By Nazrana Khan
“Farana, can you hear the rattling sound?” I whispered as I hid my head under my blanket in our dark bedroom, afraid to encounter whatever was causing the sudden terrifying noise. I was eight years old and expected comfort from my sister, Farana, who was ten years older.
“Yes! What is it? Switch the light on!” was her response. Before I could gather the courage to uncover my head and reach for the switch, Farana started screaming uncontrollably. I joined her, tucked under my blanket, frightened, unable to see what caused her outburst, yet feeling an unwanted, supernatural presence in our room. My mother came to our rescue as she switched the light on and hugged me, calming me down before attending to Farana on the other side of the room.
I was raised in an area of Zimbabwe known for superstition and witchcraft. I was safe from it for the first few years of my life, until my sister and I started experiencing episodes of demonic harassment at night. I decided not to sleep until I was exhausted and slept with every light on. Most weekends, I slept when I heard the cock crowing outside—the signal that day was dawning. Sleeping only felt safe when the sun was out.
I was never afraid of the dark before this traumatic experience started. As a child, sitting outside on the kitchen steps and gazing into the shimmering night sky was one of my favorite parts of the day. A stargazing phone application entertained me during my galaxy expeditions until mother called me in to bed. Childhood innocence concealed the dangers that emanated from the darkness, and a mother’s love kept an eye on me during my evening explorations.
But now my stargazing had been ruined, for the mere thought of sitting alone in the dark paralyzed me with fear. I longed for those earlier days when I could scan the skies and discover God’s beauty without anxiety. What had happened to spoil those innocent night expeditions?
I grew up living with my father’s mother, but when my mother left Islam to become a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, my parents divorced, and my grandmother disliked us. My siblings and I left the place we knew as home and embarked on a journey with my mother in search of a new place to call home.
Ironically, we eventually settled only a few houses away from my father’s mother. Despite living close by, we would not enjoy the sweet relationship we once had. My mother saw it best that we distance ourselves from interacting with her to maintain peace.
But Mother’s decision brought only more trouble. My grandmother practiced witchcraft, a legacy passed on to her, and she was well-known for witchcraft in the community. She began casting spells on my siblings, my mother, and me. At night, we would hear the voice of my estranged grandmother utter bizarre words like chants in our bedroom, even though she had not entered our home and lived a few houses away. It seemed she was invisible, yet present in spirit.
I began despising darkness and feared being alone because of this ordeal. For 11 years I slept with all the lights on. If there was no light, I dared not shut my eyes. I remember one night I felt a sudden external pressure, which left me with goosebumps and temporarily paralyzed in motion and speech. At that time, I was convinced the horror movies I watched were becoming my reality.
My mother prayed daily for our protection as we grew up, although the demonic harassment kept tormenting me. When I was 19 years old, I left home to further my education at a Christian school called Solusi University. Sadly, my fears had grown to now include the daylight hours too. Any little bang, beep, crackle, or clack would trigger perspiration, my legs would lock as my hands fumbled, and I froze, unable to process my surroundings.
God sent a good friend to my rescue during this phase of my life who educated me on the reality of spiritualism and on Jesus being the only way out. I received my first Bible. Whenever I felt frightened, I clutched it to my heart and whispered, “Jesus, please save me.” I expected an instant miracle of deliverance, but instead my fear subsided gradually as I decided to claim God’s promises to protect me as His child. I could not let Satan have any more control over me. He had enjoyed much reign in my life, and it was high time he got expelled.
I began attending evening worships. Accompanied by my Bible, I hurried from my dorm room through the dark streets to the evening program at the university church. At first, those five minutes of rushing felt like an eternity to me, but I was gradually losing my fear of the dark.
Next, I began contemplating trying to sleep without a light, but I failed to master the courage to initiate the process of walking back to my bed in the dark after switching off the light. Sometimes I would take two steps and then rapidly return my hand to the light switch with a racing heartbeat.
One evening as I laid my weary body to rest, I suddenly felt the impression to pray for courage to switch my light off. I was 22 years old at this point. My words were, “Dear Jesus, I am here at Solusi University, where I have heard about the heavenly angels’ encounters with Your people. I know You are with me too. Please help me overcome this fear and sleep in peace, knowing I am safe in Your arms. Please give me victory over my fear of darkness.”
Instantly, I felt an internal peace, as if Jesus answered me with the words, “Peace, be still, Nazrana.” From that time on, sleeping in the dark, with no oppressive voices or paralyzing effects, has been a part of my new life.
I am grateful to God and lack words to express my gratitude for the peace I now feel, even as I type this story. It has been five years of peace that surpasses understanding. I am free because of Jesus. I never thought a day of freedom from Satan’s oppressive attacks on my soul would come. I still pray for my siblings and my mother to experience this freedom too.
Nazrana Khan is from Zimbabwe. She studies Health Science Ministry at Hartland College.