PrologueAlong this long journey we call life, I have gone through many religious ideas trying to find the truth, and trying to find sanity in my life. I never thought that this would lead me to being Christian. I used to hate Christians with a passion, based on my previous experiences with both the religion and the people who followed it. It's hard to imagine coming to embrace something that you are so much against. I guess that's why I had better start from the beginning...
November 28th, 1979I am Jonathan Michael Skeels, born in Lutheran Hospital, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I was born to two devout Christian Scientists.
For those who are unfamiliar with Christian Science, it is a simple religion, based around one idea. The idea is that people have the power to heal themselves through belief, and that Jesus came to teach us this ability. It shares much in common with Hinduistic beliefs, wherein our belief of something makes it what it is. In this case, the belief is used to alter medical condition, by believing that medical problems neither exist nor have power over the person. Many in the religion have claimed to have healings, but while I was being raised as a Christian Scientist, I would come to find that it never once brought any healing for any of my problems.
I had a pretty happy childhood... I went to church, was doing well in school... and had friends. Life was pretty easy back then. There were many instances where my mother tried to heal me through Christian Science. It didnít work, but she always thought it did. Even to this day my mother will swear up and down about all the healings I had, but I know better, and my memory suggests the contrary.
Even then I felt different, as I do now. Although, it was not that I thought I was special, but I never seemed to fit in and always felt alone. Happiness seemed to continue in spite of that, and even despite of my family's growing realization that there were more than just us inhabiting our household. Nearly every night something strange would happen, seeing lights, objects, people, beings, or hearing things or even feeling things that should just not exist. This terrified me, and there was no good explanation as to what was happening. What were these beings that seemed to haunt us, provoke us, and terrorize us? There was no escape from them. It continued until August of 1991, when we moved to Oregon. My mother would continue to see things she called lights, or ďaliensĒ for years, but it seemed to center around her, and the terror for me had passed.
August, 1991: Things take a turn for the worseMy life started to roll downhill once we moved to Oregon. My happiness left... and I started to feel isolated and separated from everything. School got harder to deal with, and I was not able to make any friends. At one point, I believe I broke down. I would spend days at school mumbling and talking to myself in the halls. Everything that happened just made me feel like everyone was against me.
pLife continued on... unhappily. We moved around in the area a couple times. I was finally able to make friends. This had both positive and negative effects on me. School life grew worse, until I finally dropped out. There was so much stress that I would end up being sick nearly half of the school year. My friendships also started to take a turn for the worse. We started experimenting. We all started smoking, doing drugs, and getting involved in illegal activities. Around the same time I stopped attending church. It hadn't done anything for me. I still believed it had the potential to heal, and I would remember it occasionally and try to get healings... but it never worked.
Amidst all this chaos, my depression and anxiety began to get the better of me. At one point I even thought that I was a trans-sexual (one who thinks they were born the wrong sex and have an operation to correct it), but I would later discover these feelings to be an escape from the real issue at hand.
Over the course of the next couple years, I noticed several events that seemed to be of a supernatural origin. All of these events directed my life, and shaped the decisions I made and led me down a path. I had no idea why these events were happening... and I assumed God was working. But on what? I didn't know. The first of these events was a trip my brother made to Portland (Oregon). During the course of the trip, my brother lost control of the vehicle and managed to get it stuck. Fortunately, someone came along and helped them out. Only a minute later after getting out, the vehicle again lost control and landed in the ditch, despite very careful and slow driving... almost as if something had forced it off the road. This time, the rollover switch was triggered, and the vehicle would no longer run. This event would set up a cascading chain of events which would ultimately result in my moving to Wisconsin in 1998. It would be long to describe how each event lead to the next, so I will not get into that. There was a long succession of events that all transpired because of this single incident.
There was one other significant event that happened before I left to move to Wisconsin. One quiet night I was waiting at a stoplight, the light just turned green. I was ready to go, when I noticed that the fluorescent lights on the building next to me started going crazy. The lights were flashing and oscillating more than any lights I have seen in my entire life. This caught my attention for just a second and when I turned my attention back to the road ahead, a semi-truck was running through his red light going at an approximate 65-70 MPH. At that moment I realized that had I gone immediately when the light changed, the semi would have hit me on the drivers side. This probably would have killed me. It was clearly some intervention, but I never understood why I was saved from death or severe trauma.
July, 1998Wow, back to Wisconsin. After taking a trip back 2 weeks earlier, having been the first time since I had been back since we left in 1991, I decided that it was so great that I had to move back. My only happiness in my entire life seemed to be when I as a child... living in Wisconsin. It seemed to be just as great as I remembered it. That didn't last for long. After getting settled in, happiness from being back quickly turned into isolation, and more depression. I no longer fit in with the people here and felt like an outcast amongst them. My relationships with my Sister and my friend (who moved back with me and shared an apartment,) were taxed, as we raged and took our frustrations out on one another. My depression and anxiety got worse when I found out that the night terrors had resumed. Soon the trauma of hearing objects move and bang at night... and seeing things that shouldn't exist... were once again back in my life. We tried to cast them out. A friend advised casting them out in the name of Michael. It didnít work. We were unable to do anything about them, and those events lead me to listening to the Art Bell show.
After a year of being there and having gone through three jobs, I turned to praying to God for help finding another job. I prayed that he would find me a job that I would like, and be happy with, and that I could work at for awhile and not be bothered by my same depression and anxiety feelings that resulted in my not being able to work at jobs for very long. The very next day my parents called. They offered to loan me money to come back to Oregon, and their home, if I wanted to work with my Dad at Deschutes County (in Oregon). I couldn't believe this direct answer to my prayer. I wasn't sure why God didn't let me find work in Wisconsin. I just assumed he knew best, and went on my way. After leaving, I realized how awful of a person I was. How I had hurt my relationship with my Sister and friend to the point I believed I wouldnít miss them when I left. I was wrong. I cried nearly the whole day I left, and almost the whole trip back to Oregon. It was painful, but that experience made me realize how easy it is to become cruel and uncaring. My life back in Oregon seemed to return to a normal routine. No more night terrors again, and that was almost peace enough for me. I found out that I really liked my new job, although it was seasonal. I met someone there who I felt a strange bond with, but I really wasn't sure why. Her name was Mary, she was older than me (35 at the time, a difference of 16 years)... but I still felt a friendship which I couldn't explain.
My love of Art Bell had grown... but also took its toll on me. I really thought the world was going to blow up or something terrible was going to change life as we know it. This really drained me. Every day I would think about how little time there was left, and it gave me no passion about the future. I finally decided at that point, to turn to God again. I made a plea. I asked God for the truth, the truth about life. I asked him to show me what would make my life sane and not useless. Shortly after that plea, my parents gave me a book. It was Betty Eadie's Embraced by the Light. After reading this book... I really thought it was the truth that I had prayed for. It made me feel like I was glowing. I felt so happy, and finally relieved that the future didn't matter. I thanked God for having delivered this to me. That was the only time I've ever received a direct answer... because I heard a reply in my head that was definitely not one of my thoughts. It said "Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven". This was the icing on the cake. At that time it really had me convinced God had directly answered my prayer (in reality this "voice" wasn't God at all...). It helped calm my "end of the world" fear by describing the after life in such detail. Also knowing that whatever I was doing was what I was supposed to be learning in this life. The book never did piece everything together, however. I still didn't understand how God was working or why all the events in my life happened the way they did. Even though I thought for sure this was the end-all of religion in her book... it would quickly pass like everything else before it.
I kept listening to Art Bell. Through that and Eadieís book, I became open to some ideas I had previously ruled out as nonexistent. I started believing that there were real things like angels, demons, and Satan, among other ideas. Strange how everything I had been opened up to were Christian beliefs. Still, those ideas never changed my life, nor gave me any different way of approaching life. Like all other things, it would fade also.
My friendship with Mary, whom I worked with, didnít really blossom the first year while I worked at the County (Deschutes County). I did learn about her divorce though, and she had finally married her new husband, Mike, whom she seemed to meet by chance on an Internet chat room. He was from Canada, and it was quite an interesting tale of Internet love. This, however, didn't seem to bear any relevance at that time. Being that the job was seasonal, we finally parted ways near the end of the year. I wondered if she thought that much about me as I did her. I regretted never becoming closer friends... for I thought that was probably the last time I'd ever see her.
My tenure ended at the county, and I found myself at home and not working. The months passed and my anxiety got so bad that I was unable to get out and do anything. I used the time to listen to more Art Bell, and embrace new ideas about life I had never thought about before. Still nothing ever managed to become life changing, or prove itself beyond someone's own account. I pursued it nonetheless. After several months of not working, I finally was forced to get back to work. It was painful, and harsh, but I finally did it. I went to work at K-mart. I had a few run ins again with some unknown entities that seemed to linger there. After a few months, summer rolled around again, and my father told me that I was once again able to rejoin the seasonal crew at the County. I leaped on it... and quickly found myself back in their employ. To my surprise, I found that my old friend Mary decided to come back to work for them that year also. That was quite a surprise... and probably our both working there for 2 consecutive seasons was planned. This year... we became closer friends. I found myself invited to her house on a few occasions. At some point, I started talking with her about my beliefs on life, and this is when I discovered that she was Christian. It upset me to great extent... that she liked to prey on my beliefs and say she believed a lot of the things I had experienced were just demons... or that the Earth was ruled by Satan. How ludicrous! I couldn't even stand talking about it! Yet some of her ideas were things I had never heard from Christians before. Somehow I kept talking with her about it, despite that most of the time I usually felt flustered and upset by her deranged beliefs. At one point, I came very close to telling her I didn't want to hear about her beliefs any more, but then, it was always I who had started the conversations about the subjects. That wouldn't have been proper of me. So, I just avoided talking about that stuff after that. The season ended again, and we would once again part ways. Only this time, I had her ICQ number (an internet chatting program) and her email address. This would allow us to keep in contact after we were no longer working together.
Unemployed again, my social anxiety and depression once again grew worse, and seemed to go on a rampage. I didn't work for a couple months, but then held a brief stint at a company for a little more than a month. My overbearing problems with anxiety and depression made me feel apart from everyone else... it grew so bad that many times I would find myself talking with Mary over ICQ, whining about all my problems. I'm not sure how she ever put up with it. From time to time, she offered me a solution. She offered me religion, something I had turned on so long ago. I didn't want it. I told her no. Things just kept getting worse and I kept talking with her about it. She told me everybody had a hole in his or her life, a God shaped hole. An emptiness that only God could fill, and that everyone tried to fill it with something. She invited me to a Bible Study, which I accepted out of respect. I was planning on telling her to can it after the first study. I thought the Bible had good stuff in it, but I didn't think that Christians held the proper view and I didn't want her to try and convince me how to look at it. Somehow, despite what I had planned to do, I kept going. I am still not sure why I never did tell her I didn't want to do it after the first time. I kept going to their Bible Study... for a few months... but things still weren't making sense. I still found myself clinging to my old beliefs... and somewhat frustrated that the Bible painted a different picture. I just wasn't sure how some things fit in at all, especially Christian Science. I was being told that the only way to reach God was through Christianity, by believing that Jesus died for my sins, so that I could go to heaven. Just by believing this, I could go to heaven, but this was the only way to reach God. I still wasn't sure.
June, 2001One night... I finally decided to ask why Christian Science shouldn't be believed. Mike (Mary's husband), is an expert about many different religions. He told me all about Christian Science. For the first time, I had realized Christian Science was just a set of ideas created by a person. Finally, I was able to admit it had never worked. This incident finally helped me let go of my previous beliefs and start concentrating on what the Bible was saying. After many visits I would find a lot of evidence that proves how the Bible is true, and not just a little bit, but overwhelming evidence! I would also learn a lot about other religions that disprove their divinity.
Through this, I finally was able to see why Christianity is the true and only way to God. It was only because of all this scientific proof that I was able to realize the Bible was true, and turn my back on hating Christianity. Two weeks later, I was baptized in front of my entire family. I have come to accept the Bible as truth and also that Jesus died in my place to pay for my sins, that I would be saved and go to Heaven.
For the first time, the Bible answered my questions and made sense of all the events that had happened in my life. It has also changed my life in drastic ways.
I am not saying that everything is perfect now, but becoming Christian has provided a sustenance that is not found anywhere else. I have started overcoming problems and have realized something is truly different. My life is much more meaningful then it ever has been. Although, overcoming your problems with Jesus is not something that happens overnight, but a step by step process. The more and more you lean on God, and the more you grow, the more you realize that you are able to tackle situations you never had to strength to overcome before.
The Bible and itís promises are not something that passes with time, and fades like everything else I had believed. This is another proof for me that it is real. At this point, I know that if I stopped believing the Bible, I would have to be fighting it every day to dissuade myself from believing it, and would become a very angry person. I went through that just for one week. Once a believer, everything changes. You either deny it, living against it every day, or you embrace it every day. I am glad that God cared enough see me through, and provided a way for me to become a believer. I am Christian! And I am extremely happy that God and my friends provided the way.
EpilogueA few last things for you before I go. While you can cast out demons, you can't cast them out by saying Michael's name. You can cast out demons, that is, *IF* you're a believer just by saying, "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave!" I had no idea at the time, but it wouldn't have done me any good anyways. If you read in the Bible, Acts 19:13-16,you'll know that there were people who tried to cast out demons in the name of ďJesus whom Paul preached.Ē The demons said, "yeah we know Jesus, and we know Paul, but who are you?" Then the demons attacked them, and the non-believers went away screaming, naked, and bleeding! Word to the wise: don't cast out demons unless you know what you're doing.
Becoming a Christian finally showed me how God had been working in my life. It also showed me that since God is outside of time, he can actually be answering your prayers before you even knew you were to going to pray!! It is amazing to look back and see that he was actually directing my life to becoming a believer, even though I wouldn't pray for finding the truth for years. I also realize that him saving me from death in an accident with the semi, gave me time to become a believer and go to Heaven, when I most definitely would have gone to Hell. This is something that is almost hard to put into words. How great it was for God to be that loving to do something like that for me! I'm not significant at all... itís unimaginable. He could have just done nothing. This only boosts the love for God and makes you realize just how much he loves us. I also realize how God was orchestrating everything. I strongly believe if it had not been for both Mary and Mike... I would not have become a Christian. They both helped immensely. It seems if it was just one or the other then I would not have become Christian. The fact that God put them both in my life (and that Mike moved to Oregon) is amazing. I am not saying that God did this just for me, but the fact that he did do it at all and it helped me become Christian is what is amazing. God's plans are very intricate... and mostly it wasn't even about me. I can see that the events triggered many things to happen... one of which was God's answer to my prayer.
I hope you've enjoyed my testimony, or made it to the end without falling asleep. I hope you've either felt good about yourself being Christian, or been given inspiration to look into God's word. Amen.