October 23, 2023

The Great Controversy Is Real

A personal experience with the supernatural

Trina Carter
Photo by Rafael Garcin on Unsplash

Living in a highly advanced society has caused many of us to forget the realities of the supernatural. We talk about the existence of God and Satan, but more in abstract rather than as an actuality. We forget that the great controversy between good and evil, between God and Satan, is real and includes all the world even in a country as advanced as the United States of America. Recently I was reminded of that reality, as something dramatic and supernatural happened within my own family.

It began with a prayer for our son in the church sanctuary. But this was a different kind of prayer than what you’d expect. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been praying for him all these years. But although I had been praying daily, I hadn’t seen any change in his life. But on that day I gave my son completely to God. What happened next, however, was not what I or anyone else had expected in response.

About a week later I received a text message at 1:00 a.m. My son wanted to talk to me. I asked if we could talk at a more reasonable time, but he insisted. It was urgent. It was then I realized that this would be no ordinary call. Something was wrong. My son was in tears and asked me to pray for him and his wife. The conversation went long into the night. My son and his wife were experiencing supernatural evil powers in their apartment. They were terrified.

Mysterious Happenings

He was working on his computer when the electricity suddenly went off. My son went to the electrical panel and turned on the breaker that had gone off. He was unsure of what had happened, but didn’t think much about it. As he sat down again in front of the computer, the electricity went off a second time. This happened three times, and each time a different switch of the electrical panel was pushed down.

Then the cupboard doors in the kitchen started opening and slamming all by themselves with great power. Frantically he ran to the bedroom to see if his wife was experiencing anything unusual, but she was sleeping. He woke her and told her what was going on. Then their car alarm went off in the parking lot. He looked through the window, and the trunk was open. He went downstairs, closed the trunk, and stopped the alarm. As he got back to their apartment, the alarm of the car went off a second time, and the trunk was open again. This happened three times.

They began to realize something evil was happening. As our son described it, he felt evil spirits present. Being raised an Adventist, he grabbed his Bible from the shelf and began praying and asking for God’s protection. His wife, a strong believer in the Orthodox Christian tradition, hoped that her icon of Mary with Baby Jesus would stop the supernatural happenings. Both were scared, and decided to call us. My husband and I talked a long time and prayed with them to calm them down.

The reality is that Satan and evil spirits are real. Their tactics are to scare people and make them afraid. God, on the other hand, does not intrude, but gently calls us to follow Him. This experience was a wake-up call for all of us.

Fighting Evil

A few days later the evil spirits returned. This time more violently, trying to physically harm our daughter-in-law and our son. My son described a real fight with the devil for several hours, fighting for his life. A spirit threw our daughter-in-law down the stairs as they left the apartment. When he tried to protect her, my son’s shoulder was dislocated. In the car, on the way to her parents’ house, the evil spirits hit her head into the dashboard and the car window, injuring her face and making it bleed.

The evil powers didn’t hide their true nature. One evening my son and his wife discovered their bed with all the bedcovers on the floor. In the middle of the bed was The Great Controversy, a book by Ellen White, that had been sitting on the nightstand before. The book was opened to chapter 31, “Agency of Evil Spirits.” While on a video call with them, I saw drinking glasses fly across the room as if with the speed of light and breaking on the kitchen floor. I could see the doors of the kitchen cabinets opening and slamming with power, while objects fell from the shelves.

Our conversations and prayers for our children became a daily activity. We asked a small group of friends and colleagues to pray for them as well. A group of church pastors and elders from the town where they live went to pray and anoint them. The great controversy, the fight between good and evil, was real before our eyes. We prayed and pleaded with God as never before.

Despite our prayers, the encounters with evil continued for some time, resulting in our son’s life taking a dramatic turn. He changed completely. One evening he called us in tears. For a few minutes he couldn’t speak. Then he began repeating: “God is great . . . God is great . . . God is great . . . God saved my life . . . God saved my life.” That evening a demon had literally attempted to choke and kill him. We could see the red marks around his neck. Believing he was dying, through tears he asked God to spare his life. He was ready to follow Him no matter what. As he prayed, the evil spirit left, and has never touched him again. He felt the literal protection of God.

God Knows How to Get My Attention

We talked for about nine hours that night. Interestingly, he admitted while these events were ones he would never wish to experience, they did help him better understand the great controversy between good and evil.  While my daughter-in-law still struggles, my son has experienced a genuine and true conversion. Like the prodigal son, he came home. Indeed, after this dramatic event, his life hasn’t been the same. None of us recognize him, he has changed so much. We still wonder how this all has happened, for there was no previous engagement with the occult of which we are aware. But we know God works miracles.

Our son’s experience reminds me of the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3). To the surprise of the Jewish rabbi, Jesus explained that the new-birth experience of “water and Spirit” was (and still is) a miraculous event. “You should not be surprised at my saying,” Jesus said. “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (verses 7, 8, NIV).

Our son has experienced the miracle of the “wind.” For him, God has become very real. His life has a new meaning and purpose. Like William Miller, in Jesus he “found a friend,” and the Bible has become his delight. Our son began to attend church regularly. He started reading the Bible daily and shares many of his thoughts with us. As he says with a smile: “Would you ever imagine that I would call you to talk about the Bible?” In addition, he has read The Great Controversy and The Desire of Ages. My phone is full of his text messages that include quotes from these books. “It seems that every page was written for me,” he says. With God’s help he stopped drinking and smoking instantly and made a complete change of his lifestyle. He did not want anything to stand between him and his Savior. Instead of playing video games, he watches sermons. In just a few months he had watched more than 200 online sermons. He has no other joy but reading the Bible and books by Ellen White.

Be Alert. Be Vigilant.

The truth is that our son’s dramatic encounter with evil spirits was a real experience for our entire immediate family. Being Adventists for decades, we have read similar stories of Satan and his evil angels, but we never thought this would happen to us. Somehow we forgot that the great controversy is real and ongoing today. In fact, we should not be surprised to see more and more supernatural evil appearances as we approach the end of times. Jesus is clear that “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24, NIV). In the same context, Ellen White notes that “the enmity of Satan against good will be manifested more and more as he brings his forces into activity in his last work of rebellion.” Those who are not “fully surrendered to God, and kept by divine power” will be deceived and join the evil forces.1

This is a sobering reality. There is an ongoing battle for each of us. While the devil, like a “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), wants to destroy us, Jesus stretches His pierced hands to protect us. His grace and power are available to us amid our troubles or meetings with evil spirits. Jesus is the only one who can give us peace in a world in which we experience fear, suffering, pain, tears, death, and all kinds of evil. “Satan knows that Christ has purchased redemption for the whole world, and he is determined to wrest from the hand of Christ every soul that he can possibly influence,” we are told. “But believing in Christ, we shall have grace to meet his temptations. Jesus would have us comforted with faith in His goodness. Whatever may be the tribulation that shall come upon us in the world, we are to be of good cheer, knowing that Christ has overcome the world. We will have tribulation in the world, but peace in Jesus Christ. Turn your eyes from within, and look to Jesus, who is your only helper.”2

Satan and his evil angels are still alive and real. But God is also real and in control of this world’s history. He is our “helper,” and we know that in the end He is the winner. The promise given by God after the fall of Adam and Eve will finally be fully fulfilled: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15, NIV). Satan and his angels will be destroyed, and sin will be no more. Until then, let us not be complacent, but remember that the great controversy is real. Let us stay close to Jesus and have daily experiences with Him. Let us believe in Him. In the words of Paul to the jailer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). May this be our experience.

1 Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1923), p. 464.

2 Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, May 19, 1896.