Something frightening happened in my life that sounds as if it could have been pulled straight out of a Stephen King novel. Yet, for all its strangeness, it was also a wonderful thing, because it brought me back to God. It was a reminder, at a time when I badly needed it, of the existence of the Holy Spirit, and of God's faithful­ness. It's also all the proof I need of the very real existence of evil in the world today.

My Christian life has really just begun. I was not brought up in a church-going family. My sisters and I did go to Sunday School when we were very young. My parents sent us out the door Sunday mornings so that they could get some peace and quiet. Without any reinforcement at home, however, the Christian teaching didn't make an impact.

 

It wasn't until the age of ten, while attending a week-long bible study in our next door neighbour's back yard, that the word of God reached me. At the end of the week both my older sister and I accepted Jesus as our Saviour. I can still our Saviour. I can still remember like it was yesterday. The lady put her hand on our heads and my sister and I both prayed and cried, and I knew something had happened. We bounded into our house full of excitement, telling our parents. "We're Christians! We're Christians!"

 

However, it was like seed sown among the rocks. Within a few months I had all but forgotten my prayer of salvation. For my sister, on the other hand, it was seed sown on good soil and she remained strong in her faith.

 

My sister and I were very close, but as the early teen years approached, I grew away from her. She was "square," a "goody-two-shoes," and just not "cool" enough for me. I resented her good school marks and her good works, which accentuated the growing differences between us. Unfortunately for me, another event had happened in my life two years before I accepted Jesus – I had seen the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. From that instant, I knew what I wanted to do.

 

I got my first guitar in grade four, and joined my first rock and roll band in grade six. There was just no room for God. I lived, ate, and breathed rock and roll. First it was the love of the music, then it was the love of the lifestyle-I must have seen the movie Woodstock fifty times or more. I even decided I was going to get into drugs when I was in grade seven. In reality, I was in grade nine when I tried drugs for the first time. When I finished high school, I hit the road with a band. We played seedy motels and small-town strip clubs across the country. I was having a great time. By the time I reached my mid-twenties, I was jaded! I'd seen it all and done it all. I was drug-crazed and hell-bent, doing exactly what I'd always wanted to do. Then something bizarre happened that turned my life upside down.

 

I was at a friend's birthday party. As usual for those days, there was an ample amount of  booze and LSD going around (nothing out of the ordinary for me). I was all set for a good time, but as the night wore on, something started happening. It seemed like I was blacking out and coming to. Every time I regained my senses, I realized there were more of my friends surrounding me. For some reason, they were becoming more and more disgusted with me.

 

They seemed to be trying to get me to join in on something, but I was not complying  with them. They were mocking me, and making suggestive gestures-I heard one of them say "Man, this is like going to church. Come on Billy . . ."

 

Things grew even stranger. My friends seemed to change into devils before my eyes. I can  only guess, that while in my blacked-out state, I was saying things they did not like-but what? I was completely disoriented and confused. Eventually, I got up and went into the washroom to collect myself. They stood outside the door, laughing and mocking me. "Oh, God please help me!" I prayed.

 

Believe me, I hadn't thought about God in years, yet I knew somehow I was in the presence of real evil. I came out of the washroom and returned to the kitchen, where they were all sitting around a big table. They were seething mad now, and when I entered, the one seated at the end of the table stood and pointed at me. He looked at me with the most intense hate in his eyes and yelled "Jehovah!"

 

That was it. I was out the door and into my car. I started to pray.

 

I was in no shape to drive-I could hardly see the road-but I was not going to stay there an­other second. Somehow, God got me from Burlington to Toronto along the QEW-how, I don't know. All I know is I kept praying and got home safely.

 

The next day, I was beside myself from the experience. I called my sister and told her the whole story.

 

She told me, "Bill, they saw Him in you." "Saw who?" I asked.

 

"The Holy Spirit. Don't you remember Bill? You asked Jesus into your heart all those years ago. He's still there Bill. Somehow, with all that danger around you, He just had to come out and make his presence known. You might not have known it, but your friends saw it and they hated you for it."

 

I knew it was true, and in my heart I made a new commitment to get right with God. It took many years, much drug rehabilitation, and many prayers to get myself where I am now. I thank God for His patience and faithfulness. I didn't deserve it, yet in His grace, God remembered that one innocent, heartfelt prayer of a ten-year-old kid. Many times since that crazy party I've wondered "Did it really happen, or was it just a case of too many drugs and a wild imagination?" It seemed so real to me, yet at the same time, so strange that I could hardly believe what had happened.

 

About a year ago, I attended the wedding of one of the guys from that old crowd. It was a nice wedding. We caught up on the changes that had taken place in our lives over the years, and it was actually good to see them. Everything was going fine, until late in the evening. I was dancing with my wife, when suddenly a terrible, creepy feeling came over me. I turned around and saw a bunch of those same guys sitting at a table, watching me. As I looked at them, one of the guys held one forger up to each side of his head, like devil's horns, and sneered at me.

 

It had been real after all. Once again it was time to go home.

 

- Bill Wood; edited by Vicki Wood [Bill and Vicki are members of Knox and attend with their daughters Amy and Mary Margaret. Vicki is a writer and Bill is singer/songwriter. They have managed a youth dinner drop in centre at the church for over 13 years.]