“I believed that I was God, and we could all become Christ too, if only we realized this inherent connection we have to God,” says former New Age blogger Steve Bancarz.
At 19 years old, he was a spiritual guru to hundreds of thousands of followers. For Steve, it had spiritual, and financial benefits. “I was getting 200,000 to 300,000 views on it a day and the income was, to me was an affirmation from God,” he says. “I believed God was rewarding me with helping wake people up into a higher state of consciousness. It gave me a sense of power, a sense of purpose and a sense of meaning and value perhaps.”
Steve grew up in a Christian home, but as a teenager developed a fascination for aliens, the paranormal, and psychic phenomenon. That led him to question his parent’s Christian beliefs, and eventually led to a full-blown obsession with new age theology. “The first thing that really got me doubting the Biblical world view was UF-ology,” Steve says. “All of these UFO sightings, evidence from the ancient world that we might have been visited. And there was enough evidence to make me consider that maybe the universe is filled with intelligent biological life that was perhaps naturally evolved. If you piece together the alleged evidence for reincarnation and the alleged evidence for ancient astronaut theory, you get New Age theology.”
Even so, Jesus remained part of Steve’s worldview. “I didn’t really reject him, but I didn’t accept him for who he truly was. I created an idol out of Jesus to suit my own preferences, to suit myself and to suit my sin. This Jesus was politically correct; he was a universalist,” Steve adds. “I wanted to be my own guide and I didn’t want to have to play by somebody else’s rules.”
As Steve began blogging about new age practices and supernatural phenomena, he came to enjoy his prominence, and the money and vices that came with it. But it was never enough. “I was a lust addict for ten years or so,” he says. “I was a really broken person. I didn’t realize how broken that I truly was, but I was depraved. I was miserable. I had depression and anxiety that I was suppressing. I had all this quote-unquote ‘spiritual knowledge,’ all of this information and it wasn’t bearing any real fruit in my life. I felt like something was missing. I felt a little bit dead inside.”
One night, Steve had a disturbing dream. “When I opened my eyes, I was hovering four feet over my bed in my bedroom and I looked around and realized that I was out of my body and I started having a panic attack, and a being appeared in front of me and this being had red skin with black markings on his face and he was wearing a red cloak,” Steve recalls. “It just scared me because I realized that I wasn’t in control, that this stuff is more powerful than I was, that these forces were real and that they didn’t care for my well being. I was in their playground.”
Shaken by the experience, he began investigating the claims of the Bible and Jesus more closely. “I would sleep with the Bible under my pillow because I knew there was something there that was authoritative, that was true, and that was secure and that had power over anything that I was scared of.”
In his search for answers, Steve was drawn to stories in books and online of people who had encounters with Christ.
“I would watch another near-death experience where someone would go to hell and Jesus would rescue them out of hell and they’d come back and the fruit of their lives – they would be totally transformed,” he says. “I’d feel moved and touched and I’d think to myself, ‘Okay, there’s something real to Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible.’”
Steve finally accepted one of his mother’s many invitations to go with her to church. At the end of the service he prayed and asked Jesus into his life, but it was more of a mental exercise than act of faith. “I just decided, in my head, intellectually that I was going to soften up to him, but I still held all the same New Age beliefs. I still believed in everything that I believed in my sin life. I wanted a little bit more of him, but I guess I still didn’t want all of him.”
After a few days, Steve realized he couldn’t ignore the truth any longer. “I reached a point in my life where the brokenness was weighing on me so much that I needed to stop playing games with my life, I needed to stop playing games with God, and stop playing games with Jesus,” Steve says. “And I just decided one night to go outside and to just fall on my face before Jesus and just weep. I was just weeping like a baby. I was submitting. I was repenting. I was tired. I was sorry. I was broken and I couldn’t do this alone anymore, and I was crying out for him. I wanted him.”
In that moment, Steve had an experience with Christ of his own. “I could feel that he was Lord over me and he was Lord over all creation. I could feel that he was concerned for me, but I could feel that he was king. I knew that He was king over all creation, that the universe was under his feet,” Steve says. “The wind was just tonally infused with his presence. And the thing that stuck out for me, that made me realize that I was dealing with God, was how the wind and the trees, the sounds outside, the birds, the crickets, they sounded like they were glorifying him, like he was there with me and they were acknowledging that somehow. Like, creation recognized him.”
Steve burned all of his New Age books, and made a public statement to his online followers. “I told people, within a few days of that experience, and said ‘I’m sorry for misleading all of you astray. This stuff is not of God. They’re tools of demons to deceive us and lead us away from Jesus and Jesus is the Son of God, He’s the God of the New Testament, he’s exactly who he claimed to be.’”
Steve endured waves of ridicule and personal attacks from the online community, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to teach those who persecuted him. His website, ReasonsforJesus.com, provides evidence and sound reasoning that prove the claims of the bible, and the only path to truth, forgiveness and joy in life, come through Jesus Christ.
“He delivered me from the strongholds of New Ageism and occult philosophy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Steve says. “I feel more whole than I’ve ever been in my life. If there’s hope for me, there’s hope for anybody. I was the most lost person that I knew, and the Lord drew me to himself and had mercy on me. We come to the Lord, and he forgives us, He gives us his spirit and He wants to help us heal and restore us and walk us through these traumas and these pains and He wants to accept us and He wants to accept us and welcome us as a son into relationship with him, not into dry religious rule-keeping, but into a supernatural, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and his presence. Everything’s made new in Christ.”