#whyIbelieve: Elyssa

If you want to contribute to this series and share your story, please email me at pastorjosephyoo(@)gmail(.)com, without the parentheses. 

I’m glad Pastor Joe reached out to me. I have an interesting story, but needed coercing to tell it.

I was born into Buddhism, and some of my earliest memories include attending temple with my aunt. My family converted to Christianity when we immigrated to America. However, my first day as a true believer wasn’t until seventh grade.

A lot of things happened in seventh grade. I attended the best retreat of my life, during which I first felt the presence of the Lord. I experienced an overflowing happiness emitting from the inside of my body’s core and knew it had to be God’s doing. I felt like a changed person, and I definitely couldn’t have made myself feel that way. Also in seventh grade, Pastor Joe taught me to be confident in myself. I watched as him sing your heart out during every worship song and that’s when I found my own singing voice. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that, but I thought about it a lot during middle and high school and thanked him in my head.

God continued to stay real in my life and I continued to sing my heart out. In college, I joined InterVarsity (a bible study group) and attended small church gatherings with University Christian Ministry.
But I eventually stopped attending the weekly gatherings and soon quit going to church altogether. I encountered many obstacles that significantly weakened my faith and for a period of time, I was very confused. In fact, I haven’t attended church regularly in about five years. But ultimately I chose to believe – and will until the end.

… Because my mom doesn’t have cancer anymore, despite its discovery so late in the stages of the disease.
… Because I am freed from sleep paralysis every time I say a prayer.
… Because it alleviates my fear of death.
And because nothing else can explain that night at Spa World.

In August 2009, the summer after I graduated from high school, Jaime, Sean, Henry, and I planned a trip to Spa World as our last hang-out before we went our separate ways for college.
We had a great time at the jjimjilbang playing silent games in the dry saunas and thinking up punishments (push-ups in the hottest room, standing on the ice of the ice room, getting hit, etc) for each other.

After we were sauna’d out, we sat in the common area and chatted for a while. We talked about sleep paralysis, ghosts, and the likes. In the middle of the conversation, I suddenly got really, really cold. If you’ve ever been to a jjimjilbang, you’d know that the common area is always set to a very comfortable temperature. It never gets too cold or too hot. I was very comfortable one second and then shivering the next. It was the strangest thing. I asked if anyone else was cold, and no one felt the slightest bit cool. I was so cold to the point where it became unbearable and after about a minute, I told everyone that I’d head into the charcoal room first, and for them to join me later.

When I entered the room I felt really, really bad. It was an ominous feeling, like one you get walking into the classroom to take a final you haven’t studied for, but a thousand times magnified.

No one else was in the room, but someone was yelling in my head to not lie down — no matter what. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d lied down, but it made me so scared that I remember gripping onto the wall to prevent myself from doing so (this is not my normal behavior).

I don’t know how long I was in that position but my friends eventually caught up with me. I’m not sure if they even noticed what I was doing because within seconds, before any of them even sat down, Jaime started speaking in tongues.

Confused, we all looked at her and asked, “Are you… praying right now?”

She shook her head, her eyes wider than I’d ever seen. She was trying to talk to us, except she couldn’t talk over the tongues that were controlling her mouth. We literally had her shut her mouth, pinching her tongue down with her fingers. But nothing worked. She just kept going.
She eventually stopped her voicebox from making sounds and just let her tongue run silently. Then she discovered how to talk to us by elongating every word she wanted to communicate with her throat rather than using her tongue. She said, “My jaw hurts. My jaw is hurting.”

We quickly found an unoccupied infant/toddler room, went inside, and locked the door. Henry brought his bible and we all started praying, asking for the tongues to stop and for some answers. Nobody knew what was going on, but we knew it couldn’t be good- Jaime was hurting, and it had been over a half hour since it started. We sat in a circle, Jaime in front of me, Sean and Henry at my sides.

I then had a weird image in my head. It felt like a passing daydream, but I wasn’t daydreaming. In this image in my head, I saw Jaime in front of me and Sean and Henry at my sides – the same scene that was actually in front of me – except Jaime’s head turned demonic. I really don’t know how else to describe it. She then raised her finger, pointed at me, and said, “This is happening because of you” in a deep, grumbling, demonic voice.
I snapped out of it and continued to pray. I just thought I was hallucinating from how absurd and weird this situation was.

Then Jaime raised her head and looked right at me. She then raised a finger, pointed it at me, and said, slowly, through her tongues, “I don’t know why, but I think this is happening because of you.”

The three of them stared at me. I told them, “Guys, don’t freak out, but I just saw Jaime to that in my head just before it happened.”
We prayed for hours that night. Sean and Henry both have the ability to speak in tongues while deep in prayer and at one point, all three of them were praying in tongues, except me. Sean and Henry encouraged me to pray out loud, but I felt uncomfortable doing so.

I’ve never felt comfortable praying out loud. On top of that, this was all happening because of me.
I was so confused as to why this was happening, I didn’t even know what to pray about or pray for anymore.

Jaime’s tongue finally stopped after about two hours. At some point during the night, I had a vision of a dark shadow release itself from clasping onto my back.

I still have no explanation for why any of that happened but I know that a spiritual battle had taken place, and we won. Nothing from this earth — that I know of — could explain the events from that night.
If I were to take a guess, I’d think a bad spirit attached itself to me the moment I felt that overwhelming coldness and God exorcised it out through Jaime’s, Henry’s, and Sean’s

I don’t have any tangible proof that that night happened but the morning after, we went to eat at IHOP and took some pictures of ourselves – sort of as a vow to never forget that night. It’s probably the craziest thing that’s happened to me, and I’d be crazier not to believe after an event like that.

Thank you for reading. I don’t tell this story often. I’m immune to the scariest of scary movies and don’t know a single person with a tolerance for the creepy quite like mine, but this memory still gives me the chills.


 Elyssa is from Virginia and was one of my former youth students. She’s currently living in the Mid-West pursuing her dream of being an artist. 

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