I have always felt that the differences between Native American beliefs and Christianity are only in the way the Story is told. I have long believed that the Great Spirit and God are one in the same. After all, God tells us that there is only One God for all peoples, no matter what we call him.
I am not a Native American, my ancestors come from England and Germany. I was raised in a Congregational church where they taught me about God and Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity. As an adult, I became disenchanted with organized religion and sought a more personal relationship with Him. For many years I took Him for granted, I knew He was there because He said so. I just didn't feel any special closeness at that time. I was in church choir, and attended Sunday school. I even taught little ones for a time.
After I finished high school, I went for 2 years to Junior College and then I worked in a department store for awhile. While working at the store, I the man that I marrried. He was not a Christian, he was divorced and had 5 kids. Soon, we added our own little one to the family. I used to tell the kids about Jesus. I would buy the story books and Children's Bibles to share with them. Still, the closeness wasn't really there, not that I could feel anyway. We had temporary custody of his kids for the first three years of our marriage and then his exwife came and got them.
I went to church off and on over the years. I took my daughter to Sunday School and for many years she was in the children's choir. Jim, even though he hadn't been saved, never objected to our going, but as the years went by, we drifted away from church. The final straw was when, after my husband died, we sought counselling through the pastor for my daughter and he told her that I didn't need the additional expense of professional help to guide her through her grief. (She was only 13 years old) He told her to just give her pain to the Lord and she would be fine.
It was in 1976, when Jim became ill with Cancer. By this time, we had been blessed with three children of our own. Tracy, a son, in 1969, and John,in 1974. He was a man with many flaws, but he loved his children with passion. He was good to the kids (and to me) but alcohol was his personal demon. He was never physicall abusive but the alcohol gave him a mean mouth at times and he could be very argumentative.
In November of '76, he had his first bout with the cancer. He was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. This was when I had my first encounter with an angel (I'm sure that is who he was). Everyone was asking me how I was getting to the hospital, I replied that I would drive there. A man stepped out from behind our friend and said: »No, I am here to take you there.« He put me in his car, drove me to the hospital, and stayed until my mother-in-law got there. Then he dissapeared, no one saw him leave and no one saw him again. No one knew who he was.
Jim was in and out of the hospital for the next month, he was in terrible pain the whole time. Our neighbor, a lay pastor from a Christian Reformed church, tried many times to see him. Jim always refused him. On December 18 or 19, Mr. Buikema was preparing for his evening services when he heard a voice tell him to go to Jim, that he would be ready to see him. (Mr. B told me this later) All of Jim's family was gathered at the hospital when Mr. B arrived. We were all concerned about Jim's reaction to his presence, so I took the doctor aside and asked him to go in the room with Mr. B. Normally, he wouldn't do that, he said, but because he'd known me since I was a child, he would. When we came out of the room across from Jim's, Mr. B. was already coming out of his room. His family was in tears, and his brother, who didn't believe in anything, reached out, shook Mr. B's hand, and through his tears thanked him for what he had done. Mr. B motioned for me to go on in and said he would see me at home later. I went in the room, Jim was resting comfortably for the first time. There was such a look of peace on his face. Mr. B. told me later, that Jim had become as a child, they prayed together, and Jim asked for forgiveness and accepted Jesus into his heart.
The next day, Monday, the doctor said that Jim might not make it through Christmas. I went and prayed. I asked that He take Jim Home that night and to please take the pain away first. That day, Jim refused any thing to eat or drink and later, that night, he shed his pajamas and would not put them back on. He then went to sleep for awhile. I also went to sleep (they had brought a roll away bed in for me). Jim's sister stayed there with me that night.
I slept for 2 or 3 hours when I was awakened by a male voice calling my name. Jim was the only man in the room, and he was to weak to even whisper, let alone call out. I feel, in my heart, that it was the voice of the one who brought me to the hospital that day, the same voice, perhaps that told Mr. B. that Jim was ready. When I went to his bedside, I could see that the pain was gone, his breathing was somewhat labored, and the end was near. Jim died that morning, December 21, 1976, quietly, free from pain and full of the Love of Jesus. I know that I will see him again.
I know that this is a very long letter, but I wanted to share just ONE of the miracles the Lord has given to my family. There are two more major ones that He has blessed this family with. Some day I would like to share those with you too. I look back and see so many things that He has done to Bless my life with and I am in awe. HE REALLY DOES LOVE ME !
Love and Peace, Your sister in Christ, Barb