Recently, my husband invited me to watch an interview between Daily Wire political commentator, journalist, and author Michael Knowles, a Catholic who reclaimed his faith a decade after he turned to atheism at 13, and Father Dan Reehil, a Wall Street banker turned priest and exorcist.
Based on those descriptions, you can probably imagine the potential for an invigorating conversation. That expectation was delivered; so much so that we watched the full two-hour discourse a second time that evening with our 17-year-old son, Nick.
In the teaser for the interview, it showed Father Reehil mentioning having encountered the devil in person, but I assumed he was talking about during exorcisms—as in confronting this disgruntled angel in the possessed. But it wasn’t that. He was speaking of distinct encounters in which the evil one showed up in the form of a stranger directly and aggressively tempting him against a sin he’d been trying to overcome—something a mere stranger couldn’t have known—on two different occasions.
When we got to that portion of the interview, Father Reehil’s responses ignited specific memories of some related encounters I’ve had as a pro-life sidewalk advocate. I paused the interview to share with my two beloved comrades.
Since Nick spent several summers praying with me on the sidewalk of our state’s only abortion facility in Fargo before it closed down in late 2022, I knew there’d be some meaningful context to what I was about to say. “I’ve experienced that—frequently—on the sidewalk,” I said.
Though I’ve never been present at an exorcism, I understood what it was like to meet the angel of death in person in a place where spiritual warfare is particularly palpable.
One of those occasions took place a few years back when a woman began antagonizing my prayer partner and me, but targeting me most forcefully. She wasn’t from the area and didn’t know me at all, but she began mentioning things about my life she couldn’t have known, deriding me in a way that only “old Scratch” could. I recognized fairly quickly what was happening, and knew she was a mere vessel; that it wasn’t her talking but a demon. My friend sensed the same.
More recently, I mentioned here about how a man, on a bike, had come barreling through our line of sidewalk advocates at the closing of the fall 2022 40 Days for Life campaign, startling us and almost running over a few people. And how, in his wake, a gust of wind had begun whipping around, knocking over speakers in a nearby pickup, leaves and dust swirling before finally halting. There was no doubt to us that this wasn’t just a casual biker, but someone specifically trying to disrupt us; yes, likely a demon in disguise.
As the Daily Wire conversation continued, Knowles shared about a time he met someone on the subway, and how he quickly recognized him as not just a random stranger, but someone sent by God to encourage him. His name also was Michael, and he departed as quickly as he’d appeared.
Along with having experienced the palpable presence of the father of lies on that sidewalk, I’ve also encountered God’s heavenly helpers. Just as often as evil has manifest through human interactions there, I and others have been privy to those spirits who’ve come to fortify our efforts.
Most often, they’ve appeared in the “distressing disguise of the poor,” as Mother Teresa called them; the destitute who seem to have a keen awareness of the divine. I’ve been amazed at how these humble emissaries of God have delivered such powerful messages of life and encouragement.
So, yes, Satan has shown up on the sidewalk, many times in my experience. You might have similar stories of when you felt a chill at someone’s pointed words, directed at you, that undoubtedly did not come from heaven but the pits of hell—as well as, hopefully, when an angel of God has delivered a message of light to your heart.
But if you haven’t, and still don’t buy the “devil is real” bit, I’d invite you to the Red River Women’s Clinic in Moorhead, Minn. some Wednesday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. If you come, prepare to possibly hear the voice of the fallen angel, disguised in human form.
But do not fear, for the one who rose from the dead is just as assuredly there, with far more power and might; the very one who said, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy. I came that they might have life, and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
[Note: I write about my experiences praying for the end to abortion at the sidewalk abutting the Red River Valley’s lone abortion facility for New Earth magazine — the official news publication of the Fargo Diocese. I hope you find “Sidewalk Stories” helpful in understanding the truth about abortion and how it plays out tragically in our corner of the world. The preceding ran in New Earth’s May 2023 issue.]