Set Free from the Spirits
The Testimony of Paulo Romeiro, Director of CFAR Brazil

Brazil is a vast land covering some 3.2 million square miles. Some people have said that Brazil is the largest Roman Catholic country in the world, but that’s not true; Brazil is the largest spiritist country in the world. We have about 80 million people involved in witchcraft and spiritism. Moreover, Brazil is being ravaged by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the Unification Church, the Rosicrucians, and Japanese cults.

Brazil is a mystical country, virtually obsessed with the supernatural. I have labored in several other countries around the world, but I know of no other country so hungry for the supernatural as Brazil is. Maybe that’s one reason the cults are growing so rapidly there. A hungry person eats almost anything — anything that tastes good (Proverbs 27:7b).

I must confess that I myself have been affected by spiritism. I grew up as a Roman Catholic. As a youngster I served as an altar boy at the church. I later spent five years in a Roman Catholic seminary preparing to become a priest.

But Roman Catholics in Brazil are not good Roman Catholics, for many are involved in some form of spiritism or witchcraft. Many Catholics go to a spiritist séance on a Wednesday night; to a witchcraft center on a Friday night; then on Sunday morning they take communion in a Roman Catholic church. There is much spiritual confusion in Brazil.

I remember the hunger I had for God and spiritual things during this time. In order to purify myself and obtain sanctification, I would put kernels of corn in my shoes, kneel on kernels of corn, sleep under my bed for several nights in a row, and go for two or three days without any water — making all kinds of flesh-denying penances as did the saints in the Middle Ages. Such was my hunger (though misguided) for spiritual things.

Two years before I was to get those black robes as a priest, however, God had a better idea. Instead of those black garments, He gave me white garments of salvation — and I am so thankful for them. It was quite an experience. Let me tell you about what led to my conversion.

My father had never paid much attention to religion. However, there came a time in his life when he couldn’t get his act together. He couldn’t work very well and became deeply depressed. This led to his involvement in spiritism. He started going from one witch center to another — a habit that ended up lasting 30 years. And the more he went to these centers, the worse he got.

My father began to have spiritual visitations in his room almost every night. At the beginning, he was afraid of these experiences. I could hear him many nights, or maybe the following morning, complaining to my mother, “I couldn’t sleep last night. The spirits came and they bothered me. I couldn’t sleep.”

As time went on, my father stopped being afraid of the spirits. He even started talking to them during the night. I heard him many times say something such as, “Who are you? What’s your name? What do you want of me? Is there anything I can do for you so you’ll leave me alone?”

My father got bolder and bolder with these spirits. He started to get rough and rude with them. Before long he was saying things such as, “Leave me alone! Go to Hell!”

I soon began to be affected by all this. I began to receive spiritual visitations in my room. I could hear their steps in the house at night. I could detect precisely where they were in the house — in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or in the living room. In the middle of the night, I could hear steps coming toward my room. I could hear the door open, and I could sense that there was someone else in the room with me. I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t see it, but I could definitely sense a satanic, terrifying presence beside me. On these occasions, a paralyzing fear would overcome me in such a way that it was unbearable.

My life became dominated by fear. Despite the fact that it gets very hot in Brazil during the summer, I kept blankets over me. Though I was sweating profusely under them, I dared not let them go. So fearful was I.

The time eventually came when I had to move my bed into my parents’ room. There was so much sheer horror and fear, I couldn’t handle it alone. And some bizarre things occurred; it was really terrifying. My father and I would share experiences in the middle of the night.

“Did you hear that, son?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Did you hear that again?”


My father and I didn’t get along very well, however. One day he “invited” me to leave the house. So I went to another city to get a job in an airplane factory. I worked there almost eight years. And when I began my new job, a Christian man attempted to share the good news of the gospel with me.

The first time he witnessed to me, I rejected it completely. I did something to discourage him once and for all — I said, “Hey you! Shut up! You know nothing about theology. I attended seminary, so I know all of that. If you want to talk about movies, or soccer, let’s do it — but not religion. You’re not in a position to talk to me about that.”

That night, this man went to his church and wrote my name on a piece of paper and gave it to the pastor. “Let’s pray for Paulo,” he said. “Paulo’s a demon, but God can change him.” So they prayed for me.

One Sunday soon after this, I went to see the movie Ben Hur. This movie had a profound impact on me. While I was watching it, I heard a voice — not audibly, but in my heart. As I was looking at Jesus on the screen, the voice said: “This is the God that you must follow.” And I left the movie theater a different person.

The following day, a Monday, I went back to the factory, and this Christian friend of mine was testifying to me again. And I asked him, “Is there any service tonight?”

“No!” he said.

“When is the next service?” I asked.

“Thursday night!”

“But I want to accept Jesus!”

“You’ll have to wait till Thursday night!”

I learned that this type of thinking is common in Brazil. I was told that those who receive Jesus must do so at church, during the altar call.

I remember that Thursday night when I went to church. I had gone home, eaten dinner, grabbed my Bible, and rushed over to the church. I arrived thirty minutes before the service. But as soon as I got there, I dropped to my knees and broke into tears. I didn’t know how to pray, but I got on my knees anyway. And the only thing I remember saying to God that night was, “General, your soldier is here. If there is any room in your army for me, I am ready for the fight.” And I just wept and wept the rest of the evening. It was amazing.

After accepting Jesus into my heart, I went “bananas.” I was laughing and crying. I didn’t know which of the two to do — so I did both. I was later walking the streets, and God would not give me a break. His presence was upon me, and I was still weeping and crying. People passing by would look at me and say, “He’s so young, and he’s lost his mind already.”

A month after my conversion, I decided to visit my parents. When I entered their house, my father asked me, “Now you’re a Protestant?”

“Yes, I am!” That’s all I said. I was just beginning my spiritual life. I was just a babe in the Lord, and I didn’t want to argue with him.

That night my mother prepared my room. I went to bed by myself. I was no longer afraid of the spirits. I wasn’t thinking about them at all. I only had Jesus on my mind.

I got on my knees and spent about forty minutes before God in prayer, with tears streaming down my face. I had such an unspeakable joy. Then I read some verses of Scripture, and I lay back in the bed.

As I rested in bed, I had no thoughts of demons. I was just thinking about Jesus. But all of the sudden I started feeling fear. Fear came over me just like before. And the first thing I thought was, “This cannot be from Jesus! He never brings me fear. He only brings me joy and peace.”

I quickly began to sense a terrifying satanic presence. There was someone in the room with me, beside my bed. I couldn’t see it, but I could feel it. Just like before.

I tried to call my mother, and I couldn’t. My mouth was paralyzed. I tried to move my left arm and I couldn’t; my arm was paralyzed. I felt goose bumps in my feet, coming up through my legs, up through my chest, and I was paralyzed.

I really don’t remember how long this lasted — whether it was ten seconds, thirty seconds, or a minute. I only know that in my mind I started thinking about the precious blood of Jesus. “The blood of Jesus is against you,” I said. And suddenly, the paralysis was over. I was able to sit up in bed. I turned to my right, and for the first time in my life I spoke directly to the Devil — so loud that everyone else in the house could hear me:

“Devil, for many years you have tormented my life. But I want to ask you something tonight: Can’t you see that I’ve been redeemed and washed in the blood of Jesus? Get out of here! And you’ll be sorry if you come back.”

Well, the Devil’s not deaf, because he never came back after that night. That was more than twenty years ago. And the experience that I’ve had since that time has been truly amazing.

Today I serve as the director of the Agência de Informações Religiosas (AGIR) in São Paulo. AGIR’s ministry here is vitally important. Cults and aberrant teachings are ravaging our people, and most Christians (including pastors) are unprepared and ill-equipped to defend their beliefs and share the gospel with someone involved in a false religion.

Paulo Romeiro is the senior pastor of the Igreja Cristã da Trindade in São Paulo and the author of three books: SuperCrentes, Evangélicos em crise, and Decepcionados com a graça, all published by Editora Mundo Cristão. He and his wife, Simone, have two children: Alyne and Adryel.
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