Nia-Cerise Conteh explains how a surprise encounter with the Holy Spirit in her kitchen radically changed the trajectory of her life
Growing up I was always on the hunt for the voice of God; there was a hunger within me. I had a Bible in my bedroom and my grandma would pray over me from time to time. But I was never really discipled in my faith. I remember once speaking with a Catholic priest and he told me parts of the Bible were made up. I thought to myself: Well, if he doesn’t believe the Bible is real, why should I? So began my journey into the supernatural. I became addicted to looking for the voice of God in all the wrong places, including idol worship and witchcraft. I got interested in crystals, enjoyed palm readings and even invited demons to live inside me. These things governed me; I could feel them in my body.
I loved the party lifestyle and, as time went on, I became addicted to alcohol because of these demons, which I would hear telling me to physically hurt people when I drank. I would get extremely angry; it was really toxic. I was constantly sacrificing myself on the altar of other people’s opinions, trying to fit in and gain the approval of guys. When I was 16, I had a horrible encounter with an ex-partner who physically assaulted me. I began to think: Something needs to change.
A mysterious encounter
One day I was hanging out with my friends in my kitchen and we were talking about God. Out of nowhere, a presence filled the whole room, and I said: “Can you feel that?” My friends replied: “Yeah. There’s this peace, this presence.” A burning conviction began to swell my heart that I was a sinner, that I was not going to heaven, that I was living a lie. This conviction was so strong I felt as if I was going to weep. I said out loud: “I’m never going to be the same again.” And my friends laughed at me because they didn’t believe it.
I can only attribute this experience to the grace of God. God arrested me in my tracks , providing me with a road to Damascus type moment. I had been exposed to darkness; I knew what that felt like, but in this moment, the Holy Spirit was able to reveal who Jesus truly was. I will never forget those beautiful beginnings of my walk with Christ.
When I came to Christ I experienced a lot of demonic oppression because of the things I had been involved in. I was constantly being suffocated by demons every time I went to sleep, and that was really hard. I had to go into a time of extended prayer and fasting. The more I prayed and interceded, these things just lifted off because there’s nothing that’s more powerful than the name of Jesus Christ.
After that, God put me on a trajectory. It almost felt like he was saying: “You were being used by the enemy, now I’m going to use you ten times more for my kingdom.” I started attending a Spirit-filled Pentecostal church. It took a while for my family – who were Catholic – to come to terms with my decision, even though they could see positive changes in my life. I was showing fruits of the Spirit; I was a lot less rude; my heart was to serve. As time went on, they saw my confidence and the bold foundation I was standing on.
There was never any temptation to go back to the things I was into before, because I had found what I was looking for: love. When you know the darkness that wanted to destroy you and you understand how the evil one intentionally plans to destroy the souls of humanity, then you realise it’s not a game. You realise that the safety, protection, love and joy that you have in Christ outweighs everything. I realised I didn’t need to find my validation in a relationship, in a man, in popularity.
We saw 900 Muslims come to Christ
When I found Jesus, I wanted to tell everybody about him. The Holy Spirit encouraged me to start a YouTube channel so that I could share my faith. It has all been one step of obedience at a time. I prayed: “Please use my voice to touch many people so that they can know you,” and God began to bring so many to the channel. And then I started getting invitations to minister around the UK and, eventually, internationally. God opened the door for me to be trained up for the mission field by Christ for all Nations, the ministry of the late evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, known as the ‘Billy Graham of Africa’.
The ministry sent me out to Tanzania to a region that was 90 percent Muslim. No preacher had ever done a crusade there, but we knew God wanted us to go. We went in with lots of prayer and saw more than 900 Muslims come to Christ Jesus. A witch who had come to curse us at the crusade confessed Jesus as Lord before our eyes. I thought to myself: God, look at what you have done. In the places that are overlooked, in the places that people don’t want to go, your hand is on these places and you love these people so much. Thank you for sending us here.
Nia-Cerise was speaking to Megan Cornwell. Hear the full conversation on The Profile podcast