Following is a testimony of a teenager received at "A/G News." Although this isn't what one might normally think of as "news," it is about one teen's discovery of the good news. The testimony is uncut and with very few edits, by choice. The testimony reveals not only the "lostness" of many teens today, but the hunger and search for spiritual things, and the Answer she found. Hopefully, it will also prove to be an inspiration to others to reach out to a generation that is desperately seeking the God they do not know--Jesus Christ.
Dan Van Veen
At nearly midnight on December 24, 2002, I sat thoughtfully in a service at the only church near my uncle's house. As the soft jazz played quietly in the background, my mind wandered to the circumstances that had brought me there. Just a year and three days ago, on a night called the winter solstice, I had sat in my bathroom officially dedicating myself to the goddess' service. Back then, I figured that on the next solstice I would commit myself permanently and become a white witch, having served as a gray witch for a year. I didn't realize then what an oxymoron the words "white witch" were.
At the time of the ceremony, I was already up to my neck in Wicca, a form of white witchcraft. I had been practicing for six months, eagerly going deeper and deeper. I practiced few official spells, but quickly discovered that my knack for poetry allowed me to write my own, and I often made them up off the top of my head whenever it seemed I needed one. As Wiccans go, I was both devout and self-righteous. I focused mainly on the spiritual side of it, never cast a black or harmful spell, and I followed the rede exactly. The rede constitutes a Wiccan rulebook of sorts, and is actually composed of many verses. However, it is summed up in the last line, which essentially states that a Wiccan can do whatever he or she wants to so long as it does not cause harm to anyone else. As far as I realized, I did this. I kept my grades up, had an ever-expanding social life and felt guilty when I so much as squashed an ant.
My only obvious problem at the time was my relationship with my family, and even that seemed to be on the mend. When I hit puberty, my mother and I became at odds with one another, and in the summer of 2002, I moved in with my dad and his new wife. With the extra space, my relationship with my mom improved to the point where we could at least listen to one another, and my dad and I seemed to be getting along well. All this I thanked the goddess for--believing that it was she who made it possible.
I felt that I was starting my life over, and I built it upon the foundation of my new-found religion. I hardly took a breath without thinking about it. Indeed, it seemed that it was with me even in my sleep, troubled ever since I could remember. I rarely closed my eyes or turned out the light without fear. Let me assure you that this was no monster under the bed or in the closet. It was not something that I could hide under the covers to be safe from. This was the distinct feeling that someone (I was always convinced it was, to some extent, human) entered my room at night and stood watching me.
Before I began to practice Wicca, I didn't pretend to know what it was, but within a few weeks of my initiation, I became convinced that it was Jesus Christ--in my mind, He was angry because I saw behind His "intolerant" ideals--I even viewed Him as a lesser deity than my goddess. Then one night, my eyes opened to the glowing of a clock at 1 a.m. I do not know how long I lay there before I realized that the clock was not the only thing glowing. I was surrounded by a peaceful blue light, which seemed to come from directly behind me. I sleep on my stomach and so was unable to see the source, but I am sure that there are no blue lights in the room. I was flooded with peace, and I felt that I no longer had to be afraid of sleep or dark or death. Half of me wanted to turn around, but something held me back, and so instead, I closed my eyes and waited until sleep returned to me.
In the months after this, my Christian friends continued in their attempts to show me God, trying everything from gentle persuasion to hurtful comments, including and especially that I was going to hell. The many ruined it for the few; I became nearly hateful to Christians, to the point where I regarded evangelism as their attempt at superiority. Never tell a person they are going to hell if you want them to listen; those months are proof that it will not work. No matter that I often felt empty and alone, I clung to my faith all the harder because of this and, being too smart for my own good, I refused to let any of my pain show. I filled all of my time with homework, friends, boyfriends and religion because, though I would never admit it, I could not stand to be alone with myself. I will not go into the specifics of how devoted I was to Wicca, but I will say that eventually I made the decision to lose my virginity to ritual sex at the age of 20 [she is still a teen, but had made these plans]. I would have killed myself after. Fortunately, it never came to that.
Sometime in May, a caring friend asked if I wanted to come to a Christian camp with her. Unlike others who had made similar offers, she invited me with warmth and friendship, not just to prove her God. On the first day of camp, I still wore the pentacle (5-pointed star with a circle around it, a symbol of Wicca and other new-age religions) that I had worn for the last 6 months, day and night. It was always tucked into my shirt on a discreet black thread so as not to draw attention to it. By that point in time I referred to myself as Unitarian--sick of being treated as a demon worshipper. Not only did God have to break down the walls of witchcraft, He also had to remove several veils of deceit, a task that turned out to be simple for Him. I rapidly became friends with a few people who loved me unconditionally to the point where I decided to remove my pentacle--first keeping it in a bag beside me and later leaving it in the "cabin" we slept in. Although some might say that this was just a piece of jewelry that means nothing, I believe the devil knows what power some give it, and thus are drawn to it.
To this point in my life, I have never had a temper worth mentioning. To my knowledge, there were only three notable occasions when I "lost it," an event which involved perhaps a few well-aimed harsh words and a swift apology. Once I actually started to hit a wall, but my hand was limp by the time it got there. I simply do not have enough anger within me to hurt anyone or anything; I am known for being nearly too quick to forgive and forget.
However, on June 7, 2002, my spotless record went out the window. I knelt before God for the first time, prayed briefly for strength, and headed for my cabin with the intent of giving my pentacle to a friend to destroy. I never got that far. As I returned to the sanctuary, I was filled with rage for the symbol that had been so close to my heart, literally and otherwise, for the last year. In one fell swoop I threw it from my hand and rubbed it into the dirt with my foot, mocking the one who had controlled me for so long. My friends noticed my actions from several yards away and came over to me, handing me a loose, heavy rock. I placed the necklace on a sidewalk and crushed it in a single blow. Try as we might, we could only find half of the metal star to give to Aaron. The rest of it, stone included, was dust.
I prayed to God that night, and though I cannot do His grace justice, I will try. It was as if I had been carrying a heavy backpack on my shoulders for so long that I forgot it was there, and suddenly it was gone and I could walk upright again. I felt free and whole, the emptiness within me filled like it had never existed. I was forgiven everything. Still, it took me a long time to learn to trust God after so many years away from His home. I remember one of my first fearful prayers, "Lord, I believe in You because I have no choice. You are the only explanation for the things I've seen and felt. Lord, I promise to follow You and worship You, but I can't make myself love You. I still love everything I used to be."
For several months I avoided my room because it was where I had once worshipped something that I now knew was not a goddess. Whether in sleep or prayer, I could not close my eyes there without feeling as if I was paying homage to my old rulers, and for all my hatred of organized religion, somewhere in my heart I wanted to follow Christ. I also feared the light I had seen, unsure if my ties to the devil had made me hide my eyes from Christ's warning to me or if the God I did not know had protected me from being fully deceived by an angel of light. Family vacations caused my church attendance and Bible reading to falter and become sporadic. Soon I was lost, caught between two masters.
Three months later, I returned to church, far too aware of my sin and prepared to be punished. I must note that long before even Wicca I had developed "The Plan For My Life," which included every "glory" of the world including wealth and reasonable power. The Plan was realistic and would seemingly give me the perfect life, or as close as truly existed. I made my way to the altar and prayed, "God, I have messed up so much and feel awful. Please, Lord, slap me upside the head." Instantly I had a vision of myself standing on a platform, preaching into a microphone. It was short but vividly clear. I rose, shaken, and walked outside. The result was something like this: "No, God. I have my whole life planned out. I know where I'm going to college and what I'm doing. I can't be a pastor, I just can't. My family will think I'm nuts, and my friends. (Demanding pause, no answer.) Come on, You can't mean this. I've only been Christian for three months and I stink at it. Besides, I'd never be happy doing like that. (I pause again and am convicted by the Spirit.) Okay, You know what's best. Maybe I will be happy. But I don't like it."
To look at me now, one would never guess my rocky beginning. Shortly before Christmas, my sophomore English teacher had us each write a compliment about every other person in the class. I felt surprised and thrilled when I discovered that a full 10 out of 20 people commented on my faith, especially unbelievable as I attend a public high school. I can honestly say that I'm in love with God and I would never go back. I discovered that I was created to preach on one occasion when God called me to address an issue within my youth group. It was not a happy subject, but I felt at home at the pulpit and God used me to call every person in the room to the altar.
Among my many non-Christian friends I have been nicknamed "the preacher," though I find that many who tease me also follow much of my (biblical) advice and seek me out for more. While some of my old friends now politely avoid me, most decided to respect my decision once they realized I love them anyway. I still struggle with many sins, but through the grace of God I have been improving in every area. My mother even came to Christ a few months ago, praise Him!
I could write an endless list of the ways He has blessed me, but it can all be summed up in the famous verse John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
--Name withheld by editor's choice, but testimony endorsed by her A/G pastor
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