Ex-Satanist traded darkness for light

Jeff Harshbarger
Jeff Harshbarger

Identifying himself as an eclectic or "self-styled" Satanist, Jeff Harshbarger says he gave himself over to demons in exchange for power. He did not expect that this power would soon demand his life.

"After four years in Satanism, seeing everything Satan had to offer, I was miserable," Jeff explains.

"I decided that the only thing left to do, as a 'respectable Satanist', was to kill myself."

As a lonely young man from a dysfunctional family, Jeff says his involvement with the spiritual realm stemmed from a yearning for acceptance and a place to belong.

"I was looking for love, but I was caught in the middle of a violent house that left me feeling hopeless and frightened," Jeff explains.

"I was looking for courage and some mystic power and I had long been interested in magic and the paranormal."

Jeff's first encounter with Satanism occurred at age 17 when he stayed with a work friend during a snowstorm.

"This young man seemed to have everything that I had ever wanted including prestige and power. He appeared in control of his life and acted much older than his 18 years," Jeff explains.

"He showed me his magic potions and occult objects. I was convinced. Later that night, we performed a ceremony, and I gave my life to Satan."

That night Jeff recounts that he knew he had been possessed by demons because of the rush of power and darkness that filled him.

At first he was enthralled with Satanism for its promise of power, money and "the lie that I would be god", and he joined a coven with his friend and four other men in a shared house.

"Coven activities included casting spells and desecrating Bibles and any other Christian articles that we could get our hands on," Jeff says.

"During this time I was in contact with demons on a regular basis, though not with Satan himself. Demons were powerful underlings that were at my beck and call... or so I thought."

Eventually the frightening and distasteful parts of Satanism overshadowed the thrilling parts and, fearing the direction the coven was going in, Jeff decided he "wanted out".

"As the demons began to fill me up and I felt more and more of their power, they began to turn on me as a person," he explains.

"And that's what the Bible says, that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. Ultimately, once they entered me, their point and whole effort was to destroy me."

At this time Jeff admits he thought suicide was the only way out.

"To my dismay, I failed. Yet, I know now that only intervention from God could have saved me from both the gun and the noose."

It was then that Jeff thought back to previous encounters with Christians in his hometown who had tried to share the love of Jesus Christ with him.

He remembered moments when his mentor had labelled him "angelically oppressed" by the protection of angels during satanic rituals because Christians had been praying for him.

Then one night he lay in bed and began to cry before being startled by a voice that distinctly said "get out!" twice.

“After four years in Satanism, seeing everything Satan had to offer, I was miserable”"I remember being so shaken at the command that I immediately obeyed. I crawled out of the nearest window in my bedroom and onto the driveway...and into the presence of God," Jeff recounts.

"My knees went weak and I fell on my face, there was no mistaking who this was. Looking up at the sky I pleaded, 'Jesus, just make my life, okay'."

After that night Jeff visited a small church and Harry and Jo Richardson. Talking with them over dinner, Jeff confessed that he had been practicing Satanism and they immediately offered to pray for him.

"We held hands and Jo began to pray, and the demons inside me were rebuked in Jesus' name and were cast out. She told me that I needed to repent of my sin and submit myself the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I did and I was free!"

Jeff admits that the demons tried to visit him in his house later but they left for good when he affirmed that "Jesus took care of these demons and all of their power on the cross."

"When I gave Jesus my life they had to leave, the demons had to submit and bow their knee to the powerful and mighty God."

Since then Jeff went on to earn a Masters in Pastoral Counseling and launched Refuge Ministries International, an organization that helps others escape from involvement in Satanism, the occult, Wicca, witchcraft, New Age practices or false teachings in the Christian church.

He has also written two books, From darkness to light and Dancing with the Devil, both of which are available on Amazon.com.

"I have come a long way from those days in Satanism," Jeff concludes. "I still believe in a spiritual reality. I believe in both demons and angels, evil and good. I have simply traded darkness for light."

Find out more about Jeff's work at www.refugeministries.cc

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