Some months ago I was called to our local hospital to visit a man who was dying. I had no further information and he obviously was not a member of our church. It is not unusual for the senior pastor or me to get calls to visit people who have a pastoral care need but who are not part of our church. The hospital does not have a full-time chaplain, so my colleague and I fill in the gap.
However, this call was different. When I entered the room it was dark except for there light over the man’s bed. It was not easy to make out who and how many were in the room. I asked, “Did you call for a minister?”
“No, we did not ask for a minister,” said one invisible voice. “She did, and she’s in the toilet.”
About that time, “she” came out of the toilet. “Did you ask for a minister?” I said, again.
“Yes,” was the response. “I think someone should say something.”
“Can you tell me something about your loved one? Is there any church connection?” I responded.
There was no church connection except an occasional visit to a church for weddings and funerals. The question about church connection is always asked so I can know the context in which to talk to the patient.
I turned to who I thought was the wife and asked, “Is there anything you want me to say or something else I can help you with?”
The woman put arms up as if to protect herself, and screamed, “Don’t touch me! I don’t want to have anything to do with you!”
Things were getting spooky and I was aware of evil in that room. I prayed, in spite of protests, to honor the request of “she”, but have no idea what I said, and left as quickly as possible. A notice was in the paper the following week listing the man’s death. There was no funeral; no mention of a burial. I have no idea what happened after I left that room.
This is the first time I have been so aware of evil as a force to be reckoned with. I was not prepared to have a spiritual battle at that particular time and place, and don’t think the battle would have benefitted anyone, especially the man who was dying.
More thoughts about this later.