Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Author's Preface

This is the true story of God’s grace in the deliverance of a young woman from demonic possession. It began when Jessica Leek, a twenty-three-year-old practicing witch, called me long distance, collect in the middle of the night. As we talked, a guttural male demonic voice interrupted, speaking through Jessica’s lips–blaspheming and threatening. Thus began one of the most incredible experiences I have had in a ministry which has spanned almost five decades.

Like all religions, Witchcraft comes in a wide variety of expressions. I was to learn that Jessica belonged to an order of the darkest kind, one that delved in black magic, consorted with demons, and even worshipped Satan.

After the very first telephone conversation with Jessica on that fateful March night in 1980, I immediately wrote it down verbatim, to the best of my ability, confirming my recollection of the call with my wife who had just listened in over the telephone extension. It was such an unusual experience that I didn’t want to forget a single word.

Several calls followed. I kept a pen and notebook beside the telephone and took notes during each one. Immediately after hanging up the telephone, I wrote out each conversation exactly as it had transpired.

A few days later, I, along with an associate, Paul Dana Walker, met Jessica in person for the first time in a Savannah, Georgia, hotel. There we counseled and prayed with Jessica for several hours. It was an experience like none I had ever had. Numerous different demonic voices spoke through Jessica. At times the demons reacted violently when we prayed or read the scriptures. Although neither of us had ever been trained in exorcism, we used the authority of Jesus’ name in an attempt to cast the demons out.

I had with me a pocket-sized tape recorder which I always carried during that period of my life. As a busy pastor, I used it to record notes, letters, etc. which were later transcribed by my secretary. With the recorder, I taped many of our conversations with Jessica, including the demonic voices. Much of the dialogue between me and the demonic entities which you will read in this book was taken verbatim from those tapes.

In order to continue ministering to Jessica, I took her to my home in Augusta, Georgia, where I lived with my wife and our three sons: Gregory, Christopher, and Jeromy. I would have hesitated to take her into my home if I had known what was to happen. On Jessica’s second night with us, things became much more intense. She was not completely delivered until after an all-night exorcism which at times was violent and even life-threatening. A plethora of demonic entities manifested themselves through Jessica, speaking through her, identifying themselves by name, and manipulating their victim in uncanny ways.

Even though some of the things that were said by the demonic voices still puzzle me, I have not changed any of the wordings and have tried to present them in a way that does not favor any particular theological position. I simply share the events as they happened.

The very title of this book shows that it is a story which I did not seek; it came looking for me. I have often wondered why the Lord allowed me to have such an incredible experience. If God needed an exorcist, surely he knew that at best I was a very reluctant vessel–albeit a willing one. Perhaps it was because my heavenly father knew he could teach me to trust him more fully through the ordeal. While I have always been a believer, I have often been tempted to doubt.

The events recorded here were life changing for me. In the fifty-five years that I have been a born-again Christian, nothing has done more to confirm my faith. This story is presented to you, the reader, with the prayer that it will be a boost to your faith as well.

The manuscript has lain in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet in my study for more than twenty-seven years. It is presented here much as it was first written, except for the addition of a few minor updates, this preface, and an epilogue. I am indebted to my beautiful wife, Karen, for her expert editing and proofreading.

Those who have asked me why I waited so long to publish it deserve an honest answer.
First, there are elements of the story that did not correlate with my theological training. As a pastor who has spent a lifetime studying the Bible, there are some things about demons, possession, and deliverance that I still do not fully understand. I thought the day would come when I would have a more perfect knowledge. I would then present this story along with an in-depth teaching about exorcism.

Now that I am retired from the pastorate, I have accepted the reality that there are many things one will never fully comprehend on this side of eternity. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor?” Romans 11:34. Therefore, I present this story, exactly the way it happened, as a testimony and not as a thesis. Although this is not an instruction manual on casting out demons, there is still much that can be learned from the narrative. Readers may draw their own theological conclusions.

Secondly, I have hesitated to tell this story because I feared being branded as a kook. Even though the events recorded here are completely true, documented, and have been verified by credible witnesses, there are some who will not believe them. They will put this testimony in the same category as an alien abduction or a Bigfoot sighting. Others will offer a psychological explanation or dismiss the story as the product of an overactive imagination. However, I have no point to prove; I only have a testimony to share.

A third reason I did not publish the book earlier is because I did not want it to be seen as an advertisement of my services as an exorcist. When I shared part of this testimony with my own congregation, even as it was unfolding, news of the exorcism spread very quickly throughout the city and beyond. I was deluged with calls and visits from people who wanted me to cast demons out of them, their acquaintances, their homes and/or their pets. I did not refuse to counsel and pray with any of those who came to me. Most of them had very real problems–spiritual, emotional, mental or otherwise–but I considered few, if any of them, possessed. I’ve ministered to many people over the years who were tempted, tormented, harassed, and oppressed by the devil. But only once have I encountered a person whom I was absolutely convinced to be possessed by a legion of demons. That person was Jessica, the young woman whose story you are about to read.

So after all these years, why publish the book now? Because it is a story which needs to be told and in my spirit I feel the time is right. Although I do not have all the answers–and don’t believe anyone does–the story has much value. Some will be enlightened by it. Others will have confirmed to them things they already know. Most of all, through this testimony, some reader might find hope, encouragement, or faith.

Recently I have been reminded of a promise I made to the Lord when I was sixteen years old. I shared that story in an earlier book, Growing up Pentecostal. As a teenager, I felt strongly that God was calling me to preach, but I wanted to be sure it was God who was calling me and not just my own desire. After months of sincere prayer, I decided to put the decision in the Lord’s hands. I promised him that, without my telling anyone I wanted to be a minister, if I were ever invited to preach, I would do it.

Shortly thereafter, I was asked to give a sermon to the inmates at a county jail. After that first, faltering effort, another invitation came, and then another–until soon I was receiving more invitations to preach than I was able to accept.

I remembered that promise I had made to the Lord when I was invited to come to two different churches and share this remarkable testimony, twenty-seven years after it happened. The same pastors have also encouraged me to publish the story in a book, little knowing that I had written the manuscript so many years ago.

So here it is. Although the devil is a major character in this story, the hero is Jesus Christ. I trust that I have not glorified either myself or Satan. Rather, it has been my aim to give testimony to the power of the blood of Jesus and to the authority of the Bible, God’s holy word.

J. Stephen Conn
Loveland, Ohio

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