Michael Leehan had faced adversity. A stranger tried to drown him at the beach when he was six. Later he suffered several tragic accidents that, miraculously, did not kill him. Through all of this he saw no evidence of the God his mom told him was out there, certainly not much evidence in her life, either. Leehan’s autobiographical “Ascent From Darkness” follows the story of an angry young man’s search for meaning, his failure to find what he thought he was looking for by turning to Satan to achieve his goals and his eventual redemption through the living out of Christ’s love by the people in his life.
Leehan’s tale is one many Americans, especially Christians, may not take well. He explains his encounters with the fallen angels, that third of the Heavenly hosts who joined Satan in his rebellion and were cast out, and how Satan and his demons lead Mike into incredible darkness. The book describes, without a lot of detail, horrific rituals and encounters with the forces that oppose the light of God and how those forces shaped Mike’s life.
God’s love is evident throughout the book as Mike shows how his missions to disrupt the lives on lukewarm and new believers brings him into contact with people who join in prayer and in living out God’s love to bring about a change in Leehan’s heart. Mike faces battles both spiritual and physical in nature throughout the book. He eventually is lead to kill a popular minister and founder of LifeChurch.tv, Craig Groeschel.
God steps in and Craig is saved, leading to Mike’s eventual salvation. Now the man whose every move inside the LifeChurch facility was watched by security teams sits front and center every week, spending his time in between sharing the love of Christ and His transforming power with anyone who will listen.
Those reading the book may be skeptical. I imagine that is why the publishers included an appendix full of testimonies from people who witnessed a number of the events discussed by Leehan in his book.
All-in-all, this was an incredible book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I came to a place several years ago where the existence of spiritual warfare — demons and angels fighting just overhead, but out of our sight — was no longer in doubt, so I was prepared to accept what I read. After reading “Ascent From Darkness,” that has not changed. Everything is consistent with scripture on this, including God’s ability to transform a man filled by demons into a man full of love. Mike’s story speaks to me, as one who struggles to overcome life’s hurts, habits and hang-ups, and reminds me that turning to God, and away from sin, is the only thing that works in overcoming the forces that would drag us down to despair. There were times I found what I was reading to me more disturbing than any Stephen King novel I’d read, leading me to put the book down and walk away. Eventually, of course, I returned to it. I’m glad I did. Some might say this is just a horror story. It, in part, is, but more truly it is the story of hope found by faith in Jesus Christ.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”