I live in Oklahoma, a state with a very large evangelical Christian population. My family and I used to go to a small Pentecostal church, but we now go to a Southern Baptist church. I have many fond memories of our old church, the people there were very warm and friendly, and practically treated you like family. Visitors were greeted with a smile and a handshake, and were often invited to have dinner after Sunday night service. However, this one memory will always stick with me.

Our church often has visitors coming and going, usually people that just moved to the area and are trying out different churches to see which one they wanted to stick with. We also get visitors that live rough lifestyles and are trying to get out of it, turning to something bigger than themselves for help. This man, I'll call him Mike, was in the latter category, he lived a rough lifestyle. He never openly told us, but we know he was abusing drugs, and his health was declining as a result.

Mike was always pretty quiet in church. He never sang and didn't really speak to anyone. Many of us tried to drum up conversations and reach out to him, but he almost always seemed distant and wasn't very interested in talking to us. It was strange, because we're used to chatting with strangers for hours on end, but we chalked it up to him just wanting to quietly work on his faith, and we respected that.

However, all of that changed one Sunday night. It was a particularly energized service. The choir was in full swing, the preacher was practically glowing with energy, the churchgoers were on their feet and heartily singing along with the choir. Mike was in his usual spot in the second-to-front row, sitting down while everyone around him was up and singing. None of us thought it was unusual, and didn't really pay much attention to it.

That is, until he started growling. Yes, growling. We didn't notice it at first, but someone next to him noticed him acting even stranger than usual, and checked on him. He turned and glared at them with an intense hatred, but it didn't look like him. Like someone else...or something else...had taken control of his facial expressions. The person was startled, and that's when others around him started to notice. The preacher saw the commotion starting to build, and came down from the pulpit to see what was going on.

As the preacher drew closer, Mike turned to stare at him with that same hateful look. The preacher was equally startled, but he must have known or felt what was happening, and signaled his deacons to come assist him. Mike continued to stare and growl as they gathered around him and put their hands on him. When they started praying, Mike's eyes rolled back in his head, and he began foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth.

One of the deacons instructed the rest of the churchgoers to go into the parking lot. As the preacher and his deacons prayed over Mike, he kept foaming at the mouth, and his eyes were rolled back into his head. He also began convulsing, and the men gathered around him felt a powerful and hateful presence. The preacher ended the prayer with a command to the demon to leave Mike, in the name of Jesus Christ. At this, Mike fell to the floor, unconscious.

After a few minutes, he woke up crying. He said he felt a powerful energy around him, but not a hateful one, it was of love. The preacher instructed the deacons to meet the rest of us churchgoers at our usual dinner spot, and he would stay and talk with Mike. Mike opened up that night, spilling everything going on in his life to the preacher.

I don't know much about what happened to Mike after that. He did come back a few more Sundays, and we noticed he was a lot happier and more energetic. As far as I know, he started going to a different church when he moved to another city. I hope he's still doing alright. Even thinking about that event still chills me to the bone.  I had been having doubts before about my faith, but watching and feeling that much evil and hatred has definitely solidified it.

The thought that demonic beings really do inhabit our world still terrifies me, and I don't know how I would be able to cope with it without my faith. Please, be careful with what you introduce into your lives, because you might just end up inviting something in that is truly the stuff of nightmares.
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