Looking back to the time of my first son's birth (March 05, 1992) about twenty-three years back reminds of a different place in my life. I was married then and I had just accepted a part-time position with the First Baptist Church in Cleves, OH, as the associate pastor and minister of youth. PJ was the shortened name for our firstborn (Paul, Jr.)
The house was owned by the church, but we quickly turned that parsonage into our home. Upstairs was an attic turned into a nice living space: two bedrooms positioned at each end of the upstairs connected by a hallway with a bath in between. I turned one of the upstairs bedrooms into my study room and it was directly above our bedroom on the main floor (that is the base floor). Across the hall from our bedroom was the baby's room which had the normal fixings like a changing table, bed and rocking chair. PJ was probably a few months old at the most (that is at the time of the events described in this letter) so he was being fed at night and was many months away from walking on his own.
Before I share the events of those nights back in 1992, I question possible connections of earlier events experienced as a younger man to what happened in Cleves. I cannot say for certain that there are definite connections because I am not certain why or what happened during those frightening occurrences as a young person.
Well, let's go back to the 1980s time period when I was in high school and awakened one summer night. I realize that many (and that includes me) would ask how do you know that it was not a dream? To the skeptic I would answer, "I know what I saw, and it was real." Standing and at the bottom of my bed was a shadow figure which I could not see detail but an outline of what appeared to be an outline of a human shape. The silhouette of a man in the form of a dark figure was watching me. I was terrified and pushed myself up so that I was sitting up looking at this image. It leaned forward and just a few feet distance separated us. I could feel an evil, frightening chill in my body and I somehow surmised that this was a demon. It leaned back upright and began to walk or better said, pace at the bottom of my bed while looking at me. Perhaps just a whisper, but I said, "In the name of the Lord Jesus I rebuke you." Whatever it was, it responded and into the darkness the shadowy figure disappeared.
Years passed and when I was near nineteen within the same house (that is my parents' house), I was startled as before and awakened to see the same dark figure (at least it appeared the same to me) at the base of the bed. However, this time it moved to the side of my bed and aggressively moved in front of my face while I remained on my back in bed. I was breathless and somehow I could feel the hands or pressure of what I could at best describe as hands grasp my throat. Then in my mind or perhaps in words that my ears truly heard, the apparition said to me, "I desire to have you." In terror, without physical strength, I restated what I had previously said years before, "In the name of the Lord Jesus I rebuke you"... And I added, "Jesus, please help me." I was released and the figure quickly moved away and into the dark it vanished again.
I share those stories because I always believed that there was an evil spirit sent to destroy me in one way or another. Maybe not but I think what happened on those nights as a teen were connected to the stories that did later happen in Cleves, Ohio.
My son was home from the hospital and life was busy for us. We were working in the church ministry and it was a serious learning experience for me, being a new dad and never being around infants before the birth of my son. The first event happened like this, we were asleep and I was awakened by heavy footsteps above us. I never said anything to my wife who was sleeping next to me. I listened and the noise of heavy walking then throwing of materials hitting the floor and walls directly above us continued on. I looked at the bedroom clock and the time was about 3 am.
If I could adequately describe what I heard it sounded like an angry person inspecting my books and in disgust throwing them against walls and onto the floor. Then stomping down the hall until the steps continued to move down the steps. Those steps led to the living area of the house on the first floor where our bedrooms were located.
At first I thought of an intruder but I recognized that I should have heard of some kind of forced entry. I was practically frozen in fear but as I listened to the thud of footsteps coming down the stairs to the main floor, I had a response to grab the 22-caliber revolver and move to the entrance of our bedroom. My son's room was immediately across the hallway such that if someone was moving from the kitchen down the hall into my son's room, then I would be there to defend entrance. So with my gun in my right hand I knelt down in the doorway and waited.
In 1992 we did not have a cell phone and the house phone was located on the kitchen wall -- I preferred to stay in the doorway of our room which gave me a place to protect and at least have a first-shot. I sound like a coward but for some reason within me there were heightened senses alarming me that this was extremely dangerous and the perpetrator was something more than just a human thief.
The steps stopped at the door entrance into the kitchen and I was staring down the hallway waiting to see but nothing. Silence for a while and I did not move with my loaded gun in hand; I was positioned in the darkness of our room but at the doorway waiting to aim and shoot. I could not let anyone get down that hallway.
Again the footsteps that seemed to shake the house moved from the kitchen entrance back up the stairs to the second floor, down the upstairs hallway, and into my soon-to-be study directly above us. My mind was filled with questions and in my heart or soul I sensed that something was dreadfully wrong. I managed to get myself through the bedroom door entrance and slowly, with gun in-hand, passed into the kitchen while walking as silently as I could. How I knew or at least thought that I knew it was not a human I really cannot say. Why I did not behave differently I cannot say either, which I know will cause many to doubt my sanity or sobriety.
I traveled cautiously into the living room area and made my way to the stairs, while staring at those steps leading upstairs. At each step I listened for something but I heard nothing. So I continued to the steps and began a slow climb and even now I remember how terrified I was that late night or early morning which happened to be an early Sunday. I could not say a word. I wanted to shout out a threat and warn of my gun in-hand, but I felt a terrible presence from the top of the stairs and I backed down slowly. I am not sure how long this whole process took in length-of-time but I made it back to the room and for some mystery which I cannot provide a logical answer, I laid back into the bed and fell asleep next to my wife.
The morning was a Sunday and I was awakened by the sunshine. I recall sitting up in bed thinking for the first second that it was a vivid dream that was more real than life. Yet, that glimmer of hope vanished when my wife (former wife today) grabbed hold of my arm with such a life or may be better said, death-grip, that immediately startled me. "Paul," she said, "get your gun and check the house. Someone was here last night." From there she went on to tell me of the time in which took place between my sleep when I returned from my frightful experience and the morning.
She got up responding to our son's cries in order to feed him which had to be sometime near 4:30 to 5:00 am. Sitting down in the rocking chair with our son in her arms feeding on a warm bottle was the start of her story. She said that she heard the footsteps of what she assumed was due to me in the kitchen getting a bottle prepared for feeding our son, and she said that she yelled that he was already eating and did not need a bottle. Then no response but the footsteps came down the hall and stopped before entering our son's bedroom. She knew or sensed something was not right since I had not said a word. Just loud footsteps and silence was the response to her words so she closed the door to the room.
She described what followed was scratching at the windows of the room from the outside and at the door. In terror she held onto our son and she closed the window blinds and curtains. She said that this person or something continued to scratch the windows then eventually it stopped and she got back into bed. Her words that morning froze me for seconds because she did not have any idea what events I had experienced beforehand an hour or so before her experiences. I left the bed that morning and began to investigate the house - the upstairs.
If only I could have seen so clearly the night before as I could this sunny, Sunday morning. I traveled upstairs and headed down that noisy hallway into the study where I saw books and boxes turned sideways and scattered everywhere. Something had been there just as I had heard and now I could see the evidence.
We went to church that morning and I briefly said to the pastor that we had strange events happening in the house. I got only some laughs and strange looks. So I tried sharing the story with my dad only to get responses like it was an animal trapped in the house such as a raccoon. Or may be a kid in the neighborhood that had access to the house and they were playing with us all night. A lot of strange responses but no one would listen to us. I quickly realized why people often keep stories like the supernatural quiet because most people respond with laughs and doubts.
We kept the night to ourselves and wondered if and what might happen again? It did not wait too long. BAM! We heard a loud shot to the floor and together we went to the kitchen to investigate. The clock that was fixed on the wall directly above the sink was resting face-up in the middle of the floor. Odd to us that it did not fall into the kitchen sink but was five feet out into the floor. I looked at the clock which was about 3am and said to my wife, "Well at least our clock did not break (I saw for certain that the second hand was moving and thought that the fall did not shatter the clock internals)." Startled but we went back to bed for the night and the remainder of that night was uneventful.
I think that next day was a Saturday because I was home and not at work. Now that event happened when we had left the sink partially filled with soapy water with dishes from the day before. My wife finished the job of cleaning the dishes and called me with some excitement in her voice. Why? She had in hands batteries and at first I was puzzled about their origin. They came from the clock. The clock that was resting on the floor and saw that the second hand was still moving, but how could be batteries be in the sink? I had put the clock back onto the wall and so I reached up and brought it down. The time was just past 3am! And yes, the second hand was not moving.
Another night came and another crash in the kitchen. The time was near 3am. Together we came into the kitchen to find that the garbage can had been turned upside down and the contents thrown all over the floor. The contents were spread for five or six feet as though the can had been physically thrown down. We could not stay there any longer was our decision. I was convinced that an evil spirit had invaded our home, even our lives. Part of me wanted to stay and fight, but I had a child exposed to powers that I could not understand.
Then before we actually made the commitment to the church verbally that we would be leaving, it happened. I was startled by the sounds of our intruder. The heavy steps above me and down the hall again forced me to fight, flee, or in this case pray. I left our bed that night without a gun and in fear began my walk through the dark house to meet our mysterious guest. I remember heading up the stairs reviewing Scriptures and trusting in the shelter of GOD's grace and power. I continued up the steps and as I got to the stop there was a definite reddish glow emanating from the rear room shining into the hallway.
It is difficult to understand and explain. Most likely difficult or impossible for the reader to believe... In any case, I recalled from the Bible how Michael the archangel of GOD limited his dialogue with the devil when disputing for the body of Moses (Jude 9), but fully relied on the power of the Holy Scriptures rebuking the fallen serpent in the name of Jesus. I knelt down at the top of the steps and verbally prayed to GOD.
I will not recite the words that I prayed because that was between the Lord and me. But I fully trusted in the power of His name that night and rebuked the evil spirit in the name above all names who is the Lord Jesus. I could feel the presence facing me and walking near me that night, but as though I was shielded by a greater might, it could not penetrate me while on bended knee. I did not look up but remained with eyes closed praying and while in prayer my faith increased and the fear left me. As did the evil presence and the house immediately felt different as though a wind blew past me and exited the house. What was once a place of horror became instantly our home that was now calm and safe.
There are many unanswered questions about that time. I rarely share this story and it has been near twenty three years now since it happened. Perhaps that old evil snake found other means to get me to stumble after those nights but it did happen. Those events did occur.
To some they will grab hold of the frightening events of a demonic attack and dwell on the horrendous part of the story. To the contrary, those experiences help me always remember that I trust in the living GOD that protects and shelters me at the name of Jesus. Since that day I've never experienced anything like it. I hope that I never do because evil is not a fun movie, it is truly dangerous - it is real.