Pedro: From Satanist to Evangelist
"He can make your back feel better," his mother said. And she was right. The "doctor" healed 9-year-old Pedro Ochoa's back -- the excruciating pain was gone!
But this was no ordinary Honduran doctor. The man was a self-described "new age white magic" doctor -- a Satan worshipper. Little did the young boy know that from that moment on, Satan had plans for Pedro's life.
Pedro's father was a businessman who traveled extensively. He divorced Pedro's mother after she had an affair. Pedro, now 14, and his two younger sisters chose to stay with her. Two months later, Pedro's mom walked out on the children, leaving Pedro in charge of his sisters and an infant cousin she had been caring for.
"I felt so vulnerable," Pedro recalls. "So incredibly hurt."
Feeling powerless to change his situation and that he needed protection from the world crashing in around him, Pedro remembered the doctor who healed him through white magic.
"When I told him about my situation, the doctor said he could help me," Pedro recalls. "He told me that he could give me power and a god who is going to care about me and make me rich. He said that I would be able to grow a lot in this religion and become so powerful that I would be invincible if I would study the materials and consecrate myself to this god."
For a young boy desperate for control in his life, the promises of the white magic doctor were just what he longed for. Pedro agreed to become a student. He went through the ritual of consecrating himself, including donning an amulet that connected him to his idol/god (the spirit world), and declaring his love for his god.
"At this time in my life, I knew Christians, but I didn't know anything about the Bible," Pedro says. "To me, Christians just worshipped a different idol or god; I didn't know that there was only one true God."
The doctor's promises, however, weren't empty. Powers soon became evident in Pedro's life. "I started training, and I began to grow in this power -- I started with moving small objects with my mind -- and my powers continued to grow."
But the power came at a price. "I started hearing this voice," Pedro says. "And I knew it was the devil. He would tell me that my destiny was to go to hell with him -- it was the reason I was born -- and to fight in this huge battle against Christ/God, who is a selfish god that wanted all the glory and praise for Himself. Satan wanted me to fight to help take back what God had stolen from him."
Pedro sank deeper and deeper into Satanism. He soon was placed in charge of a group of other teens who also desired to grow "their powers." Pedro says he was given visions about the teens, insight into their lives, making it easy to convince them to follow his lead. They held séances and spoke to the dead, they used an Ouija board regularly with great success, and they spent an inordinate amount of time in cemeteries where things went on that he prefers not to discuss.
As he reflects upon his life, Pedro says there were things he came to realize. The more into Satanism he sank, the less human he was. "I didn't cry, I didn't laugh . . . I had zero feelings," he says. "Also, I would later learn that these powers I thought were mine, were actually demons working through me. I had opened doors to them and they worked to not only deceive others, but me too! But at the time, I just believed that I was superior to everyone around me."
"Everyone," that is, except for these "weird" people.
"Nothing scared me anymore," Pedro says. "My friends and I were totally in the darkness. But every now and then a weird person would walk by. I knew nothing about God, but these people made me scared. I didn't want to be close to them. I wanted to run away from them -- there was something shining on them . . . it was just too shiny for me, to the point that I couldn't even look at them!"
Pedro says that he would later learn that these people weren't just Christians by name, but people who had the fire of the living God within them -- and he feared them for reasons he did not understand.
And although Pedro didn't know it at the time, his battle with Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit was going to take place much sooner than he imagined.
Now a freshman in college, Pedro found himself in a U.S. English class with an older teacher who was one of those "on fire" Christians. Pedro wanted to turn in a paper late, but the teacher denied him, saying he would fail -- but if Pedro would attend his Saturday meeting he held in the class each week, he could turn in his paper after that.
The meeting? A Bible study!
"That Saturday, the moment I crossed the gate into the college, something hit my spirit -- it was scary, like I was about to die," Pedro says. "My body started shaking and I wasn't even close to the room yet, and the closer I got, the worse I felt . . . it was like this crazy scared thing moving inside of me, from my head to my feet . . . it's hard to put into words how scared I was. I was sweating and felt like I was going crazy. It wasn't a human scared, it was all the demonic power and devils living in me who were scared to come into the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit . . . , but I didn't know that then, all I knew was I wanted to run fast and far away from that place."
Pedro attempted to turn his paper in and leave, but the teacher refused the paper, saying he would need to sit through the meeting.
"They started to talk about God, the Bible, the Son of the Living God, the ABCs of salvation, the Cross," Pedro says. "I was listening, but fighting with stuff inside of me. But the words started to hit me. God loved me; died on the cross for me; He was not against -- he wanted to rescue me!"
As the meeting concluded, the group stood to sing a song and the teacher began to pray for each person. As he prayed, people began to fall to the floor under the power of the Holy Spirit. Pedro knew he was in the presence of some kind of supernatural power as people were falling to the cement floor, but not getting hurt.
Then the teacher came to Pedro.
"We were eye-to-eye when he began to pray and boom! It was like an explosion," Pedro says. "I fell to the ground, but it felt like falling on a bed. My body began to shake like crazy. I felt this power like electricity going through my head, feet, legs, hands. I knew this was my last day on earth. I remember thinking I can't receive this kind of power -- it was too much, my body is going to explode! It was so strong, I couldn't resist, like millions of volts in my body."
Pedro began to yell loudly as he felt the moment of his death approaching -- whatever "it" was, was killing him.
But he didn't die.
"I suddenly realized I could breathe," Pedro says. "Then this voice came into my mind and kept repeating, 'God is real! God is alive! Jesus is real! God is touching you now!' I started to cry like a baby. I opened my eyes and in that moment I realized that the power that was in me was nothing compared to the power of God, which was now touching my soul. I realized I was on the wrong side of the line -- I didn't want to fight against God, I didn't want to be an enemy of God . . ."
Pedro stayed on the floor as the powers of darkness drained from him and the Holy Spirit worked in him. After some time, the teacher returned, helped him sit up, then prophesied over him that for the next three days, he wouldn't be able to sleep as the Lord wanted to speak with him.
It was as the teacher prophesied. For three days, Pedro did not sleep. "Those three days shaped my life," Pedro says. "God revealed Himself to me, explaining things to me, helping me to understand His power, and how I was now coming to the light, the side of God."
Pedro moved to Miami not long after his salvation experience. He says he could no longer hang around with his old friends, because when he was in the same room, their efforts to contact "the dead" no longer worked. About six years ago, Pedro, who worked in television, moved to Peoria, Illinois, to assist a church in developing television programming.
He is now the director of evangelism at Hilltop Campus Church, an AG U.S. Missions Chi Alpha Campus Ministries church plant near several colleges and universities in Peoria, Illinois. Ironically Pedro, who is now 34, spends time mentoring young people to grow in their prayer lives and experience the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
"Christians need to understand how powerful the name of Jesus is," Pedro says. "When Jesus is 100 percent in our lives, we are so powerful against the enemy. Nothing is comparable to the power of Jesus -- remember, the devil and all the darkness is limited because they are creations, not the Creator. Those who serve Satan can yell and say things, but inside they are scared, shaking, and wanting to run!"
Although Pedro says that early on he would battle with Satan's attempts to reclaim his life, the Holy Spirit remained his constant companion. Through prayer, Pedro even rejected the healing the Honduran "white magic" doctor performed on his back, which resulted in several years of pain for Pedro before God stepped in and performed His own healing. "That healing I had as a child was Satan's hold on my life," Pedro explains. "When I renounced it through prayer, my struggles with Satan were lifted."
Pedro says he never intended to share his testimony, as he was deeply ashamed of his past life. But through the encouragement of Hilltop Campus Church interim pastor and AG U.S. missionary Dale Crall, Pedro, now the Holy Spirit-controlled follower of Christ, has begun to open up about his experiences.
"Pedro is one of the most spiritually discerning and truth living, Christlike believers I've ever met," Crall states. "He is highly favored of God and is gifted in everything he does. He brings God's presence in all he does."
"One of my burning desires is that Christian people can know the power of God's Word and live in the reality that God is real and close to us," Pedro says. "That when you walk into a room, people can feel the presence of the Lord with you -- it will change your life, and may change their lives too!"