enough to go home from the hospital. I sensed that I would soon convert to Christianity, but a couple of days after I left the hospital I wanted one more night of heavy drinking while carousing New Jersey go-go bars where I had a few dancing girlfriends that purchased me drinks.
The following Sunday, I went back to church. The pastor prayed for me again, and in a one-on-one conversation he talked to me about my condition. He said to me, “Jim, Jesus died to give you spiritual and physical healing. However, your rebellion is separating you from God and his healing. You need to acknowledge your sins, commit yourself to obeying him, and trust that God will forgive you, give you his Spirit, restore your life, and bring you to heaven when you die.”
I thought about what he said for a couple of days. Later that week I read my Bible in the basement of my house. A strong impression came to my mind. The strong impression said that if I didn’t turn from my rebellion and ask Jesus to forgive me, I would have another breakdown every year for the rest of life, then die, and go to hell. However, if I would turn to Jesus and ask him to forgive me and be my God, he would heal me.
I prayed from the depths of my heart. I said, “Jesus, I know you are God and became a human to die, taking the punishment for my sins. You rose from the dead to show your power over death. Please pardon me of my sins: spiritism, drugs, self-centeredness, manipulation, premarital sex…. Deliver me from the evil spirits that came inside me. Thank you that I’m beginning a father-child relationship with God, and I’ll live in heaven forever.”
Before this prayer, I felt as if a clamp pressed on my brain. Afterwards, I felt as if the clamp fell off and warm oil soothed the wounds of my heart and mind.
Then I went to church every Sunday, every Wednesday night for a prayer meeting, and every Saturday night for a young adult fellowship. My friends at church spent much time with me going to restaurants, the beach, and just shooting the breeze. They loved and accepted me with all of my problems while continuously prayed for my recovery.
Every day after my conversion, my family, friends, and doctors said I looked better than ever. I was free from witchcraft, drugs, drunkenness, sleeping around, and psychosis. I even quit tobacco after three months. After six months, my psychiatrist said I no longer needed therapy or medication–I never relapsed.*