The story I’m about to tell is true; every word of it. Many of you will struggle to believe it and I can understand that; it seems farcical because what happened is farcical. I wish I hadn’t witnessed it, but maybe by sharing this story I can start processing it. Maybe.
I used to attend a Pentecostal Church but it was more of a cult than a church. I had a dear friend at this church whom I shall call Gloria, and she had breast cancer. The cancer ate away at her body for years. She had months of chemotherapy and many operations. She had both breasts removed as well as a radical hysterectomy to try and stop the spread of the cancer. She battled this disease for five years and I watched her wither in front of my eyes.
Gloria was more than just a good friend; she was a wife and a mother of four young children. Throughout her battle with cancer she did her best to mother her children and to give them some stability. She failed in many ways as you’d expect with one so very ill, but she also showered them with a great deal of love and affection. Each child had no doubt as to the depth of their mother’s love. The sicker Gloria became, the more her children withdrew from her. It was easier for them to pull away and try to remain indifferent to her rather than allow themselves to be crushed with her impending death. Her daughter in particular made Gloria’s life very difficult and expressed nothing but hatred and bitterness. I think that is understandable in a child who is terrified of being abandoned by her mother. Gloria was wise enough to know this and continued to love her children fiercely. This is a very important feature in this sad story.
Gloria had a great deal of prayer and ministry from the church for her illness. She tried to name it and claim it, and she denied that she was ill. She stood faithfully by every healing Scripture she could find and she filled her heart and mind with the rubbish of Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. She believed in what they taught about healing and miracles and she was so faithful to their teachings. The church showered her in prayer and believed for her healing. Not once did they entertain the thought that she could actually die. The worship leader would often proclaim that death is not of the Lord and therefore Gloria would not die.
Gloria became so gravely ill that she ended up in palliative care. By this stage I had left the church/cult and was trying to deal with the after effects of that. I went to see her and she told me that she wanted to die. She wanted people to stop praying for her healing and to just let her die. The visits from the church members were upsetting and frustrating her as they would tell her to be strong and stop being faithless, when all she wanted was some understanding and love. They failed her badly. Until the day she actually died, they told her she was wrong and lacked faith. They just could not allow her to die.
Gloria died peacefully after a five year battle. She was totally unrecognisable by the time she died. A former beauty queen had shriveled into nothing more than a bag of bones covered by tight, yellow skin. The disease had ravished her beyond comprehension.
Upon Gloria’s death, the children were told the news that their mother had passed. They were grief stricken and shocked, despite knowing it was going to happen. But wait!! Before the children had time to truly comprehend the devastating news, their auntie and a close friend of hers told the children that mummy wasn’t really dead. Mummy was going to be risen from the dead just like Jesus, to show her unbelieving family that Jesus is real. Wow! The kids were so excited. Mummy wasn’t really dead so let’s not grieve. Life can just go on as normal.
Gloria’s unbelieving parents and sisters waited to find out when the funeral would be. They wanted to grieve and bury their beloved sibling. They wanted to take part in the service and to help with the children. Gloria’s weak husband, allowed his sister and her friend to take over the entire proceedings and to stop the funeral from taking place. Meanwhile, they paid an African faith-healer to fly to Australia and raise Gloria from the dead. All of this took two weeks, so Gloria’s body sat in the fridge at the morgue whilst the grieving family watched on in absolute horror, unable to do a thing to change it. The children were hopeful and excited. Mummy would not only be raised from the dead, but she’d be one hundred percent healed. How perfect life would be!
The charlatan from Africa and his wife finally arrived and were taken to the morgue. The church stood by in delight and expectation, awaiting the miracle that would make history. The charlatan prayed and cried out to God. He uttered his formulas and pleadings and still nothing happened. For days this went on and he cautioned everyone to stand with him in faith; the miracle would happen at any time, guaranteed. But the miracle never happened. Gloria did not rise from the dead. Not even a toe on her cold, dead body was brought back to life. He was paid his money and flew back home, nothing lost. The children had to be told. But what to tell them? Had the charlatan failed? No, of course not. Gloria failed. Gloria lacked faith, even though she was stone cold dead, and she did not want to come back to life. Her children were told that mummy didn’t rise from the dead because she didn’t want to come back. Mummy’s death the second time around was even more devastating than the first. They’d been abandoned. And what of the unbelieving family? Their hatred for “Christianity” is stronger than ever. What they witnessed will haunt them for their whole lives.
So where is Gloria’s family now? In unbelief. The husband had his new girlfriend and her children move in within months of the funeral. Gloria’s children have grown into rebellious, wild, unbelievers. The daughter is promiscuous and precocious. Not one of those children (who are now in their late teens) believes in the one true God. Their lives were shattered by the demonic, foul wiles of the enemy, allowed to run rampant in this poor excuse for a church. Where the truth is replaced with lies and experiences, there is always danger ahead. I’m sure there is a moral to this story but I can’t think of one. All I can do is mourn the loss of my beautifulfriend and the callous destruction of her family. And surprise surprise, the church was not willing to pick up the pieces of the mess they created. They wiped their hands and walked away.