Demons Exist, and This Man Can Prove It
Are visitations by demons just the fanciful imaginings of fiction writers and Hollywood movie producers or do they really occur? Joe Heintzelman says they do. “There are demons that are set to keep us from God; there are demons that are set to frustrate the maturing process,” he says. “There’s no other grand scheme that they have but to do those two things.”
Joe grew up in Missouri. He attended church as a boy, but never had a relationship with Christ. Even when he was young, Joe could sense a spiritual battle brewing around him. “I used to love riding my bike,” Joe says, “and there was a bike path that ran along a ditch. I remember riding it from my friend’s house, and I just really felt this presence of light on one side of me and the presence of darkness on the other side. I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘Well, whichever one of you gets me first can have me.’”
Joe had few friends. He also never knew his birth father. The loneliness and fear he felt as a child would lead him down a dark path. “The biggest thing I was looking for back then would be relationships. It was a piece of my life I felt was missing,” Joe says.
When his mother and stepfather separated, Joe began to fill the void in his life with alcohol--and eventually the occult. He started experimenting with a Ouija board, which opened doors that would not be easily closed. “We had some very powerful experiences then,” he recalls. “I just felt something extra in me, and I knew that something was different. And I remember walking down the street that night and cats were in the yards, and they would just start hissing.”
Later, as an adult… Joe met three demons.
“The demons started making themselves known to me at that time,” he recalls. “There were three of them. One was a Manipulator, and it took on a female persona. The other was the Tormenter, and he took on the male persona, and the other was the Mastermind. Every night I would meet with them, and they would just fill me with this knowledge of the Kingdom of Darkness and how they operate. It was in one of those moments they said, ‘Look if you’ll just let us teach you, we’ll give you everything you want.’”
Joe says the demons began prodding him to harass Christians. “They began to put me into situations where you would have these good-hearted Christian people, evangelists, out preaching in the streets,” Joe recalls. “I would engage them in conversation, and nine times out of ten, they would be outside with me 30 minutes later, smoking a cigarette, and questioning their faith. That was a big thing to me, to be able to unhinge a believer.”
One evening, Joe says his demons told him to go and disrupt a church service. “They told me to mock God in His own house,” Joe says. “This was exciting for me. So we go to this little storefront church. As I was walking in the doors, those three handlers had to stand outside the door. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to go in; it was that they couldn’t go in.”
That night, the war for Joe’s soul intensified.
“The singer began to sing about taking the children back from the devil,” he says, “and I got infuriated. I mean, I was just boiling inside. I wanted to explode and tell her, ‘Leave the children alone! They’re mine!’”
Eventually, the pastor gave an altar call. All Joe remembers is, “This lady comes to me and asks if I want to accept Jesus into my heart, and I told her, ‘Lady, you are a woman of God, and I want nothing from you because you’ve got nothing I want.’ I don’t have any clue how I got there, but I was at the altar,” Joe says. “And for the next 45 minutes, they were casting demons out of me all over the sanctuary. All I could think about was, ‘Man, the devil is going to kill me. They’re waiting for me right outside.’ And this sweet old lady was just patting me on the back and saying, ‘Oh you’re gonna be OK, son. It’ll be all right. Don’t worry.’”
Joe says although he accepted Christ that night, he didn’t surrender his heart.
“He broke those strongholds off of me, but there was still that broken heart that He wanted to heal,” Joe says. “I remember looking back as I was getting into the car, at those three handlers, and just the hate they were filled with, and the darkness. It was all directed to me, and I knew that it was on. I knew that they were coming for me.”
Over the next nine months, he went on a drug and alcohol binge, trying to run away from God. “I was so willing to run back into the darkness and trying to get high enough and trying to get drunk enough, and trying to do enough crazy things to get this influence of light away from me,” he says.
Joe was arrested for robbing convenience stores and sent to jail. He became involved in a prison gang and was even planning to kill a man to prove himself. But then. . . “On November 16, 2002, I sat on a park bench overlooking the prison yard,” Joe says. “Another gentleman that I had been in several violent altercations with came by and he just asked me some questions.”
At that point, Joe was faced with the many bad choices he had made in life. “God used him to speak His truth to my heart, and to tell me, ‘Man, I have a better path for you.’ I decided, ‘You know what, whatever You have for me, if You can get me out of this moment, if You have something better than my plan, then I’m willing to do it.’ So I got off that park bench that day, and started walking towards God, and never looked back.”
Joe says he now realizes how God used his time in jail to speak to him. “I had to be in prison, because I had to be in a place where I could not escape and I could not control, because with the world I could get lost and I could run, and run,” Joe says. “I know what it means for David when he says, “I make my bed in hell and lo, You are with me.’ Because when I ran back out into the world, He was still there and He was still wanting to love me.”
Before he was released, Joe entered a 12-step program, and with God’s help, was freed from substance abuse, and the demons that tormented him for so many years. “God was constantly showing me that He is so much more powerful than any of these things, and that Jesus came to set us free, and that these things do not have to have the reign in our lives that we give them.”
Upon his release, Joe got a job working troubled youth at a ranch in Arkansas. He also pastors a small church and ministers to those who struggle with demonic influences in their lives. “Jesus says that we can know God as God knows us,” he says. “So I want to know how many hairs are on His head. I want that intimacy with Christ and with the Father. You know, there’s a lost and dying world out there that needs to know that He loves us, and He is more powerful than any darkness that could ever overtake you. His grace and His mercy and His compassion for you are greater than any sin.”