Swasti Wonowidjojo is a prophetic artist who uses art to remember God's promises. All photos courtesy of Swasti Wonowidjojo.

Swasti Wonowidjojo was sitting in front of her doctor when, like the infamous scene out of the movie, The Exorcist, she felt her head turning involuntarily. 

“I was not moving my head, it was just turning on its own,” she recalled. “I was very scared.”

When she asked her doctor – a psychiatrist treating her for bipolar disorder – if this was normal, she said ‘no’ and looked worried. 

In the days following, Swasti felt herself drifting in and out of consciousness, hearing voices say they wanted to kill her.

Swasti knew then she needed supernatural help. 

“Life was meaningless”

Swasti, now 39, had moved from Indonesia to Singapore with her parents when she was 5.

She was enrolled in a Christian nursery and kindergarten even though her parents were not believers in Jesus. That was her first exposure to God. 

During prayer time in kindergarten, she would feel God listening to her when she prayed.

Swasti was married and had had her first child when she started hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations.

“Even though I went astray, I believe those times anchored me and helped me get back to God,” Swasti said.

Things went downhill when Swasti went to college in the US with her siblings.

The first two years, she buckled down to study in the suburbs of San Francisco. Following a burglary in their home, Swasti and her siblings moved to Los Angeles and changed schools.

Things began to go awry for Swasti in Los Angeles. Reeling from a broken relationship, she threw herself into  living the fast life and chasing the next high. 

For the next three years, Swasti lived, in her own words, “a life of excess indulging in fast cars, luxury handbags and parties”. She was hitting up the hottest clubs and getting intoxicated by alcohol and popularity.

“I thought that would fill me but life was meaningless,” she told Salt&Light.

Swasti spent her university days in Los Angeles living the fast life.

Trying to find her identity by living like a Hollywood celebrity, Swasti passed those days drinking and smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day. She also chalked up massive bills on her parents’ credit card with her extravagant shopping and expensive liquor bottles at the clubs.

Swasti would be drunk every other day, sometimes even driving home from parties while intoxicated. Some days, she would be so hungover she could not drive her younger sister to school the next day. 

“It got really bad,” Swasti recalled. “It was a wonder nothing happened to me then.” 

Not surprisingly, she flunked out of school and returned to Singapore in 2007, at the age of 22.

“I wasted five years there,” she said. “I was at a very low point.”

Dark thoughts and dark spirits

Back in Singapore, lost and without purpose, Swasti continued to seek solace in shopping and partying until a year later, she met the man who would become her husband, Andrew Tanoto. 

“I was looking for answers so I turned to the occult.” 

In 2008, while chatting through an online game with her sister, who remained in Los Angeles, Swasti discovered she enjoyed and was good at creating 3D avatars.

Because gamers would pay to use her content, she made a business out of it for the next 10 years. 

But the venture placed a heavy demand on her time and energy, especially ahead of virtual art fairs where Swasti would showcase her creations. 

It was not unusual for her to work three days straight without sleeping ahead of those events. For a decade, she pushed her body to the extreme.

In 2014, to gain some direction in life, Swasti began dabbling in feng shui and New Age practices such as reading tarot cards and using crystals. She also joined a New Age meditation group that invoked different spirits. 

By 2015, Swasti was married and had her first child. That was when she started hearing voices and experiencing hallucinations.

Her doctor diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings and hallucinations. 

“The sleep deprivation over many years likely triggered it,” she admitted. “I overdid it.”

Swasti’s first painting was of the feet of Jesus walking on water. To her, it was the very picture of faith.

Swasti was in and out of the hospital for manic attacks. The situation culminated at her psychiatrist’s office with the terrifying incident of her head turning by itself, uncontrolled. 

“I knew it wasn’t me,” Swasti said. “I felt it was a spirit moving me.”

Swasti tried using New Age methods and various religious rituals to cast out the spirit, but things only got worse.

It was when she experienced episodes of consciousness alternating with voices threatening to kill her that Swasti became convinced she was possessed by an evil spirit that could only be overcome by a higher power. 

She had forgotten about Jesus by then, but she remembered from movies that Christian priests had the power to exorcise evil spirits.

No one in her non-Christian family knew any priest, but in desperation, Swasti’s mother called up her hairdresser who was from City Harvest Church.


The hairdresser came with her husband to minister to Swasti. They prayed over her and cast out the spirit.

After the deliverance, Swasti felt immediate peace.

“I heard angels singing in my spirit,” she said. “I felt I was in heaven, listening to a choir singing.”  

In that instant, Swasti had an epiphany that she had been on the wrong path all her life and Jesus was the only right path. 

“I knew about Jesus but I didn’t know He was God,” she explained. In the New Age group she belonged to, Jesus was taught to be an enlightened being who was worshipped.

Swasti said: “But now I know Jesus is the Light Himself.”

Everything began to fall into place for her. In Jesus, she found the answers she had sought all her life.

After being set free from the demonic spirit, Swasti looked for a church to continue her spiritual journey. She dusted off a Bible given to her by a friend during her party days in Los Angeles. She had tried but stopped reading it because it had not made sense. 

Her sister-in-law introduced her to a friend who would pray with her every day and conducted Bible study with her. Swasti also started going to church regularly.  

Everything began to fall into place for her. In Jesus, she found the answers she had sought all her life.  

“I was looking for answers so I turned to the occult,” she said. “I came to realise that the occult was harmful to me and my mental health.”

Swasti, her husband Andrew and their two sons, three and nine.

However, even after she turned to Christ, the voices did not stop. She continued to hear deep, angry voices saying they wanted her dead and that they would kill her son.

“It was very scary,” she told Salt&Light.  “Every time I tried to read the Bible, I would hear the angry voices.”

Once she started going to church, Swasti got baptised. After that, the voices stopped. Her husband was baptised shortly after.

Andrew was a pre-believer, but as his wife often enlisted his help to pray for their two children when she had bipolar episodes, “he ended up believing in God himself,” she said with a chuckle.

The couple and their two sons, nine and three, now worship together at New Creation Church.

Painting God’s Word

After she turned to Christ in 2015, Swasti came across the website of Australian Christian artist Grace Bailey, who paints prophetic art. 

“I was very inspired by her and I prayed I could do what she does,” she said. 

Swasti still lives with bipolar disorder and is on medication. Her condition was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, but Swasti clung on to the word of God.

Whenever she suffered low moods, she would counter the voices of self-hate with Bible verses, writing them on Post-It notes to remind herself of God’s promises.

She was pasting so many Post-It notes around the house, she decided to paint the verses instead.

Each time she comes across a promise from the Bible that resonates with her, Swasti would paint it.

“I may forget the promises or the Bible verse, but when I see the pictures around me, they remind me of what to hold on to,” she said.

Swasti had taken art classes with her mother when she was young and completed an art certification course at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).

Her first painting was of the feet of Jesus walking on water. For Swasti, this was the very picture of faith.

“I was very unsure about painting,” she said. “But because I prayed I would paint like Grace Bailey, the first thing that I painted was about faith, about walking on water.”

In addition to Bible verses, Swasti also paints interpretations of sermons. Each time she comes across a promise from the Bible that resonates with her, she would paint it.

One such verse is Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Another is Psalm 5:12, which she prays over her children every night: “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favour You will surround him as with a shield.

Swasti painted this for a friend who had been trying to conceive. It was based on Psalm 127:3b: “The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Swasti likes experimenting with different styles and learning from artists like Van Gogh and Picasso. She sees her work as prophetic art, conveying to the observer a message from God. She prays over every artwork and anoints it with oil. 

She gives many of her paintings to friends, each accompanied by a letter explaining the message and the Bible verse on which the painting is based. She also sells her work through local faith-based gallery Sound of Art. 

Two of her friends experienced miracles after they received Swasti’s paintings. 

A year after she had gifted the painting to her friend who could not conceive, she found out that the friend was pregnant. 

One was a friend in Thailand whose baby was born premature at seven months. The child was at risk of permanent blindness because of complications.

Swasti felt prompted to paint a hummingbird – a small bird that is a miracle because it defies science by its ability to fly up and down and also backwards. 

She brought the painting to Thailand for her friend and prayed for her. A few weeks later, her friend told her that not only could the baby see, all his bodily functions were in order. 

Another was a friend who had suffered three miscarriages and failed to conceive by in-vitro fertilisation. This friend was on the verge of giving up after multiple attempts.

Swasti painted a baby in a womb shaped like a fruit, based on Psalm 127:3: “The fruit of the womb is a reward from the Lord.

A year after she had gifted the painting to her friend, she found out that the friend was pregnant. 

“Both of my friends are not believers,” Swasti said. “I didn’t know how to preach the gospel to them but I wanted to pray for them. So I did it through painting.”

Swasti admits she does not always know what she is doing, but seeing how God has used her talent encourage others keeps her going.

“When they see my paintings and are encouraged by the message and the promises of God, that is enough for me,” Swasti said.


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About the author

Peck Sim

Peck Sim is a former journalist, event producer and product manager who thankfully found the answer for her wonderings and a home for her wanderings. She now writes for Salt&Light and also handles communications for LoveSingapore.