11 years old, so full of life, with a singing voice like an angel. “Brrrryan!” he would scream at me from halfway across the base. I have seen him at every Tuesday night home group for worship and prayer. The first weekend I was here we had a youth retreat, which was a really awesome time of spiritual awakening and renewal for many of our youth. At home group the following week, they asked if any of the youth would like to share how God impacted their lives. He was the first one to talk. It was so cute – he started telling every little detail about the weekend, even down to “And then I went to the bathroom! And then…” He went on and on… so excited… the other kids could barely hold back their giggles. I was having a hard time myself. Eventually João told him that was enough and he just smiled and laughed and let someone else talk.
But where was he tonight? I looked around as I was leading worship, staring at each little face intensely. There was one boy who looked like him, but I was certain that wasn’t him. No, Domingos’ smile was way too cute and bright for this kid to be him. His smile lights up the whole room – so full of life and Jesus. I went on about worship and the rest of home group… went back to my two-room house… talked on Skype for a little while. A little after midnight, as I was on the phone just ending a conversation, the power went out. It felt eerie, like some shadow of darkness had overtaken.
I decided to leave the light switches on so I would know when the power came back on. I got in bed. It was quieter than usual. There was no loud music to keep us up all night coming from the village next door. Only the sound of the wind blowing the trees… and two mosquitoes buzzing around my net.
I glanced over quickly into the darkness of the other room, expecting to see someone standing there. Things did not feel right. I got up and grabbed my flashlight and knife out of my bag and put them under my pillow. I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up itching like crazy with two large mosquito bites on my hand. I had moved in my sleep and my hand was against the net. I could still hear them buzzing. I grabbed my flashlight and saw them flying around outside the net. At least they weren’t inside. I drifted back to sleep.
I was jolted awake with a vision of a demon strangling someone. Its red eyes glared into mine in the vision. I drifted back to sleep.
Jolted awake again… by the screams of a missionary woman in the house next to me. I grabbed my knife and jumped out of bed. I heard another woman comforting her. I couldn’t make out any of the conversation. I slipped back into bed and awoke a few hours later….
…Woken up to the news that Domingos was dead. He woke the other boys in his room screaming early in the morning. An educator had come to their door and told the women that he was already gone – the scream that woke me earlier. She went to their house. She found one of this two brothers just staring at him, blinking, with a blank stare on his face, unable to take it in. Only three days ago he became sick with a fever. We found out after the fact that he had been hallucinating… a symptom of cerebral malaria.
My heart broke. How could this be happening? This kind of thing happens to children that live in the middle of the bush with no access to doctors or hospitals or medicine. It’s not supposed to happen here. Why didn’t I ask someone why he wasn’t at home group? God pointed out to me he wasn’t there. I knew it was unusual for him to miss. I could have prayed with him if I had known he was sick. I have seen people on their death beds with malaria rise up, completely healed.
Angie shared she had received a prophetic word about resurrection life that was spoken over her before she came to mission school this summer. I’d received a similar word. The thoughts were going through my mind, but I was afraid to ask. Yes, they had already come to take him.
“We can go if you want to.”
I went back to my house, got down on the grass mat and cried. This was not the first time God had prompted me to pray for a dead child. The last time, in the United States, I was disobedient. I cried out, “God, if you want me to go, you’re going to have to give me a sign. Turn the power back on!” Instantly, the lights came on. I picked myself up off the floor and realized I would just have to go – there was no way around it.
I went back to Carla’s house. “Okay, let’s go. We have to go.” “Where?” someone else asked. “To the hospital, to pray for Domingos. How are we ever going to see people raised from the dead if we don’t ever start praying for them? Even if we pray for 100 dead people before we see someone raised from the dead, we have to start with one.” I told them how I went back to my house and asked God for a sign and he provided it instantly. Angie confirmed it… “I told God if you came back, then I would have the courage to be obedient too,” and she shared that as she was praying during that time, she was reminding God how easy it was for Him to bring life back to someone, just as easy as it was for Him to turn the lights back on — and instantly they had come on mid-sentence.
We couldn’t find our translators, but Angie spoke enough Portuguese from studying six years of Spanish that she was confident she could communicate at the hospital. We set off walking to the hospital. I remembered a dream I’d had about seeing someone raised from the dead while I was here in Dondo. I remembered that two nights ago I was reading in a book on contemplative prayer some practical things to pray when you get in a situation to pray for a dead person. Too many things coming into alignment. We prayed the whole way there, for favor, for Holy Spirit to be with us.
Eventually we found the mortuary, which was several buildings behind the hospital. Lots of people were sitting outside on the ground. The second door we knocked on, we found someone. Angie did the talking. The conversation went something like this.
“We are looking for a child that was brought in this morning, Domingos Fernando. We would like to pray for him.”
— “I’m sorry, but you can’t come in.”
“We would really like to pray for this child.”
— “But he’s already in the freezer.”
“We understand that.”
— “But you need masks and suits to come in here.”
“No we don’t. We need to pray for him.”
As she was talking, I looked beyond the door. Three men were working, dressed in gas masks, rubber gloves, and aprons. I saw coffins on the floor. The stench was horrible.
“Please wait here.”
The door shut.
The door opened.
He asked us to wait again. I saw them putting a body on a table.
The door shut.
The door opened.
“Please come to the other door.”
We asked for some time alone. For almost an hour, we prayed and interceded for him. God’s presence was so thick with us as we prayed over this child. We sang worships songs to Jesus. We declared God’s word. At 11:30am we were told that we had to leave because they needed the room and table for a funeral. We pulled the capulana back over his face and chest. Angie went to the bathroom. A few minutes later, the Mozambicans who had been waiting outside entered the room where we had been and proceeded with a Catholic funeral service — of song, of “Hail Mary full of grace…” in Portuguese.
The man we had been communicating with came out of the other room as Angie came out of the bathroom. He offered to drive us to wherever we needed to go. We explained that we had friends coming to take Angie to the airport to go back home. He asked if he could walk with us. As we walked and talked with him, he smiled as he shared that he was the pastor of an Assembly of God church here in Dondo and he knew our purpose in coming to pray. He also told us that his wife was sick and had gone to stay with her mother and he had stayed here to work and take care of two of their children.. We prayed with him before we left, that God would quickly bring her healing and reunite the family.
Angie got a word of scripture right as they were coming in to ask us to leave:
“I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” John 5:25 (NIV).
God’s promises over Domingos are “yes” and “amen” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). Even though we didn’t see it today, he is in heaven now and the fulfillment of our prayers will come with the shout of Jesus and the trumpet call of God, when Domingos receives his resurrection body and together we meet the Lord in the air:
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NIV)
I came back to the base after we saw Angie off at the airport. We had a time of prayer together before several of our friends went to Zimbabwe. Jeff asked if I could lead the Bible study for the boys tomorrow at 8:00am. Normally they meet on Wednesday mornings, but because of the circumstances, they decided to postpone it until tomorrow. They read a chapter a week. They are in the book of John.
This morning was supposed to be chapter 11… the death and resurrection of Lazarus.
Jesus, give me strength..