Indonesian Jaime Chiah experienced night terrors until she was baptised and learnt to call on the name of the Lord. She met her Singaporean husband, James Chiah, soon after she surrendered her search for a spouse to God. Photos courtesy of the Chiah family.

Imagine being trapped in a cave, surrounded by walls of flesh oozing with red blood. Imagine the squishy meat “multiplying like cells”, surrounding you, squeezing you.

This recurring nightmare plagued Jaime Chiah, now 42, from as far back as she can remember.

Mediums she was taken to as a child in Indonesia described her as “sensitive to spirits”. They washed her in “flower water”. 

“But it never stopped the nightmares from happening again,” Jaime told Salt&Light. She has been working as an administrator in the healthcare sector since moving to Singapore from Indonesia 13 years ago.

Jaime had frequent nightmares from the time she was a child. A recurring one was being trapped in a cave of bloody flesh.

When she passed by certain places of worship – even altars by the roadside  – she would faint or her legs would swell.

These episodes happened so often that she came to accept the occurrences “as a part of everyday life”.

The nightmare became more terrifying and regular when she was in her 20s. 

She would also awaken to “the heavy breathing sound of a beast”. She felt a pressing on her back, pushing her down.  

Personal problems, like failed relationships, plus these nightmarish episodes took a toll on her. At her lowest point, the 1.72m-tall Jaime was severely underweight at only 48kg.

“I was scared to fall asleep and suffered from insomnia.

“I started having suicidal thoughts.”

“Game” that went out of control

When she was around junior college age, Jaime recalled that she and her girl friends started “playing around” with a ouija board.

One of her friends truly believed it could be used to contact the dead, while the others did it “for fun”.

The girls would put their hands on top of the pointer and ask questions like: “Can you tell us how you died?”

The pointer would move to certain letters. At the end of each session, they would tell the board: “It’s time for you to go back.”

But one day, the pointer started “spinning out of control”, said Jaime. It wouldn’t stop even after the terrified girls told it to “go back”.

Crying hysterically, the girls dumped the board. 

But even more terrifying episodes were to haunt Jaime.

“The darkest moments of my life were in my early 20s,” she said. 

The nightmares became darker, and she sensed the blood-fleshed walls suffocating her. 

She recognised them as the same recurring nightmare, and would try to wake herself up. 

Jaime looked like she had a glamorous life when she was in her 20s. But, in reality, recurring night terrors were taking a toll on her.

“Then it manifested into something else. When I woke up, I would feel something pressing my back.

“I could feel something breathing down my neck. It sounded like the heavy breathing sound of a beast.

“I would feel something breathing down my neck. All I could do was stare at my ceiling in fear.”

“I knew it was no longer a dream as my eyes were wide open.”

She would feel paralysed and was unable to shout or call out.

“All I could do was stare at my ceiling in fear.”

She is not sure what brought on these new terrors, but thinks she might have been burdened by the stress of working and doing university studies at the same time. 

To others, she appeared “high-functioning” and normal, even partying and drinking. But this was to numb the pain and “to escape from reality”, she said.

On the inside, she was full of turmoil.

“I made bad choices in relationships and friends,” she recalled.

“There was a lot of self-blame and self-pity.

“I felt sorry for myself all the time.

“Then, one night, just like many other nights, I was struggling to break free from the evil spirit’s grip.

“I was in great fear because the grip was tighter than usual. The grunts were louder and sounded almost like moans.

“Then I heard human voices.”

“It was something that I had heard when I visited a church where people were speaking in tongues.”

She could not tell what language they were speaking, but recognised them as “something that I had heard when I visited a church where people were speaking in tongues”.

A few years earlier, she had caught up with a childhood friend who was visiting from another part of Indonesia. Jaime had agreed to accompany her friend to church so that they could spend more time together. It was then that she had heard the worshippers speaking in tongues and, when her night terrors besieged her, she remembered the voices.

“As my focus was drawn towards these voices, I felt the grip (of the “beast”) loosen.

“I felt peace and warmth.

“For the first time in a long time, I relaxed and fell asleep.

“It was only for two hours. But it was the best two hours.”

Altar call

The first thing she saw in the newspapers the next morning was a big advertisement on the back page for a Sunday service at a local church.

“Somehow I managed to get changed and I made my way to the nearest branch of the church to attend the first service at 7.30am.”

During the altar call, she responded to the word “demonic oppression”. She had been thinking of suicide and had been cutting herself.

When, after being baptised, she experienced another spiritual attack, she focused on God and called upon the Holy Spirit.

She went up for prayer, but the nightmares did not stop.

“I was confused as to why it happened again.”

As a young Christian, she did not tell anyone at church nor her friends about her night terrors.

But there was one big difference.

I sang Seperti Rusa Rindu Sungai-Mu (Indonesian for As the Deer) over and over again.

“I started to have confidence and assurance that my soul had been saved and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

One night after she was baptised, she experienced another episode.

“I tried to pray, but no sound came out. It was like I was paralysed. But I could only say in my mind and heart what I heard when I went for the church service – I sang Seperti Rusa Rindu Sungai-Mu (Indonesian version of As the Deer) over and over again.

“The worship and praise comforted me. 

“I drew my focus to God, called Jesus’ name and let the Holy Spirit guide me. It worked.

“Over time, I learned to claim authority over my body so that the evil spirit has no place over me.”

Almost without her noticing, the nightmares stopped.

Surrendering her “husband criteria” 

As she continued to attend church and was mentored by a pastor and his wife, she grew in the Word of God.

“Even after becoming a Christian, I had failed relationships … until I surrendered to God. And I finally let my pastor and his wife and our cell group pray that I would find a good husband.

“I prayed a simple prayer, ‘I will entrust this to You. I will not use my own criteria for a spouse anymore as it has not done me any good.'” 

After that things happened “very, very fast”, she said.

“You will have to come to cell group with me.  I have no time to take you anywhere before that.”

Jaime was working in the life insurance sector in Indonesia at the time, and had to take care of a group of invited speakers from Singapore who had come to train the local managers. 

One of them, James Chiah, had come along as a volunteer to help his friend. “He wasn’t even paid,” she said. 

Unbeknownst to her then, he had intended to cancel the trip on the morning he was due to fly to Indonesia. But inexplicably decided to go ahead. 

They did not have much opportunity to talk as the three-day course was intensive. 

At the end of the three days, she dropped off the Singapore group at the airport. She was headed to her cell group meeting when her handphone rang.

It was James.

“He had decided to stay back and asked if there was a hotel he could go to.”

“I told him, ‘It is not safe for foreigners to travel alone. I’ll come to get you, but you will have to come to cell group with me. I have no time to take you anywhere else before that.”

“I witnessed so much goodness and so many miracles when I let God take control of my life,” said Jaime. Her husband, James, 42, works in the financial advisory sector. Their son, Arthur (second from left), is 6 and their daughter, Annabelle, is 8.

She instinctively knew that he was a Christian.

Her pastor and his wife were surprised to see Jaime with a man she had only just met at their doorstep. It was soon after their prayer for her to release her own “criteria” for a spouse.

James and Jaime tied the knot six months after they met. 

“I witnessed so much goodness and so many miracles when I let God take control of my life,” she said. 

Fixing the cracks

In 2008, she came to Singapore to live after marrying James.

After being “episode-free” for 10 years, she had another attack. This time, it was in broad daylight when she returned to Indonesia for a business trip. 

She had just entered the hotel room and was lying down to rest before a meeting when she felt the “oppressive spirit” pressing her into the bed.  

“I was reminded that the enemy attacks what is valuable to us. For me, it is my family.”

“This time, I knew the drill and proclaimed that the enemy has no authority over me as I belong to Jesus and I am a child of God.”

She slept well that night, and forgot to tell her husband about the incident when she returned to Singapore.

Three years later, after their second child was born, the Chiahs hit a “bad patch” in their marriage.

“We stopped talking to each other for a few days,” Jaime said.

The nightmares and the oppressive spirit returned.

“I was reminded that the enemy attacks what is valuable to us. For me, it is my family.”

“It was a pretty clear warning to fix the cracks in my family life,” Jaime said.

The couple tried to work things out “to the best of our abilities”.

“I have not had the nightmares ever since,” she said.

Their marriage also benefited from a marriage workshop facilitated by a pastor and his wife.

“It helped us understand God’s blueprint for marriage and provided us with encouragement, hope and practical tips to grow our marriage,” Jaime said.

Spiritual cleansing

When she and her husband started talking about serving the Lord by going on a mission trip, she confessed that she preferred not to go to a country that has a strong culture of spirituality.

“If you are scared, you need to confront your fear.”

Forces not of God were still bothering her. 

Her husband encouraged her by saying: “If you are scared, you need to confront your fear.”

Around the same time in December 2019, their cell group leader and his wife gifted them with a newly-launched book authored by their Senior Pastor Daniel Foo and Ps Eunice Low from Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church.

After reading Spiritual Hygiene: A Call to Personal Holiness, Jaime knew she had to make a decision.

“Either I decide not to do anything. Or I work around my fears.” 

Letting go of fears

She wanted to “serve God effectively, with full confidence” and so signed up for Restoring the Foundation (RTF) “to address the root causes once and for all”.

The ministry tool aims to bring God’s healing, deliverance and breakthroughs in four areas: Sins and curses passed down from previous generations, ungodly beliefs, spiritual hurts and demonic oppression. 

It required her to jot down what had been happening to her. Among the things she had to declare were practices that were not of God that she had participated in. 

“I had a long list of anger over things that others did or said to me.” 

They included curses that loved ones had said over her.

She also had “condemning thoughts about myself”. While she knew that her loving God had already forgiven her, the “silly things I had done in the past kept coming to my mind and I never truly forgave myself”.

“The intercessors helped me to pray and declare that all these things had no more hold over me. And to release forgiveness to others and to myself.

“Towards the end of the session, they asked me to close my eyes and focus on God and hear his direction on moving on. 

“They were very patient. They prayed over me for 10 minutes but nothing happened.”

But when she went home to her bedroom and closed her eyes, she felt a warmth and saw a bright light.

Through eyes that were tightly shut, she “saw God open His hand, and ask me to come to Him”.

“I knew that He had forgiven me. I knew I also had to forgive myself.”

Till today, she has no idea what her nightmares were tied to. “But without them, I may not have known God.”

In a video testimony (above) in April, she shared three lessons from her journey:

1. Spiritual warfare is a constant battle

“This I experienced personally.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” she said, quoting 1 Peter 5:8.

2. God’s work is real 

“Some may think that what I had encountered was merely the results of my psychological state. But I know that my God is real.

“I am born again through Jesus Christ. He gave me hope.” 

3. Cry out to God

“Even before I knew Jesus, He heard my cry, answered and rescued me.

“When I accepted Christ, He drew me closer to Him and did not only relieve me from my struggles but transformed me.

“God has been blessing me abundantly and has revealed unimaginable goodness in my life.

“If you are going through challenging times now or struggling with anything, don’t lose heart. God helped me and I know He can help you too.”


“If you heal me, Hallelujah. If you don’t heal me, also Hallelujah”

Terrorised by spirits at night, she was at the end of her tether – until God met her in a club

About the author

Gemma Koh

Gemma has written about everything from spas to scuba diving holidays. But has a soft spot for telling the stories of lives changed, and of people making a difference. She loves the colour green, especially on overgrown trees. Gemma is Senior Writer & Copy Editor at Salt&Light and its companion site, Stories of Hope.