Terrorised by spirits at night, she was at the end of her tether – until God met her in a club
by Janice Tai // January 29, 2021, 5:46 pm
Arielle, 16, in her bedroom where she would experience night terrors frequently. All photos courtesy of Arielle Yang.
The spirit realm has always been as real as the physical world to Arielle Yang.
You know the horror movie stereotype of a ghostly woman in a white dress with long, black hair?
Yang has seen them. She has since she was five years old. Her parents, elder sister and neighbours have also had such occasional sightings, so Yang assumed it was common and normal to have such encounters.
Her parents thought it was either due to their kampung-like Changi neighbourhood being “dirty” or the opening of Yang’s “third eye”. They brought their young daughter to various Chinese mediums hoping to bring her some relief.
But things became worse.
When she was seven years old, she began having nightmares, insomnia and episodes of oppression where she would experience an unseen force pressing on her chest and neck, resulting in her being unable to breathe.
She believed the disturbances to be periods of ups and downs in her “luck cycle” and learnt to manage them as part of her life whenever they occurred every two weeks.
She would get nightmares within nightmares that would leave her screaming.
“I kept it as a secret and did not tell my friends about it,” she said. “In this modern world of science, I was afraid they would not believe me and would judge me if I were to tell them.”
Later as a university student, the night terrors got worse, increasing in frequency and intensity. She would get nightmares within nightmares that would leave her screaming, breaking out in cold sweat and having goosebumps all over.
Her family members also started to experience weird happenings at home. The cup on the table or stool would move by itself in the day and the volume of the radio would turn up on its own at night.
At that time, Yang sought many mediums and worshiped a plethora of gods. One of the mediums advised her to perform certain rituals and chanting, and make a donation. Each time the oppression happened, she would chant in her heart as she was not even able to breathe or speak.
In 2006, two years after she graduated from university, the attacks evolved into strangulation. Every night for three months, whenever she tried to drift off to sleep, she felt an unseen force tighten its clutches around her neck and choke her until she was breathless.
At that time, she was helming a regional role in brand management in a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME).
“In the day, I was this professional office worker and my career was progressing well. Yet at night, I was terrorised by all these episodes of strangulation. I tried to compartmentalise my life and continue functioning normally at work, because I felt I couldn’t tell people about it, they would think I was crazy, and even if I did, they would not be able to help me,” said Yang, now 38.
To deal with the fear and dread of facing such nightly trauma, she turned to clubbing and binge drinking as an outlet to destress.
“I thought that if I was drunk, maybe I will be able to fall asleep without being terrorised,” said Yang, who by then was becoming disillusioned with life.
“God knew I was always in a club so He had to find me in the club,” she said, only half-jokingly.
All the religious items given to her for protection and visits to apparently powerful spiritual masters did not seem to help. Feeling helpless at her predicament, she harboured suicidal thoughts.
Easter weekend rolled around and Yang loved long weekends. It meant she could party three nights in a row and forget her troubles.
That night, she was partying at The Butter Factory at Robertson Quay when she noticed a young man on the dance floor.
“He caught my attention not because he was tall or handsome. I saw a glow around him, especially his face. The light wasn’t like those other flickering lights in the club, it was a consistent glow. I put it down to ‘good vibes’ and energy,” said Yang, who later realised it was the glow of the Lord in his countenance.
“Why am I watching Jesus being baptised in the Jordan river at 3am?”
She introduced herself to him and they became friends. Later, she learnt that he was a Christian.
“God knew I was always in a club so He had to find me in the club,” she said, only half-jokingly.
When she stumbled home in her half drunken state that night, she switched on the TV, and a documentary on Jesus was playing on the National Geographic channel.
“Why am I watching Jesus being baptised in the Jordan river at 3am?” she wondered. At that point in time, she was not receptive to Christianity as it felt foreign to her, being brought up in a traditional Chinese family.
Nothing to lose
Yet when her nightly attacks continued to assault her, she confided in her Christian friend. He met up with her and brought along an older woman, who shared Christ and the Gospel with her.
Yang was not convinced and was even offended at the idea that Christians believed that Jesus was the only true God, given her own background of worshiping many gods.
As he drove her home, her friend said to her: “When the attacks happen tonight, just call out to Jesus in your heart. You have nothing to lose.”
She gave him a skeptical look but went home thinking that what he said did make sense – she had nothing to lose.
She muttered: “Jesus ah, thanks for helping me. But please don’t expect me to convert.”
Usually either her mother would sleep next to her and hold her hand to reassure her, or her father would also accompany her by sleeping on another mattress in her room.
That night, she happened to sleep alone and, as if on cue, the strangulation came upon her again.
This time, she decided to call out to Jesus in her heart.
“Jesus, help me,” was all that she could manage.
Immediately, the force that was exerted on her neck eased.
She did not scream this time as she felt no fear. Instead, she calmly sat up on her bed and felt the atmosphere changing in her room.
“I felt peace descending upon my room,” said Yang.
That night, she said her first prayer.
She did not know how to pray and so, looking up at the sky, she just muttered: “Jesus ah, thanks for helping me. I appreciate your help but please don’t expect me to convert. As you know, I have been seeking help from many sources and each time, the solution was temporary.”
She continued: “If You are the real God, You will reveal it to me. Then we will see how it goes, maybe I will become a Christian.”
These were casual yet heartfelt statements to God, and in spite of herself, she began tearing.
Christian karaoke? No thanks
That weekend, Yang went to her friend’s church, Lighthouse Evangelism at Tampines. She sat alone.
She wanted to go to church, but at the same time felt a strong resistance within her. To quell her complicated feelings about going to church, she brought along a new-age book on non-Christian philosophies with her to read whenever she wanted to.
“I teared because I knew I have denied Him all my life.”
While others around her were standing up to sing during the worship segment of the service, she continued to sit down and read her book. It felt like “Christian karaoke” and she wanted no part in it.
Then she heard a male voice in her head that chided her, albeit in a gentle manner: “Why are you so rude that you can’t even stand up and show me respect?”
She broke out of her reverie and stood up.
The sermon that was preached thereafter was a simple one on the book of Genesis which tells the story of how Man became separated from God and how Man is given the choice to accept Jesus as God.
“I teared because I knew I have denied Him all my life, from the time an American missionary came knocking on my door when I was young to invite me to church.
“My mother allowed me to go because she wanted me to learn English,” said Yang, who had accepted Christ that day.
The service was a healing service and she raised her hand when the call for healing came. A church leader walked over. Matter-of-factly, Yang told her she needed help with the unseen forces which were disturbing her at night.
As the leader prayed with Yang, she received the baptism of tongues, and from then onwards,Yang’s encounters with being strangled at night stopped.
She began attending church regularly and was baptised the following year.
The verse that continues to speak to her deeply is Psalm 116: 3-4, which she felt described her nightly encounters literally:
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
In the next two months, her irritable bowel syndrome (which she had had for seven years prior) and chronic knee injury were also miraculously healed. Occurrences of oppression and nightmares still happened once in a blue moon but they no longer bothered her.
The self-professed “Sunday Christian” took up weekly Bible study classes in a bid to catch up on her knowledge of the Bible.
Three years after Yang became a Christian, the then 27-year-old was puzzled to discover that, not only were her nightly terrors were coming back, but they were doing so with a new level of intensity.
At night, she could feel someone pulling her hair and kicking her off her bed. The situation became so bad that she moved into her sister’s house but her sister also began witnessing unusual things happening in her house.
Yang had a nightmare one night in which a male voice spoke to her: “Don’t think you can run away or escape from me. I am following you.”
Traumatised, she shared this with her Bible study friend.
“My mind was clear but there was another force overpowering me.”
Her friend told her that Pastor Mike Connell, known to minister to people who experience spiritual attacks, would be visiting Emmanual Assembly of God.
At that time, Yang had not heard about the concept of deliverance from dark spirits, but she went to hear the pastor speak. She was desperate and had lost about 4kg during the four months when the attacks had redoubled.
As Pastor Cornell prayed for her, she fell to the ground and began manifesting.
She was growling and shouting so much that she was brought into a separate room to be prayed for.
“I was totally aware of what was going on but I found it hard to control myself. My mind was clear but there was another force overpowering me,” she said.
In the room, her fingers clamped up and she kept scratching herself. A pastor from the church commanded the monkey spirit to get out of Yang.
A male voice replied from within her belly and said: “Why should I leave her when I have been protecting her for 20 years?”
She had consulted so many mediums and made so many ties and covenants with them that she had lost count.
At that time, Yang was terribly confused and thought she was having a conversation with God in her head.
“Jesus, what is this? What monkey? What 20 years? I came here for help but end up acting like a madwoman in front of strangers. I have never experienced this before. Tell me now what is going on or I will walk out of this faith immediately,” she prayed.
At that moment, a flashback came to her and she recalled that when she was seven years old, her mother had taken her to a medium who was possessed by this spirit and he had asked her to eat a peach for the spirit to protect and bless her.
“I was 27 years old then so it had indeed been 20 years since then. I had no idea that such a seemingly harmless act could still affect me two decades later,” said Yang.
She had needed God to reveal that episode to her because, by then, she had consulted so many mediums and made so many ties and covenants with them that she had lost count.
Subsequently, she went through 10 months of deliverance sessions to sever those ties and covenants and was set free in 2010. She now worships at Emmanuel Assembly of God.
“I could sense a new level of inner peace and clarity of thought. I began receiving from the Lord promptings and burdens to go on specific mission trips,” said Yang, whose parents, sister and grandma also came to know the Lord thereafter.
Since 2010, she has been to Los Angeles, London, Sydney, Thailand and Cambodia to reach out to the homeless and raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking to people in the slums.
Two years ago, she quit her job in a headhunting firm to be a freelance recruiter in order to free up her time to do more missions and advocacy work in tackling issues such as human trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography.
“I am still trying to understand how my past relates to the present issues God is placing on my heart,” she said.
“One of the links I have found is that, by having wrestled with the unseen before, I realised that some breakthroughs may lie in the spiritual realm. There are many strongholds in the dark world of human trafficking and child prostitution that need to be torn down,” she added.
“There are many strongholds in the dark world of human trafficking and child prostitution that need to be torn down.”
During several pauses in the interview, she wiped away tears when recalling how God had rescued and delivered her.
She knows the reality of Ephesians 6: 12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Apart from working with international Christian non-profit organisations on anti-human trafficking issues, she also serves in church in the prayer ministry and leads a home cell group.
On her plans for the future, she puts it simply: “Because the Lord has healed me, I now have capacity to help others.”
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