There’s a fine line between mental health issues and the spiritual world that surrounds us. The reality of things like ghosts, spirits, angels, and demons, is a widely debated topic between believers and unbelievers alike. But how do you react when someone tells you that they have been regularly taking medications to assist with a mental health condition for quite some time, and they’ve had visions of spiritual warfare, seeing and hearing demons and angels, since they were a child, and even still as an adult? We’ll let you hear the case and decide. This is the story of James.
From as far back as he could remember, James felt he could see the world for what it was. Before he even knew about God and the Devil, he could see the war between the two forces happening all around him. Literally. He had prophetic visions of future calamity that eventually did come to pass. He was just a child when he had the vision, but he remembered it clear as day. In this vision, he had found a gentle animal and was taking it to his family to show them. As he got closer, the animal turned into a large, fiery beast and started consuming his entire family. Seeing what was happening to them, he ran and hid so the beast couldn’t find him. As he sat by watching from his hiding place, the beast made his way to his uncle. His uncle, as if something out of a movie, had become this incredible superhero and with what seemed like spiritual superpowers, killed the great beast that had ravaged his family. There the vision ended. It wasn’t until a day much later in life that he understood what the vision was trying to tell him.
Fast forward several years, drugs and alcohol had taken a hold of James’s family. All were deep in their addictions, and it was a pretty hopeless situation. James had dabbled in drugs and alcohol here and there, but for the most part, he lied low, and it was nothing compared to what his family was going through. He was able to live a relatively normal life, consistently worked, and had a few really great jobs. He was the only family member who had mostly seemed to avoid that treacherous path of destruction, other than one other person: his uncle. His uncle, who had become a pastor, was a real light in the darkness for James. As he was trying to find his way in life, getting lost from time to time, it was good to have one steady family member. And as he pondered this truth, he was reminded of that vision he had as a child, and it was then that he knew. Addiction was the fire beast. It started soft and soothing, promising to relieve their pains and hurts, but in the end, it was a like a raging beast, consuming everything around it, save James, who escaped addiction, and his uncle, who had the God-given power through to fight it for others. It was in this realization that he understood, his whole life, the dreams he had, sometimes even while he was wide awake, was not just thoughts from nowhere and coincidence when they became reality. He felt he had the gift of prophetic vision.
Having that gift, unfortunately, didn’t allow him to be able to change the things he was seeing happen. All he could do was be a witness, a testament, to what he saw coming, including nuclear war and the story of Revelations playing out in real time. While all these things were going through James’s mind, he was still living his own life here in the present and having to balance both worlds was very overwhelming. Despite his faith and conviction, he relapsed after he had wrecked his girlfriend’s car. The stress of their situation sent him over the edge, emotionally. He was finding it difficult to hold a job, and with their car totaled, money was tight, and the relationship was tense. She ended up kicking him out, and he wound up on the streets with nowhere to go. The addiction that he had always been running from was trying to take hold of him, but he knew that he just needed to trust in God to help him get back on his feet. Things were going to get worse before they got better though.
He was in a sticky situation. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and found himself being set up and investigated by the Federal government for his drug activity. He had people coming at him from both sides: drug dealers on one side and federal agents on the other. Not trusting either way to be the right way, but knowing that running wasn’t the answer, he finally was arrested. While in jail, he met the most incredible pastor, and he was so inspirational, really helping to steer James back on course with his faith. When he was released, he went to stay with a friend from school, but things didn’t work out, and he was brought to a different rescue mission. When he left there, he bounced around between sobriety and addiction, until he finally ended up at the Green Country Cares Unit. Since his visions had been plaguing him for quite some time, when he finally felt at peace, he was able to really sleep and catch his breath. When he was discharged from their facility, they brought him here to Gospel Rescue Mission.
Since being here, James told us, “Without Gospel Rescue Mission, I’d be on the streets.” He’s working toward feeling more comfortable with getting back into the work force. “I never had a problem holding a job until the last couple of years. It’s been really challenging.” His placement on the custodial team of our Work Start Program will help him build his confidence back up so that when he feels he is ready and finds a good employment fit, he’ll have updated skills to help him be successful. He continues to work with Green Country Behavioral Health and follow through with his treatment plan. He is doing great here, and we have high hopes for James!
In 1 Corinthians 12, we learn about the gifts of the spirit, and that God gives a number of gifts to people within the church: “To others He gives the ability to prophesy. To others He gives the ability to tell the spirits apart,” (1 Cor 12:10 NIRV). While James’s story is one of the most unique we’ve heard, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you can’t help but wonder… is this a story of someone who truly possesses the spiritual gift of prophecy, or is this a story of someone who is suffering with mental health issues, despite consistent and stable treatment that has proven to be effective in treating his mental health condition? Regardless because of the support of our community, at GRM opportunity for James and others is guaranteed.