My teen years were turbulent with my parent’s ugly divorce and all the drama that ensued and with my own unrepentant sin of course. I was a kid that hardly got in trouble but I was in deep trouble with the Lord as I pursued sinful behaviors and activities that everyone else in my life participated in and encouraged. At 18 I met my soon to be husband. He was a cradle Catholic and his parents were devout. After we married and I was pregnant with our first child, I decided to become a Catholic too. We just went through the Catholic motions together, although I stunk at most of them. I figured I was a bad Catholic from the get-go because all of those rules and sacraments and such were just too much for me to keep up with! Yet, I didn’t allow that to concern me too much. I figured I was a good enough person to make clearance on Judgment Day being I didn’t murder anyone or rob banks. I wasn’t really concerned about my cussing like a sailor and my lying here and there or the countless other sins that I was guilty of. I still considered myself a Christian, being I believed that God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) was real- so I was fairly confident that God would usher me into eternal life. Besides, the Lutheran and Catholic Church told me I was ok; I was baptized, confirmed and fairly good.
I was around 23 years old, a wife and mother to a one-year-old. I started watching John Edwards. He is a practicing medium with his own talk show. I found it entertaining. How did he know that woman’s dead mother loved the blue heart necklace that Aunt Mary gave her!? I definitely questioned the validity of it all, but I was still intrigued and tuned into every episode. I thought either the man’s claims were true or the whole show was a farce. I didn’t even think about there being a third option- like say…demonic deception.
So without looking at my own spiritual condition very seriously and really only seeing supposed spiritual activity as mere entertainment, I soon found myself deep into something I NEVER thought I would be. When home at our new house, strange things started to happen. It all started off with me seeing a figure of a man walking behind me as I stared at a darkened computer screen with the lamp on behind me. No one was there when I turned around. I knew it was either my imagination or something of a ghost. I was royally freaked out but I tried to ignore it. Days later, several candles blew out in my living room. There was no draft, no fan, nothing. Then I would soon have experiences of hearing voices, seeing things move that shouldn’t and even feeling a mouth blow hard in my ear as I sat in my living room. I wasn’t able to ignore it anymore. I was telling people about what happened. Most people seemed hesitant to believe me, except those in the Catholic faith, kid you not, who would then proceed to tell me their own stories! I knew my experiences were real, I knew I wasn’t making it up. I was just trying to make sense of it somehow. Someone reminded me that the previous owner of our house talked about someone dying in that house years before. So I started entertaining the idea of a dead person making himself known to me. I stuck with that story, because I really didn’t know what else to think.
Weeks after all of this began I entered College. I enrolled in Psychology 101 and about a week into the class our fun-loving, charismatic teacher started talking about her ability to read people’s auras, tap into past lives and speak to dead people (yes Psych 101 at a decent college. Be warned parents! The college let her stay there for years knowing she taught this stuff after class. Scary!). She told us it was a “gift” she had since the age of 4. She would go around the class and tell people what hidden injuries they had, what they had done earlier that day, etc. Some kids seemed uncomfortable with her unexplained knowledge, yet with all that had been going on in my own life, my ears perked up and I was intrigued. One day, early on in the semester, she made the statement that when we find a feather in a peculiar place, it’s an angel telling us we are on the right path. The VERY next day while taking a shower I reached up to put shampoo in my hair and felt something poking out of my hair- it was a HUGE feather!! I mean, it was a big one, not a soft little fuzzy one. I hadn’t even been outside that day. I thought, hmm, maybe this lady’s teachings were the right path and an angel is telling me so? As silly as it sounds, when you are given a “sign” that seems to validate prior feelings or information, it gets your attention – and without necessary discernment you are soon locked in. I became locked in and this teacher picked up on that. All the while, I kept hearing voices and having unexplained spiritual experiences. This teacher would invite a few of us naïve ones to hang out at her place and call on the dead. She would school us on all the ins and outs of the spiritual world, on her experiences and how to orchestrate our own encounters. She taught us “thought-ology” as she called it, which is the practice of thinking positive thoughts enough that they come true because of the energy they possess. She would give us Bible verses (and twist them) to show us that reincarnation was biblical and she would tell us that we had past lives and that we need to tap into those lives to grow in our knowledge. I was taking notes, buying books she recommended and worst of all, telling my family and friends all of this ‘wonderful’ insight, trying to get them to fully endorse it. Most did. I was reading auras on other people, using crystals and tapping into the spiritual world as this woman had instructed me. The semester ended but we kept in touch over phone and I met with her and a few others occasionally. This teacher would tell me, while in front of the others, that I have a special gift in the spirit realm and would treat me with special gifts and praise. I enjoyed the limelight. Boy I was in deep. Blech!
My aunt Tami (who is only 8 years older than I), was recently saved herself and heard of what happened. She knew of my history in the occult. She took the opportunity to reach out to me. Email after email she talked to me with much patience and compassion, yet with boldness and clarity, the Word of God. I was fighting against it, hard. I kept arguing against her beliefs with things I believed to be true in the occult practices. But as hard as I argued, she didn’t waver – and I still listened. After all, I claimed to be a Christian, shouldn’t I be ok with talking about the Bible? I began to be very surprised with myself – of how irritated I got with Scripture and the name of Christ being discussed for more than a few seconds. I could tolerate an hour long church service at the Catholic and Lutheran church talking about God but 5 minutes of Tami talking about Scriptures or Christ, was torture!
Right after my daughter was born I moved back to my home town to be closer to family. Looking back I could see God working in getting me there. What would end up being the most crucial part of the whole thing was the fact that God was moving my aunt Tami back there as well. After we were both moved into the same town we would visit one another, just getting to know one another even better. She would increasingly bring up the truths of the Scripture to me; of how to be saved.
One day I went over to her house to help her paint. We were side by side painting a wall when we both heard a man’s voice say VERY loud and clear, “Hey!” We both quickly turned around and saw only our little kids playing behind us. Then we both looked at each other and simultaneously said, “did you hear that?!” All of a sudden my right shoulder started to tingle and her left shoulder started to tingle really hard as if something was standing right in between us. She said later that when that happened she first freaked out a little but knew right away what was happening – it was apparent that God was letting her see the world that I was living in; the world of demons. Right after it happened, she silently prayed and I just kept saying, “See, this is what I’ve been talking about!” She came over to me and said something like, “Gina, these are demons. There is no such thing as dead people walking around. In Christ’s presence the demons tremble. Jesus is the only One Who can make the demons flee. Anytime this happens, remember that.” I believed her for some reason, probably because God had been working on my heart. I was relieved to know the identity of the spirits that kept taunting me and that there was someone who could deal with them once and for all, Jesus!
Shortly after that incident she convinced me to attend a Bible group. I wasn’t sure if I could handle an hour or so of talking about Jesus and Scripture so I was hesitant but I loved spending time with the other women and talking. After attending a few times we were discussing a Scripture verse on ‘inheritance’. I think the verse literally slapped me across the face. I can’t remember the Scripture reference because at that time I didn’t pay attention to those things, but God was letting me know that I will not share in His heavenly inheritance if I don’t repent and go to Christ in confession and faith. At that moment, without making it aware to anyone else, I understood exactly what I needed to do! I don’t remember anything right after that, just getting home and running to my bedroom, falling down to the floor and crying to the Lord Jesus to forgive me, something Tami had told me many times before that I needed to do. I finally saw that I didn’t really have Him but that I needed Him and I wanted Him. Instantaneously my eyes were opened. I remember standing up and realizing I saw sin differently, or rather for the first time. I remember thinking, “oh my, lying and bad language is such a sin (some of the many sins I really struggled with. The Lord later continued to reveal to me more sins that I struggled with as I studied His Word and His Spirit worked in my heart)!” I was thinking of family and friends and the desperate state they were in and knowing I had to tell them about their need for Christ. I soon went to all those that I shared the occult with and told them I was wrong, it’s demonic and Christ saved me out of it. I asked for their forgiveness and I gave them the Gospel. I looked at my precious kids, who were so little and unaware of what was going on in my life, and knew life just drastically changed for them too! Praise God!
It was such an unbelievable transformation. It could only come from an Almighty God. From that day on I was going 100mph towards God. I could finally understand God’s Word so crystal clear (it no longer seemed as if I was reading a different language!) and I soaked in it. I talked till early morning with Tami on the things of God and asked a billion questions. I joined bible studies, attended Christian seminars and ate, drank, and slept Jesus! I couldn’t get enough of His Word. He poured so much life and truth into my heart as I read His Word, it was beyond amazing. I eventually got what I asked for on that dark day I cried out for truth. God in His great mercy gave me saving TRUTH. Thankfully, not too long after my salvation, I was able to witness my sister Amy’s salvation and transformation. What a blessing!! Her testimony is awe-inspiring by the way. She went from dark to light in blazing and undeniable fashion and she has been such a spiritual rock and encouragement as we’ve dived into the Scriptures together over the years. I just think of how awesome it is that God saved Tami (who also has an AMAZING testimony), Amy and I within just a few years time. Thankfully so – because as the Lord was growing us the devil was attacking us and we were able to lean on the Word together to encourage one another in God’s truth as we battled. Thankfully I now also have a Christian husband who encourages me to live out my faith; who I lean on for encouragement as well. It’s amazing to look back and see all that God has done for me despite all that I had done against Him. Thank You Jesus!
– Gina Cook