- (Photo:Reuters/Paul Hanna)
An ordained minister who was once a Satanist, but now seeks to evangelize to those involved in the occult, has applauded the Roman Catholic Church's training of new exorcists.
Jeff Harshbarger, author and head of Refuge Ministries, told The Christian Post that he approved of the increased emphasis on dealing with those "demonically possessed."
"I do believe there is a tremendous need for trained exorcists; be it by the Catholic church or the Protestant church," said Harshbarger. "The Catholic church has had an awareness of dealing with the demonically possessed. That has waned recently, but they have been made aware and are responding."
Harshbarger began practicing occultism through use of the Ouija board. By the late 1970s, he was a Satanist living in a community of like-minded people in Indiana. He said, that though possessed by demons, God still reached out to him. After much internal struggle and an apparent divine experience in the backyard of the house he shared with fellow Satanists, Harshbarger eventually left the practice.
He wrote about his experiences in a book titled From Darkness to Light, which was released on paperback last year.
Harshbarger's remarks come as the Church is training more exorcists, especially in Europe, as reported by Nick Squires of the United Kingdom publication the Telegraph.
"Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil," wrote Squires. "The diocese of Milan recently nominated seven new exorcists, the bishop of Naples appointed three new ones a couple of years ago and the Catholic Church in Sardinia sent three priests for exorcism training in Rome, amid concern that the Mediterranean island, particularly its mountainous, tradition-bound interior, is a hotbed of occultism."
Harshbarger also told CP that training in exorcism represented "a true need for the church" especially since the "days are growing darker with paganism and occultism taking the forefront in our society."
He added, "The Protestant church has been aware of the need and has moved into a deliverance ministry mode. I do hope there is a resurgence of true exorcism. I found out first hand as a demon possessed former Satanist that the church was not prepared."