By Mark Ellis —
He grew up in a small town in the Midwest, a bright student who got straight A’s. But in high school he sowed wild oats, which led to ongoing drug problems until he had an extraordinary 48-hour vision of hell and its demons.
“I had always considered myself an atheist,” says Paul Gill, the author of Anastasis: A Memoir. “I didn’t grow up in a religious household. It was a non-subject.”
Part of his alienation from God stemmed from a troubled upbringing. “I had a painful childhood and I blamed God. I couldn’t understand how he could have made such a place. I couldn’t see any good in it. Because of my anger I decided he didn’t exist.”
In high school, Paul began to hang out with the wrong crowd. “I got into a lot of trouble; I drank a lot; I partied a lot.”
By his senior year he had landed in jail several times. “I went to rehab at 17 to avoid a longer jail sentence,” he notes, and spent his 18th birthday in rehab.
After he was released he returned to drinking and his downward spiral accelerated. Following his high school graduation, he and a friend hopped on a Greyhound bus and traveled from Louisiana to Colorado. He finally landed in California, north of San Francisco, where he took up residence, working in a pizza parlor.
The job allowed him to sleep in and continue his party lifestyle. “I surrounded myself with people who drank,” he says.
In October 1998 his life changed after he experimented with crystal methamphetamine. “I was awake for close to a week,” he recalls. Toward the end of that week, a veil was lifted that allowed him to see into another realm.
“I looked at my bedroom door and I saw the ghost of a little girl holding a mug of beer. She was shivering.”
Paul approached the door, tentatively. “Why are you here?” he asked.
Suddenly a demonic “bartender” materialized in the doorway next to her, pouring drinks for an expanding group of people, surrounded by other demons.
“I saw an infinite bar where demons were drinking with the lost souls of other alcoholics and they kept beckoning me to come and join them in their place,” an apparent reference to hell.
Some of the demons were monstrous looking, with reptilian features. Others appeared more humanoid, but their faces were distorted by exaggerated expressions of hatred and evil.
Paul ran from his house, but even after leaving the house he could not escape the demons. They appeared everywhere, dogging him for two full days and nights.
The vision was so real and so frightening, he began to question his atheism. “I wasn’t religious, but I thought I needed to be exorcized by a priest.”
Paul hitchhiked to San Francisco and showed up at a Catholic Church, where he found a priest and described his bizarre experience.
“Are you on drugs?” the priest immediately wanted to know.
Paul denied it.
“If you call on the holy name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior the demons must go away,” the priest informed him. The priest handed Paul a rosary and pointed out several psalms he said would help him in his distress.
Paul left the church slightly dejected. There is no way this is going to work, he thought. He considered killing himself, anything that would take away the nightmare he was living and remove his “unbearable consciousness.”
Jesus was his last resort. He had tried everything else. On the sidewalk in front of the church he looked up at the sky and said, “Jesus, if you’re there, please make the demons go away.”
Paul stood in silence a few moments after his prayer. At first, nothing seemed to happen. He could still see the presence of demons.
A friend gave him a ride home. Still disconsolate and unsure about what might bring relief, he went to bed. “I wanted to die in my bed and I thought I would wake up in the world the demons were showing me.”
When he woke up the next morning he could still see the demons, but something significant had changed. “They were not moving or speaking; they seemed powerless,” he observed. The abrupt change confused him momentarily.
Then he saw someone standing in the bedroom door where the vision first began. “I saw the image of the back of a robed man with shoulder-length hair,” he recounts. One hand was held up as if stopping traffic. The other arm lifted a sword.
“I knew it was Jesus and he was making the demons unable to move or touch me, immobilizing them,” he says.
“That’s my protector!” he exclaimed. “I knew Jesus had come into my life and saved me. There was no one else I had called upon.”
Despite this dramatic series of events, Paul still struggled with his intellectual objections to Christianity. “I wasn’t changed overnight. It took me some years to integrate my belief that Jesus had saved me into a belief system.”
Sadly, his drinking continued for another five years, which was like “a living hell.”
Then he got fired from his job by his best friend because of the drinking. “When I saw the way he looked at me when he fired me, I thought ‘maybe I do have a problem.’”
In April 2003 he sought help for his alcoholism through an anonymous program. “I’ve been clean and sober ever since,” he says, “and during that time I became a Christian and I believe Jesus saved me.”
“I have a really good life today,” he says. “The reason I am able to stay sober is I rely on God and he leads me. God guides my life today. Without his strength when I’m weak, without his love, I don’t think I could stay sober.”
His vision over the two-day period in 1998 left an indelible mark. “It was a nightmare I could never have imagined. It was gruesome and horrific,” he recalls.
“The medical profession would say I had a hallucination, but in my heart, I feel like I saw into hell. I could never have invented what I saw.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
Paul’s book is available at Amazon as an e-book here