September 9 and 10, 2018.
The following testimony is how God brought me out of the NAR/Charismatic/Pentecostal movement. I have chosen to omit certain situations which are overly personal and the names of friends and family. Except for a few details which might be simplified for the sake of privacy, this is all a true account. It is entirely factual as far as my memory is correct. A few leaders’ real names are given because they are public figures.
I grew up being part of the AOG denomination here in Australia (the AOG renamed itself the ACC, but for the rest of this testimony I will still use AOG); it’s the denomination my parents were a part of. As a child I would go to church most Sundays with them in the 90’s and into the 2000’s. In the early years the AOG church was quite mundane and not too different from a Baptist church, except for the speaking in tongues and occasional word of prophecy. The music was mostly Hillsong. (Those who are familiar with the denomination, you would know that over time it has become less and less biblical in focus and more and more experience oriented).
What’s more striking is the “revival” meetings we would go to which were not connected in any way to the AOG denomination. These meetings were held by a large tent ministry called The Jesus Tent of Miracles, which also held meetings in hired halls. This was all during the mid 2000’s. That ministry eventually ceased, though it seems to have started up again under a different name and leadership. But what was strange about it was the supernatural occurrences. If the AOG environment I was accustomed to ranked as a 3 or 4 out of 10 on the scale of charisma, these tent meetings were a 7 or 8 out of 10. People would pray in tongues openly without any interpretation. There was often “gold dust” which appeared on people’s hands or faces. There did seem to be some genuine healings, (but I do not know for sure if they were really genuine, thinking back on it). They did have alter calls for people to be “born-again,” though only God knows who really got saved. People would give prophecies to others, and there was the regular practice of being “slain in the Spirit.” Connected to this practice was the supernatural manifestations of people shaking uncontrollably or even occasionally rolling around on the floor. There was some “holy laughter” as well, and some hollering and shouting. They would practice “fire tunnels.” Because I grew up seeing this kind of stuff on a regular basis I thought it was the normal Christian experience.
Once these meetings ceased I simply continued going to the AOG church. Life seemed quite normal as I finished up my senior years of schooling. I was part of the music ministry at church.
In early 2012 I had started to dabble in new age teachings and practices such as trying to channel chi energy due to a friend who introduced me to them. Yet in May 2012, I had a terrible experience (which I won’t go into detail here) that eventually led me to spending a short time in prison in 2013. This was a huge shock to me and everyone who knows me, because I had grown up in a Christian family. In contemplating how it could have happened I realised that my dabbling into the new age must have opened up some sort of a door for the enemy to attack. But even though it was a terrible experience, on the night of the incident I cried out to God to help me and I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ, which seemed to be the turning point for the better; yet it would still take some time for me to get to where I am now. I believe that that experience is what God used to switch the light on, so to speak, of my desire to draw near to him and learn all-truth. It is the point where I started to get serious in my walk with God.
In 2012 I had become friends with a different young man who seemed to be passionate about God. My new friend was super-spiritual and always seemed to be focussed on God (and he still is to this day, though I am not as close friends with him anymore for various reasons); and he was always praying in tongues openly everywhere he went, always saying that he was “feeling God’s presence” and hearing God speak to him. Because I had a desire to draw closer to God I thought that what my friend had was what I was lacking. I began earnestly seeking to hear God speak to me. I read some books on how to hear God’s voice. Up until this point I had never spoken in tongues myself, so I was saddened that God seemed to have withheld his blessing from me. I began seeking to be “baptised in the Holy Spirit,” and on various occasions I was prayed over by people at church, but I never received the gift of tongues.
In late 2012 I attended a prayer meeting with my new friend and I was prayed over by some men, one of whom was Edgar Mayer, a charismatic Lutheran. In all the previous experiences throughout the years of being involved in the Jesus Tent of Miracles, I had never experienced genuinely being “slain in the Spirit” but had always been pushed over by those praying for me. This time was different. As I was prayed over by these men to receive the “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” I was knocked over by what felt like electricity surging throughout my body. My arms, legs, and whole body was shaking like crazy as I lay conscious on the floor. I told them I was too self-conscious to try praying in tongues in front of them, so they told me to practice praying while alone at home. (I have a highly introverted personality). When I drove back home after that experience I attempted to pray in tongues. I remember it sounding fairly disjointed and rusty. As I practiced praying in tongues over the next few days it began to sound more and more like a real language. I genuinely believed it was a real language.
Early in the year 2014 is when I first went to Glory City Church in Brisbane with my friend. This plunged me into the deep end of charismania. This was a 10 out of 10 on the scale of charisma. That “church” (in hindsight I wouldn’t call it a genuine church) was solely focused on seeking charismatic experiences. Charismatic experiences was the air they breathed and to go without was to shrivel up and die; though of course they didn’t state that, but they would occasionally make remarks about how other churches which didn’t experience what they were having were dry or filled with “religious spirits.” Anyone who preferred the Bible over charismatic experience was said to have a “religious spirit” and in need of deliverance (exorcism). At the time I did not agree with such statements; it genuinely confused me, because I wholeheartedly believed that the Bible is the word of God. However, I mostly ignored those ponderings.
During that year I also attended the youth and young-adult revival camp which was primarily led by Joel Shaw. All throughout this time there was always that doubt in the back of my mind at certain teachings and practices. But I was still engrossed in it regardless. This camp was off the scale.
Because of my semi-regular involvement in Glory City Church (I still attended the AOG church as well), I had begun to think that God was speaking to me on a daily basis. I believed that God revealed to me that I would meet my future wife before the end of 2014. This was “confirmed” by my friend who claimed that God told him the same thing.
This “prophecy” seemed to come to pass in the final weeks of December. I met an attractive eighteen year old woman. I even went on a few dates with her. But for some reason it felt completely lacking in peace. I felt a huge need to pray for God’s will to be done, so I prayed to God that if it was his will for this woman to be my wife then he would make it come to pass, but if it was contrary to his will that he would close the door immediately. I never heard from her again; she ghosted me. I was distraught, because what happened completely contradicted my “prophecy.” I could not believe that the door had been closed by God. This is when I began experiencing major cognitive dissonance. All the prophesies did not match reality.
Very shortly after this starting in January 2015, my charismatic friends payed for my ticket to take part in the School of the Prophets at Glory City Church. This was a multiple week course where we were taught how to hear God, how to prophecy, and how to give words of knowledge and wisdom. It seemed okay at the time. But I remember clearly that there were many occasions where the speaker would say something which I knew contradicted the Bible. This irked me. When I pointed this out to my friends, nobody cared, so I kept my doubts private. I was prophesied over by multiple people with words which “confirmed” that the young woman I met was meant to be my wife. During this prophetic school they had many guest speakers. One woman even claimed to be a “Christian mystic.”
All throughout this time period is when I started seeing “signs” everywhere. Car number plates would apparently contain messages from God. The arrangement of books on the bookcase would contain hidden codes. It seemed to be everywhere!
During this time period, I was at home praying in the garage when I suddenly sensed a presence in the room like something was standing in front of me. I then heard a voice in my head speaking to me. I do not remember everything it said, but it said that its name was Jezreel. This freaked me out at the time, and I immediately remembered the Bible passage which states: “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God” (1 John 4:1-3a). I out loud asked the angel if it confessed that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh – all I heard back was a mumble, like it gave a non-answer. I can’t remember exactly what happened next, but I think whatever it was simply went away because that was the last I heard from it. At the time I was unsure if it was a genuine angel from God or if it was a fallen angel. But I was fairly certain that it was evil. (Yes, I was so deceived that I could not see the obvious. I later became a hundred percent certain that it was a fallen angel). But what is concerning is that I related this incident to one of the “prophets” at Glory City Church and he leaned towards saying that it was a genuine angel from God.
During these “prayer” nights at Glory City, there were many strange manifestations from what I believed at the time was the Holy Spirit. It was like the Jesus Tent of Miracles on hyperdrive. I would experience violent jerkings where my body would bend forwards or even be knocked to the floor. This was physically painful at times and made me wonder if it was really of God. It did not make sense to me how God would cause his people such physical pain. I began to doubt these experiences.
By the time that I graduated from this multi-week course I was so incredibly distraught. The cognitive dissonance I was experiencing was so intense. I had also been studying an online degree in music, but what I was experiencing was so distressing I physically could not continue studying. It had already been two months since I had last seen or heard from that young woman and “God” was supposedly saying that I had to keep on waiting for her to make contact with me. (This might seem like I’m using hyperbole, but I tell you I am not. This was demonic deception. It was not just my hormones). I was led into believing by multiple different people all prophesying the same thing that she was meant to be my wife.
This experience ruined my studies. I could not concentrate so I dropped out of the music degree. I started spending six or more hours per day every day praying in tongues in the garage and worshipping God (in the only way I knew how at the time: listening and singing along to Hillsong, Bethel, and IHOP). But this did not seem to be going anywhere. I even had vivid dreams about meeting her. My whole life was spiralling down into insanity. It was utter chaos. I also believed at the time that God had told me that he did not want me to get a job. (I later learned by reading other people’s testimonies how this is a common theme).
This went on for another month before the following happened: I had an emotional breakdown. I was weeping on the floor contemplating suicide, pleading with God to tell me the truth. I was crying out to God to tell me the truth! This went on for an hour as I lay there in a foetal position. Suddenly the thought came to mind that it was all a lie; the prophesies were all false. I did not want to believe that they were false, but now I knew they were.
The next two or three months were spent in a state of denial. I was running away from the truth that God had revealed to me. All during this time my friend continued to prophecy to me that I just had to keep on waiting. But in the back of my mind I knew the truth; it was all a lie.
Not long after the School of the Prophets had ended in early 2015 they hosted another youth and young-adults camp at Tamborine Mountain. I went along to this, but by this stage I was on the verge of completely coming out of charismania, so I was highly skeptical. Yet I kept it to myself because nobody was interested in hearing such doubts.
A practice which took place at this second revival camp was guided meditation/visualisation. The whole gathering was led into a hypnotic state by the false prophetess Amanda Wells. We were all instructed to either lay down or sit down. Everyone was silent. Amanda Wells spoke in a calm voice as she guided us into a deep state of relaxation. She spoke of imagery which we were supposed to visualise in our minds. She spoke of seeing a door that we had to open and walk through to see Jesus on the other side. I remember clearly that at the time I realised what this practice was (new age), so I chose not to participate. All my friends excitedly related how they had seen Jesus. I remember that some of the participants were asked to share their experience. One young man claimed to have seen the Holy Spirit, and claimed that he looked like a blue-skinned genie wearing a suit and smoking from an old fashioned pipe. This was disturbing.
By this stage I had begun praying internally that God would protect me from anything that wasn’t of him. So when Joel Shaw or one of the others like Katherine Ruonala would go around the meeting praying for people and laying their hands on people’s foreheads I prayed that if it was not of God then he would not let it affect me. Everyone else would get slain in the spirit except for me. God is always faithful.
I eventually had to accept the truth. There was no more running away from it. I stopped listening to all of the charismatic music. I stopped going to those charismatic churches (but I still attended the AOG church). I burned my prophetic/dream journal. I started doing research on errors in the charismatic movement and realised that it is filled with false doctrines.
Later in 2015 a self-appointed prophet started attending my home church. He would get up and start prophesying strange things, but the pastor shut him down and forbade him from interrupting the service.
In early 2016 there was a guest preacher who came to the church. After preaching his sermon he called everyone to the front to get prayed for. Everyone started getting slain in the spirit. This terrified me. (I and a few others did not go up to get prayed for, but almost the whole church did). This is one of the many reasons why I decided to finally leave the AOG church.
After finally leaving, I felt quite angry and betrayed by everyone. I did not go to church anywhere or even look for a new church for almost a year. I still have not found a permanent new home church because I am still trying to find out what it is that I believe; though I do lean towards the broader Reformed tradition (Lutheran, Calvinist, and Classical Arminian). I have since then visited many churches, and even many Baptist churches here in Australia are full-on charismatic and filled with the same Bethel-like deceptions. When asked by individuals why I don’t want to take part in it anymore, I tell them “because it’s not biblical,” but they only seem to scoff or even roll their eyes. I know that those who take the Bible seriously are considered to have a “religious spirit” by most charismatics.
From the time that I left the AOG up until recently I considered myself to be a Conservative Pentecostal. I no longer do. I can no longer pray in tongues after praying that if it was not of God that he would take it away.
In my research into these phenomena, I have realised that all the jerking sensations, arm flailings, body shaking, and rolling on the floor that is so common in the Charismatic movement is the same as what yoga practitioners experience, and in other pagan-type traditions. It is caused by the same demonic entities.
After leaving the Charismatic movement in 2016 I believed that the original Pentecostal movement which started just over a hundred years ago was genuinely of God but was soon thereafter infiltrated by false doctrines and practices such as the Word of Faith movement and the later third wave movement. Now I no longer (at least tentatively) believe that to be the case. As of writing this, I do not know for certain because I have not done enough research, but I think that all of it is false. “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). The Pentecostal movement was the beginning of deception, and it has simply descended downwards to the point where it is almost indistinguishable from pagan practices.
The genuine gift of tongues in the Bible was always a genuine language and its purpose was for preaching the gospel to those who spoke a different language to the preacher. God was establishing the Church, and the supernatural ability to speak other languages also acted as a sign that God was indeed moving. After the Church was established the charismatic gifts passed away. I’m not going to put God in a box and claim that he could never use those same gifts again, but if he were to do so I believe its only purpose would be to preach the gospel to speakers of a foreign language. After that purpose were accomplished, the genuine ability would cease to operate, just as it did in the early centuries.