We heard many fascinating stories during our Making Disciples weekend in LA. When you have 425 zealous Catholics intensely grappling together with how to reach out to family and friends, the presence of the Holy Spirit is palpable.
Among the attendees was a radiant young Indian woman who is in RCIA right now and will be baptized at Easter. She wrote down a part of her story for me. I'll call her "Anna" (not her true given or future baptismal name).
Anna was raised in a practicing Hindu family in India and believed in God as a "supreme Power". She knew very little about the Christian faith. As a teenager, she began a spiritual search and in her 20's began reading "positive mental attitude" books. In her late 20's she began to meditate in an attempt to connect with supernatural power.
One of the "positive mental attitude" books that she was reading contained passages from the Bible although she did not recognize them as such at the time. She "claimed" these verses and then lay down for a nap. As she slept, she had an extremely vivid out-of-body experience in which she say herself lying on the bed "dead or paralyzed" and then her spirit went through a dark tunnel at a very high rate of speed. "I told God I don't want to die. I want to fulfill the purpose of my life for which you gave me birth." Since as a Hindu, she believed in re-birth, she told God "I don't want to have another birth but to accomplish the purpose of my life." Then she woke up.
The whole experience was a spiritual turning point. She now "wanted to 'know' God and see him more closely. She now knew that he was real and wanted to encounter this living God but didn't know how.
Anna worked in a clinic and there in late 2006, she met a woman evangelist who was bringing her mother in for treatment. This woman was reading a Christian magazine that told of a retreat center in India where many miracles took place. Anna was excited and told the woman "If this place really exists, I want to see it. I want to experience those miracles."
Later in 2006, she did make a retreat at another Christian retreat centre in India and there "I met Jesus". On the last day, "I experienced the gift of tongues and had a vision of Jesus blessing me and I am kneeling with my head bowed down looking at his feet."
Anna has seen many remarkable things happen since then and is scheduled to be baptized and received into the Church at Easter. While I was listening to her, all I could think of was Peter meeting Cornelius, who had received the Holy Spirit before he was baptized.
She didn't have time to explain exactly how she made it to the US and entered up in RCIA in Los Angeles. When I asked her if she had shared her story with her local RCIA team, she shook her head (although she had confided in her pastor).
Sherry's note: "Anna" wrote to say that her RCIA experience has been great and the team is definitely above average! That is great news.
But I would still say that she average RCIA team just isn't ready for stories like this. Catholics don't know that experiences like Anna's are happening all over the Hindu and Muslim worlds.
Anna's final written word was this "Pray for me cos I am already evangelizing. Speaking to Hindus, Muslims, and Protestants to meet the true Jesus and follow him."
What do you think of Anna's experience? Have you ever heard a story like it?