Ralph the Ghost Hunter
By John W. Milor
I have a good friend, Ralph Osle that I met through my wife several years ago. Ralph and I hit it off really well when we first met since we both share several similar interests. Ralph is a computer programmer, and Iím a computer security specialist, so we began our friendship by going to computer shows together, and I would show him my web sites while he would show me his latest programs. We always had something new to share with each other, because thereís always something new with computers.
Ralph and I also shared a common interest in the paranormal. We swapped ghost stories from time to time, and enjoyed talking about UFOs and such. One thing that starkly differentiated Ralph from me, however, was that fact that Iím a Christian, and Ralph was not. When weíd talk about ghosts and other topics that had elements extending into the occult, I would always hold to the Christian paradigm, while he wasnít so willing to accept the Bibleís explanation. For example, when we discussed reincarnation, Ralph believed that reincarnation might be a spiritual reality, while I would point out that Hebrews 9:27 states that reincarnation canít be true. (It also happens to be a works-righteousness doctrine, which makes it even more satanic than most might think). I was open enough to suggest other possibilities such as the theory that one could be possessed by the spirit of a deceased person, and confuse someone elseís memories with their own. Demon possession is also a possibility - though unlike many Christians, I donít use this explanation as the default explanation to everything I donít understand. My biblical theories intrigued Ralph, because heíd never heard anything like them. I wasnít like any of the Christians heíd ever known.
Iím not sure if Ralph was entirely aware of it, but I often used paranormal discussions to end up talking about the Lord. I canít say it was deliberate, since ghosts involve deceased spirits that arenít in heaven, or hell, which seems to contradict the Bible. Itís just that the Bible speaks a great deal about life after death, so it naturally fell into our discussions. (By the way, just because ghosts exist doesnít invalidate the Bible - in fact the Bible speaks about them in several places. Read Aliens in the Bible for more information about what the Bible says about ghosts).
For years I planted seeds in Ralph, not really knowing if anything would ever come of it. The Holy Spirit is never imparted in words of contention, so I never vehemently argued with him. When we disagreed, we debated. He would present his views, and I would present mine. Weíd frequently end with a stalemate concerning our interpretations of paranormal phenomenon, but instead of arguing and getting angry weíd laugh about all of it and leave the table open for discussion for another day.
Ralph challenged me time and again to dig deep to answer some of those hard, theological questions. At times we would delve into the depths of theology and reach that threshold that one reaches where if the Holy Spirit is not present no manner of logical reasoning and intellectualism will penetrate the unbelieving heart. I knew that a part of Ralph was searching though else he wouldnít have been so interested in spiritual things. But part of him was holding back. In Christian terms, he had a bad case of "Thomas-itis". Jesus cured Ralph just like He cured Thomas...
Ralphís interest in the paranormal grew over time, and reached the point that our conversations werenít enough for him. He wanted action; he wanted to see, feel, hear, and experience the unknown in a personal way. So, a few years after we met, some time in the early 90ís, Ralph picked up the hobby of ghost hunting. He purchased some equipment, such as an electromagnetic field detector, a digital camera, and a few other things. He then started his investigations in the police department, where he worked into the late hours of the night. Strange things happened there, so it was a good place to start.
As Ralph continued in his ghost hunting, he began to cultivate more and more stories about the strange happenings in various places throughout Fresno. He talked about doors opening and closing, and lights turning on and off at the police department, and also talked about the old winery in Fresno, where the turnover for late shift employees was unusually high.
A few times Ralph tried to get me to go with him on various ghost-hunting excursions. He called me one night and said he was on his way to the Fresno Cemetery for a round of ghost photography. "No, thatís not a good idea Ralph. You know, that stuff can follow you home." I warned him, but he was excited by my warnings rather than intimidated. At the time, he didnít realize what he was headed for, which was something I just went through a few years prior. I already had my fill of the experiences he was seeking.
Ralph excitedly showed me his photos he took at the Fresno Cemetery, which I think are still posted on Ghost Web. Ghost Web happens to be one of the largest ghost web sites on the Internet. Strange misty shapes and spots of light showed up on many of his photos, which he said werenít there when he took the pictures.
My contact with Ralph was touch and go for a while, then one night my wife received a call from Ralphís wife Maria, inviting us to their sonís birthday party. She then said she had a surprise to share about Ralph. My wife and I wondered what it could be. "Maybe Ralphís a Christian now?" I blurted out to my wife, mainly in jest.
"No, donít even joke about that, because you know thatís a touchy subject with Maria." My wife was referring to the fact that Ralphís wife Maria is an ardent Catholic; in fact, she was considering becoming a nun when she was younger. Ralphís faith or lack thereof, was always a point of contention in their marriage, so jokes even hinting around the topic would not be tactful.
The next day we showed up to the birthday party, and Ralph was smiling from ear to ear about something. The party was really busy, but Ralph took me to the side a few times and told me that he had to talk to me about some stuff that had been happening since we last talked. When we finally got together to talk, I was both elated, and disturbed by what he had to say.
It all began when Ralph did all he could do with ghost photography, so he began scouring the Internet for another avenue in which to extend his hobby of ghost hunting. He eventually came across something that combined both computer technology, and ghost hunting into a single package. For Ralph, what could be more intriguing? What he discovered was a program that explored a phenomenon called EVP, (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). The way it works is simple. Most versions of the Windows Operating System have a program called "Voice Recorder", which is nothing more than a simple program that records sounds. Using Voice Recorder, Ralph would ask some simple questions, such as "Hello, is anybody there?", then he would put his computer into record mode and stay quiet. After recording what seemed to be nothing but silence in his computer room, he would then transfer the so-called silent sound file into the EVP analysis program he downloaded from the Internet. The EVP analysis program would then filter out static noise, and amazingly, the end result was anything BUT silence. In fact, what Ralph heard was the voice of a woman who identified herself as someone who died in the 1940ís. Thus began his relationship with something - which at the time, was exactly what he was looking for.
Once Ralph gave me the background of what he was now exploring, (which was nothing more than an advanced, electronic Ouija board), he had a bookís worth of information to relay to me. First of all, he said he was now a Christian, because he could actually hear people that were trapped in hell, screaming! (Perhaps my earlier joke about Ralph becoming a Christian would more accurately be described as a prophecy?) Hearing people suffering in hell affected Ralph so dramatically that he went into his backyard, fell to his knees, and cried for the souls of the lost. He repented in that moment, asked Jesus into his heart, and dedicated himself to praying for these souls that claimed to be trapped in purgatory, waiting for someone to pray them out. So, I was elated to hear that Ralph now believed in Jesus, but wasnít too thrilled about his profession of the doctrine of purgatory, and especially of the fact that he was communicating with a familiar spirit.
Ralph had more - much more information to relay. He told me about the various levels of hell, the rules of purgatory, certain information or secrets, which the spirits werenít allowed to relay, and on and on. I canít say I absorbed everything he had to say as if it were gospel; I couldnít get past the fact that his communication with these spirits was in direct violation of Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Leviticus 20:27, 19:31, 20:6-7, 20:27, and numerous other scriptures. These scriptures of warning shouldnít be taken lightly. The strongest possible language is used to warn people about Godís impending wrath against anyone who initiates communication with spirits in the spiritual realm.
10There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, 11Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
27A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
31Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.
6And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. 7Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
27A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
Ralphís profound change of heart and profession of faith, combined with what I perceived as false doctrines he was also professing presented me with a confusing scenario. On the one hand, I could see that there was certainly a genuine faith in Jesus; it was in his eyes. On the other hand, I discerned that there was a tremendous darkness in his midst. I could feel it in his house. He opened a door in that house, and the battle was on.
Ralph explained that his dramatic conversion was due primarily to the fact that these spirits he was communicating with told him that Jesus is Lord, and that heaven and hell are a reality, and they confirmed many things in scripture that he doubted for years. They also told him a bunch of things that were flat out wrong. For example, if there is a place like purgatory, itís nothing more than one of the upper levels of hell. Spirits certainly canít get prayed out of it, if it exists. This doctrine conflicts with 2 Corinthians 5:8, which states, "8We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." In this passage, Paul states that believers in Christ go to be present with the Lord, not to a place of foreboding darkness for unknown eons. I would even be willing to entertain the idea that deceased Christians might be given angelic assignments on Earth, but that still precludes purgatory. The doctrine of purgatory also conflicts with mountains of scripture simply by the fact that it suggests that Jesusí sacrifice isnít enough to purify and sanctify all the sins of the world. I mean, whatís the point of His being crucified if we still have to go to a place of torment for hundreds or even thousands of years, trying to earn enough points to get to heaven? What kind of gift is salvation supposed to be, if it isnít given until someone endures untold amounts of punishment just to get it? The gift of salvation is exactly what divides Christianity from every other religion in the world. Itís also why I, personally, believe in Jesus, as opposed to any other religion in the world. All religions in the world except for Christianity have one central theme; what must humanity do to reach God. Jesus flat out stated in Luke 18:19 that man can NOT reach God no matter what he does, because no man is good enough. Jesus referenced the prophet Isaiah when He said this. This point is further illustrated in Luke 18:19, Isaiah 64:6-7 and Romans 3:10-12, by defining the depth of humanities depravity.
19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
6But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. 7And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
But instead of destroying our hopes, Jesus turned everything around by demonstrating that while man can not reach God, God can certainly reach man. Thatís why Jesus came into the world. He came to show us how to live life, and live it more abundantly.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
He came to show us His love for us by the greatest demonstration of sacrificial love He could offer. All we have to do is believe in Him, and accept His gift. The promise of eternal life in heaven through Jesus is sealed in John 3:16.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Our response certainly shouldnít be conforming to a strict, legalistic set of rules in order to become pure enough to make it to heaven. I donít believe it includes purgatory, either. Obeying God and living righteously is in everyoneís best interest, but has nothing to do with earning Godís love. Itís true that we should live godly lives, but the motivation should be from love - not out of the idea that we have to earn anything. Remember what Paul said? Salvation is a gift that no one should boast.
8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Reflecting on all of this, it became evidently clear to me that Ralph was being fed truth mixed with deception. I told Ralph that it was totally awesome to see that he now believed that Jesus is the Way to eternal life. One thing Ralph was never able to overcome was the idea that so many millions of people on Earth are deceived with false belief systems such as the Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic religions. Now he believed, despite this stumbling block. But something troubled me tremendously. Why on Earth would a deceased spirit say anything about the Bible, when in fact itís the Bible that condemns communication with deceased spirits? Such a deception could only hold up for a short amount of time before falling apart. I pointed out a few of these inconsistencies to Ralph, and his wheels were spinning. He then countered my statements with his personal testimony about how these spirits helped him stop smoking, and they also forced him to open up and confess his sins. According to Ralph, this was a tremendous ordeal that made him feel like he was possessed, and having a heart attack.
I canít argue with a testimony, so we left the table open, again. I had a feeling that it wouldnít be long before things would fall apart, and Ralphís new found faith would be tested. I also had the feeling that Satanís strategy, whatever it was, backfired when Ralph found Jesus - for real.
After returning home from the birthday party, my wife and I couldnít get any sleep that night. About midnight, I was still awake, unable to sleep. Suddenly I heard a bang against the bedroom window, the TV made a loud popping noise, and what sounded like a muted roar penetrated the silence. All three sounds set off at the same time, and ended instantaneously. I was startled, and looked around the bedroom, feeling the eerie presence of an unwanted visitor. My wife stirred in her sleep; she was also restless. I prayed over our home, and tried to go to sleep. Later that night, about 2:00 AM, my wife stirred awake and felt a horrible presence. She said she felt that there was a tall, dark male figure standing next to my side of the bed. She rebuked the spirit in the name of Jesus, prayed over our home, and tried to go to sleep. We both continued to wake up throughout the night, and each time, we prayed over our home.
The next day we talked about the events occurring during the night. We both had nightmares. We walked through our home and prayed in all the rooms, reading Psalms 91 out loud (a wonderful passage). Our unwanted visitors left and our home returned to its previously peaceful state.
Two weeks later, I heard a knock on my front door. I peeped through the peephole in my door and saw Ralph, Maria, and their kids quietly standing on our front porch. In the past, they never came unannounced, but here they were. "Hmph?"
When I opened the door, I saw that Ralph was visibly shaken. "We have to talk" he stated soberly.
Ralph and I went to my bedroom to talk, while my wife and Maria talked in the kitchen. Ralph brought with him a notebook, which he nervously clutched. He proceeded to rattle off a list of theological questions, all pertaining to various doctrines he was receiving from the spirits he was communicating with. He didnít know where to start.
"I donít need the computer anymore. I deleted the program off my computer, and I havenít even been in my computer room ever since. I also got rid of all those demonic computer games. I stopped..." Ralph paused, trying to collect himself.
"We went to see a priest, and he told me that what I was doing was dangerous, and that I opened up some kind of doorway thatís allowing all kinds of things into my home. These things are driving us crazy. Mariaís hearing them too now."
"What? Wait a minute. I thought you said you used your computer to communicate with them."
"Not anymore. They started communicating through the electromagnetic background noise of electrical devices. Thatís what they told me. We could hear them every time we turned on the AC, the radio, the TV, the microwave, or the vacuum cleaner. Even Maria started hearing them just like me, and she never used the program on my computer. Now itís to the point that we can hear them all the time, without anything turned on. Itís so bad that I havenít been to work in a week, because they wonít leave me alone. I hear people screaming in hell, and I hear demons telling me to worship the devil and theyíll give me anything I want. Iíll just be driving down the street, and the voices will be pointing people out to me, telling me that they belong to Satan. I even heard my grandfatherís voice screaming in hell, and I canít tell if it was him or demons playing tricks on me."
Ralph could barely hold himself together. His prior enthusiasm turned into torment. He was smiling with glee before, when he told me about how the spirits were playing on his swing set in his backyard, and he could see the swings going back and forth on a windless night. He told me with excitement about the spirits telling him to go outside and take photos of them, and about the time one of the spirits blew past the plant in his computer room and made it move as if a fan were gusting against it so he could prove to a friend that was visiting him that they were real. His friend, needless to say, left his house sprinting down the street. He showed me a number of pictures, each with strange balls of light showing up in various locations in the photos. But now it wasnít fun anymore. He and his wife could hear demons roaring in the night. Their children were experiencing chronic nightmares. They heard small footsteps pattering throughout their home, and the creepy sounds of small children giggling in dark corners. When he went to the bathroom one night, he heard a small tap on the window, and a voice spoke in his head, "Come outside and take pictures of us like you used to. Weíre waiting for you."
"When I saw you on the porch, I figured something was up" I told Ralph. "Weíve been praying for you guys. We had some strange stuff happening around our house too, just after going to your house for the birthday party." Ralph appeared semi-distracted, as if he were receiving signals from something else, even as we talked.
"Youíre not the only one. My cousin Carlos visited us from Santa Maria last week, (the one that left the house in a sprint), and after he went back home, all kinds of weird stuff was happening to him too."
"They didnít want me to come here," he informed me. "They told me you werenít home, and when you didnít answer the door right away, they started laughing, saying Ďsee, I told you he wasnít here.í They tried to get me to leave before you answered the door."
Things fell apart...
"You said you saw a priest? What was that like? Did he pray for you?"
"No. It was mostly just trying to see if the stuff weíre experiencing is psychological or not. We only got to talk to him one time. We tried to get with him again to see if we could get our home prayed over, but they were too busy."
"I know what thatís like. I used to attend a church on Palm Avenue where I was given a similar treatment. The church I go to now isnít like that though. You should go to church with us sometime. Thereís a guy there thatís been in deliverance ministry for years. He sees spirits all the time, so for him itís no big deal. The stuff thatís freaking you out so bad can be cast out really easy if you commit yourself to the task, and do things Godís way. Of course - you have to do things Godís way, and when you learn what thatís all about, youíll find that it can be quite a challenge." We prayed together, and Ralph was relieved.
While I was upstairs talking with Ralph, my wife was talking with Maria in the kitchen. Maria told my wife about something the demons were twisting around in her mind. The priest they talked to said that whenever the demons torment them, they should say "I rebuke you Satan in the name of Jesus." Maria said the demons manipulated her mind so that when she tried to rebuke them, her rebuke came out in reverse. When she told Ralph about this, he knew for sure that she was experiencing the same thing he was experiencing, because they did the same thing to him.
Ralph and Maria came to our church the following Sunday. Before leaving church, I introduced him to my pastor. Josh ended up telling Ralph that it wouldnít do any good to pray over his home unless he really committed himself to seeking out God and being filled with the Holy Spirit. This advice comes from a warning in scripture concerning spiritual warfare. Once demons are cast out, if the person they were possessing, manipulating, or otherwise tormenting, doesnít fill his or her life with God, theyíll come back with a vengeance, even worse than before.
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first...
The only way to get them out and keep them out is to be filled with the Holy Spirit, stay in the Word, and stay committed to the path of righteousness and growth in Christian maturity.
The next Sunday, Ralph and Maria didnít come to our church. My wife thought it would be a good idea to visit Ralph and Maria to see how everything was going, so we stopped by after church. They said they were doing a lot better, but they could still hear the voices from time to time. They were just learning how to tune them out. After talking with Ralph, I got a sense that going to our church may have aroused a bit of strife. They had been attending a Catholic church in the mornings; the same church with the priest that they talked with before. Beat me with a stick if Iím wrong, but itís generally frowned upon by Catholics, to be a Catholic, and attend a Protestant church. The reason why Protestants are called Protestants is because they protest Catholicism on several fairly big issues. Our church didnít much resemble the typical Catholic Church, either. Catholics usually wear shoes to church, the priest doesnít wear cut-offs and a T-shirt, and they donít do a lot of jumping around and waving flags last I checked.
Iíve determined that while Ralph is committed to Jesus, he may not be particularly committed to being a Catholic. We talked about various Catholic beliefs that are completely absent from scripture, (and others that contradict it). These inconsistencies confused him a tad, but not to the point of discouragement. He still thinks there might be some validity to the idea of purgatory, but I donít think heís too keen on praying to Ďpeople.í Nevertheless, for the sake of keeping peace with his wife, he hasnít raised these issues, yet, I donít think. They might be down the road, who knows? Godís way is generally the path of greatest resistance. Thatís part of the hard part I mentioned earlier, when it comes to doing things Godís way.
Again after going to Ralphís house, some unwelcome guests followed us home. My wife and I were both restless throughout the night. Our neighbors had their swamp cooler on, which made an irritating whistling type noise that gave me the creeps. It never bothered me before. My wife had a worse experience. She woke up around 2:00 AM, hearing the muted cries of a woman screaming in torment. Pray - go away...
The next day after I went to work, my wife came downstairs and heard what sounded like a group of people talking outside on our back porch. The talking ceased immediately when she looked out the window. Nobody was there. We prayed over our home again after I got home from work, and the demonic garbage went away again.
The following Sunday, my wife and I were happy to see Ralph and Maria show up at our church again. After service they went up to get prayer. I was glad to see John Hadden praying over them. Heís the man I mentioned earlier thatís in deliverance ministry. Ralphís story was nothing new to John. John had actually witnessed a man levitate his pager off the floor and place it in his hand on one occasion. Paranormal stories were a dime a dozen with him, having been in deliverance ministry for over seventeen years.
To my surprise, while I wasnít looking, Ralph and Maria were both struck by the power of God and passed out on the floor! Ralph later told me that he used to laugh at people that did that, as if they could help it. He thought the whole idea of being Ďslain in the spirití was a big joke, and was attributable to either a psychological phenomenon, or was a fraud. He had to reassess his point of view while lying on the floor in the midst of a profound God given peace.
Ralph and Maria didnít return to our church since that last Sunday. I have lost touch with Ralph over the past few years, but I ran into him just to other night. I intend to start emailing him again.
Reflecting on the entire turn of events that completely altered his perception of reality and way of life in a time frame of less than a month, Ralph was glad, overall, about his final outcome. Heís not going to hell, and for the first time in his life, he understood just exactly how awful, and real that place really is! He also realized how much bondage he used to be in, and the profound freedom from that bondage he enjoyed once free, despite the torment he went through to get it. The last time I talked to him about the voices, he said he was still wondering if some of them had anything good to offer. Some claimed to be angels, or spiritual guides trying to help him, and theyíd give him what seemed to be good advice sometimes. But that which may seem right, isnít always the case.
12There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
My good buddy Ralph, ghost hunter turned Christian, found Jesus while hunting for ghosts. Is that not an unusual testimony?
16:16-18 (Notice that what the
demon is saying doesnít seem to be all that bad, does it?)
16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.