by Lorraine Wylie (Good News)
As a girl, Annie Meadows was introduced to the occult through dabbling with a Ouija board – one of those so-called 'harmless' scary games played at many Halloween parties.
But for Annie it was a fascination that would lead to tarot cards, fortune telling and the darker secrets of black magic.
However, a series of events led Annie to open herself up to a greater source of power – the power of the living God. When Annie finally encountered Jesus Christ, it was a life-changing experience ...
Today, Annie is a gospel singer and children's author in the US, but she has never forgotten the terrible hold that the occult once had on her life.
"The first time my sister and I came across a Ouija board, I was around six years old. It seemed a harmless game, but gradually my interest grew and I wanted to know more.
"I started going to the library and searching for books on the Salem witches. To my young, impressionable mind, they seemed mysterious and powerful. My parents knew nothing about it. In fact, I was brought up in a Christian home and had they realised, they would have been horrified."
At high school Annie's seemingly mystical powers earned her a reputation among her peers.
"I was doing tarot cards and making predictions that, bizarrely, were coming true! Naturally, this set me apart as different and some of the other kids were frightened."
Before long, Annie was fully immersed in the occult and regarded herself as a 'witch'.
"By this stage, I had completely embraced the occult lifestyle. I wanted to be different. It seemed everything about my life was dark. I even dressed in black.
"I was living in a trailer, partying hard and totally out of control. Yet, incredibly, I thought I was happy. Sometimes I could see a violent streak in my personality that I didn't like."
Annie's good times came to an abrupt end when she fell pregnant and had an abortion.
"I simply couldn't shake the depression afterwards, and with no one to turn to, I decided to end it all. I locked the door of my trailer, shut the windows, turned on the gas stove and lay down on the couch, hoping to sleep forever."
She didn't know it at the time, but God had His eye on Annie and refused to give up on her.
"My friend Timothy dropped by, and when I didn't answer he realised something was wrong and broke my door down to drag me out. I was still depressed but I was alive.
"Later, my mum rang and told me the strangest thing: She said that one day I'd end up singing in church. Of course I didn't believe her!"
It was playing in a rock band that Annie met a man who introduced her to God.
"As we talked, I discovered Peter loved God but, at the time, wasn't living a Christian lifestyle. He talked a lot about the Bible and told me how God loved me enough to give His Son for me.
"I began to think about my life and how I'd filled it with witchcraft, spell casting and a lot of occult practices. I realised that these things had led me to a life of rebellion and running away from family who loved me. I had given my life over to Satan and now the enemy of my soul had full control of my life."
Annie went to Calvary Chapel in Las Vegas where, during a Sunday service, she found forgiveness and a new life.
"I was broken and at my lowest ebb. My heart cried out to God and I asked Him to forgive me. From the moment I surrendered my life to Him, I knew I was free.
"It was wonderful to feel His love flow through me, cleansing and healing me. I felt like a new woman and decided from then on, I'd use my voice to sing praises to Him."
But 'the enemy of her soul' didn't give up so easily.
"Initially, it wasn't as easy as I'd though it would be. I knew I was saved [a Christian] but I continued to struggle with the powers of darkness. Sometimes images appeared before me and dark demons taunted me."
But Annie also learned about the power of prayer and of God's words in the Bible, like 'Greater is He [God] that is in you than he [the devil] that is in the world' (1 John 4:4). She took immense encouragement from this verse in those days, and gradually found freedom from evil spirits.
Annie married Peter and today sings at churches around the world, expressing her joy at know-*ing the God whose power and love is greater than all.•