published Monday, October 21st, 2013

Out of the darkness: Dunlap native says God has called him to battle demons

BOOK SIGNING

What: Brandon Boston signing copies of "Battling Demons of Darkness."

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: Barnes & Noble, 2100 Hamilton Place Blvd.

Brandon Boston turned his back on it as long as he could.

Eventually, though, he had to face it.

He was born, he believes, to battle demons.

"I ran from this until right before I turned 22," says Boston, now 28. "I was just so afraid of this stuff."

The Dunlap, Tenn., native, who's appeared on "Paranormal Challenge" on the Travel Channel and on "My Ghost Story" on the Biography Channel, says people can term him a "demonologist," an "exorcist" or whatever they want as long as it's clear that all the credit belongs to Jesus Christ.

"He is using me as an instrument," Boston says. "God [has been] preparing me for a life where I will cast out demons in homes, in people."

In his book, "Battling Demons of Darkness," published by Llewellyn Books, he details his battles against what he calls demons. It's not a career Boston necessarily wants, he says, but it's something he believes he'll always be involved with.

"It finds me," he says.

In the meantime, he wants to return to a fledgling career as a mixed martial arts fighter -- the six-pack abs in photos on his Facebook page prove his dedication -- and gradually move into a life as an actor and director. He's already writing a movie script for his book and hopes to create a movie trailer that might entice investors in such a movie.

"People say, 'You can't do [all] that,'" he says. "But I rely on Jesus."

EXPOSED TO DEMONS

Boston says his first view of the supernatural came as a toddler when he was carried from his church by a cousin while an exorcism was being performed on a shaking, screaming parishioner inside.

Later, as an elementary school boy who didn't get his way in the home of the grandparents who were raising him, he told his grandfather that he hated him and wished he were dead. Within a few hours, his grandfather was. He sees that as the beginning of his personal experiences with evil.

"Grandfather held the family together," Boston says. "When he passed, that shook up everybody. It was not expected, not prepared for. I have no doubt these demons knew that was their opportunity."

Following his grandfather's death, he writes in the book, he and his grandmother -- and other relatives who happened to be in the house -- endured a years-long series of supernatural events involving both demons and angels.

Debbie Boston, 51, Brandon's aunt who lives in Dunlap, says she witnessed some of the experiences he details in the book. Among those, she says, were "shadow figures" that came out of the grandfather's room, wandered through the hall and into another room.

Another time, those in the house heard what sounded like someone breaking in, she says. Eventually, they isolated the sound to the grandfather's room. In the room, where no window had been broken, they discovered hundreds of figurines moved on undusted shelves. They weren't slid, she says, but were picked up and moved; their original spots in the dust were still visible.

She says she also had experiences in her own home, including seeing demons who looked like gremlins, then the devil himself.

"There's a possibility people don't believe in this," she says. "Until you've experienced it, you have no idea how scary it is. It's evil. You can feel the evilness. If you ever experience it, you'll be a believer."

Boston says he feels that, in some ways, he endured the events as a young child to prepare him.

"[God] knew what I was going to deal with," he says. "He gave me a fighter's heart, a never-back-down attitude. And he knew if I ever got it through my thick skull to rely on him, I could do some amazing things through him."

In the meantime, "the devil was trying to break me down," he says. "I have no doubt Satan, when you become a Christian [and have] a target on your chest, messes with you a lot more."

PARANORMAL EXPLORATION

When Boston was grown, he became involved with a paranormal investigation group through the urging of a former girlfriend. In the book, he says the impulse to join the group "seemed to be destiny."

For several years, he helped investigate regional haunts such as the Walking Horse Hotel, in which he now lives, in Wartrace, Tenn., the Hollywood Cemetery in Wartrace, the Rankin House in Dunlap, Hebbertsburg Cemetery in Cumberland County and Red Ash Cemetery in Careyville.

"Originally, whenever I got into the paranormal," Boston says, "my whole purpose was to help people. I've never been interested in ghosts. My sole purpose was helping people in getting rid of demonic spirits."

Joseph Dunn of Hixson, a fellow paranormal explorer, says that, among other findings in the Rankin House, the group's microphone picked up unclear voices, measured a distinct temperature change from in front of him to behind him, and picked up a voice finishing the 23rd Psalm that Boston had recited.

"The [individual] things that we've seen," the 42-year-old Dunn says, "I can't positively say it's a ghost. I don't know what it is. I've seen things I can't explain. I've felt things I can't explain."

Eventually, Boston began to gravitate from the exploration of the paranormal to the pursuit of demons. Dunn believes Boston feels drawn to that because of his religious experiences and because of what he lived through as a child.

"Surviving what he went through makes him feel for these people," he says. "He feels when he got saved, or born again, he felt that was his calling. Not everybody is strong enough to do it on his own."

ATTACKING DEMONS

One of the first cases in which Boston became personally involved was the family of Sherry Byram in Crossville, Tenn.

Family members, identified in Boston's book as Mrs. S. and Family, heard doors open when no one had come in, saw black shadows, observed pets that no longer wanted to be in rooms by themselves and encountered a room full of smoke that vanished when they turned around.

One night, Byram says, she woke and found a black figure standing beside her bed. The figured grabbed her and pinned her elbows to her body before her husband woke. In a conversation with each other later, they both spoke of a black mist that arose from her and disappeared.

"I knew something was not right in the house," the 44-year-old says. "The house was very old."

In 2010, casting about for something to do about the goings-on in her home, Byram contacted Boston's paranormal group. During its investigation, "I don't think they really found anything," she says.

But when Boston returned to Byram's home after the activities continued, he blessed the house, his first time to perform such an act. However, the activities escalated before dying out when the family got rid of a drawing of a demon done by one of Byram's sisters.

Byram says her family referred to the evil force as "that thing," but, "in my heart I know it was a demon. It was out to hurt people."

"If somebody had told me this story," she says, "I'd think they were crazy. But I lived through it. We knew something was there. The cats and dogs would tell you if they could, too."

Boston says he gave up paranormal investigations last November when he believes he was instructed by God "not to play with" them anymore. Soon after, he says, he participated in his first actual exorcism.

"I haven't been taught anything," he says. "I just go from the Bible, rely on my faith and use the name of Jesus. That's how Jesus did it, so that's the way I'm going to do it."

CONFRONTING SKEPTICS

Boston says there always will be people skeptical of his experiences -- especially those who base their lives on things easily explained -- but he believes most people have had some kind of paranormal experience or know someone who has.

"There are definitely people who won't believe you," he says. "They say it's fake. But for the most part, the majority of people believe it."

Boston says his experiences, especially those before he understood how God has worked in his life, gave him what he terms "heavy demonic depression" but not possession.

"A lot of people would say, 'You're crazy,'" he says. "I felt like I was going crazy, but I know I was not."

His aunt, Debbie Boston, says that may have been his mind's way of "coping and understanding and realizing" what troubled him were demons.

Now, she says, he can "help others who are going through the same thing."

Byram agrees.

"He is honest and caring and wants to help people," he says. "He can do some good."

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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