I was 11 when my father died at his own hands.  I don’t really know if it was suicide, it might have been a call for help and attention that backfired.  I know it left me without a strong hand at home.  The family fell to pieces.  I stopped going to school because I thought, ‘I don’t want to go so I’m not going’, and no one challenged that strongly enough.  My mother didn’t have enough authority to get me to go, and I was being bullied at school, so I lay in bed reading mainly Christian paperbacks.

My first experience of a Pentecostal church came when I was about 12 or 13.  A van with a megaphone came round my street advertising a crusade, and I decided to go.  It was an odd experience, with people saying loud ‘hallelujahs’ and ‘praise the Lords’ while a person on the platform was speaking.  I thought it was rude.

Eventually a man came to my attention who was the same age as my father and was also musical, as my father had been, and I used to watch him as he played a Hawaiian guitar.  I used to want to be a part of his family.  I let it be known that I liked him, and eventually one of the leaders or the leader’s wife told me that he thought I was just a silly little girl, as if I was sexually motivated (bearing in mind he was 38 and I was 12 or 13).

Very soon after this they decided I was demon possessed because I stared too much.  One week they told me I wasn’t welcome unless I wanted help, and that I was to go away and only come back when I wanted help.  I went back the next week, and they prayed for me to cast demons out,  It wasn’t pleasant, they found fault with me for praying a prayer that I had practised.  The man I liked was one of the people praying for me, another male leader was another,  They told me the demons had gone into a mouse they had seen but I hadn’t.  They left me afraid and traumatised.  I used to look into my own eyes in the mirror and think that I could see something evil in them.  I kept praying that God wouldn’t let me become demon possessed again, because I believed the things they had said to me.  I just needed a father figure, and I was completely misunderstood.

I’ve never really recovered from that time, the pain has never really gone away.  There was a woman at Talbot Street, where I ended up going shortly after David Shearman came to the church I’ve been talking about, who said I had caused problems in Andrew and David Shearman’s marriages.  When I told David that he said she wasn’t doing God’s work.  I don’t remember that he denied what she had said though.

In London the teaching I received about demons was that they attach when people are vulnerable, as in infancy or at a time of trauma, and that a simple prayer of deliverance was what was needed to remedy the situation, and also prayer for healing and filling with the Holy Spirit in place of the demons.  I believed this teaching.  Some people would say that what some people call demons is actually psychological or psychiatric.  People talk about coming to terms with their demons, not recognising a need or possibility of deliverance, and not talking about real demons in the first place.  The Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions believe and recognise that demonisation and deliverance are real, and these have been my background since I was 12 years old, the background I am now estranged from.  Over the last 20 years I have been accused of witchcraft by other Christians on many occasions.  That’s where I will leave this entry.  It’s all very painful and sore.

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