Do you ever lay awake at night asking life’s deepest questions? What’s our purpose? Where do we come from? Is death final? Are we more than flesh and bone? What is truly real?
For many who do ask, the answers will typically divide us into two groups: those who believe in God and/or life after death (aka the “spiritual” or “religious”) and those who do not (aka the “logical” and “practical” realists). But I have found a third group: those of us who say with our mouths, “Yes, we believe in life after death…” but live and think like realists, ignoring any sense of a spiritual realm and basing interaction in the world only on what we see and feel. I was one of them.
Like many, I say that I believe in the Bible and what it says. I’m supposed to believe in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
If I believe as I say I believe, then the “spiritual and heavenly realms” should be a reality to me. But they were not. Enter Arche in Haiti: a place, a time and a trip that would challenge and transform what I truly believe.
We traveled almost 2 hours by bus to a remote Christian school, warned that we were going to a rural area. In Haiti, the more rural an area, the more “spiritual” they get. We were told to be aware we might get resistance from voodoo priests and witchdoctors who oversaw the village. (note: It is common for the average Haitian to believe in God and still practice voodoo).
After some teaching in the school, we moved outside where we realized we would quickly have to improvise with activities to spend more time with the kids. So we played duck duck goose, Simon says, read story books and sang songs while the size of our crowd tripled as others from the village (adults included) came to see what we were doing. The demand for our time did not cease while our games and resources did. At one point, the pastor leaned over to me and asked if I had any other ideas. I panicked when my mind went blank but then a single thought entered.
“Can we offer to pray for them?” I asked. Pastor Brian smiled and nodded and had the translator ask the children for prayer requests. (Some of this story was already shared in part two: https://godslovetransforms.com/2013/07/19/loves-miracles-the-haiti-series-part-two/
Among children was a 12 year old girl who shyly giggled and hid her face while raising her hand. When we called on her, she embarrassingly put her hands down and to her side and I wondered if she was just doing it for attention or showing off for her friends. Honestly, I didn’t think her request would be a genuine one. I was wrong. What she asked for stunned me.
“I would like more of Jesus.”
I had to have the translator clarify the question. What does she mean “more”? Did that mean she knew him already? She nodded yes. Did she believe Jesus was the Son of God, the one true way to heaven? She nodded. She believed in Him and wanted…MORE? She nodded and smiled shyly. So, our team started to pray for this adorable, yet strange request for “more” of Jesus. At one point, we had her repeat statements of truth such as:
I am a daughter of God.
I am beautiful.
I am loved.
I am special.
She never got those final words out because to the surprise of us all, that young girl went limp and fell forward. The team reached out to bear her weight and help her to ground where she immediately did something I had never witnessed; something super “weird.”
She started to writhe, her eyes rolled in the back of her head and her hands started to fly around. It almost looked like a seizure and yet the nurse on our team confirmed it was not. Her back arched and slammed down and she made noises/sounds with her mouth. Someone commanded that no harm come to her and commanded her body to be at peace. She stilled but her eyes raced like she was watching a frenzy of activity in some invisible place. And then, as quickly as it started, her eyes focused on something… or someone we could not see. First, awe touched her face. Then recognition. And then innocent tears of gratitude. She started to weep and a look came across her face that I can only describe as amazed. The silence among us confirmed that something significant just happened: something beyond us; something unexplainable.
When she finally seemed like she was “back”, the young girl looked spent of all energy. She could barely hold up her head and simply wanted to rest. We asked her what happened and her first response was “Beautiful.” Thinking she misunderstood, we asked again. She said, “so beautiful and I’m here. I am here.” A little tear ran down her face and I could sense no guile, drama or reason why any of what just happened was something she faked. I couldn’t help but set aside the “weirdness” and want a glimpse into what this little girl had just seen and experienced. I was convinced it was spiritual and divine.
We later learned that little girl was the daughter of the only voodoo priest left in the village. When we got back on the bus, the team roared to life with questions! So many of us had been “believers” for years and never seen anything like that before.
For the realists and skeptics, this will be just a story someone made up to reinforce a theory of life after death. They would say, “Naw. Death is final. There’s life and then you die and that’s it.” For the spiritual, this may be confirming or frightening, depending on what you truly believe. For me… it was faith-changing.
Jesus often talked about “blindness.” In Matthew 13:13, He said, “This is why I speak in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Like the little girl in Haiti, Jesus saw into realms invisible to us and yet surrounding us, influencing us and very much a part of our present and eternal life. He often prayed, “Have ears to HEAR and eyes to SEE” because He understood that spiritual blindness is our greatest threat to a full and eternal life.
I was someone who declared with my mouth but didn’t really believe. Only by the grace of God did He open my eyes to the unseen. Thanks to the faith of a young 12 year old girl, I whole-heartedly believe that the spiritual is not only real, it’s MORE real than what we perceive as real (i.e. the here and now). Instead of creating anxiety, this new revelation has brought a sense of peace. I have peace that if God is faithful to that little girl and graceful enough to open my unbelieving eyes…then surely, He is loving and patient enough to teach this child more about things invisible but ever-so-important things. Surely…He will bring more understanding of His person, His plan and His purpose. Surely, He has brought more assurance of the heavenly One and the heavenly realm. As I breath, I now believe in the “Beautiful” One that girl saw that day. And like her, I now yearn for more of Jesus: more sight to see and know Him now until that glorious day all the layers of this current reality are peeled away and we get to see Him face to face.
May we all have the innocent prayers of a child, the love of the Father who answers and the freedom of open eyes to see beyond the limitations of the flesh and blood into our eternal purpose.
In Jesus Name,