Researching this issue's cover story (see "Possessed or Obsessed?" p. 46) gave assistant editor Agnieszka Tennant nightmares. Agnieszka traveled to Dallas to interview therapist Jerry Mungadze and several of his patients who had symptoms of dissociative identity disorder and who reported a history of satanic ritual abuse.

"Their grisly stories saddened me," says Agnieszka. "I empathize with people, which is not always the best thing for a reporter to do." The "dark trip" to Dallas gave her "bad dreams," which stopped only when she asked Jesus to take them from her.

Agnieszka's research also brought her into contact with America's most famous atheist (since Madalyn Murray O'Hair). In January, Agnieszka attended one of Bob Larson's Spiritual Freedom Conferences. ("See the supernatural as you've never seen it before!" boasts his Web site before promising, "It's like being in the midst of an invisible war with spiritual grenades exploding everywhere in the audience.") A man seated behind her was laughing crazily at Larson, and when she finally turned around to "give him a mean stare" and get him to be quiet, she found herself face-to-face with Rob Sherman, the atheist crusader who made his reputation by suing an Illinois village because it had a cross in its official seal.

As she and Sherman talked, she felt strange that she was agreeing with a famous atheist about Larson's manipulative techniques, and sad that it was an atheist, and not most of the Christians there, who saw through it all.

Sorting out misguided fervor from spiritual and psychological reality comes naturally to Agnieszka. She comes from a medical family (her mother is a pediatrician, her father is an internist, and her sister is doing research at the Mayo Clinic as part of her preparation to be a surgeon).

Her familial temperament is an asset in Agnieszka's journalism. As a student of international relations in politics and trade in Poland, she wrote for the state dailies on the side. She later studied communications at Moody Bible Institute, where she studied under Rosalie de Rosset, whom she credits for "reviving my love for literature" and teaching her to "think Christianly." After her graduation from Moody, she worked as a reporter for the City News Service in Chicago before joining Christianity Today last November.

"One of the best things about this job," says Agnieszka, "is that I get to ask the hard questions that sometimes torment me. I assume that if I have these questions, other people may be wondering about them as well."

Agnieszka continues to amaze her CT colleagues with her command of a foreign language: English. When she began to work as a reporter in her native Poland, she was asked to write about an unusual person in her hometown. For this, her first interview ever, she talked with the new high-school English teacher, a man just arrived from California. "At that point," Agnieszka says, "I had learned English only from mtv and Guns n' Roses videos." He offered to teach her conversational English if they could use the Bible for their textbook.

Her teacher turned out to be a missionary with International Messengers, a group that provides English teachers in Eastern Europe. He led Agnieszka to "a deeper love for Jesus," began to show a fatherly interest in her brother and sister, and eventually became her stepfather. At CT, we owe him a big debt.

Related Elsewhere

See today's articles on deliverance:
Possessed or Obsessed? | Many Christians say they are in need of deliverance but some may be giving demons more than their due.

Exorcism Therapy | An interview with Michael W. Cuneo, author of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty.

Alter Possession | Some "demons" are better left unexorcised.

Pandora's Box of SRA | Satanic ritual abuse is often hard to prove, but it may not matter.

Exorcism 101 | What we can learn from the way Jesus cast out demons?

Agnieszka Tennant's other articles for Christianity Today include:

Seahorses, Egalitarians, and Traditional Sex-Role Reversal | A dispatch from the Christians for Biblical Equality conference (July 11, 2001)

The Ten Commandments Become Flesh | A Polish director prods European and American audiences to consider God's timeless standards. (Feb. 14, 2001)

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