As you read about the occult and my journey in and out of it, I do not seek to glorify any of my experiences. There will be some occasions where I may talk in detail of what happened in my life. This I do, not to glorify my past, but to magnify God as the awesome One who delivered me out of it!
2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
I knew that first hand for 20 years!
First, I want to tell you a little about the background of my family.
My Dad is Jewish, and his mother a mix of Dutch Portuguese, and my mum a mixture of Irish, Jewish and Gypsy!
My Father grew up in a rough part of the country in a place called Dagenham, which bordered East London and Essex. From an early age my Dad was always getting into fights; especially when they taunted him, calling Him ‘Jew boy’.
Unfortunately he developed a bad reputation as a fighter, and my family told me of many occasions where my Dad would end up having beaten up a number of guys! That’s why I realise now that it was important for my Dad that I knew how to fight and look after myself.
I have come to realise over the years that my Dad must have struggled with his identity of being Jewish. It wasn’t that he was ever ashamed of it, but rather that he was not brought up as an ‘Orthodox’ Jew; rather like knowing you have parents but not ‘knowing who they are’ I guess.
My mum and Dad lived on the same street as children, and my mother steered well clear of my Dad. You see, my Mum was a good girl and she knew all about my Dad’s reputation; he wasn’t just a fighter but a real ‘ladies man’ so she kept well away; well at least until she was about 18!
I was born on their wedding anniversary in Rush Green, Romford, Essex in 1970, 1 year exactly after they were married. What a present eh!
I have one sister, one mum and one dad! There are 4 years difference between my sister and I, and a lot more years distance between my parents and I!
Romford, Essex was OK; and like most boys I grew up loving football, games and girls, but there was always something as a child that deeply affected me. It was the beliefs and practices of my family.
From a young age I used to be fascinated with anything to do with the unexplained. Years ago, they used to print a fortnightly magazine called The Unexplained, and we owned all 200 issues. I used to sit at read them, taking in everything. I had read and reread every issue! From pictures of Ghosts, articles on false religion, spontaneous combustion, Black Magic, UFO’s – you name it – it was in those magazines.
My mum suffered from Agoraphobia, and always had a problem with her nerves. For over 20 years she was addicted to the Valium drug, and never seemed happy. You name it, my mum had tried it! Hare Krishna, Rune stones, Egyptology, Tarot cards, Automatic handwriting, mediums, faith healing, New Age, Meditation, Astral travel, Yoga, Self help and just about everything else Crossed her path and her bookshelf!
My mum’s brother Alan, was into black magic as a young man (sold his soul to the devil apparently), and frequently visited graveyards. He was so affected by his experiences that he could not attend my mum’s wedding because it was in a church!
I haven’t seen Alan’s side of the family for 20 years, but only a few months back I had a lovely surprise when one of my cousins emailed me; so I look forward to meeting them all soon.
My mum’s mum was a faith healer for a good number of years! Both my Nan’s were very nice, but sadly my Mum’s Mum (called nanny Biss – because as a young child I saw her on the bus and that’s where she got her name) – her partner Jimmy took her into Spiritualism and the faith healing route. I thought my Nan loved Jesus too judging by the pictures in the house, but was later to learn that many people make God in their own image without necessarily understanding or knowing him.
As I mentioned earlier, my Dad is Jewish, and though brought up with a strong identity, he was never taught Judaism or brought up in its practises, so he had no religious background with which to guide my mum or the family in spiritual truth.
To make matters more complicated, His mother, my nanny Kitty as she was called, was a spiritist, a Medium for over 40 years, who attempted to contact the dead on a regular basis, and sat on a rostrum and gave readings for people. My Nanny Kitty was religious too, and had plenty of pictures of Jesus in the house, without ever understanding who he was!
One thing that we didn’t know as a family is that the bible forbids Spiritualism, mediums, contact with the dead etc.
Leviticus 19:31 tells us in the bible, “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”
Leviticus 20: 6-7: “I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” You can read the same message in Deuteronomy 18:9 onwards.
To complete the ‘odd’ mix of the family, my Dad’s brother, Keith was a Methodist (still is) a Methodist minister! So you had this pantheon of beliefs in our family that were to dominate our family for many years.
My sister Catherine was 4 years younger than me, and she was the smart one in the family, doing well at school, and worked hard at the stables where she owned a horse from the age of 13. But like myself, Catherine was deeply affected by what was influencing the family.
Cathy left home when she had just turned 17 years old, and the demonic experiences – voices etc. that affected her, followed her when she left. Catherine was very disillusioned with home life and the arguments that persisted in the house.
But going back to my childhood, there was no logical reason for my disobedience as a child. My parents were kind and made sure that we never went without anything, but from a young age, I had on occasion stolen money from my Dad’s savings money Jar, and did things that I am not proud of.
I remember a time as a young boy, maybe 11 or so, when I was kicking a football against a church wall, and by accident put the ball through this giant stained glass window. I was horrified, thinking that I would have 7 years bad luck or something for doing that to God’s church. I don’t know why I feared God, but the result of it was that I knocked on the priest’s house at the back of the church, and with a very sorry face told him what I had done and that I would give him my pocket money every week until it was paid!
Now at this point I’d like to underline something from the book of Proverbs in the Bible.
The Book of Proverbs is all about life, wisdom and its actions, and I want to emphasise chapter 2 and verses 1-10.
Verse 1 – My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you..
I was rebellious and ill disciplined as a teenager and didn’t accept God’s Word because I didn’t know it; but I was still guilty because my conscience taught me right from wrong and I’d fallen at the first hurdle! So I had rejected God in my actions and desires even from a young age. Even though there were signs that God had not abandoned me, I was beginning to abandon Him.
I stored up in my heart every unhealthy thing, and especially a desire to learn about the unexplained. It’s interesting to note that I didn’t care for anything religious. Only the supernatural – the photos of supposed poltergeists, the stories of the unexplained. What was being stored in my heart would only make it sicker.
I remember when I was about 11 years old, and my mum bought me my first ring. I was so proud. It was gold with a black square stone in it, and I felt the business! I lost the black stone in a boy’s mouth whilst fighting at school. But this ring was special to me because it made me feel like a grown up!
I lost it one day and it broke my heart. I cried in my room, talked to my dead granddad about it, and just about anyone else who was listening. I wanted my ring back, and guess what….
No word of a lie – the ring appeared to fall out of thin air onto my bed. I can assure you I was totally freaked out!
Satan knows how to appeal to age, race, colour, position – He knew what would interest a young man, so sin was working in my heart and feeding me poison.
I was about 13 years old now, and one evening I was hearing these terrible demonic noises in my bedroom. I flew down the stairs and asked my mum to come up. She dismissed it as my imagination, but eventually my mum walked up to the bedroom with me, and there it was! The first time I ever heard my mother use strong ‘foul’ language. We both heard it and realised it was true.
My parents were often telling me of occasions where they confronted a ghost (which I now know where demons) walking up the stairs of our old house, or of an occasion where a bright orange light burst through their bedroom window. There was always something weird going on.
One evening I saw my mother doing something called ‘automatic handwriting’ – that totally freaked me out! It was in the study, and as I walked in I could see that my mum was writing on this pad, but not looking at what she had written. What was so eerie was that it was my granddads handwriting and he was dead. My granddad had very distinct handwriting; almost impossible to imitate without careful study, and here my mother’s hand was just moving on the page, writing under demonic inspiration. The message never made any sense – but from that age I began to question whether it really was my granddad’s spirit trying to communicate.
Going back to school, I couldn’t store up anything good. I couldn’t study – had awful reports – got caught throwing one in a dustbin once by my mum!
I had a bad experience at my first senior school. I was being bullied, getting into fights. What was also very depressing is that the school football team was rubbish, so I transferred from that school after a year, and joined a new secondary school in Romford.
True to form, the first day I chose a fight with the school bully. Not the best start, but I soon made my peace with after I learned that this guy on occasion came to school with a gun! What was great about this school for me was that they had an excellent football team that hadn’t been beaten in two and a half years, so I felt at home playing for them!
We moved to Brentwood in Essex in 1985, and I joined my 3rd secondary school. I had chosen this school because I was told they had a great football team in my year, and even though it was 3 miles away and my closest senior school was 2 minutes walk, the decision was decided based on the strength of their football team! Oh, and the local school was very academic, and that frightened the life out of me!
I was the local “Del” boy at school, and could get anything you needed. Computer games made me a lot of money, and I took fake ‘lacoste’ ski jackets into school and made quite a profit!
Gambling was popular at school; mostly penny up the wall, but with 10p’s, and if you were having a bad day, you lost your lunch money in under a minute! On a good day, you might have won a fiver though!
I was addicted as a young man to fruit machines, and I remember on a cold winter’s day, the snow had fallen so thick that they sent us home early, instead of getting the bus home, I used my 25p bus fare to have just 2 goes on the slot machine. Guess what! I lost, and walked home freezing in about a foot of snow! Addiction can make you do the silliest and most desperate things.
At the Age of 15/16 I didn’t turn up for my exams – too scared – too disinterested – too far behind everyone else. I was the stupid one in the family and I just accepted it!
Verse 2 – turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,
I turned my ears and my eyes the wrong way! I didn’t know what was good and what wasn’t , so I was deceived. In fact, I got deeper and deeper into the dark side of things. One of my fascinations was horror films. You name it, I’d seen it, and even the banned one’s – and I loved them. The scarier the better! You see, even at a young age darkness felt ‘normal’ to my soul.
Verse 3 – And if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding…
There were a number of experiences as a teenager that caused me to question what I had accepted in my family….
One time, we had my Nan’s over at the house with a few friends. I was 16 at the time, and my mother was playing her New Age music in the background whilst we all sat in a semicircle in the lounge. The next thing I know is that one of our friends entered into a ‘trance like’ state, and told us she could see, hear and even smell her dead dad. This was the first time it had happened to her, and she was quite anxious.
After a few minutes, she asked my Dad for it to stop, so my Dad mentioned something about walking into a ball of light, and as you walk out of the other side, you will be fine. Well, nothing happened, so my Dad went into the study and brought back this book, placed it in her hand and she went absolutely berserk, screaming tell my Dad that what she thought was her deceased Father was actually a demon impersonating him! Guess what the book was, that was placed in her hand. Yes, it was a Bible, and even from a young age God was trying to show us that the Bible uncovers deception and darkness precisely because it is the truth and light for mankind. The problem was, I understood the power of the book, but only in a ‘Harry Potter’ sense – magical. I didn’t understand it!
Raphael Gasson who was for years a medium wrote,
Those who indulge in this cult give themselves up to demons, who pose as spirit guides and loved ones and Spiritualists become ready to give obedience to what are actually demons whether they realise it or not …the spirits who communicate are not highly evolved spirit guides or the souls of the dead person, but actually demons impersonating dead people. – The Challenging Counterfeit, Logos International, 1979, pp.32-33
Here I began to question just what powers were working in our family, but then something else would happen which would restore my faith in my family’s practices.
My sister had been very upset, because she had lost her pet Hamster in the house for several days now. We received a telephone call from my Nanny Kitty who told us that she had seen in a vision that at such and such a time the Hamster would appear behind the radiator in my sister’s bedroom. She described the exact location behind the radiator! My Nan’s powers as a medium only reinforced my belief in Spirits. Sadly, I never questioned where the power was coming from.
Kate Fox and her sister Margaret, one of the founders of modern Spiritualism, once said, “”I am here to denounce Spiritualism as an absolute falsehood – the most wicked blasphemy the world has ever known.” I wish someone told me family that many years ago!
We read in 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
I was seeking all right, but not seeking God. I was lost, and sadly began to think how I could use my powers for good – and I began to think about becoming a faith healer myself.
One night, I remember lying in bed and feeling this demonic presence pin me to the bed. I could hear laughing and mocking, and I felt ‘unclean’ because of it. I tried to call out to my parents, but my vocal chords would not work. This was another example of a ‘schizophrenic’ belief in the Spirit world. For you had no control over it; it had full control over you.
One evening my Dad went for what is called, ‘a psychic operation’. We went to this ladies house in London, where she would use Spirit guides to operate on my Dad to remove a Hernia. My Dad told us how he had seen these guides as he lay on the couch, and that they were friendly. Well, when we arrived home, my Dad had a horrific night in agony, physically, spiritually and mentally.
So much for the so called ‘good spirit guides’ I thought!
By now, I was beginning to cry aloud for understanding……..
Verse 4 – and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
I lived a very immoral lifestyle; going to nightclubs 2-3 times a week, getting drunk etc. etc.
But the world still left an emptiness in my Spirit. It could feed the flesh, and gratify the desires of my sinful nature, but there was a part of me, lonely, starving, lost and in the dark. Do you know the feeling?
As a young man, all I ever wanted was to feel valued – to have a job that people respected – to have money to support a family one day – to have the right partner – but all these things scared me. They seemed beyond my grasp because I lacked confidence, and the only way I ever felt confident about myself was to live a lie, and become a different person when I went out!
Dutch courage isn’t in short supply when you’ve had a drink! So sadly I tried to become someone else in order to try and be the person I thought I should be? Sound familiar?
When we know the Lord, he reveals our true person and identity. We are born again – and for the first time in our lives we have the power to become what we ought to become.
We don’t have to follow the pattern of this world, for even if I don’t know my future, I know the one who holds it in the palm of his hand, and that’s good enough for me!
Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven & its righteousness, and all these things will be granted to you” – Matthew 6:33.
How stubborn we can be, when we think we don’t need God in our lives! He’s our maker – he’s got the instruction manual – he knows what is best for us, and he knows how to bless us, but we often think we know better than Him; well at least that’s what we say by our actions!
So I spent my teenage years doing all the wrong things, and moving from job to job in a desperate search for happiness and meaning in my life.
At the age of 20, I’d had enough of the clubs and sinful lifestyle. From the age of 16-20 I’d ‘partied’ more than most people in their lifetime, and I was getting tired of it! Sounds strange eh! But I knew that I was a sinner, and that I still felt empty inside. I still felt my life had no meaning and direction.
I remember getting down on my knees one night and sincerely praying that God will direct me and show me my purpose in life and what was the truth?
The following morning, I felt so different it was remarkable to me. I could hear the birds singing, see the sun shining; it was almost as if God was giving me a promise of a new day.
I remember telling my girlfriend at the time, “I feel that I want to sit under a tree and talk to God!”. She thought I’d totally lost it, but there was something awakened in my soul that was unmistakable!
You know how in the past you may have avoided ‘those Christians’ handing out tracks on the street? Well, one Saturday afternoon I was walking in Ilford Town Centre and a small lady in her 40’s stopped me and asked me if I believed in Jesus? I replied, “I guess I do”, and we had a little chat on the street about Christ.
Her name was Lydia, and she was nervous as anything; not a ‘polished’ evangelist by any means, but one thing that was so apparent to me was that this lady did what she did out of love. She invited me to church the next day.
The church was about half an hour from where I lived, so I don’t remember whether I intended to go, but to my amazement I found myself up and shaving at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. This was a new experience for me, being up so early, as I didn’t get up until afternoon if I’d been out clubbing the night before!
I arrived at the Ilford Elim Church (now called City Gates) where I was a bit puzzled. There were what seemed dozens – almost hundreds of young people in this church building. What where they doing there I thought? So many young Christians? Then I saw drums, keyboard, trumpet etc., and the young people took the worship! Oh my gosh, this was a huge surprise for me. I remember Pastor Barry Killick standing up in a suit teaching the bible, and it was amazing to me. That the bible could be understood; be so interesting; so revealing and enlightening was a total shock to me. God had his hand on me, and that Day I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and he gave me ‘His’ life!
Verse 5 – then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.
Verse 6 – For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Verse 7 – He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
Verse 8 – for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Verse 9 – Then you will understand what is right and just and fair, every good path.
Verse 10 – For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
When you’ve been in the dark so long, it’s not hard to ‘see the light’! I went home, told my mum, and to my amazement she told me that she had been to this church 25 years ago; had a wonderful experience hearing about Christ, but sadly she fell into just about everything else.
Now bear in mind that I had no exams and never showed an interest in learning anything – here I was – Born again by the Spirit of God – reading my Bible and digesting anything good that I could get my hands on! From ‘day one’ got was changing me from the inside out!
As you can imagine, now I was a Christian it was like World War III in my house!
My Dad thought I’d become weak – a ‘poofter’ in his eyes; my sister thought I’d lost it completely. I mean I wasn’t a nice brother, but she looked up to me as being ‘one of the lads’. And my friends told me they wanted to take me to a psychiatrist! I can understand how they felt, because ‘if the boot was on the other foot’ I would have said the same thing!
Within a month I had sold my flash XR2 sports car (well it was flash then!), paid off my loan, and with the difference bought an old Ford Sierra; signed up for a 1 year BTEC business and finance course and a few GCSE’s too!
God was moving powerfully in my life. But what about my family? I really began to pray for my family, and God began to move powerfully.
I remember reading my bible one day and seeing a picture in my mind that ‘Nanny Biss’ was coming to a crossroads in her life. I was only a baby Christian and didn’t know what to do, but the feeling got stronger and stronger to call her, so I telephoned her and told her that God had shown me that this ‘crossroads’ was a picture of her life, and that she needed to follow Christ rather than her own way. To my amazement, my Nan said, “Simon, if that’s what God is telling you, I believe it!” From that point my Nan came to follow Jesus as her Saviour and Lord, and 6 months later she went to be with Him.
One morning I was awakened by a voice that said, “Rejoice and be glad, for hers is the kingdom of heaven”. I was a little startled, but not afraid, and I began to question what that might mean. About a minute or so later my mum called up to me, “Quick Simon, its Nan. We have to go to hospital straight away.” The Lord had given me this wonderful assurance that my Nan was now in his presence, and she had passed away that morning!
It was around this time that my mother started to attend church and came to know the Lord in all his fullness. And when my mother finally found Christ, she had no need for Valium, or any of her occult books, Tarot cards and everything else. For she had found the one whom her soul longed for, and she thirsted no more.
When my mother and I had a spring clean of the house, we had 3 huge black sacks full of occult items, books, and every evil thing to destroy. We meant business with God, and he meant business with us!
My Dad was very affected; sometimes visibly by the demonic realm. One day I saw his face, red, oppressed and his eyes told me that it was demonic oppression. I went into the conservatory, prayed for my Dad, and came back in the lounge where he was. I asked him how he felt, and he said how remarkably the pain just disappeared. It was then that I plucked up the courage and told him that I had just prayed for him and that it was demonic oppression he was experiencing!
Not long after this, my Dad was wonderfully saved at Ilford Elim, and as you can imagine the Bible became alive for him. For know he had not only found Christ, but understood his Jewish identity and background as he began to read his bible! My mum and Dad now enjoy fellowship at the Ingatestone Elim Church.
My other Nan was a spiritualist, as I said earlier, and one day I began to tell her about the love of Jesus and that Spiritualism was wrong. In fact, the Bible makes it very clear in Leviticus 19:31 “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.”
There are other verses (as you can see on the screen that make this clear). My Nan began to weep and shake uncontrollably, and fell asleep for the next hour. I just sat there not knowing what to do, and when she awoke she told me how much better she felt. Over the next few years my Nan made her way out of darkness into the light of loving Jesus Christ.
My sister was angry at all this ‘religion’ as she called it, and told me not to talk to her about Christ, but God was moving in power in my family, and It wasn’t long before I received a phone call from my sister, asking if she could come to church! And she gave her life to Christ and was wonderfully changed!
Her partner at the time now thought we were all bonkers, and he used to come around to the house and argue with me about evolution. But guess what! God got him too, and Heath and Cathy are happily married and serving the Lord at the Romford Elim Church! Heath plays in the worship group, and Catherine is part of an evangelistic team that goes out ‘street witnessing’! PRAISE GOD!
God was beginning to move through our friends too, and we were seeing the power of God delivering people from Satan’s power. My mum’s brother has yet to come to the Lord, But I know God hasn’t finished with my family!
I had been on mission trips to Romania and Germany twice, and knew that God wanted me to serve him in ministry, so I went to the Elim Bible College in 1996, where both Solana and I got our BA Hons. Degree together, and since then we have served the Lord both in Southport Elim for three and a half years, and also currently here at the Clifton Christian Centre in Blackpool.
My family is so much closer now, and its wonderful to enjoy fellowship with all my family. In fact I may even ask my Uncle who is a Spirit filled Methodist minister to come and teach here in the future!
To finish I would like to quote a challenge to you from C. S. Lewis:
“I am trying to prevent the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus:’ I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is one thing that we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a pickled egg – or else he would be the devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being only a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to!”