I will never forget January 7, 2008 — the day I found out that one of my best friend’s first child was stillborn. She had only been to the doctor a few days before and everything was fine. She went into labor, went to the hospital, and when they hooked everything up, there was no heartbeat… This was six and a half years ago, and on my last camping trip, I bawled like a baby sharing this story for the first time with another good friend of mine. As soon as I heard what had happened, I felt a conviction to go pray for him to be raised from the dead. That strong conviction — the kind that makes you want to crawl in a hole and die if you’re not going to be obedient to what God is telling you to do.
Are you really going to do this if I go?
What if you don’t?
What are people going to think of me if you don’t?
If you don’t, this could really be traumatizing to these parents in a time of extreme grief.
I knew God was calling me to do it, and the weight of it made me sick to my stomach. I called several of my spiritual parents for advice, some of whom had prayed for people to be raised from the dead before (unsuccessfully, unfortunately). One of them said, “Well if you’re even calling me, then it’s probably not God telling you to go.” That wasn’t helpful at all — it was just confusing. I couldn’t get over “me.” I really didn’t have faith that God could use me for something that big. I couldn’t get over the thought of what could happen if I went and prayed and God didn’t do it. Another friend of mine had a family member who died in a car accident, and they all went and prayed for him to be raised from the dead at the morgue, and they were still dealing with the hurt from that years later.
So I didn’t. I went to the hospital. I went to the funeral. But I just didn’t have the guts. I was scared, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be representing Jesus well.
I still regret that to this day.
Do I believe God would have raised him from the dead if I had prayed? Truthfully, I can’t say. Domingos is still in Heaven with Jesus, and we gave it all we had. But I know that I didn’t give God the opportunity to use me — and I have forgiven myself for that — but it’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life. It’s a mistake I don’t ever want to repeat again.
It’s the reason why I marched around my house praying and crying and screaming for several hours when my friend’s second child was dying on the way to Vanderbilt due to heart problems the hospital didn’t catch when she was born. I contended with God, and I fought with the devil. I told God, “You promised her this child — you told me the day she was conceived to go tell her she was giving her the desire of her heart for another child, and you are not going to let this baby die. You are not that kind of Father. If that’s who you are, then I don’t know you at all!” Those are some strong words. And yes, she died for a few minutes, and God brought her back to life at the hospital. Several heart surgeries, miracles, and countless prayers and tears later, I am happy to say that as far as I know, she is a perfectly healthy little girl, released by doctors to go live life to the fullest.
All of that brings me to the events of the last month.
The last full day I was in Switzerland, I “randomly” (God appointment) met a man from Colorado who had seen many people raised from the dead. He only shared four testimonies with us… One of them was about a premature baby who had died in the hospital many hours before, and God brought her back to life with no brain damage from lack of oxygen. Another was about a lady in Tanzania who had been pregnant for five years with a stillborn baby, and they prayed and the baby started kicking and she gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby boy two days later. That man prayed for me for an impartation of his anointing, and I ended up on the floor with Holy Spirit for a while, and it was awesome. He said he felt like God would give us opportunities to pray for people to be raised from the dead within two weeks, so be open and ready.
So a friend who I used to lead worship with is a nurse at a hospital in a nearby community. Yesterday, we received an e-mail prayer request from her asking our church to pray for a baby who had not been delivered yet, but didn’t have a heartbeat. The weight of that hit me like a ton of bricks. I have to go pray for this baby and this family… I have to at least try. I texted her and gave her the two-second version and basically said, “I’m available if there’s any way possible for me to come pray!” I had no idea who this couple was, of course.
She eventually called me and told me the couple had left the hospital and would be coming in another day for delivery. She passed my number along to a person who was working, since she was off this weekend, and they said they would let the couple know there was someone who would be available to pray with them before the delivery if they wanted to. My friend did get the opportunity to pray with the couple and speak life over the baby before they left, so everyone at the hospital was very receptive to this idea. I went to bed last night with the understanding that I would be driving to that community and just hanging out in a coffee shop, waiting on the hospital to hopefully call me if the couple came back and wanted someone to pray with them.
So last night, I woke up in the middle of the night with an angel standing in the corner of the room throwing fire at my face. Sorry if that gets you out of your box. It gets me out of my box too. I was paralyzed, unable to speak, and every time it would throw fire at my face, my ears would ring really loud and I would start shaking under the power of God. It was an experience to say the least — a good experience, but one that just doesn’t happen every day. It happened at least 10-15 times before I fell back asleep. I took that as a good sign — God must be up to something here!
So I got up, drove to that community and got a Starbucks latte to start off my morning. When I fast, I still drink coffee because Hebrews. (I’m sorry if 99% of you will quit reading at this point… I totally deserve it, but I just couldn’t help myself!) They had told me to be in town around 9:00am. Around 9:45am, as I was praying, I started to experience really strong feelings of mourning and grief. I texted for an update, but didn’t find out anything for certain — only that they had not requested for me to come yet. I got a phone call later saying that they didn’t think the couple had come in to the hospital yet, so it might be good to hang around in town for a while.
I decided to go to the hospital and sit in the chapel and pray for a while. I bought this WubbaNub to pray with and to give the baby when he or she was born. I also anointed it with the King’s Garments anointing oil I had brought with me, because right now Baby was with Jesus and I wanted him or her to have the comfort of smelling that same Jesus smell when Baby got back to earth. (Psalm 45:8 gives a description of what Jesus’ robes smell like — “your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia” — I jokingly call this anointing oil the Jesus cologne!)
I spent several hours praying and contending at the hospital. The entire time, I had so much peace, and I felt God’s presence really strongly. I did find out about 1:00pm that there was some sort of miscommunication among the nurses, and the couple had in fact delivered the baby stillborn that morning, around the time I started discerning those feelings of mourning and grief. I continued to pray, knowing that God is so much bigger than I am in this situation, and there is no reason that I had to physically go lay hands on the child and pray, for God to do it. You can do a simple Google search and read articles about babies coming back to life in hospital chapels or in hospital rooms as the parents are grieving over their loss. I knew that the family would still be at the hospital, and possibly even still have the child in the room with them, so there was no reason to pack up and go home just yet. I prayed for quite a while longer until I felt peace that God was releasing me to go home. Today was a really special day otherwise — my mom’s birthday, and I had to get home and help my wife cook dinner for her and the rest of the family.
Who knows what God did today through our prayers. There were certainly a lot of us praying. I don’t believe this was an obedience test with God to see if I would jump in the car with no certainty of getting to pray for a random stranger’s stillborn child, and then turn right around and drive home without getting the opportunity. This is real life — these are real people who lost their child, and that deeply moves God’s heart. I’m glad I went and prayed at the hospital today, even though I never met the couple or found out the gender of their child, or even know their names. I was still obedient to the Lord in this. The hospital staff were amazingly gracious and open to the possibilities, and kept my number for anytime this situation arises again in the future.
I also met some Swiss people who had started a ministry team whose purpose was to be available to hospitals and churches to pray for people to be raised from the dead. I think that is so amazing. (The leader of that team also prayed for me that day.) I mean really, though– why not? God is raising the dead through Christians all over the world right now. Jesus commissioned us almost 2000 years ago and said go do the works He did and even greater things! Why not here? Why not now?
I am saving that WubbaNub for the first baby I pray for who is raised from the dead. Someday, it is going to happen. God told me when I was in Mozambique, “If you want to see the dead raised, you’re going to have to hang around dead people.” That’s a little unnerving, but it’s true. Just like if we don’t lay our hands on the sick and pray, they won’t be healed. If we don’t share Christ with the lost, they won’t get saved.
I think about what it would be like if it were me on the other side of this situation. I would want someone to pray for my child, especially if they had a burning conviction in their heart for it. It’s not about me. I don’t have the power to save anyone, heal anyone, or raise them from the dead — only Jesus Christ does. So it’s not on me to fulfill those promises of God, it’s only my responsibility to pray for God to fulfill them. Coming to that understanding has really set me free to be more obedient to the things He has called me to do in life.
But I will say again, as I posted on Facebook this morning —
Don’t sing songs like Oceans by Hillsong unless you really mean it, because God will totally call you out on it! “Did you mean those lyrics you sang? Really? Cause here’s what I’ve got for you to do today, so put your money where your mouth is, son.”
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.
In the absence of more experiential advice at this point, I can write chapter one of my book. And it will start out something like this: “Step 1 — You have to actually pray for the dead if you expect them to be raised back to life.”