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Believe Me, God Is Real!
By Roy Davidson
Excerpt adapted from 'God is Real' by Roy Davidson.
In 1984 Reverend A. D. Van Hoose was a guest speaker at our church. He invited everyone in our congregation to join him on a mission trip to Haiti, where he operated an orphanage for boys. When this invitation was made, my first reaction was, “Not me; I’m sick. I’m not going anywhere.”
My wife brought the handout literature about the orphanage home with her. She slipped it to me and said, “I think you should call them. I think you should go.” It was very unlike her to want me to go. I thought, “OK, I’ve got plenty of time on my hands. I’ll be a good Samaritan and go help build a concrete-block school building in Haiti.”
I signed on for the team and met up with the rest of the volunteers in Evansville, Indiana. There were a couple women and about nine or ten men, including myself. Along for this mission were Reverend A. D. Van Hoose and his son, Reverend Rick Van Hoose.
I had only been attending a church for three years myself, but in that time I had developed the opinion that pastors and men who called themselves Christians were more refined or dignified than the average person. I thought men of God had to be serious, reserved, and more sophisticated than the average man. So I thought being a volunteer missionary was going to put me in the presence of holy, somber men. Well, not these guys. They told jokes, argued at times, and acted like regular, everyday Joe’s, like myself. That was a relief in one way, but I questioned myself as to how much they could know about God and still act so normal.
Haiti has the reputation of being one of the most poverty-stricken nations on Earth. Even though I had traveled overseas for business, this was my first time to experience a third-world country beyond the tourist spots. When we arrived in Haiti and stepped out of the plane, the first thing I noticed was the stench of urine in the air. It was so strong it about knocked me over. Walking down the sidewalks of the city streets we had to stay a couple feet away from the buildings. Raw sewage from drain pipes dumped right out of the sides of the buildings onto the sidewalks at just about shoe height. To avoid getting wet feet or legs, we couldn’t walk too close to the buildings.
I had seen plenty of poverty on television, but walking in its midst was gut wrenching. Scarcely clad, ragged, dirty, hungry, handicapped people were everywhere. With their teary eyes and sad faces, it was no longer just a scene on TV, but a painful reality that made me sigh heavily.
Haiti only had two classes of people: rich and poverty-stricken. Throughout the countryside you see large mansions protected by stone walls around all four sides. Along every inch of those walls are cardboard, tin, and straw huts pressed together in an endless chain. Naturally there was crime in Haiti, but their motive for crime was purely survival, not greed. They stole food, not luxuries. The Haitian security had a very effective means of crime prevention there. If you got caught stealing a piece of fruit or loaf of bread, they cut off your hand.
At the worksite of the boy’s orphanage there was no machinery; everything had to be done by hand. It was like going back a hundred years in time. The work was hard. My job was to dig foundation footings in the hard-packed clay soil with a hand pick and shovel, and transport concrete for the footings over the rough terrain in a wheelbarrow. This strenuous physical work was not the thing to be doing with a sensitive, bleeding stomach.
Well, sure enough, about halfway through this mission, I suffered from the most severe ulcer illness I ever had. The medicine I brought with me was doing nothing for the pain or bleeding. I couldn’t work, walk, or even move. I told Randy, one of the other men on the team, about my illness and that I would have to stay in bed that day instead of helping at the building site. Randy lightheartedly said, “No problem. We’ll just get the guys together and lay hands on you in prayer. That way, you’ll get healed and never have this problem again.”
Randy was serious, but his attitude seemed so frivolous, it turned me off. I politely thanked him and told him that I would rather not do that. Besides, these were plain old guys.
How could they heal anybody?
I lay awake all that night. The relentless pain was in the upper part of my stomach near my rib cage. It wasn’t a burning pain. It felt more like the pain from a smashed finger or toe. It got worse, to the point I knew I was in serious trouble. The doctors had informed me that if my ulcers continued to get worse, they could become life-threatening, so I began to have thoughts like, “If I die here, I’ll never see Melainie again.” That thought drove me to submission.
The next morning, I sheepishly asked Randy to go ahead and get the other guys together to pray for me. There I was lying on an old army cot in an old army building in a remote, foreign country with five strange men circling around me, praying. They started making strange sounds like the ones I heard in the Nazarene church. I learned from working with these men that they were speaking in “tongues,” but that way of praying was most uncomfortable for me. To have them lay their hands on me was embarrassing. I wanted it to be over, and I wanted them away from me. I was sorry I caved in and asked them to do it.
The crowning insult came when one of the guys pulled out an empty bottle of Mazola Cooking Oil. I thought, “Oh, good grief. They’re going to anoint me with cooking oil? What a joke!” I was looking up through the bottom of the bottle. I could see a finger lashing from side to side trying hard to get a slight trace of oil. I watched that finger as it came down and touched my forehead. I can remember talking to God in my head and thinking, “OK, God, I’m just going to listen to these guys and see if I think there really is anything to this.”
At the instant that finger touched me, a cold sensation spread over my whole body. I was tingling all over and the room started to spin around in a circle. I felt a sensation like a cold rubber band around my forehead, and I could feel that rubber band moving slowly down my body until it seemed to lift, or disappear, out of my toes. As the band was moving down my body, I could feel the cold pain below the band and a warm, comfortable feeling above the band.
Then I felt like I was lifted up, way high up in a corner of the room. I could see the whole room from a bird’s-eye view. I could see all the guys standing around me, and I could even see myself lying on the cot. All the men’s prayers fused into one sound, and I started praying myself. I don’t remember what I prayed, but everything went black when did. It was as if I passed out. When I came to, I was alone. I don’t know how long everyone stayed in the room or when they left me, but I could tell I had been out for most of the day because it was getting dark outside.
I got up when it was time to eat dinner and felt a strange sensation. It felt like my head was detached from my body, as if my head were a balloon floating and bobbing on a string a few feet behind me as I walked along. My first thought was, “Oh, man, those guys must have drugged me or something.” Also, my stomach felt numb. The pain was so dull it was hardly noticeable.
When the first person walked up and spoke to me, I can remember replying to them in slow motion. I could hear myself talking extremely slow and in a deep, distorted tone, like when you play a record on slow speed. I asked people about this the next day, and they said I was talking and walking perfectly normal. Something else I noticed the next day was that I didn’t have any pain in my stomach and the bleeding had completely stopped. I had been passing blood constantly and heavily for the past three years, but that day I wasn’t bleeding. I didn’t have any bleeding or pain the next day, or the next day, or any day after that.
God had miraculously healed me, and He used a bunch of common men to do it. God is real!
When I got home from Haiti, I was so excited that I told everyone about how I had received a healing and didn’t have bleeding ulcers anymore. I was expecting everyone to be elated and get as excited as I was, but other than Melainie, most people’s reaction was not what I expected. In fact, there wasn’t much reaction at all. People just said things like, “Mmm, good for you,” or “Oh, that’s nice,” and went about their business like they didn’t hear a word I said. Most of them wouldn’t even look me in the face. I thought everyone was going to be thrilled with my announcement, not put-off by it. Talk about a wake-up call.
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Roy Davidson is a retired artist, corporate executive, and volunteer missionary with 19 years of experience in world missions. He has traveled to south America, Central America, and Africa with local churches and such organizations as Operation Blessing and Habitat for Humanity. Roy and his wife, Melanie, founded a humanitarian organization in Uganda called Mission Masindi. They have provided drinking water to more than 9,000 people, raised nearly $100,000 for Ugandan ministries and other relief efforts, and shared the gospel with 13,500 people. Learn more at Roy's Web site.
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