My life started out as a miracle.
Although my mother was barren, she and my father miraculously conceived me in the midst of revival at our church in New York. From the start, my parents knew that God had spoken that I would know the fear of God from a young age. And they were right – as a child, I knew that God was real, that He was powerful, and that He was not to be defied.
This knowledge, however, did not prepare me for what the enemy would do to separate me from God.
I was twelve years old. On a hot summer day, cooped up in my parents’ room to take advantage of the cool air conditioning, I turned on the television, like I had done countless times before. But this time, something was different. I had come across an anime (Japanese animation) program, and the images on the screen reached out to me in a way I had never experienced. Within two minutes, I was hooked on this unfamiliar display of power. As the idea of this power grabbed me, in a matter of moments, I knew I had to have what the characters on this show had. I wanted that power.
To clarify: I understand that anime is simply Japanese animation. Anime in itself is not necessarily evil, and I am sure many twelve-year-olds could have watched what I did without being so entranced by it. This, however, is my story, the way it happened. And my twelve-year-old mind became carried away almost at once.
In less than two weeks after the first show I had seen, my obsession with watching this power had already begun to affect my relationships. I would stay inside on a beautiful day to find the television shows that had begun to feed a dark craving inside me instead of spending time with my friends or family. It was then, as my thirst for power had begun to blossom, that the second of my three obsessions formed.
A friend introduced me to the suspense/thriller genre of movie. The first one I saw was not enough. While I wasn’t allowed to watch these movies at my own home, I found myself suggesting them any time I had the opportunity to watch a movie with a friend. What got me wasn’t specifically the violence – as a person, I didn’t desire to actually harm anyone myself. But, much like the power in the anime shows I was watching nonstop, the power in these movies called out to me. I found myself drawn specifically to villains like the one in Saw, a movie about a dying man who manipulates other people into unspeakable acts of violence.
I watched. And I kept watching. And the possibility of terrorizing women became almost as exciting as the prospect of shooting lasers at people who upset me. I’m watching the anime all day, every day, and whenever I’m with people, I’m watching all types of suspenseful movies. The more killing, the better.
Within another couple of weeks, the third prong to my dark and complicated secret life had reared its head when I was introduced to pornography for the first time. I knew, unlike with my other two vices, that this was something that was not good – something not pleasing to God. At first, as I’m sure many people have experienced, my foray into this new and exciting world started with a glance here or there at something relatively tame – two women kissing. Then the kissing was not enough. On the brand new computer in our house, I obsessively watched pornography, only tempered by my need to watch anime television shows.
I was twelve. And I was hooked, within six weeks, on three different and yet frighteningly similar addictions. I would like to say my story gets happy there, but the beginning was only just that.
At first, as the raging, uncontrolled addict that I was, my life took a downward turn. I went from making straight A’s to F’s almost overnight. Parents of my friends knew something was off with me, and would refuse to let their children spend time with me unless we were heavily supervised. However, as time went on and I got to the point of entering high school, I made other friends – friends whose parents weren’t Christians… kids who also looked at porn and watched anime and loved serial killer movies. The restraints I might have had at first, based on my social circles, were totally broken down.
Now, we fast-forward to the age of 14. For two years, I had been an addict. However, for those first two years or so, the visual was enough for me. I enjoyed watching, and there wasn’t a thought to go further than that. But when darkness creeps into you, bit by bit, you eventually become dissatisfied with what once gave you pleasure. This is what happened to me. Addiction began to turn to action.
The first action was that I began to track and chart the ways that the characters in the anime shows were ‘channeling’ power. I had graphs and notebooks hidden around the house – behind a toilet, under a desk, wherever they wouldn’t be found – including the things they would say to channel, the physical movements they made, and what would happen. Then, I would lock myself in my bedroom, spending hours at a time trying to call out the power portrayed in the show. I would push and push until I knew I could see a difference, because something in me knew that what was being shown in the cartoon was a real and accessible power.
And I saw results.
I can remember being in the weight room with my basketball team on more than one occasion, frustrated with the limited amount I was able to bench-press (I was never an incredibly strong boy). Determined, I walked away where I was alone, use the channeling rituals I had learned, walk back into the weight room, and lift 45% more weight than I had been doing a few minutes earlier.
A similar thing would happen when I ran cross-country. Falling behind the pack and out of breath, I stepped into the woods next to our track, channel, and come back out running faster and passing other people. It wasn’t like a ‘superhero’ transformation, but I was doing things different and immediately enough that I knew it was due to the channeling I had begun, rather than anything I was physically capable of accomplishing.
Perhaps what should have scared me most about this was that every time I reached what I saw as a new pinnacle of power, I was very sick for the next several days. After weeks of pressing in to the next level, my body shut down, probably to protect itself from the unnatural havoc I was wreaking on it. This happened every couple of months – my body was having trouble handling the darkness.
The same kind of ‘research’ I did on anime and channeling, I began to do with serial killer movies. I became frustrated with the limitations of movies available to me, so in addition to my notes on power channeling, I developed notebooks of ideas and scripts and plots for my own terror-inducing fantasies. Because I still never found the idea of physical violence to another person appealing, the plots all dealt with psychological terrorizing and how to get people to hurt themselves.
And, of course, my porn habit was no exception to the action phase. Porn, for me, was always demented. While my other friends were simply sexually frustrated and looked to porn for a release (which I knew was still not okay), I was basically disinterested in what the average teenage boy was seeking. A man and woman having sex was boring. I started to look at anything I could find that was abnormal – orgies, bestiality, children… Anything I could find that I knew was not okay. Oddly enough, the one type of unnatural pornography I never found attractive was sadomasochistic bondage. Because actual physical violence was always a turn-off, I only wanted to watch things that seemed like all parties were having fun. Regardless, it was as if I picked out all the things the Bible tells you, “Don’t do,” and watched people doing all of them.
As the watching began to feel limiting, I developed scripts and ideas for my own porn shoots. I decided, at 14, that I would have to get into the industry when I was old enough, because what I was able to find online was no longer satisfying. I couldn’t find things weird and dark enough to arouse me, so I wrote down ideas for the things I wanted to see.
Looking back, I remember moments where sanity would lift itself out of the muck of my consciousness and scream, “What is wrong with you?!” In these times, in the place where I was, my first thought was to pull up porn of a man and a woman having sex, just to remind myself that I was really okay.
But I wasn’t. And after a few minutes, I switched back to something most people would call ‘disgusting.’ When that wasn’t enough, I’d devise more scripts and shoot ideas.
During this time, it was shocking that no one seemed to catch on to the depth of what my life had become. I attended church regularly and even played on our worship team. I belonged to a church 45 minutes away from my own house, and often spent most of my week with a family from the church. Throughout the years of my channeling and terror-lusting and porn-watching, I was still unaware that I had gotten myself in much deeper trouble than typical sin. I knew watching porn was wrong – but it didn’t occur to me until soon after my 16th birthday that channeling or terrorizing women were also sinful.
I purchased an outfit that looked like what my anime mentors would wear – all black, black boots, black gloves, covered with ancient markings. This, along with the swords, would help me connect even more with the men I so wished to emulate. When my parents were away, I would put on my outfit and go through the channeling motions. The first time I truly played that part, I immediately knew that I had stepped somewhere I never intended. I knew that I had begun to defy God with my actions, something that I had never acknowledged before.
And this was my rock bottom.
As I saw who I had truly become and realized that Satan was already smiling, the action I had already been practicing was replaced with being overtaken. I say it that way because I no longer felt in total control of what I was doing. I began to act out things I had seen in movies. Girls I started dating would receive phone calls from numbers they didn’t know, and men with gravelly voices would threaten their lives, or to rape them, and they would call me for comfort or help, totally oblivious to the fact that I was the one scaring them. It was as if I was so desperate to feel that power that I no longer had boundaries. One night (the first of several), my one real fear (of God) became much more real.
I walked into the hallway outside of my room in the middle of the night, and froze a foot outside my bedroom door. In the living room, where nothing should have been visible, was a pulsating, blinding red light, accompanied by whispers of many different voices. In that moment, I knew that if what (or who) was responsible for that light heard or saw me, I would die. It was that or lose my mind. So I stood. I stood for hours at a time, until the light faded away, barely breathing. As much as I might have denied it the moment the sun came up, my heart knew that some type of council of demons was congregating in my house. I had invited them in, and now I didn’t know how to make them leave.
It was then I could see that what I had invited into my life was darker than anything I had imagined.
I began to have nightmares. At home, by myself, I saw objects move or hear noises with no source. My life had become a cycle of unending fear. I paced the house for hours, calling friends to talk about nothing, simply to keep my sanity. Each time the red light appeared in the middle of the night, or things moved around me for no reason, terror rose up within me and taunted, “What are you going to do now? If you give in, you will serve Satan forever. You will lose your own mind.” I had avoided alcohol and drugs throughout this entire demonic takeover of my teenage years because I was so scared of not being in my right mind.
However, this story does not end with my sanity being stolen. It ends (or, rather, begins anew) with a rescue.
As I already mentioned, I had been a faithful attender of a church throughout this entire period of my life. One of the events I frequented was a youth rally in New York, drawing around 5,000 kids each year from the denomination. As ‘preachers’ (little more than motivational speakers) would stand before us, I was reminded (5 years in a row, to be specific) that watching porn was a sin. Until the peak of demonic activity had surfaced, I was unaware that my other actions were so wrong. Porn-watching was another story – I felt bad about that from day one. So, every year at this rally, I would bawl my eyes out, apologize to God at an altar, and sing out to worship music on my way home, feeling like a changed man.
Then, two minutes after walking into my house, I was back on the computer, watching porn. I was watching anime, channeling demons left and right. I was watching movies about the depths of mental depravity.
The first real step I took was one that took me completely by surprise. At that fifth conference, at 16 ½, as I cried at the altar, weeping and apologizing for my porn addiction, I felt the Lord speak to me for the first time in my life – and not about porn. He said, “You need to go throw out your anime. It’s not me. You have one step when you get home. If you don’t take it, you die.”
It was almost confusing to me at first – what was wrong with anime? And yet, it was as clear as day. It was my one chance. The one time God reached down and said, “Come to Me.” I wouldn’t realize until later that the root of all my darkness was the anime I had started watching at 12.
So, I obeyed God. I got home and immediately threw out my huge binder of burned discs, with thousands of episodes of anime cartoons. At this point, I understood well enough the gravity of what I was doing that I took the extra step to dispose of them in the garage garbage can, further removed from my house. As I dropped the binder into the trash can, I took my first deep breath in as long as I could remember. It was finally over!
But it wasn’t over. I still had my anime costume. I still obsessed over serial killers and pornography. The real change that happened that first day was that hope had begun to find life inside me.
Within a week or so of that day, I got a frantic call from a very close friend and his mother. They insisted, without giving me a reason, that I had to drop everything I was doing and come to their house right away. I trusted them enough to oblige, and when I arrived, they sat me down to watch a video that would change my life forever.
The problem with my yearly “porn cleansing” was that the people placed in front of me were not men of power. This was not so with the video in front of me. As the short preacher began to powerfully call out all of my sin and pick it apart, piece by piece, explaining that my unwillingness to surrender to God was nothing less than worshiping the devil. No one had ever put it that way! I didn’t have a “problem,” I was serving Satan. I knew the man was telling the truth, because I recognized the power within him. It was real, it was big, and it was different than the power I recognized in myself. That day, finally understanding who I was and what I was doing, I gave my life to Christ. The 2-hour sermon and presentation was the first in a set of four, so I immediately ordered the other three. And as each one came, I gave up something. I saw DVD two and stopped watching serial killer movies. DVD three was the removal of pornography from my life. My heart was flying!
Then, the night before I watched the final DVD, I stepped out to the restroom. As I went to enter my bedroom to go back to sleep, I saw a little boy, half-naked, kneeling over the end of my bed. He was speaking, as if praying, in a strange, tribal-sounding language. I knew right away that it was a demon – the preacher had been discussing the spiritual realm and I recognized what was happening. It wasn’t an apparition or a ghost; this little boy was as real as I am. And he confused me. The red lights were gone. I had gotten rid of porn, anime, and serial killer movies. Why was this demon in my house?
I slept on the couch that night. The first thing I did in the morning was to start the last DVD in the series. For me, each one had been such a momentous experience that I equated the last one with some kind of final battle. My last hope for total redemption. Well, I was right.
At the end of that presentation, I started to feel weird. I had seen people begin manifesting demons and being delivered in the congregation present, and it terrified me that something could be living inside of me. I called my mother, a hardcore Jesus-follower, and asked her to sit with me and play worship music. We blasted the music – it felt as if it was the only thing standing between me and total insanity. I can remember feeling so close to the breaking point that every time a lull occurred between two songs, I almost lost myself before the next song began. I held onto a bible for dear life. My body temperature skyrocketed to 105 (or higher), and I went back and forth from burning to freezing, eventually sitting a heater directly in front of me, just so I could think clearly.
Something was killing me. The struggle within my body was causing me to shut down completely. Finally, I confessed to my mom that a demon was in my room the night before, and that she needed to call our pastor. She did, and he immediately laid hands on me when he arrived, commanding the spirit in me that was not of God to go. All at once, I was gagging, and feeling like my body might implode. After one long breath in and out, that feeling was gone. I watched it leave.
I saw (spiritually) the demon rise out of me. It was ten feet tall, fiery red all over, and covered in black hair. With the body of a man and the head of a bull, walking on hooves, it slowly stood up and began to walk out of the room. I could see the ancient power in it. I knew it was not afraid of me, although it had to leave at the authority of Jesus. I had tapped into something so evil, so dark, that I had to know what I had done. I asked the demon his name, and he responded by saying, “My name is Chi.”
After that day, I researched what I had experienced and learned. I googled “Chi” and “anime,” and the first article I found mentioned the one anime show in particular where I had learned most of my channeling power. The article named Chi as an ancient demon in Japanese religion from a thousand years ago, coined as such because this particular demon had light coming out of his body that looked like pure energy (which is the definition of ‘chi’ in the Japanese language). The last line of the article said that the most accurate, modern-day representation of this spirit was depicted in my favorite anime show.
I could never go back. I dug up something ancient, and evil, and I had brought it into my home, near my family.
A few days later, I had my one and only relapse. As I had done many times before, I called a girl to scare her into thinking I would kill her and her family. Looking back, I believe I was so empty after casting out my demons that it was almost as if my brain was scrambling to figure out what to do after such a drastic change. Fortunately, this girl was the daughter of the family I practically lived with, and they figured me out immediately and called the police. I deduced my only way out of jail was to check myself into a mental institution, which is exactly what I did. I drove to the hospital pushing the limits of my car to the breaking point, unconcerned with the possibility of hurting anyone. When I walked in, I told them I was suffering from homicidal and suicidal urges and was checked in immediately.
I know the enemy was making his last-ditch effort to win this fight. If he could sow the seeds of suicide within me, the deliverance process would have been negated and he wouldn’t have to deal with the man I would become later.
In the hospital, I did begin to attempt suicide one time. I was quickly discovered by a nurse and given an opportunity to calm down. In that brief two-minute span, God spoke to me again. He reminded me I was a part of His family now, and had the opportunity to give up all the bondage I had been holding.
So I stopped fighting God. I gave in to His will and never looked back.
Starting in that hospital, witnessing to the other mental patients and praying over them, I made it my life’s mission to spread the gospel. God had instilled within me a passion to preach hard truths, and that is what I do. Many preachers and speakers talk only about what is encouraging and uplifting. However, for me, the first man I actually acknowledged confronted me with the difficult truth of whom I was truly serving. He showed me the satanic presence in the lives of musical artists I had followed; he explained why pornography is so dishonoring to God. I take his approach. Often, when speaking to teenagers (my preferred crowd), my first declaration is to tell them that, “If your life looks like this, your problem isn’t that you have ‘issues,’ your problem is that you don’t actually belong to God.”
I have never seen that truth fail to offend, deliver, and bring people to salvation. You see, truth sets you free – if you let it.
If I can describe myself in one word, that word is “new.” Six years ago, I was overtaken, living deep in darkness, controlled by spirits I had sought out. Now, I am a new creation. There is nothing left in me from those days – I don’t desire to terrorize anyone. I don’t want to channel spirits. And although I deal with the normal temptations of lust that most men encounter, I have no desire to seek out degrading pornography. The decision I made to follow Christ was the most transformative decision I have ever made, and I can say with full confidence that I no longer struggle with issues related to my past.
Most importantly, my heart is set on seeing the power of God change lives. Every time I preach, I commit to unashamedly sharing the truth. And I have never once regretted it.
Don’t ever be attracted to anything other than the real Jesus. You’ll know you’ve found the real Jesus when you’ve been made new.
This story is written in first person. It is a retelling, written by the author listed. JD has approved this version of the story.
Photo credit: 535 Photo
JD is available for speaking engagements. If you are interested in having him share at your youth group, school, or church event, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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