Disclaimer: This post is not explicit, but it does contain a few sentences of upsetting imagery regarding the Snuff genre.
I have been hesitating to write or talk about this, but in one week God has used a specific wandering of my heart to draw me to Him in a big way. It has been one of the biggest kairos moments of my year.
Let me start with some context. When we moved to Colorado I knew I would have a lot of down time. In much of my down time I read, watch Tim Keller lectures or follow politics. But sometimes I get lazy and watch YouTube to fill me in on the latest conspiracy theories and “5 things you didn’t know”-type videos.
Last Monday night was no different. However, that night I began to dive into the world of the Deep Web. I have been fascinated by the Deep Web for a while, but only in theory. I had only heard it discussed in social conversations, but never researched it myself. If you do not know what the Deep Web is, it is the part of the internet that is not the “world wide web” and is unsearchable from Google or what are called “surface level search engines.” In order to access the Deep Web you must download an anonymous search engine, such as Tor, and then type in your search for black market products/services. The Deep Web is, estimators believe, about 500 times larger than the surface web. It is composed of myriad web pages, from cryptic and creepy puzzles, to satanic games, black market shopping and much… much worse.
My trek began with YouTube videos depicting explorations of the Deep Web, but then it branched to include articles and sketchy sites. Before I knew it, I was submerged in the experiences of Deep Web explorers. I watched their surfing videos. I heard about the Dark Web, which is the term they use for the “much worse” portion of what’s down there. Each time I watched a darker informational video I was horrified, yet my flesh became ever curious. Do some of these evils truly exist? Yes, I know that to be true. But exactly how many people are purchasing LIVE snuff films and worse with BitCoin (currency of the Deep Web)?
Thousands. And thousands and thousands.
I have never personally surfed the Deep Web, nor have I watched the “much worse” films, but I have seen and read about the ongoing horror below, which, to me, devastatingly, makes ISIS atrocities seem mild.
I’m not able to write about the stories that I read. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of even reading them. To give you an idea of a type of film shown below, there are adults and children being kidnapped and the perpetrator(s) set up a live video stream, where individuals pay in BitCoin to have these people tortured in any way they desire, and ultimately, killed. Once the live stream is over (person has died) the maker of the film will live chat “countdown 1:00 hour” until the next film.
These films are streaming hourly on the Dark Web.
The night of my researching, when I finally had enough, I put my laptop away, laid in bed and could not seem to pray. I did not know that a night full of exploration of the Deep Web would affect me in such a way that I had a difficult time believing God is who He says He is. My soul felt starved and dry. And something I kept saying to myself was “God is not down there.” Which-I don’t know how his omnipresence works-but truly it felt like He left that place to its’ own.
It felt like hell.
I was afraid. For the first time in a long time I began to search the room, believing I had brought a demonic presence into it. Joe had been sound asleep for hours. When I looked over to his face for comfort-this is strange-but his face frightened me. I heard my neighbor moving upstairs (he’s usually up all night) and I thought, could he be on these sites? How many people in our apartment complex are?
I racked my brain for Truth, for God’s Word that I have hidden in my heart. But at this point I felt I needed deliverance.
Somehow I fell asleep.
I dreamt I could not find peace. I was laying on a bed trying to cover myself with blankets and pillows (security), but the darkness surrounding me was too great and I was overcome. I began to physically yell and I woke myself up from the sound. Joe woke up startled and, later that day, said the yell seemed like I was coming up out of the ocean. I told him I was afraid and he held me and prayed. I fell asleep in his arms. Then I woke up at 3am, when he woke up to begin getting ready for work. I was terrified because he was going to leave and he didn’t know where I had been or what was scaring me. I kept quiet as he kissed me goodbye and left. Then I didn’t fall back to sleep.
Tuesday was a blur. I don’t think I had one uplifting thought the entire day. Using my new filter from the night before I could not justify doing life apart from delivering the adults and children that were being tortured, sexually and emotionally mutilated and killed on the Dark Web. I was allowing my awareness of the worst evil I had ever heard of to skew my view of God. Not to mention I was angry with myself for being so CARELESS in allowing evil a major foothold in my heart and home.
Joe came home and I told him I needed to talk about last night and why I was afraid. I told him everything. I told him some the worst of what I had read. He seemed shocked. He is hardly ever outwardly shocked. I asked if he had ever been on the Deep Web and he said no, but he knew enough to know he should never mess with it. He prayed over me and then did a beautiful husband thing-he told me never to mess with researching it again. I know it was a request, not a command, and I know anyone might have said that, but in that moment I knew God had given my husband specific authority to speak to my flesh and tell it “no.”
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 is not a suggestion, it is a call to live in the light: not naively-far from it-rather because we are not naive to the darkness of this world and our flesh’s susceptibility to it. Not only does darkness make us cower, but it warps our identity of the Father. I can’t make a broad statement like “some evils of the world are meant for His eyes only,” because I don’t know how that works in terms of rescuing the oppressed. But I do know that He has not equipped or called me specifically to find and aid the oppressed on the Dark Web. And if He chooses to do so, I believe it will be clearly stated by the Holy Spirit to both Joe and me.
Okay, so what of my view of God? What has this teachable moment taught me? In new and deeper ways I have learned:
- I can be tremendously foolish.
- I am not God and cannot handle darkness.
- The Holy Spirit can reach me, speak to me and arrest my flesh even in moments of vast wandering from the Father.
- 1 John 4:4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
- My God is sovereign, I cannot fully understand Him or His ways, but He is my faithful protection. He is even constantly protecting the trust I lay in Him.
Once again, my Redeemer saves me.
There is no resolve on this earth for many who suffer and die at the hands of the Evil One. But I know God’s judgement is sufficient and His love is immeasurable. I know the work He did on the cross. I know He has overcome evil. And so, in light of 1 John 4:4, the only thing I can do is consider the vast darkness I have seen and experienced, and imagine the weight of His glory eclipsing every inch of it. And, from what the Bible further points to, even the comparison I just made must pale times infinity to the weight of His glory.
Note: Even after you read this, if you are curious about the Deep Web/Dark Web, I encourage you to watch a TED Talk on the subject, at most. Searching for stories, depictions and experiences on the Deep Web is not a good idea. You will not be encouraged or edified, and will likely walk away feeling spiritually/emotionally starved, not to mention, you would be entertaining evil.