Jeff Fenholt was born in 1951 and grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended school. He formed his first rock band at age 11 and then started performing at various school functions. Three years later, at age 14, Jeff Fenholt got his first and second Top 40 hit recordings – “Goin’ Too Far” and “A Thousand Devils” – as the vocalist/guitarist for “The Fifth Order”.
He toured extensively with the band during his high school years while earning himself a juvenile delinquency record through his “rock and roll” spirit of rebellion. During 1968 and 1969 he attended Ohio State University in Columbus on a voice scholarship.
He performed with several bands during this period of time in various positions (vocals/guitar/trumpet/piano). In 1970, Jeff Fenholt toured with the musical “Hair” before being cast in the title role of “Jesus” in the Broadway run of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Mark Hellinger Theatre.
I grew up in Ohio. It’s tough to talk about, but I suffered from child abuse.
I remember being locked up in an unfinished attic when I was three. I remember going to sleep and being woken up at 2 o’clock in the morning with ice water being poured over my head. I also remember being beaten until I was nearly unconscious. I grew up filled with hate and violence.
I was a wild kid. Before I even reached my teens I was involved in theft, ‘breaking and entering’, and joy-riding in stolen cars.
My mother couldn’t handle it, so when I was twelve years old, she called the police. She was going through a divorce and was hurting. I realised she was hurting. I loved my mother. I adored her and knew she was in pain, but she called the police and said, ‘I can’t handle this kid. He’s incorrigible.’
So I was in Juvenile Hall and it was heavy. I’m telling you, everybody was looking at me like a bunch of vultures looking at a dying lamb. I couldn’t call out to anybody. It was tough.
During the next five years, I was in and out of that place several times. I had been in rock groups since I was 12 years old. That was my escape.
Every time I wasn’t in ‘jail’ I was doing rock ‘n’ roll. I got my first hit record when I was 15. The record Gone Too Far hit the top 40 in the United States and was number one in the Midwest. A second hit 1000 Devils followed. That was when I met my future wife, Reeni. I already had success. I was probably making $500-$1,000 a week in high school by touring on weekends.
At 17 I left home and started college. I worked at truck docks at night and went to college during the day. But then I thought, ‘This is too rough,’ so I went back into singing on weekends. I went out on a rock tour for the summer. I began delving into the occult and attended a satanic ritual.
I SAW THE LIGHT.
I signed with the CBS record company when I was 19 years old. I started thinking, ‘Maybe I won’t go back to college. I’ll keep rolling with this thing and continue to do concerts.’
While I was on tour in San Diego, California, I had just one night off. I was on the street when this guy banged into me and then turned around and cussed me out and called me a long haired dog. Well, we had a punch-out in the street. I didn’t get hurt, but when I continued on down the street I heard somebody preaching the Word of God. Now, I had never heard anyone speak the Word of God before, so I was attracted to it. I walked up and listened. He said they were bringing a bus to their church to hold a service. Something touched me deep inside.
I remember when I was a kid in jail calling out to God, but I might as well have been calling to the wall because I didn’t know who He was. I used to say, ‘God, get me out of here, deliver me from this,’ but my words always seemed to come back void. I had been searching when this guy started speaking the Word of God, so I went with him to his church. It was a Pentecostal church in San Diego.
I got on a bus with all these drunks, drug addicts, etc. When we got to the church the drunks were coming forward and accepting Jesus while the pastor was saying, ‘I want you to accept Jesus as your Saviour.’ I was listening to all that was happening, but the women who were speaking in tongues behind me were really weirding me out; I didn’t know what to think of what was going on.
It became obvious to me that this pastor was singling me out. I kept thinking, ‘This guy is not going to let me go until I accept Jesus and the only way to get out of here is on the bus. So I started thinking about pretending to accept Jesus, I went forward just so I could go home. When I stood before the altar I asked Jesus, ‘If you are Lord show me.’ I began to feel the power of God touching my heart and soul and I wanted to cry but I held back the tears. Finally, I made a decision: Jesus is Lord and Saviour. But as I knelt down, the pastor said, ‘Son, stand up. You’re not ready to accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, look at you.‘ He handed me a book and said, ‘Take this book and read it and you come back here in a week and if you still want to accept Jesus, I will allow you to accept Jesus.’
I was used to being on stage so I turned around and said, ‘I’m not taking this book because I am not a thief. If I took this book I’d be stealing it because I’m never going to set foot in this church again.’ With that, I threw the book down and I walked out of that church. Not one person stopped me; not one person came to me. I was filled with bitterness and despair. I was confused and hurt. I hitchhiked back to the beach apartment which I’d leased for a month. When I walked in the lights were out. I got on my knees and started to pray; I was broken. I had learned to turn off love from my own mother and father. When a person does that, he becomes cold. I never cried over anything, but that night I got on my knees and cried out to God.
I said ‘Oh God, I wanted to accept You but they wouldn’t let me. I was in jail, I was beaten, I was abused and You delivered me. You gave me the gift of a voice. God, I don’t know You or Jesus. I don’t know what this is about, and I don’t have anything to offer You. I’m a broken young man, but I give You my voice. You gave me the talent and I give it back.’ It was the only thing I had to give.
As God is my witness, a light filled that room and a Presence came into the corner of that room that I’ve never experienced before. I was so frightened. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and bowed my head. A voice spoke inside of me to my heart and said, ‘You are going to do the part of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, the production.’
I had heard about this show. The single had just come out and sold 2 million copies and people were starting to talk about it. It was rumoured that it was going to be a big show. Reeni had become born again back in Ohio and I didn’t know it. She had gotten the same thing at the same time in prayer. Later Reeni flew to California.
I went to CBS in L.A. to meet with the Vice President of CBS to talk about my album. But when I arrived, he had gone to lunch for two hours and I had to wait. With time to kill, I went down the street and said, ‘What’s the commotion over here at this theatre?’ There were thousands of kids hanging out in the street at the Aquarius Theatre. I said, ‘What is going on?’ They said that they were holding auditions for a concert tour, Jesus Christ Superstar. They had put out an open call.
To make a long story short, they flew me to New York. When I walked in to audition, a man came up to me. He had bright yellow hair when new wave wasn’t in yet. He said, ‘I’m the casting director and I want to see you for dinner tonight.’ I said, ‘Oh no you ain’t.’ I went back to my hotel room and the phone rang. It was the casting director. He said, ‘We’ve been considering you, we’ve decided against you. You’re free to go. Get lost.’ So, I got on a plane and flew out. I told Reeni, ‘I didn’t get the part.’ She said, ‘Jeff, the Lord spoke to my heart that you got the part.
‘ On the third or fourth day the phone rang and a guy named Rick Gunnel called me from New York. He said, ‘We’ve been looking for you all over the world and have finally found you. Why did you go home?’ I explained to him about the dinner and everything and he said, ‘Well, that man who dismissed you, he will promptly be fired, but we want you here. You are doing the part of Jesus.’
We opened the show in Pittsburg. Reeni and I couldn’t even go out to dinner in the cities where we played because people recognised me. Then, one night when I was getting ready to go on stage at Boston Gardens, I felt some evil presence take hold of me backstage. It took hold of me hard. I got filled with fear and power at the same time. All sorts of fleshly things came up in me and I realised something had changed, something had consumed me and had taken charge of me backstage.
The stage manager came in and said, ‘Five minutes.’ I looked him straight in the eye to see if he could see the change in me because I had felt this presence take hold. He didn’t see it but when I went out to go to the stage the police dogs that were there to protect us attacked me. They sensed something was very wrong. I went on stage. As I was standing in front of that audience a word came to me that I was going to have wealth and success. And that the audience was like a lion, I was the lion tamer. When I cracked the whip they would jump through the hoop, and they would do what I wanted them to do.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 1 Peter 5 v 8
This presence stayed with me for 9 years, morning, noon, and night. I went to Broadway to open the show in the fall of that year. When I did, they put my picture on the cover of Time Magazine, I was the centrefold in Vogue, I was the centrefold in Cosmopolitan magazine, Japanese magazine, etc. I read in a business magazine that we brought in 36 million dollars in six months touring, and that didn’t include royalties from the record. The show was a huge success!
While I was on Broadway I kept dealing with this thing of Jesus every night. I’ll tell you, some very disturbed people came backstage. One woman came to me and fell on her face and said, ‘Bring my husband back.’ Her husband had died that day. I had a blind girl come back stage and tell me that while I was singing she could see what I was wearing and what everybody else was wearing. Yet, she said she had been blind from birth. Let’s face it, Jesus was not the author of that stuff. But I had no armour, no shield. I hated Christians. When anybody Christian came to witness to me, I’d say, ‘Get away from me.’ I’d swear at them and call them names.
THE ENEMY COMES TO KILL, STEAL and DESTROY.
I had been drinking and taking so many drugs that I had gotten down to 128 pounds. I was partying night after night after night. One night, my stomach haemorrhaged and I began to vomit blood. When I got to the hospital I had two pints of blood in my system. The doctor told Reeni that I needed a rest of six months so I pulled myself out of the Broadway show.
We went to our home in Long Island where I started just hanging out. I made a couple of records but stopped trying to work because I was so messed up on drugs. One night I beat my wife up so badly that I knocked her cold in the dining room of our home. In a drugged out state, I looked at her, smacked her a few times and said, ‘Come on, wake up.’ She wouldn’t wake up and I thought she was kidding me. We always had flowers in the foyer in a vase. I got the flowers out, took the vase over and dumped the cold water on her. She just laid there. Do you want to know how demonic I was? I didn’t call a doctor. I didn’t call a friend. I didn’t take her to urgent care. I went upstairs and I went to sleep.
The next day I called her friends trying to find her. ‘Where’s Reeni? Is she over at your house? Are you hiding her out?’ Her friend said, ‘No you fool, she’s in the hospital.’ When she got out of the hospital she came back to the house. Can you believe that? She kept calling on Jesus and binding satan.
A Chance Encounter or Devine appointment.
Jeff Fenholt FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT Chapter 5: REVIVED REDEEMED RESTORED.
One day I came home from Europe as my limousine was pulling in my driveway my driver started laughing. “Whats so funny,” I asked. He answered with, “Remember how your wife was saying she wanted to remodel a wing on the estate? Well, look at the pickup trucks over there with Jesus stickers on them. Reeni’s having a revival. So I got out of the car and went into the house, I’m going to tell these bunch of sissies off. As I walked in I pushed the open door and started yelling, “Reeni, we need to get rid of these guys.” “Go ahead,” she answered. I was actually afraid to enter the part of the house where the men were working. So I went and got drunk and stayed away for the rest of the day. The next day I woke up at noon and went downstairs to face these guys
Show them the door.
I imagined that these Christian carpenters were wearing darling little elf outfits and tapping away with their hammers like the seven dwarfs. Instead, when I pushed the door open I was astonished ten bulky men with ripped off t-shirts and tattoos. Some of then had long hair. There was also one with a beard down his chest. “My God”, I blurted out. ” You guys aren’t Christians you’re too ugly.” ” Yeah we are Christians,” they answered,” Some of us have only been saved for a few weeks but we love the Lord Jesus Christ. We were drug addicts living on the streets of New York. Then Nick Disipio came and witnessed to us. He laid hands on us in Jesus name and we were delivered. Now were working in his construction company. We’re earning money to buy a big ranch so those that have been delivered from drugs will have a place to live till we hit the streets again for the glory of God.”
I thought these guys were nuts. How come these roughneck dudes are allowed to be in Jesus? I had never heard of such a thing. So I decided not to talk to them but to this, Nick Disipio the head contractor. Nick Disipio was a fat little man about 5’8″ and weighing 250 pounds. His hair was also greased back and had a very strong Italian accent. As it turned out Nick Disipio was a former Mafia member. ” I want to talk to you,” I said. He walked toward me, jabbed his finger in my face, and said, “No I want to talk to you. You’re some big rock star; you played the part of Jesus Christ Superstar. Now, are you ready to meet the real Jesus Christ?” ” No,” I said. “You’ve got a lot of nerve coming in here trying to talk to me, Bozo. Nobody asked you nothing about Jesus Christ. Get out of my face.” The Disipio motioned to his crew asking them to come over here and pray for me. I got back at him with,” Don’t pray for me. Pray for your mama. You know who your mama is shes a whore!” Nick was obviously wearing the full armour of God because he did not flinch. You have to know that I was heavily possessed by demons.
Spirit vs Spirit.
For a skinny little 128 pound rock and roller to yell in the face of an ex-mafia construction worker, calling his mother a whore, is sure sign that something wasn’t right. After that, I spit at Nick and told that my limousine driver had a .38 calibre revolver and I would have him kill anyone who touched me. Since they were on my property I had the right to do that. At the top of his lungs, Nick yelled, “Go get your limousine driver.” “Yeah, ” I said, ” You want to see Uncle Knuckles and his revolver?” “Yes”, said Nick,” Go get him and tell him to come in here. If he can get past the blood of Jesus Christ, you tell Uncle Knuckles to be my guest. Bring him in and we’ll pray for him too.” NICK HAD NO FEAR.
I had realised that nothing intimidated these guys. I ran out of the room and locked myself in my bedroom. I got on my knees and started shaking. Ma, I need drugs I thought. I got up and went to the bathroom. As I was taking the drugs out of the medicine cabinet a voice spoke to me. At that point in knew I was right in the middle of spiritual warfare. I believed it was the Lord speaking to me saying, “Go ahead you do need drugs.” Startled I put the pills back even though I thought that was what I needed. When I look back I realise that the voice was a demon who was trying to finish me off.
I was so confused and in such a panic I didn’t know who was talking to me. I didn’t know the difference between Satans voice and Gods voice. I only knew that I was desperate. Then I thought, I need some whisky. I’ve got to go downstairs and get some. I need something bad. I’m hearing voices I’m paranoid. I’m having panic attacks continuously.
I need to be drunk or in bed with another girl, constantly doing something to occupy my mind. If I ever let down for even a minute I’ll freak out. If I got on a rocket ship and went to the moon I’d still be paranoid. There’s no place to run no place to hide. I’m in for the ride. And then I silently screamed from the depths of my soul, “I need something!” After three hours of wrestling with the holy spirit, I finally decided to go downstairs and let them pray for me.
Satans last hold.
When I made that decision a voice spoke to me from the depths of hell. A spirit that had been tormenting me for years said to me, ” Those are not Christians. You’ve been in the occult and the devil knows you’re about to reach out to God, so satan has sent his men there. I am God and I warn you they have been sent from a satanic church. You don’t know where there from. Your wife doesn’t really know who they are. Do they look like Christians to you? They have been sent to ask you if you want to receive Jesus as Lord and if you say yes they will kill on the spot. Because you played the part of Jesus the devil does not want to let you go.” Talk about being paranoid! All I knew was I was at the end of my rope.
I could see that the long wide road I had been following had split in two leading in two different directions. One lead to Heaven the other to Hell. It was time to make a decision. Even though I didn’t know how to pray I knelt down and cried,” GOD WHOEVER YOU ARE TRUE GOD, IM SPEAKING TO YOU NOW. IF THESE MEN ARE SATANISTS AND I GO DOWNSTAIRS AND THEY KILL ME TODAY, THEN WHEN I COME BEFORE YOU I WANT TO REMEMBER THAT I DIED LOOKING FOR YOU.” I stood up, locked the door of my bedroom and started down the hall and down the back staircase.
As I moved along I felt every muscle in my body become rigid. It seemed like I needed a pill or a drink to take the edge off my nerves. But I refused to give in; I just kept walking. When I approached the door to the back wing of the house I took a deep breath. I thought ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS DOOR IS EITHER LIFE OR DEATH. Then I opened the door When I came in all the men stopped their work and started staring at me. Nick walked up close and said, “PRAISE GOD!” As I looked at him I thought to myself about outsmarting them. I remembered what that voice had told about them being Satanists so I told Nick, “I’m not into Jesus and I don’t want to be. But of you guys want to pray for me then go ahead.
Lets see who your God is. In my heart I was speaking these words: JESUS, IF YOU ARE REAL, HELP ME. Those when came at me like stampeding buffalos. They laid hands on me and began to pray. “I BIND YOU SATAN IN THE NAME OF JESUS,” they said. As they spoke a feeling of terror came upon me. I started to scream and I tried to run. As I turned around a big dude grabbed me and put me in a stronghold. Then he said, “YOU AINT GOING NOWHERE FELLA PRAISE THE LORD! JESUS CHRIST!”
Spirit filled and Set Free.
That’s the last thing I remember The next thing I knew I was down on my knees full of Hell but then I stood up clear minded and washed in the blood of Jesus. I looked up at these men and said, “My God! something has left me something has happened.” “How do you feel now,” asked Nick. I said that it felt like my back had opened up and an anvil had been lifted out of the inside of my spine. I stared at those men and I began to jump up and down leaping for joy. I began giggling like a school girl. I asked Nick,” What has happened? What did you do!” Nick answered, “WE PRAYED FOR YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS AND HE HAS DELIVERED YOU BY HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD. HE HAS SAVED YOU FROM ALL THAT GARBAGE YOUVE BEEN INTO.” ” If this is Jesus,” I answered, ” I want him right now! What do I do? I want Jesus! I want more.” “PRAY WITH US, ” the men said, “AND RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOR.”
If the Son, therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. John 8:36
I got on my knees and prayed the sinner’s prayer: ” FATHER I COME TO YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS. I AM A SINNER. DEAR JESUS THANK YOU FOR DELIVERING ME. THANK YOU FOR SETTING ME FREE. WASH ME IN YOUR PRECIOUS BLOOD. HEAL ME AND CLEAN ME UP. MAKE ME A NEW PERSON. LORD, ILL SERVE YOU FOREVER AND EVER I BELONG TO FATHER, SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST NOW AND FOREVER. JESUS I PRAISE YOU! JESUS, JESUS, JESUS. When I finished with AMEN. Everyone said, “AMEN.” It was bringing me joy and peace and power. My mind felt so strong and so clear. I knew that I would never see drugs or alcohol again as long as I served the LORD JESUS CHRIST. I WAS FREE! I WAS FREE INDEED!
Jeff went on to make Albums in the secular world then in Christian music he was a regular on T.B.N a Christian T.V Channel He was also National Chairman of Youth for “Washington For Jesus”, he toured as a “singing evangelist” throughout Mexico, South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, South Africa, the Soviet Union, and the United States. and to this day Jeff has speaking engagements.
And one more up to date.
To read Jeff full story you can order his book.
Thanks for reading this powerful testimony of a man with a gift from God and hs battle with the darkness to control him