By Terry Paul Broadhurst 

Wearily, I focused on the large clock above the driver of the coach.  Thirty-eight hours since I left Los Angeles, and a world away since I remembered being happy.  Clearing Customs in Seattle, I crossed the border with the feeble hope of being embraced by somebody’s caring arms who would love the unbearable and inconsolable emptiness away. 

Gazing out the window past my own mirrored reflection and into the darkened roadside, my heart searched for peace but only sadness waited to befriend me.  I reached into my tatty blue winter’s jacket to ensure I had my ID, for intuitively I had cause to believe I would not see morning. 

With very few passengers on the coach, I thought my isolated seat would shield me from human contact.  Yet, soon the woman in the seat ahead started fussing slightly to get comfortable and in mid-repositioning, turned to start a conversation.  “Hello,” she opened with.  “Hello,” I replied putting on a public face.  “How are you?” she questioned.  Could I disclose I was barely twenty five years old, just lost my girlfriend, bankrupt, no job, running out of money, in a foreign country with nobody to love me and at the moment was hearing voices that threatened to kill me?  Instead, I opted for the untruthful but simple, “Good, how are you?”  Seemingly satisfied she settled into her seat.  However quickly she was back up and asking me, “So what are you listening to on your Walkman?”  Concealing my frustration I replied, “Ah, I don’t have a Walkman” as I gestured that there were no headphones around my neck.  She smiled and again turned around. 

As the coach drove through the midnight-abandoned highway, the occasional streetlight threatened to reveal in my face what I sought to conceal.  The mysterious woman, having barely warmed up her spot, once again turned around!  “Can I ask you a question?” she asked.  Masking my true feelings, I offered optimistically, “Yeah, sure.”  She squinted her eyes trying to probe behind the skeletal of a man that I had become.  Then shockingly she questioned, “Are you into astrology?”  My eyes widened and on impulse I lied. Then retracting my answer in confusion, I surrendered with a simple “why?”  The mysterious lady drew a sighed breath, “Oh dear boy, don’t you know astrology is against the Bible?”  I was bewildered, as my lips could make no reply.  She continued, “The scriptures clearly state divination is an abomination to God.”  The moment was overwhelming!  So many things might now make sense if what she was saying was truth!  I strained to ask, “But how do you know this, who are you?”  Responding in confidence, “My name is Mary … from Mississippi … I translate the Bible.”  

I stared dumbfoundedly. 

“Do you want Jesus back in your life?”  Mary asked. 

Surprised I replied, “I never asked him to leave.” 

“Yes you did, for when you practice astrology, Transcendental Meditation, palm reading, pendulums, tarot cards etc. - you push God out and although He can dwell in the darkness, He won’t!”  

I remained mesmerized.  “May I pray with you?” she questioned with urgency.  I nodded affirmatively as she took my icy hand.  As she started to pray, I felt heat in the tips of my fingers and as she prayed, the heat continued through my body. 

When the coach pulled into the bus terminal in wintry downtown Vancouver, Mary and I exchanged numbers.  My ex-girlfriend met me at the station.  Barely able to comprehend what had just happened, I thought it best keep the events on the bus to myself.  Although at my ex’s apartment, I felt directed to ask her - also a victim of the New Age - “Can we pray like we used to?” To my surprise she agreed.  I felt inclined to pray the Lord’s Prayer but feared I wouldn’t be able.  For only a few weeks earlier, after waking up to the panging emptiness that greeted me after an alcohol-filled evening, I tried in final desperation to pray to a God I had long forgotten.  I had commenced, “Our Father Who …?” but I couldn’t remember!  

Yet this time the words flowed from my lips and upon uttering “amen” an incredible stir awoke within me!  The room starting spinning and the voices returned.  Having vomited very few times in my life, I was no expert but this certainly seemed like what was about to happen!  I fell over the sofa’s armrest.  It was as though there was a steel plate under my Adam’s apple that acted like a trap door not allowing the contents of my gurgling stomach to fulfill natures or supernatural's course!  I started to gasp!  I felt like I was being asphyxiated.  With one last breath I blurted, “Oh God!” with resignation. The steel plate was removed as I vomited in a semi-projectile manner. Exhausted, I stumbled to the bathroom to again vomit and to discover the left side of my body partially paralyzed.  I can only speculate that the loss of my senses in my left half was not only very real but also symbolic of my soul’s spiritual state.  

The morning sun finally rose on my little corner of the universe.  The date was February 9th, which suddenly illuminated the cryptic nightmare I had two years earlier just prior to falling prey to the New Age Movement.  In the dead of winter amidst a graveyard, I came upon a tombstone that to my shock was mine!  Inscribed on it were my date of birth and date of death, which read February 7th which was the exact day I left California!  As the train’s doors shut behind me, it was as though I had stepped into death’s embrace where all I could do was to sit and wait.  Connecting from the train to the coach in Seattle, there seemed to be a suspended moment of Divine intervention.  A time for choice and a time for judgment.  God placed a motherly figure named Mary as an advocate before I faced the judge.  Yet, the choice was overwhelmingly obvious.  Then in the wee hours of February 9th, three days after having left California and my journey of death, by accepting Christ, I was now reborn in Him.  Illustrating that the Bible is not just a literary book of truths and morals but that it is applicable to us today by giving us prototypes of what other believer’s endured and indications of what choices we should make.  

Like my namesake Saint Paul, who immediately after his conversion retreated into the wilderness for a period of time to think, fast, pray and rethink, so did I.  Even though I had been raised Christian, I had never fully understood the reasons just the expectations of leading a Christian life.  When I entered my twenties, panic started to set in as I realized that my goals of achieving a musical career had not materialized and out of desperation I turned to psychics and astrologers.  For I felt I had no time left to lose and I needed guidance in choosing the right path out of a 100,000 paths that could be pursued.  However, when I first entered into the domain of the psychic/astrologer I found that the woman got many things wrong about my past and my present.  Yet, I wanted to believe so desperately that I accepted her explanations for her inaccuracies.  Little did I know at the time that sin darkens the intellect so as the days passed and I continued to commit the sin of divination, breaking the first commandment, I began losing hold of my senses, intellect and innate judgment.  In actual fact, I began to fulfill her prophecies by following her maniacal advice. 

Yet, due to my deep Christian upbringing, an inner struggle developed between what I was raised to believe and what I was learning in my psychic circles.  At one point, I asked the psychic/astrologer, “Where does Jesus fit in?” She had replied, “Even the three wise men followed the stars.”  An astoundingly satisfactory answer at the time but completely wrong!  The wise men followed a star – singular - not the stars plural.  There is no doubt that every molecule in the universe has a purpose but at no time does the creation become the creator. Yet in the “New Age Movement” – i.e. the occult – the planets, the trees, the wind, animals, etc. are elevated as a type of deity and knowledge and wisdom is sought from them.  Logically, why would anyone ask the creation for answers and insights when one can ask the source – the creator?  To add to the confusion, many Christian terms and philosophies have been absorbed by “The New Ager” in the attempts to erase the boundaries of good and evil.  Thus leaving people to unknowingly die behind enemy lines.  

I experienced a taste of what the Biblical prophet Hosea meant when he as God’s spokesman wrote, “My people die for lack of knowledge.” (See Hosea 4:6)  In my family, the devil was seldom spoken of and undoubtedly a wonderful attitude but I’ve also come to recognize that one must know their enemy.  

My road to recovery would equal 12–13 months, the exact amount of time that I had devoted to the “Black Arts.”  During this time of purification, manifestations such as lights turning on and off, my bed shaking and sometimes I experienced bodily assaults from an invisible foe were common!  Days were long and nights lonely but by grace I rebuilt on rock, a foundation for eternal life.  

Adapted from Terry Paul Broadhurst’s upcoming book “A Cradle Convert”

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