Marcia Montenegro was deeply embedded in the New Age movement, taught astrology, and was the head of the Atlanta Astrological Society. But a co-worker’s prayers and an unexpected compulsion led to a dramatic shift in her spiritual journey.
“I decided I wanted to explore other religions when I got to college,” says Marcia Montenegro, who grew up in a nominally Christian family in a suburb of Washington, D.C. Her father was in the Foreign Service, so she traveled frequently in her childhood, often spending summers in Madrid.
Several experiences as a young person convinced her she might have ESP abilities. After college in Florida, she moved to Atlanta and took a class on “inner light consciousness,” in response to her burgeoning curiosity about the supernatural.
“They took us through various techniques like chanting, psychic healing, and meditation,” Montenegro recalls. On the last evening of the class, instructors told her she would meet her spiritual master. “Your spiritual master will be with you the rest of your life,” they informed her.
During her meditation, she saw a wizened, kind-looking man. “From that point on I thought he would be always with me, protecting me,” she says.
After the class, she attended a Tibetan Buddhist center in Atlanta where she learned to do meditation, then began to immerse herself in New Age reading material. Books by Carlos Casteneda, Deepak Chopra, and Jane Roberts were heavy influences, along with “The Tao of Physics.”
“It was all jelling for me,” she recalls. “I thought I had been given gifts and I wanted to put them into practice, so I studied astrology seriously.”
The city of Atlanta has a somewhat unusual program in place to license astrologers, so Montenegro studied for their exam, passed, and received a license. Slowly, she built up an astrology clientele and worked other part-time jobs on the side.
“You don’t make a lot of money doing astrology, but I loved it,” she recalls. She eventually became the chairperson of the astrology examiners board and joined the astrological society. She also continued her Buddhist meditation.
The nominal Christianity of her upbringing had completely vanished at this point. “I was very hostile to Christianity,” Montenegro says. “I had the New Age Jesus, who was the avatar of the age of Pisces and was a spiritual leader, like Buddha.”
One of her astrology clients invited her to work part-time at his company. “He wanted advice on his employees based on their birth data,” she notes. Nobody else in the office knew about Montenegro’s astrological duties. Her boss assigned her a vague-sounding title to divert attention from her actual role.
At the company, she met a young man named Jeff McCord. “He befriended me and we would have conversations from time-to-time,” she notes. “I knew he was a Christian, but he wasn’t very dramatic about it. He let me know he’d been on a mission trip to Guatemala and that he went to church.”
“He never invited me to church or told me I needed to give up astrology,” Montenegro says. “He was extremely nice and friendly and would come to me and ask questions.”
She had no way of knowing that behind-the-scenes, McCord’s young adult fellowship group began to pray fervently for Montenegro’s salvation.
One day something happened that completely surprised her. “I had this compulsion to go to church,” she recalls, “but I resisted it.”
Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder of www.Godreports.com. He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel.