My grandfather was a shaman, a witchdoctor. As animists, we believed that our lives were controlled by spirits. But because a shaman could control these spirits, my grandfather gave one to my mother. He told her that, with the spirit’s blessing, she would have a perfect life – always fed, safe, loved and at peace. He promised that the spirit would make her beautiful and desirable, and she would never be lonely. It didn’t work.
All of the good things that my grandfather promised her – none of them came to pass. My mother struggled to cope with all of the pain and difficulty in her life. She did not feel special, except when the spirit spoke to her, or through her. When I was a young girl, I had such a severe stomach ache that I thought I would die. My mother was frightened, so she dedicated me to the same spirit. Immediately, my pain went away. After that, the spirit began to speak to me and tell me that I too was special. The spirit would whisper to her, “No one loves you as much as I do.” And I believed it.
I started to think that no one but the spirit could be trusted. I avoided making friends. Instead, I poured my energy into academics; I excelled and won many awards. Again and again, my name would be called over the loud speaker at school, announcing my success. This became my only source of self-worth. I graduated and went on to university, believing that I would succeed there as well.
I did not know that the announcements had been heard throughout the neighborhood. A missionary living nearby heard my name so frequently that he sensed the Holy Spirit telling him, “Pray for that girl!” I would not meet this man for two years. But, because he prayed, my life began to change.
My success turned to failure.
In university, I failed an exam for the first time in my life. I wondered why the spirit was not helping me anymore. I became depressed to the point of considering suicide.
During that time, a young Christian who had befriended me saw my distress and offered to pray for me. I had always avoided accepting his invitation to go to church, afraid that it might anger the spirit. But now I was desperate. Did I dare turn to Jesus and defy the spirit? Who was stronger?
“God, if you are real,” I prayed, “then make five red cars pass by.” A few minutes later, five red cars drove past. I was not convinced. This city is full of red taxis, I reasoned. So I added, “God, if you are real, now bring five red motorcycles!” Within minutes, I watched as five red motorcycles drove by. I decided that maybe I should give God a try!
As I prayed to Jesus, there was a war inside my brain. At first, I cried. Then I couldn’t stop laughing. I felt chains being cut off of me; the dark spirit was gone, and I was free. In wonder, I kept asking, “Who are you?” That night in my room, as I surrendered to Jesus, I felt as if a warm waterfall of love was pouring over me. I could hardly even move my limbs.
For the first time in my life, I felt at peace. I even felt that peace when I went to tell my mother that I had chosen to follow Jesus. I knew it would be a confrontation. When I told her, the dark spirit reared up in my mother and she began to curse me, and even struck me across the face. Three times, she hit me. But I knew it was the evil spirit, and the Holy Spirit told me not to fight back.
“You and I are over!” I spoke to the spirit, “You no longer have authority over me!”
“You are right,” the angry spirit growled through my mother, distorting her voice and contorting her face. “We cannot be together. You and I, we are black and white.”
I fled to my room to pray. All through that night my mother paced about the house, threatening to commit suicide because I had converted to Christianity. I prayed that she would not die until she came to know Jesus.
After my graduation, I married the young man who had led me to Christ, and for ten years I continued to pray for my mother’s salvation. Then one day, my mother called and told me that Jesus had revealed himself to her through a vivid dream. “I met Jesus and he showed me the heaven!” she told me, describing how he had appeared to her barefoot and dressed in very ordinary clothes. Still, I was uncertain. Had God finally answered my prayers? Was she saved? A month later, she gave me an expensive gift: a golden cross. I couldn’t believe it! It was as if she were saying to me, “Here, wear this instead of an amulet.” I felt happy, sure that her encounter with Jesus must have been very real. It was the last time that I saw her alive. Two months later, my mother was murdered. I was shocked. Why had God allowed this? My heart was plagued by dark doubts and an inconsolable grief, and I struggled with my faith. Then one day I found myself in a conversation with a pastor who, like me, came from an animistic background. I told him my story, and he asked me, “Did your mother ask for her body to be burned?”
“Yes,” I replied. “Also, she left instructions for all of her idols and amulets to be burned along with her.”
When I said this, the pastor smiled widely. “She did that for you!” he exclaimed. “According to animist beliefs, this is what must be done to prevent the dark spirits from passing on to the next generation. Your mother believed she was saving you. It was her faith in Jesus that made her do this!”
My heart was once again flooded with joy and peace. I thought to myself, the spirits promise a perfect life, but they are liars. Only God works all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Today Napaporn is a pharmacist, running her own research company for herbal medicine and cosmetics. She also teaches high school chemistry and is a frequent guest lecturer in university. She currently attends the Ang Sila church in Chonburi along with MB Mission global workers, Ricky and Karen Sanchez.