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by Ethel C Pechman
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My brother, mother, and a neighbor were sitting on the porch. My brother, Jimmy, said to the neighbor, “Tell us our fortunes,” and he brought out some cards. The cards told her that we would suffer a great loss. We laughed about it. Then, all too soon we did suffer a great loss. Our mother died two days later.

The tribulation that ensued led me to accept Jesus as my savior. However, even though I had accepted Jesus, I had not yet learned to place my complete trust in Him.

A short time later, war was declared against Japan. My brother joined the army and missed being sent to Bataan and Corregidor because of illness. Life was chaotic. We lost our anchor, no direction for any of our family. My father married, then divorced, remarried and divorced again.

Several years later I became ill and had to have surgery. The doctor said I was too young to have my gall bladder removed; therefore, he removed only the stones. I was ill for an entire year and was near death.

But behind the scene was the fortune teller, Satan’s emissary of bad will. He did not let go. When a friend of mine induced me to go with her to a fortune teller (they were very popular at the time), I reluctantly agreed to go with her.

This time, the method used was a wheel with time lines and prognosis in different sections of the wheel. The fortune teller, a man, looked at the circle he had been charting; he looked at me. I saw the chart, that the last three sections were empty. I knew he was going to tell me that I would not live much longer

A short time after, my grandmother and I were shopping. When we came back to our apartment, the racking pain in my stomach was so unbearable that I had to crawl on my hands and knees up the three flights of stairs. My grandmother was very concerned and did not know how to help me.

A short time later, because I could no longer navigate the stairs, my husband, John, and I, moved to the upstairs of a double house. (We could not find an apartment on the first floor.) I did not want to baby myself, and forced myself to do something useful. I tried to wash my car, but I struggled cleaning it, made no headway and gave up. I talked with the lady downstairs.

She asked, “Don’t you feel well? You look so thin and grey.” I answered, “I had gall bladder surgery last year, and have not yet recovered.”

I prayed and asked the Lord to help me. His Word in 1 John 5:14 came to mind which says, “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His son.” My trust now was in Jesus. I knew He would take care of me.

When my husband came home that evening, I heard Mrs. DiJohn, our landlady, say to my husband, “Your wife is very sick. You should call the Cleveland Clinic immediately.” He followed her advice and scheduled me for an appointment the following day.

Dr. Jones and Dr. Kehm both examined me and scheduled me for surgery the next day, but I was too frightened. I thought of the fortune teller and the missing notes on the chart he made. I did not want to die and I wanted time to pray and to resolve the conflict in my mind about dying. However, that week at home was a poor choice. I could not eat and lost more weight.

When I went for the appointed surgery, the doctors were very upset that I had delayed it. They shook their heads. I felt I was surely going to die. The only road ahead of me was to trust Jesus. I heard the doctors whispering to my husband in the hallway by the door to my room. I overheard Dr. Kehm say, “She should have been here last week. We are not sure she will live through the surgery.”

I prayed. John 3:16 came into my mind over and over, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not die but shall have eternal life.”

I kept calling to myself, “Jesus, Jesus.” Then I put myself into the hands of the doctors and nurses. Whatever they did was all right with me. I thought only of Jesus, but I wanted assurance. Wanting assurance kept me praying, repeating the name of Jesus, and John 3:16. I had seen that scripture verse on a huge billboard overlooking a main thoroughfare. I wanted to believe it. I wanted to know Jesus was with me.

I was prepped for surgery and wheeled into the operating room. I had been given a sedative. The anesthetists did not put me to sleep. They told me they were going to keep me awake. I was glad; that is what I wanted. They gave me something to keep me from feeling pain. When Dr. Jones finished surgery, Dr. Kehm remained to finish and close the wound.

I said, Doctor, are you through yet? I am so- - o - - t – i –r-e-d, and weak. I dropped off to sleep, but was immediately wakened by feeling the gurney rushing down the hall to my room. I did not feel nor remember anyone putting me to bed – only that I was very weak and tired. I had fallen into a deep sleep. I felt myself leave my body.

The air in Heaven is indiscernible-- at least that’s how I think about it now—but I cannot assure you that there is air in Heaven. There is wonderful melody, and that is what I was conscious of when I was standing outside a gate, overlooking a stone wall. I could see nothing below me.

Before me the stone wall seemed to extend for miles in both directions. It is – well, I don’t really know its height. It really had nothing on which to be standing. It seemed to just be there, in empty space.

I wanted to learn more about the wall and the melody. I was standing in space, facing the massive impenetrable stone wall. I was outside the wall and wondered why I was there. The melody seemed to float in space or, perhaps, emanate from my own body. It did not sound like anything I had ever heard before. It was delightful, soothing, and purposeful. To me, the scene before me created an illusion of perfect peace; yet, I was standing in space. I wondered, “Where should I go? What should I do? Where am I?”

Then the scene before me seemed to adjust itself to an opening in the wall. When I think about it now, I realize it was a gate. “Why am I there? What am I supposed to do?”

That was when I noticed a man standing against the wall opening. I was puzzled, not afraid. No, not afraid. I just seemed to be standing on nothing. I felt peaceful and full of wonder. I was not excited. I was not afraid. I had no knowledge of what I was to do.

As I continued to look at the man – he had long hair and a beard, but I noticed I did not see his full face. I saw just his profile. He began to stretch out his arms; I noticed he was talking with a group of children who were sitting. They were not sitting on anything solid, just sitting in space, but they were sitting in the opening with the man who was stretching out his arms to them.

One little girl in the group raised her hand and walked toward him. I do not know whether she said anything to him, but he seemed to be smiling at her and the group of children. I wanted to join them, but suddenly everything disappeared.

Jesus looked at me and I felt myself wrapped in love, a love so magnificent and so peaceful that I wanted to remain there forever. But the love that I felt was seemingly pushing me forward; his right arm moved toward me and his power pushed me and I felt myself go back into my body. Time did not matter.

Then I remembered I was alone in a hospital bed. I was in pain. My side hurt and I groaned. Then I felt hands pulling at the wound in my side. I looked up into the face of a nurse who was working on my body.

I called, “Nurse, nurse— “I could not finish my sentence.

My husband was in the room! He said, “There is no nurse here.”

I said, “Yes, there is. Look over there,” and I pointed to the side of the bed. As I looked to see her, she had disappeared. There was no one there. I was too tired to think about it and I went back to a deep sleep.

The next day, a flock of doctors came into my room. Dr. Jones, the one who had operated on me the day before said, “You are going to live, in spite of yourself.”

He was right. I did live, but the doctor never knew where I had been. I never told him. I wish I had. I wonder now if he believes in Jesus and whether he has read and believes John 3:16.

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