During a satanic ritual, a death angel gave him an assignment: kill Pastor Craig Groeschel, senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, one of the largest churches in the United States. But in the midst of his evil mission, he had an unexpected encounter with God’s grace.
“I hated Christians,” says Michael Leehan, who followed Satan for 20 years, and is also the author of Ascent From Darkness (Thomas Nelson), the gripping account of his enslavement to the powers of darkness.
As a young person growing up in Culver City, California, he faced “any kind of abuse you can think of” from family members. Some of the abuse was sexual, but mostly it was emotional and physical, including “savage beatings” by a grandmother who stuffed red pepper up his nose. Sometimes, he was hit with a two-by-four in the head. (Note: the details of the abuse are not contained in his book.)
“You never get over that,” he admits. “It takes a lifetime to get over that.”
Even though the family attended a mainstream denominational church, the dichotomy between their outer façade and what happened inside his home left deep scars. “The thing that kept me from Christ was Christians,” he says. “They seemed double-minded and lukewarm.”
The family relocated to Oklahoma City when Leehan was 19 and he began to sow wild oats. “I was sleeping around with everybody and drinking and getting high.” The out-of-control behavior led to a serious drug overdose and he almost died.
In the ambulance, he heard a man’s voice say, “Not yet son, I have too much for you to do.” In a daze, he mistook the voice for his father’s, not thinking it might be a message from heaven.
Leehan married a young woman named Amber a year later, a nine-year union that produced three children. She filed for divorce and he admits that his “mood problems” were more than she could handle.
Alone, depressed, and angry after the divorce, he made a tragic turn to the dark side. “God, in my mind had abandoned me early in life,” he notes in his book. “I decided that God was responsible for evil, controlled it, and was in fact both good and evil.”
Through a mis-interpretation of Isaiah 45:7, he concluded that God created evil.
“If he was responsible for all the suffering in my life, how could he possibly care about me? Since God didn’t care about me, I might as well serve his enemy.”
In the same way some give their hearts and lives to Christ, he gave his life to Satan. One Saturday afternoon as he sat alone on his red corduroy couch, he went over the edge. “Satan, come into my life. You are now my god. Use me, have me, control me for your purposes.”
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Mark Ellis, ASSIST News Service