Christian testimony of Joe Scofield in Bath, Great Britain
Hi. A while ago, I started to write my Christian testimony as a series of Facebook posts. Realizing that many people are interested in the supernatural, I concentrated on the supernatural aspect – as there has been plenty of that in my life.
Some Christians may worry that I make references to my mum’s sixth sense ability. She worried about it herself when she became a committed Christian, though it seemed to transform into the gift of prophecy at this point.
The following testimony is written as I unfolded it on Facebook and is entirely true.
Now that the streetlights in Bath have been replaced, the strange amber light that the old ones used to emit will be a thing of the past. As a small boy, I always used to find it an eerie light; one that you would see in the still depths of the night.
When I was very little, we lived at The Oval in Bath. Occasionally coming up Coronation Avenue I would see the red brick walls of the old Moravian Church lit up by streetlights. It made a sort of amber-red color.
It was this color that appeared in a boyhood premonition of mine. When I was about infant school age, I dreamed of a man lying motionless in the middle of the road late at night. What little light there was in the dream, was all amber-red.
I was so young I didn’t know what the image meant. That night, one of my dad’s friends was knocked down by a motor car. His body lay motionless in the road.
I used to get experiences like premonitions as a boy, but these faded as I grew older. My mum, on the other hand, always had an incredible sixth sense – and this meant that as a child I was raised with a strong awareness of the supernatural.
We were living at The Oval in Bath during the 1970’s and at that time, the Yorkshire Ripper was in operation. My mum would get premonitions of the killings that this man did. These were very gruesome and harrowing for her to see, and they would always occur exactly two days before the tragic death of some young woman at his hands.
My mum would wake up saying, “thank goodness that was just a dream,” only to hear the murder reported in the news two days later. With the premonitions, my mum also used to get repeat visions of the letter ‘S’ written in blood. Presumably this would be ‘S’ for Sutcliffe: the Yorkshire Ripper’s surname.
As a young boy, I saw so much going on around my mum’s psychic ability. She developed an affinity with Mary Queen of Scots who died in 1587. One time she got hold of a picture of Mary Queen of Scots and put a vase of pretty flowers beside it. Then my gran in London got a letter from an anonymous psychic to send on to my mum. When the letter was opened, it read: “Thank you for the flowers.”
Neither my mum or I were Christians back then, and today I wouldn’t condone some of what she did. At one point, she dabbled in something occult and got her fingers burnt.
But what all this means for me, is that I find it very hard to relate to atheists or people who just can’t believe in anything supernatural. The experience of the supernatural was a regular part of life for me as a kid. If you think that sounds weird, hold on… it gets weirder.
A powerful sixth sense runs in my mum’s side of the family. It skips some individuals but endows others with a psychic ability. It may come from Romany ancestors that we apparently have who were fortune tellers by trade.
Some Bath residents can remember the Romany lady who lived at Pennyquick in a caravan. Her surname was Dix and my mum was related to her too. It was ‘Granny Dix’ who taught my mum as a girl how to put a curse on someone! She taught her the hand sign and the words to use.
Several times in life my mum did invoke the curse. One day she put it on a man who used to steal my milk off the doorstep when I was an infant. The next morning, his wife said that he was very ill in bed. In about 1994, my mum cursed a man who interfered with my relationship with a girlfriend. Immediately the man got the sack from his job.
I need to say that as a Christian, I don’t believe in cursing our enemies. We are supposed to bless them instead.
In the early years, my mum was testing her psychic ability to understand what it was. This led her to a practice called psychometry, which is about picking up impressions from the past by touching an old object. A psychic named Margaret Royal (who founded Ghost Walks of Bath) gave her a necklace to try on. At once my mum said she couldn’t breathe with it on. It turned out that a lady had suffocated whilst wearing that necklace.
My mum paid a visit to the Tower of London, her aim being to connect with the ‘vibes’ of all the people once imprisoned there. This was when things really started kicking off. When she got back home, she found that her actions had attracted a bad spirit back to the house. It would come at night and my mum, with her sixth sense, could see it. She described it as something that was trying to appear human, but which really was more like an animal. It would shift and blur as it tried to take on human form.
An apparition like this can be quite terrifying, and at first my mum would put her fingers into the shape of the cross to try to ward it off. Then the entity would mock her, saying: “Why are you making that sign? You’re not a Christian; you don’t believe in that.”
My mum did hold some belief in Jesus but she had never made him Lord of her life nor did she follow his teachings. Basically, she held a spiritualist’s view of Jesus which was not enough to help her.
Strangely enough, though, my mum later received some words from the Bible to make the bad spirit depart. And the words were from Philippians 4:8 in the New Testament:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
She began to think of beautiful themes and the spirit left the house. On the last night when it was seen, my dad got up and opened all the windows, saying that he could smell a terrible stench. When asked what he could smell, he replied that as a young man he had worked on farms. Sometimes on a farm an animal would die and after a time it smelled like that.
When did we move to Dunkerton Village? At the time, I was in the first year of Moorland Junior School. After school, I used to catch the bus from Bear Flat back to Dunkerton, then walk along the short country lane leading to the village.
The kind of experiences described in my earlier posts didn’t abate at Dunkerton but in some ways, grew stronger.
One day in 1978, my mum saw a daytime vision in which my body lay dead among some bushes! In the vision, my hair was damp and clinging to my forehead, so she thought it was an early morning scene with my hair made damp by the morning dew. The vision alarmed her so much, that she left our house in Dunkerton and got on the bus to collect me from school.
Of course, I was okay. But that evening, people found the body of the murdered schoolgirl Tessa Maddocks, in the bushes at Beechen Cliff. What had been the meaning of the damp hair in the vision? Well, the girl had just finished a swimming class with her school, so her hair would have been damp near the end of her life. Bless her.
At about this time, my parents realized that they could make some extra cash by offering their services as astrologers. My dad would find out when and where a client had been born. Then he would draw up the astrological chart showing which planets influenced that person’s character. My mum, with her psychic ability, would interpret the chart to describe the client’s personality according to the stars.
Now, I’m aware of scientific arguments which supposedly disprove astrology. All I can do is tell the truth: That I’ve been with my mum when she’s been talking to people, and just by listening to them talk she could tell them their zodiac sign. She would get it right every time.
A lady in London wanted her astrological reading done. All that my parents knew of her, was the time and place of her birth. My mum saw in this lady’s stars a person who was a heavy drinker, promiscuous and unstable.
For once, it seemed like the reading must be wrong because we later learned that this lady was very respectable. But when the lady got to see the reading, she exclaimed: “That’s my twin!” It turned out that there had been two women, born of the same mother, at the same time. And they had diverged. One became very respectable and the other very wayward. The reading had picked up on the character of the wayward one.
There were a lot of other strange happenings at Dunkerton. Living in a village was isolating for my mum who really needed people to talk to about these experiences. As an only child, I was the one who usually ended up hearing about it. So, I came to see the supernatural as normal and it didn’t faze me. I was more unsettled by all the spiders that plagued our country house.
(I need to add that I wouldn’t encourage anyone to use astrology. Keep your eyes off the stars and fixed on God.)
At Dunkerton, my parents continued to practice the kind of astrology where you look at what effects the stars might have on people’s personalities.
My mum’s sixth sense was now so sharp that she could discern extra things about people that the stars couldn’t show. One client’s stars might say that they were hot-tempered, or very protective of their children. But my mum would also become aware of other details, like what job they did or whereabouts they lived.
An affair caused my parents to divorce when I was twelve or thirteen years old. My mum’s sixth sense seemed to give her power at this point. It assured her that if she told my dad to leave, then he would. She packed his clothes into a bag and sent him on his way. Before he left, he stormed around the house, breaking three window panes. We covered the cracks and holes in the broken glass with tape, and for a time some people called our home “the house with no windows.”
While my parents were splitting up, I became a Christian. My mum had seen me reading a spiritualist book that my gran in London sent over, so she bought me a big book of Bible stories. I started reading the Bible stories instead. When my parents divorced, my connection with my gran in London ceased, so her influence was cut off.
I used to wait by the bus stop at Dunkerton for the bus to take me to Beechen Cliff School. And I would say to God: “I believe the Bible stories. Is there anything else I need to do?”
At that time, I had a Christian teacher at school called Mr Wheally. He had come over to Britain from Canada and was very radical. I heard how one kid brought in some tarot cards for him to see, and he tore them up then and there. Mr Wheally spent a lot of time reading to us from a book called The Cross and the Switchblade, which told of how a Christian missionary was sent to the violent gangs of New York.
One day in class, Mr Wheally got all us boys standing up and repeating a prayer inviting Jesus into our lives. I said the prayer meaningfully and immediately felt my inner person jumping up and down with joy. The teacher seemed to know because he said, “And if you can feel that person inside jumping with joy, that’s your spirit jumping with joy because you just got saved.”
If that sounds a bit wet to you, keep in mind that Jesus is not some mild mannered, sandal-wearing hippie, as some people seem to think. He’s the Second Mightiest One, with power to heal the broken-hearted but also power to crush Satan’s head.
Somewhere about this time, my mum was doing the washing up at home and felt like saying a few words to Jesus. She told him that she would go to church if it were not for all the hypocrites and ‘holier-than-thou’ types of Christians that were common in the 1980’s. But Jesus answered her and said: “Don’t throw out the grain with the chaff.”
Shortly after my parents divorced, my mum and I started going to Walcot Methodist Church.
It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I started going to church. In those days, schools still used to sing hymns in their assemblies, so it wasn’t much of a culture shock for me to go to church.
I discovered that my church was not as formal as I had expected. One time the Minister brought in all his Christmas presents to talk about them in the service. It surprised me to see him holding up pairs of Y-fronts for everyone to see.
The spirituality of the church differed from the psychic experiences that I was raised with as a boy. All that psychic stuff created a feeling called ‘fatalism’. It’s the feeling that bad things just happen to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now as Christians, my mum and I felt that we were on a path with God who had a future for us.
At the church, we met a guy named Tony whom God had saved from suicide. Tony had been planning to throw himself off a bridge in Bristol(?) when he called out to see if there was a God who cared. He looked about and saw a bronze statue of a famous preacher (possibly Charles Wesley) extending an arm towards him. Tony entered a nearby chapel and sat down. Suddenly he felt a pair of unseen arms embrace him. Then he opened a hymn book at random and saw words saying that God would wrap his arms of love around him.
My mum’s sixth sense never diminished one jot when she became a Christian. Often it would blend into her faith. In 2011, she heard news that a coal mine in Wales was flooding with water, so she began to pray for the men trapped inside. Then she heard a man’s voice from inside the mine shouting out: “Garry, come away from it!” Later, we learned that one of the miners who drowned had the name Garry Jenkins. She wept when she saw his face in the newspaper.
When I was fifteen we left our house in Dunkerton and moved into a house at Oldfield Park. At the time, the Russian government wouldn’t allow Bibles to be printed in Russia – so Christians were smuggling them in. My mum, who could speak some Russian, got a load of Russian language Bibles from an organisation called Brother Andrew, ready to take them to Russia! The trouble was, as a single parent she was poor, so how could she afford the air flight over? Then we had a visit from an Australian relative who was touring a few countries and wanted to meet her. He left a lot of American dollars which, we found, would cover the cost of our plane tickets.
My mum sat in our living room, gazing at the pile of dollars and focusing on God, asking if a trip to Russia was the right thing to do. Getting caught taking Bibles into Russia could in theory lead to us getting banged up in the Soviet prison system. My mum turned over one of the dollar bills and saw on it the words, “In God We Trust”. So, in 1988 we went on a tour of Russia.
This is no joke. At the Russian airport, the staff checked the luggage of the other people on the plane, but a guy at his desk impatiently waved us through without checking our stuff. Just as well, as I was carrying a big sports bag full of Russian Bibles. At Moscow or Leningrad, we found a Russian Orthodox Church and gave the Bibles to a priest.
It was exciting to do something for God and to feel that he was supporting us along the way. But God had a future walk for me which didn’t leave me tied to my mum’s spiritual apron strings.
Where to begin. When someone becomes a Christian, God starts to work on their character. It’s a bit like when a builder starts fixing up an old house – it’s a process that takes a lot of time.
There are points in my life when I thought I was good, but looking back, I can see that I wasn’t. My growth as a Christian would suffer whenever I took less interest in God. Thus, he delayed my baptism until I was about 24.
A turning point came in 1995 when I joined a Christian street witnessing team in Bath. We used a board and paints to give out the Christian message on the streets.
So, what’s it like to become part of a street witnessing team?
When I first joined the team, I found that most of the members had their own dramatic turnaround stories. One such person was a lady named Julie, who had once been told that she had just days to live! Julie was diagnosed with a cancer that the Royal United Hospital refused to operate on, as they said it couldn’t be cut out safely. Doctors advised her to book herself into care, as she was about to die.
God told Julie to go home and read Psalm 30 in the Bible. Verse 2 leaped out at her:
I called to you for help, and you healed me.
Eventually Julie was led to surgeons in Australia who were prepared to operate. Julie’s cancer had never been under the surgeon’s knife before, but when the Australian surgeons opened her body, they were surprised to find that many of the incisions around the cancer had already been made.
I also discovered that some team members were highly qualified. Among them was a lecturer in engineering at the University of Bath. As a young man, he had been a staunch atheist who would berate anyone who dared to tell him there was a God. But later, he had such a deep experience of Christ, that he now needed to share his faith – especially with skeptics.
Far from being fanatics who just ‘got off’ on sticking their beliefs onto others, these Christians were intelligent people with profound experiences of God that prompted them to do what they did.
Some of the team were very spiritually gifted and out of that came all kinds of supernatural phenomena. For example, one of the team received a vision of us preaching the gospel beneath the old flyover bridge at Ham Gardens. The team went there and led three men to Christ.
One thing I liked about doing street witness over the years, was the experience of the supernatural. I was raised with the supernatural as a child, so I liked seeing times when God specially intervened to help us get the message across.
What was my mum doing over all this time? Mostly she worked as a social worker helping troubled peoples. As a girl, my mum had had a terrible upbringing in which she was neglected and malnourished. Years later, she asked God why he’d let her go through all that suffering. He answered: “I did it to make you a finely-honed chisel.” Presumably this means that he used the suffering to develop in her a gifted response to the troubles of others.
For a long time my mum found it hard to let go of her astrology books, but in the end she chucked them out. She also said a prayer disassociating herself with any occult practices that her ancestors might have done.
My mum passed away in 2011, but I continue in the faith. What am I doing now? I always like to be fruitful for God and to be doing things in service of his kingdom. To feel his Holy Spirit working through you is an amazing and fulfilling thing. I think people who don’t have that experience really miss out.
Of course, there’s been times when I haven’t seen what God is doing and have had to walk purely by faith. At other times, I’ve been enthralled by what I’ve seen him do.
Recently I co-organised an outdoor evangelical event in my city. Dark clouds loomed and it poured with rain on the day. Even so, four people gave their lives to Christ and one of them went on to lead eleven more people to Christ in the space of a month!
I’ve also seen a couple of exorcisms performed, in which an evangelist casts one or more bad spirits out of someone. Both occasions were very dramatic and biblical in nature, with people thrashing about on the floor until the spirits were forced to leave in Jesus’ name.
I’ve tried to warn people from my childhood experiences of the supernatural, as well as my witness of these exorcisms, not to have any involvement in the occult – as my own family did in the early days.
Just as Jesus loves to bless people’s lives by bringing healing and spiritual deliverance from bondage, the spirits of the occult want to do the exact opposite. If occult spirits can be cast out in Jesus’ name, it should be clear that he is the authority to obey and trust with our spiritual destiny.
Also – my experience of evangelism leaves me in no doubt that Jesus is real. He brought me from darkness into light and I would urge anyone to receive him as their personal Lord and Savior.