A man walks down a city street. Everything about him warrants caution. He possesses the hate and rage to back it up. A passer-by may find it safer to cross the street rather than share the sidewalk with him. Probably best since he would rather spit on someone or push them down than help them up.
This once described Jason Hammonds after a little ghost hunting fun turned into something more serious.
Several years ago, Jason experimented in the world of ghost hunting. He explains, “I am an electrical engineer so I approached it from a scientific background. I went in trying to disprove it with science using instruments and gadgets.”
What began as dabbling in ghost hunting became a darkness that overtook his thoughts, changed the pattern of how he lived, and affected his interactions with others. The more he studied it, the deeper it drew him. This led to studying demonology, paranormal, and occult beliefs. Jason shares, “I was drawn towards the darker side of life, spiritually darker, without realizing I was doing it.”
Jason now understands the appeal of the darkness, “There is a reason it’s intriguing. The darkness makes it intriguing to drag you into it and eat you alive. The devil is here to kill, steal, and destroy.”
In the spring of 2017, after nearly ten years of spiritual darkness, Jason experienced a life-changing moment. He stood in a place of light that dispelled the darkness. Many question the existence of angels, but for Jason, as real as the darkness that haunted him, he walked among beautiful, angelic faces. Jason experienced peace in a way he never knew possible. He finds words to describe it difficult. Tears flood his eyes as he recalls the experience, “I turned and there was nothing but smiling people. None of the faces were familiar, but I knew they were all angelic. There were thousands upon thousands of faces. I was just walking through. When I’d walk through, they would step out of my way, but never lose sight of what they were looking at beyond me.”
For the few months that followed, Jason battled with a darkness more powerful than before. Feelings of sadness, hate, and rage increased. However, the man so filled with bitterness did something he refused to do since childhood church experiences left him hard-hearted towards the church. He attended a local service.
Jason and his wife, Jessica, visited Rest Church during those few difficult months. The men who greeted Jason left a lasting impression. He recalls, “I wondered what those guys were really about. Why were they so happy?”
A feeling Jason had long forgotten, joy, overflowed from the hearts of those who attended Rest Church. Their smiles, handshakes, and acceptance of Jason gave him the hope he desperately needed. He shares, “I was at a point of absolute depravity, at the bottom of the pit. However, the best thing about being at the bottom of the pit is it gives you a good footstep for pushing yourself up. Those smiling faces at the church embraced me as family that day.”
The Light within the Rest Church family shined brightly in a time Jason and Jessica so desperately needed it to dispel the darkness. In the summer of 2017, Jason stepped fully into the Light by accepting Jesus Christ as his personal Redeemer. He embraced the words of Christ found in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jason is no longer a captive of darkness, but experiences life abundantly in God’s grace. The hate and rage-filled man no longer lives. A new man lives, one who loves others, smiles, and goes out of his way to share the gospel of Christ.
His heart longs to encourage others, “You see the faces who walk by that are destroyed. They don’t know where to go or where to turn. One smile or hello may be all it takes. You can break somebody’s day being hateful or you can make someone’s day with a smile on your face or by saying something kind.”
His explanation of the change he experienced is simple, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.”
The change in Jason brought about by Christ cannot be denied. A man once filled with rage at the mention of church or God now encourages others to come to Christ. Someone who pushed everyone away, now enjoys fellowship with others, even strangers. He leads a Rest group, serves as a deacon, and is one of the very first smiling faces a person visiting Rest Church will see. He is quick to apologize when he is wrong and quick to help a stranger.
There are still days when the darkness tells him he is no good. Instead of embracing the lie, Jason speaks truth. His advice to those battling darkness is, first of all, be a child of God through salvation of God’s amazing gift of grace. Once you have the grace of God, he encourages, “You have to pray an army of angels. Rebuke negativity, hate, and sin. Always, always pray an army of angels. There is power in that.”
From a pit of darkness to experiencing the freedom in God’s grace, Jason sympathizes with those in their own pit and encourages them to realize their worth and take a step of faith toward their own freedom, “I know how dark, lonely, and sad it is. But, you do matter and Christ does love you. All you have to do is come to Him.”
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