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Monday, November 17, 2014

Visions of Jesus, Miraculous Protection

I recently watched a video of a Muslim man who converted to Christianity after reading a Bible and seeing a vision of Jesus. Here is the teaser from Charisma News:

Kamran grew up in a Muslim family, but despite their lackadaisical religious practice, Kamran dove deeper into Islam. “I became [a] very, very, very strict Muslim for the thirst and hunger I had for [the] creator of the world,” the man said. “I used to think his name was Allah ... and I strongly believed all his rules.” Kamran’s passion for the creator, to do what is right and go to heaven, led him to dozens of Islamic books, as he believed he would "get extra credit" for reading the Quran multiple times. “I was always so hungry, thirsty, desperate to get to know God.” When he went to church, Kamran saw a man standing behind the pastor, and he knew right away that this man was Jesus.

You can hear Kamran’s testimony here:

When I subbed for the regular adult Sunday School teacher at my Lutheran Church, I decided to stir the pot a little. The topic was the Holy Spirit, so I asked the members to share experiences of when God spoke to them, showed them something, or protected them. Lutherans believe in the Trinity, but they don’t talk much about the Holy Spirit and don’t know much of what the Bible says about it. I was blown away by several fascinating stories came out that day. God’s hand of protection and guidance was clearly manifested.

Steve Bowers and his friend were joy riding on their quads (4-wheel off-road vehicles) along an isolated, winding dirt road in northern California. They drove up in truck and trailer in the dark, then headed off on the quads to a potential hunting site. Steve’s quad was behind his friend. It was just getting light when the quad in front rode into a muddy hole, splashing dirty water onto Steve’s face. The uncomfortable surprise caused him to turn is wheel to the side, throwing his quad into a ditch next to a mountain. The quad rolled and crushed his arm. The arm was broken with bones sticking out several places. The elbow bone was severed from the arm.

When the friend noticed that Steve had rolled, he ran back in shock and panic. Meanwhile, Steve got up and ran toward his friend. He must have gone out of body for a second or two because he remembers seeing himself running on the road, holding his head. Blood was gushing everywhere. He told the friend to find two sticks for a splint. Steve actually splinted his arm with two sticks and a rope and made a tourniquet. He told his friend that he would have to drive to a hospital with Steve on the back of his quad. Both grimly knew the hopelessness of that situation. They were in the mountains hours away from help. Steve was getting dizzy and knew he was in serious trouble.

At that moment, two guys in a truck came around the curve. They just happened to have a flat bed truck with a camper on it and a mattress in the bed of the truck. That’s where they put Steve for a long, bumpy ride to a hospital. Steve’s friend drove his own quad back to where they had parked. He was able to bring their truck and trailer back to pick up Steve’s quad. It took almost four hours to get to the main road. Twenty minutes later, they were at Clear Lake Hospital in Clear Lake. Meanwhile, a call had been put out to Steve’s wife Kelly in Sacramento. She was picked up by the friend’s wife who drove her to Clear Lake.

Steve’s insurance, Kaiser, has specialty hospitals. They refused to allow Clear Lake Hospital to touch Steve. They wanted him in Santa Rosa where there were surgeons who knew how to deal with compound fractures. They called in two surgeons and sent an ambulance to Clear Lake to take Steve and Kelly to Santa Rosa. Steve wanted to thank the two strangers who took him there. He asked about them, but they were already gone and no one even remembered seeing them at all. The EMTs put the elbow bone in Steve’s hand as he drove off.

They arrived at Kaiser Hospital in Santa Rosa about 7 pm. The surgeons told Kelly that the best thing to do is take the arm. Steve had already signed a permission form allowing that. Kelly wouldn’t hear of it. Steve is a tall, burly hunter and builder. His friend could not turn Steve’s quad upright with two arms. Steve did it with his one good arm. The surgeons told her that if he kept it he would never be able to use it, but Kelly was adamant. Five hours later, the surgery was over. Today, Steve’s arm is completely muscular and normal. You would never know that it had once been so damaged. (Below, the Bowers)

Bruce B. has always loved skydiving. Even after two knee replacements, jumping out of airplanes over Davis, California was his favorite hobby. In 2009, when he was around 66 years old, he had a terrifying experience, which he tells in his own words.

"My main chute did not did not open at all.  I attempted to pull the reserve parachute ripcord but in my haste, failed to visually locate it. This caused me to miss the ripcord and be pulling on another part of my rig.  I quit trying to maintain free fall stability and continued pulling as hard as I could as I tumbled toward the ground at terminal velocity. I could see the ground coming up at an alarming rate. It was then that I heard the voice say, "You're going to die". At that point it came to me to do what I had failed to do, visually locate the reserve ripcord.  My error became obvious, I pulled the ripcord, and instantly felt the extremely violent jerk that comes from the opening of a reserve parachute at terminal velocity. I was safe under a beautiful open canopy at 600 feet, 3 1/2 seconds from impact at terminal velocity.

Incidentally, I had to use my reserve again about two years later. On that occasion, the main chute was a spinning, tangled mess and any attempt to fly it to a landing would not have been successful nor would it have been survivable. I released the main and came down under the reserve. With the main chute deployed (although a mess) and slowing me down a bit and with me properly pulling the reserve ripcord, this incident had no real drama."

I asked Bruce if he still skydives. He said that after 70, he doesn’t bounce as well as he used to, so now he just rides motorcycles, but he misses jumping out of airplanes.

There was Judy M., who was driving along with her kids in a station wagon. They were behind a semi truck with a large flat bed trailer. It was loaded with steel pipes chained on the back. The truck stopped at the top of a steep hill. Judy was right behind it. For some reason, she decided to back all the way down the hill. Suddenly the chains broke and the steel pipes came rolling down the hill. They stopped sliding right in front of her car. She was sure that if she hadn’t backed down the hill, the pipes would have gone through her windshield. Her kids thought it was exciting. When she got home, she began to shake and fall apart. I asked her later, “What were you thinking when you were backing down the hill? Were you thinking that you were nuts to do that?” She answered, “I wasn’t thinking. I don’t know why I did that. I've never done anything like it before or since.”

Patricia Z. was driving along in the city on a triple-digit morning. She saw a woman weaving along the sidewalk. She thought to herself, “Boy she’s getting started early.” A voice spoke to her and said, “She’s not drunk, and you are the only one who knows what’s wrong with her.” Pat immediately realized that she was suffering from overheating and was in a dangerous state. Pat whipped into a parking lot, ran into a store and got two bottles of cold water. Then she went to the woman and invited her to sit with her in a cool store. The woman had been walking a long way and would have to walk a long way back. Pat just may have saved her life.

Steve Bowers had another story to share. It occurred a few years back, about the time he and Kelly began to attend our church. He got a shard of steel in his eye. The ER removed it, but it became infected. He was in constant, burning pain which medication could not assuage. One night he was sitting in bed praying. Suddenly the pain stopped. Immediately after, he saw a vision of Jesus standing beside the bed. I asked him what Jesus looked like. Steve felt that he was shown an image of Jesus about the way he expected him to look, with hair and beard and robe. The vision faded and so did the pain in his eye. The infection healed and his eye is fine today.

All of these people were moved and protected by the Holy Spirit even though at the time, they didn’t know a lot about how God works and speaks.