On Saturday, 21 August, we went with three members of our committee from Bethany Bible School to visit our chairperson and his family at their rural homestead. A few weeks ago, and just before the August BBS conference, one of the committee members phoned to say that the chairperson was "seriously ill" and hospitalized in Mt. Ayliff, the town nearest him (about 130 km from Mthatha). We could not go at the time, though we felt that we should visit him. Later, we received another phone call reporting that he had recovered and was back home, though not well enough yet to attend BBS. Having missed him at the conference, we set out with representatives from the committee to visit him. On that visit, we learned the story of his illness and recovery.
The chairperson, who has diabetes, had passed out, or perhaps died, one day at home. Finding him motionless, his wife began to sing and praise God. In the course of time he revived, after which an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. As his wife worshiped in this world, the chairperson, according to his testimony, experienced another. While blacked out, he felt like he was rolling, as if "in a barrel". Then he saw "God with his angels" who told him to "go back" to "finish his work".
In anticipation of our visit, a number of friends and church members had gathered to thank God for bringing the man back to life. "Today salvation has come to this house," said one of the pastors there. Another woman, taking her word from 2 Chronicles 20:15, said, "Do not fear; the battle is not yours but God's". I shared the words of Jesus upon hearing of his friend Lazarus's serious illness: "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it" (Jn. 11:4).
Indeed, Jesus' words contain great explanatory power for the experience of our chairperson's illness and recovery; not unlike Lazarus, though dead for awhile, he lived again through the power of God. More importantly, his death-not-unto-death, his life restored, was not for its own sake but "to the glory of God". His "coming back" was for him and his entire household, for those gathered together on that day--and now for us--a confirmation of faith in the God who saves, a revelation of the God who does not "give his glory to any other" (Isa 48:11).
There are other glories, other powers, other gods, on whom the people might have called. They called on the living God--and were saved.