I currently serve in a charismatic Church that is fully open to the concept of the supernatural. But I haven’t always been in such environments.
In fact, I spent the first almost 30 years of my 36 years of life on this planet in the Southern Baptist Church that is far less open or receptive to the idea of supernatural happenings and spiritual gifts.
I grew up as a Southern Baptist preacher’s kid, a Southern Baptist grandkid, and a Southern Baptist nephew. I then spent the first 8 years out of a Baptist university serving on staff as a worship leader and/or youth pastor at Southern Baptist churches across two states.
To say I was immersed in Southern Baptist church life is mildly putting. I was a product of that. I was Southern Baptist through and through.
My only problem…right after I graduated college, I married a charismatic girl who had spent the bulk of her church upbringing in the Assemblies of God.
OK…she’s my wife…so she’s not really a problem. But we certainly butted heads more than once over various views of the supernatural and spiritual gifts. She would argue in favor, and I would provide the typical cessationist arguments for why she was wrong.
Great way to start a marriage, huh?
Well, about a year in to the marriage, and about 4 or 5 months in to my first full time Youth Ministry job in a Southern Baptist Church out in the sticks of South Carolina in a small town called Bamberg, was when I began my journey into the supernatural.
Unbeknownst to me, my wife had been praying that God would bring to me a supernatural experience to open my eyes to the realities of things I had long rejecting.
And boy, did God answer that question.
It was a typical Sunday. I had just finished up with the Sunday School class I was teaching. People were in transition from Sunday school to Church, and I was in the sanctuary behind the piano preparing a special song I had written at the request of the worship leader (who, also happened to be the mayor of the town…I told you it was a small place).
As I was tickling the ivories and singing, a woman came in that had never darkened the doors of our church before. She came in and sat down right on the front pew, right in front of where I was at.
While I was playing and singing I looked out of the corner of my eye and watched her. She was acting a little strange. Swaying back and forth. And honestly, I thought she looked like she was going to do something crazy. But hey, it’s church. I wanted to think the best of visitors so I immediately wrote that idea out of my brain…
Until I came off stage.
She walked up to me briskly and introduced herself as Ruby. And then the awkward started. She immediately began to flirt with me and hit on me. I was taken aback. Did this woman not realize we were in the middle of a Church building? Did she even care?
As the moment got more awkward my wife suddenly came in and walked up and I quickly introduced her to Ruby as my wife. To which the woman replied, “Oh, this handsome thing is yours? You’re very lucky.”
That was my queue to leave.
I made a quick trip to the bathroom and came back in to the sanctuary as church was getting close to starting.
While I was gone, my wife told me Ruby began to tell her very strange things. She told my wife that she could see things and that she knew things about people that they thought they had kept secret from everyone else.
She said, “For example, I can look at people and I can instantly tell who is truly a Christian and who is not”, and then she proceeded to demonstrate that skill to my wife as people were walking in the room. She would say things like “That person isn’t a believer. That person is.”
Not gonna lie…some of the people she pointed out as non-believers I had kind of suspected for a while based on past interactions with them myself.
Anyway, church was starting and so I made my way to the stage to do my song.
My wife sat down on the front row of the center section of pews. Ruby took a seat next to my wife.
The worship began.
Ruby began to act a little strange, but nothing that stood out…yet.
After the music I sat down between Ruby and my wife and my pastor got up to introduce his sermon for the day with a prayer. While he prayed I could hear Ruby whispering to herself. Or, was she speaking with someone I could not see? Either way, it creeped me out. She was saying that she was hadn’t done anything to some woman she left unnamed, and that if it came up again she was going to kill her.
She began to sway and rock.
She picked up a bible and started to rub it in her hands.
After my pastor prayed he began to read the scripture for the day which if I recall correctly, was the passage of Jesus telling the Pharisees that their father was Satan and that Satan was a liar.
At that very moment Ruby stood up and began to scream at my pastor.
She said, “YOU ARE THE LIAR! I WILL SACRIFICE YOU RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF THIS CHURCH AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME!”
My pastor was stunned. The only words he got out were, “Deacons, I need some help.”
Apparently the deacons were stunned too because they didn’t make a move.
I said a quick prayer and said, “God, whatever this is, give me a sign so I know.” I then opened the bible and it immediately fell on the story of the demoniac. I said, “God, I was afraid that was the answer.”
Since the deacons were refusing to move, and the youth on the front row were in tears at this point, I stood up and got in her face and said, “Ma’am, I’m going to need you to sit down and be quiet.”
Ruby looked me in the eyes and asked, “You too holy man?”
I responded, “I guess so.”
Something happened at that moment that is hard describe, but I can see it like it happened 5 minutes ago. When I said, “I guess so” her eyes became entirely engulfed in black and it was as if I was staring in to a deep empty well. And then she let out a blood curdling scream and took off running around the room.
She was hopping pews.
She was running.
She was screaming.
At one point Ruby stopped and began to cry out, “Lord Jesus help me! I can’t take this anymore!”
A little old lady in our church reached her hand out and said, “Sweet heart, let me help you.” Ruby took a couple of steps, hand outstretched, and then let out another blood curdling scream and took off running down the middle of the isle and right out the back door.
Some deacons who finally realized that something serious was going on took off after her and chased her down the middle of the street right through the middle of town while another person called the cops.
Ruby was arrested, and taken to the hospital in town.
I called the next day to find out what had happened to her. I was told that she was given sedation medication and that nothing was working and that she was going crazy. So crazy that they had to put her in a padded room so she wouldn’t hurt herself and call for the mental institution in Columbia to come get her.
We had a nurse in our church who kept saying the woman was suffering from schizophrenia. I knew this wasn’t right. I was sitting next to her. I heard everything that came out of her mouth. I looked into her eyes. I prayed for God to give me a sign and He opened the Bible to the demoniac story.
This…this wasn’t mental illness. This was demonic possession.
I immediately began to scour the internet for information on possession and found countless articles outlining the differences between schizophrenia and possession. Interestingly, one of those differences was that schizophrenia responds to sedation while possession will not.
I was at a loss for what to do. I asked my pastor if we could go over and do an exorcism. He politely refused and said she’s just having mental issues and that the doctors will take care of her.
It was that day that I realized I had experienced something I had never seen before and I experienced an awakening in me. I was changed and never looked back.
That day became known as Ruby Sunday, and I’m sure has lived in infamy in the minds of many of the youth group who were sitting with me that day and had a front row seat to the supernatural and demonic.
You see, I write all of this not only to chronicle and document the experience of that day back in 2006 (12 years ago), but also to provide evidence to my cessationist friends who insist that things of this nature just don’t happen anymore.
Had I known what was going on, and had I been equipped by my church to address such a situation, Ruby may have been able to be set free. And a part of me wonders if she ever experienced a release from that demonic stronghold. I hope so. I really hope so.
And another part of me regrets that I didn’t do more.
I recognized what was going on, but I felt helpless.
Churches, we need to take this sort of thing more serious. American Churches have become apathetic to the supernatural and the demonic and seem to think this sort of thing only happens in third world countries.
It doesn’t friends. It’s right here. It’s in our churches, our homes, our cities, our schools, our jobs…it’s all around us. We’ve just done a really good job of convincing ourselves that everything can be fixed with a pill or psychological counseling.
Some things require more.