By Melissa Nordell —
Born to a typical Catholic family in Indiana, Joe Minnich always wanted to be successful. Although he attended Mass every school day growing up, he was never taught the scriptures or the plan of salvation — an experience shared with many others in too many churches.
In his mid-20’s, Joe strived to become successful as a car salesman so he read every book he could find about how to influence people and sell more cars. A voracious reader, he started with self-help and motivational books, eventually going over to the New Age section to get further “enlightened.” But that wasn’t enough. Still thirsty for more and not satisfied with his life, he gravitated over to the occult section of the bookstore.
“I read over a hundred books on every religious thought and spiritual belief there was – from witchcraft to every religion on the planet! Then one book on the occult stated that if I wanted to be very successful, I needed to have my own ‘spirit guide’.”
Joe contemplated obtaining that “spirit-guide” for months, before he finally made a pact with the dark side. One day he bowed his head in his office and invited a “spirit-guide” to come into his life…and things went from bad to worse.
It wasn’t long until Joe began to notice subtle changes. And not for the better. Joe says even his family and friends noticed the changes. “I began to have crazy thoughts and weird things were coming out of my mouth.”
His mind descended into a dark underworld. In desperation, he reached for a Bible — he had read everything else. “I began to read the Bible but I was reading all my other ‘spiritual’ books too. You can only imagine the confusion I was in. I was between a ‘rock and a hard place’ and I didn’t know which ‘place’ to go!”
Even though Joe did not know where to start with the big book, he bought his own Bible and began to “devour” it, reading every word. At first it did not seem to make much sense and Joe did not know which scriptures he really needed. He continued to pursue the Bible anyway, trying to get well and trying to clear up his mind.
About this this time, in November of 1989, Joe decided to move to California, not knowing what awaited him. On the long drive there the prime thought in his mind was “if there is a God, I’ll find Him!”
Joe had no one to mentor him or disciple him in the things of the Lord or God’s Word. He had no church, no friends and no support from anyone. Joe says “you’ve got to understand, this was the late 80’s during the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals that were constantly on the nightly news. I didn’t like the Church, I didn’t like Christians. And I sure didn’t like ministers either…I trusted no one.”
Before long, Joe got a job and his own place in Vista, CA, near San Diego. Unknowingly, his search for the Lord was about to go into overdrive as God’s Word in the Bible began to win out over his other spiritual books.
By that Spring, reading the Bible became a “full blown obsession,” as Joe reiterates: “I just couldn’t stop reading it. My love for the scriptures became so intense that I quit my job to go home and read the Bible. I was just so messed up that it was the only thing that brought me any peace.”
Promptly Joe discovered that the words in red were like a salve to him. He became enamored with the wisdom and teachings of Jesus Christ. “I was blown away by what He said,” Joe proclaims. “I had no idea that He said so much.”
However after thirty days of no job and no money, Joe got a new job as a cab driver. By this time, Joe stresses, “I’m pouring in the Words of Jesus Christ at a rapid rate, 10-12 hours a day and even more. And I couldn’t stop praying. I knew the Bible and Jesus were the answer but the battle for my soul was just beginning.”
Joe recalls that he would have so much trouble sleeping due to that “spirit-guide” that he would literally place a crucifix and Bible on his chest, and pray the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers over and over obsessively – the only prayers he knew.
It was during this time that after work one day Joe rode his bicycle to a local bar. After having several beers and ready to ride home he discovered that his bike was stolen. Joe began his two mile walk home, calling on the name of the Lord. As he walked, he begged God to help him.
Suddenly, a car pulled over to the curb right where Joe was walking and a man leaned out the window and asked directions. Of course as a cab driver, Joe knew where they were headed, so he gave them the information they needed and thought they would just drive away.
However, right then Joe was surprised to notice a Bible sitting on the front seat between them. Joe could not take his eyes off that Bible. The two men then stated that they were heading to a Christian concert and asked if Joe would like to go. “Well, that was an easy answer…I jumped in the back of the car and off we went. Here I was, partially drunk with a couple of surfers, going to a Christian concert in California”, Joe mused as they sped along.
“After the concert the two guys asked if I wanted to attend a regular church service. I was a little skeptical but said ‘yes’. These two Christian brothers would pick me up every Sunday and Wednesday until I got there on my own.”
After attending Calvary Chapel in Vista, CA for a couple of weeks, Joe still couldn’t seem to shake his inner torment – but this time it was a lot worse. He felt dizzy and light-headed, “like I could throw up at any time. I had no idea what was wrong with me.” This lasted for 10 or 12 days with no end in sight. Not giving up, Joe still “pumped in the words of Jesus Christ like I was a ‘rabid pit bull’. I knew the words of Jesus were going to be my only hope if I were to ever live a normal life.”
Arriving at home one day feeling absolutely miserable, Joe felt he truly could not go on another day. Joe points out, “I was totally at the end of my rope. I tried everything I could to find God and it’s still looking like I have failed. I was about ready to pass out when suddenly I found myself on the floor convulsing horribly and screaming bloody murder! I was crying at a level of intensity that I didn’t think was possible”.
After the shaking and convulsing stopped instantaneously, Joe found himself telling God just how sorry he was for his involvement in the occult and for contacting “dark spirits”.
“I told God I had no idea that it was so wrong and I begged Him to forgive me.”
Joe conveys that he really had no idea what had just happened, but he sure felt better. He then sat down and began reading scriptures again – except this time “the ‘World War Three’ that was going on in my body was finally over.”
“I had a great sense of peace and a greater level of understanding as I read. If someone thought I had a zeal for the Lord and the scriptures, well, they hadn’t seen anything yet !” Joe began attending church almost every night the doors were open. “My love for the Lord was ‘off the hook’! I couldn’t get enough of the Bible and Christian fellowship.” And Joe’s prayers were now unhindered by the devil as well.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, Joe destroyed his collection of occult books.
Joe soon knew that he had a calling as an evangelist on his life, wanting to tell others about God’s saving grace. He also felt that God would “one day have me tell my story” so Joe later started attending Calvary Chapel Bible College.
“Even after being filled with the Holy Spirit, it took the Lord another two years to heal the damage I caused to my soul from so much involvement with dark spirits,” Joe clarifies. “The Lord had to completely reprogram my mind. All I could do was to just constantly read the New Testament and attend all the Bible Studies I possibly could.”
“Looking back after these 24 years, 1990 was both the worst and the best year of my life! It was the year I discovered the horror and the power of satan. But more importantly, I discovered the grace and the power of Almighty God. What I went through I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I didn’t think I’d be normal again.”
Joe speculates that “if not for my obsession with the Words of Jesus Christ, I’d be in a mental institution!”
“I know the Lord wants me to tell my story about how His words not only saved me from hell, but He also gave me the wisdom to lead a normal life. I am so glad it is over and I can share it with others to help many – like the Lord has indeed helped me.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here