Former pentecostal and faith-healer-in-training shares the depth of deceit of the Charismatic movement that messed up his mind and that hardly changed his lifestyle of sin.
I was raised a Catholic. My parents had my twin brother and I out of wedlock. My father was a drug user/dealer who passed away when I was just 13, so we were raised by my mother.
I was taught in Catholicism that in order to earn our salvation and favour with God, we had to perform many religious rituals such as infant baptism, communion, confirmation and many other works. I confessed my sins to a priest we call “father” while I ignored Jesus, and bowed down to unbiblical idols such as Mary for forgiveness, because “Jesus listens to His earthly mother”. It was customary to put dollar bills in metal boxes and light up red candles to help our loved ones and pray for those who passed away – all quite superstitious. It was Christ through His written Word that opened my eyes towards the truth, to realise how false and far Catholicism was from the Scriptures.
However, at an early age, I practiced witchcraft and was hostile towards the one true God. My carnal mind was governed by sin, the traditions of men and false religion. In my teens and 20s, I felt most alive when I was sinning and breaking the law. I was disobedient to my whole family including my step-father, but now I see that this was also an inner cry for a godly father figure in my life. My world revolved around staying out all night, partying, organizing illegal street races and evading the authorities. It is so true that unregenerate men love darkness rather than light.
In 2015, I started attending a charismatic-pentecostal “church” called Victory Church in Audubon, Pennsylvania. This was where I would meet my now wife, Stella. Before I became a member, they allowed me to take a role in several leadership positions, and they never once asked for my testimony for verification.
I was highly deceived by it’s ear-tickling music, sugar-coated preaching, and unknowingly accepted a false jesus who fit my own imagination and the church’s. It was not hard for me to fit in considering that in Catholicism, there was an emphasis on our own misguided emotions as well, where we were encouraged to sometimes analyze our dreams as messages from God and seek out signs and wonders as confirmations from God.
I thought that I was saved because I repeated a (superstitious) sinner’s prayer and signed a card that read “I made a decision for Christ”, that I was good enough to march right into the gates of heaven on my own free will. Jesus became my own personal genie in a bottle who gave me everything my carnal heart desired.
I was groomed to be a faith healer at Victory Church’s healing center. We were taught to pray over people with manipulation tactics and emphasized on God’s healing power on ourselves instead of going to Him through prayer. We were given a book to read by a false teacher named Randy Clark which presented us with a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to healing people. I was so into it, believing that God would use me to heal people.
However, practicing this lead me to many dangerous paths.
Instead of going to God through prayer, I started “casting out Satan” as we were taught to. I was following my own misguided inner voice and emotions which I falsely attributed to the Holy Spirit. This also opened me up to demonic influences and it messed up my mind.
Without knowing it, I was an enemy of God.
My pride was more important than the authority of Scripture. I idolized temporary health without eternity, wealth without heaven, and prosperity without the cross. I thought I was listening to God and that I was close to Him, yet I did not realise I was not following the Bible. Some people tried to warn me, but I chose to shut my ears to the truth as the lies and half-truths were more convincing. I sacrificed my time for ungodly desires, but I did not know the ultimate sacrifice. I followed my own wicked heart, but I did not follow the biblical Jesus. I rejoiced in iniquity, but I did not rejoice in the truth. I loved, but I did not know God’s special love that awaited me. I was living my best life now on a long happy road to hell, unaware that my eternal fate on the day of judgement would be those 7 fearful words from Jesus himself, “I never knew you: depart from me” (Matthew 7:21-23).
However, God impressed certain verses in my heart such as 2 Corinthians 11:14 and John 3:16. Romans 10:17 says that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”
For several years before my genuine conversion, I was leading people in mass political protests and marches, but then I read Ephesians 6:10-19 and realised, how could I lead others if I can’t let God lead me first?
It wasn’t until late 2016 that I began to change.
Jesus regenerated my depraved dead heart of stone. I wasn’t saved because I judged the sincerity of a decision that I made during a sermon or an alter call. It was God who saved me from His own wrath; He saved me by Himself and for Himself. He opened my blind eyes and gave me ears to hear. For the first time in my entire life, I had a genuine fear of the Lord, convicted of sin, and a true love for Jesus Christ and His Word. It was Christ who rescued me even though I didn’t deserve it, and He gave me the assurance of eternal life with Him.
Shortly after I was born again, the lyrics of this hymn, Rock of Ages stuck with me ever since and brings me great joy:
“Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;”
Because of Jesus, my whole life now has new meaning. I now know what it means to have a Heavenly Father who will always be there!
Before leaving Victory Church, I tried to correct my Pentecostal leaders and friends, to tell them the truth. The cult-like mentality becomes obvious where everybody acts so nice until you start questioning things.
The “pastor” either brushed it off or tried to schmooze me over into silence. He accused me as a legalistic pharisee and threatened to single me out in front of the congregation for my division since I disagreed with the charismatic sign gifts and his Joel Osteen type sermons. Till this day, my family and friends who still attend Victory Church refuse to listen to me and my wife. Yes, it is painful to go through, but it is even more joyful to know that God rescued me from this nightmare.
Sadly, many entertainment businesses masquerade as churches while deceptively luring people away from important doctrinal truths.They focus on ear-tickling music and teachings that draw on people’s own misguided emotions rather than on the Word of God. They have abandoned the raw message of repentance and faith, gone from theology to therapy and have replaced pulpits with motivational speaking instead of biblical preaching. They prey on the emotions of seekers and young believers. They create an atmosphere of “hyper-grace” (no such thing in the Bible) while producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well, and very sadly may be hellbound.
Satan doesn’t come with horns dressed in a red cape and carrying a pitchfork. He and his minions come wearing a smile and quoting Scripture. Don’t be deceived. They can come as everything you’ve ever wished for whether it be under the pretence of religion, all sorts of idolatry, superstition, half-truths, or cotton-candy sermons. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” 2 Corinthians 11:14 KJV
We must be wise to not let the teachings of men conflict with the Word of God, because the flock must be fed a balanced diet instead of just the sweetness of feel-good messages that cause “truth decay”.
Sure, I’m not perfect, but I am a changed man. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are new”. Every day, I now read the Holy Bible, I have a teachable spirit, I’m happily married, I hate sin, I have compassion towards those who hate me, and I try to glorify God in everything that I do.
Last year, I started an evangelism organization called Reformation Nation and I now openly share the gospel wherever I go without fear of man’s approval. I’ve been making resourceful YouTube videos, posts, and articles exposing that “church” as well as the charismatic movement. It’s been a struggle because I have angered my loved ones, but it’s also a blessing to see how many people have reached out to us. Since then, we have guided many to bible-believing churches, staying connected and encouraging each other, while praying for God to use our testimonies to wake up many more.
God rescued me from sin and death through Christ, and changed my life as a result.
Now, understanding the price that Jesus paid for me on that bloody tree, I can boldly say “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God.” It is my duty and honor to share this message all around the world in hopes of being used to lead others to our precious cornerstone, our matchless King, our Triune Jehovah. For I am not ashamed of Christ and the Good News of salvation.
To Charismatics and Catholics who are contemplating of leaving, please do not give up. Realize that it is perfectly fine and biblical to use righteous judgement and to call out false teachings. The Holy Bible is our final authority, not any one church, confession, or creed. Ask yourself: Am I Born Again? How do I know? What are these very evidences? Do I love what God loves and hate what God hates? Do I recognize the biblical Jesus and what He accomplished on that cross? Do I follow my own emotions, or do I let God’s Word lead me? You Are Not Alone! The very fact that you are questioning things is evidence of discernment.
My prayer is that you will evaluate yourself, and find a bible-believing church with expository preaching, God-honoring hymns, and a place that focuses on the Bible and not on (false) signs and wonders. Pray that God will continue to strengthen you and lead you towards righteousness, sound teaching, meekness and boldness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for reading. It is with a heavy heart and sincere prayer that this message of redemption has touched you in such a way that you fall on your knees and cry out, “Abba, Father!”
In grace and peace,