Why I Reject Santeria as an Afro-Latina

As more Latinos claim their African ancestry as a point of pride and call themselves “Afro-Latinos”, I have begun to see a resurfacing of acceptance of Santeria and other types of Brujeria (witchcraft). This spirituality is typically practiced amongst women who call themselves “Santeras”, although men, “Santeros”, practice it as well. In their opinion, they are bringing healing and prosperity to themselves and others, by tapping into the strength of their ancestors and the gods of their people. For many Afro-Latinos, to claim Afrolatinidad means to embrace the religious and spiritual practices of our African ancestors. I am here to boldly claim that I do not accept any part of Santeria or any other religious/spiritual practice other than the way of Jesus Christ. I am not less Afro-Latina because I reject Santeria. Santeria is a dangerous practice that injures its followers’ minds, bodies, and most importantly, their souls.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Santeria, I’ll briefly explain what it is and what it means to its followers. You may use the beautiful resource that is Google to learn more if you’d like. Santeria, per Wikipedia, “is an Afro-American religion of Caribbean origin that developed in the Spanish Empire among West African descendants. Santería is a Spanish word that means the “worship of saints”. Santería is influenced by and syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Its sacred language, a variety of Yoruba, is the Lucumí language”. 

Essentially, when Africans were brought to the Caribbean islands as slaves, they were forced to become Roman Catholics, as the Spaniards were Catholic. These Africans absolutely did not want to give up their religious practices, as religion is a massively important part of any culture. Therefore, they worshipped their African gods in secret, masquerading them as Roman Catholic saints. As the Catholics prayed to the saints, and still do, the Africans managed to maintain their religious practices while pretending to be Catholic.

Santeria has deep roots in my Puerto Rican family. My mother told me this summer that her mother used to force her to pray to little statues and photos of gods and to give them sacrifices and offerings, like food, money, and perfume. Also, because my grandmother often saw my mother as “bad”, which meant precocious and opinionated, my mother experienced a cleansing of sorts. An ancient ritual, intending to rid her of evil spirits, was performed on her in the bathtub and it disturbed her. As a child, my mother questioned these practices and saw them as fruitless. To her, these statues and photos were just pictures of dead or fictional people who held no power over her life. This tradition of Santeria was passed down to my mother much like the Spanish language or the practice of eating rice and beans. It was and is simply in our culture to worship the gods.

Thankfully the Lord has had His hand intensely upon my mother throughout her entire life and as a young girl, she developed a deep faith in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Through her knowledge of Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s power, my mother became instrumental in leading her own mother to faith in Jesus Christ. My grandmother renounced all ties to Santeria. Since then, no one on my mother’s side has been connected to Santeria, to the best of my knowledge.

There is another person in my family who has practiced Santeria and has confessed to me that she saw spirits sometimes and that her daughter reported seeing spirits as well.  These spirits included an old woman and a young girl, who apparently pressed her face immediately against my family member’s when she appeared. Whenever she discussed these apparitions, she claimed that seeing spirits was “a gift.” I learned these things through her stories.

These are all personal anecdotes of how Santeria has harmed my family. You may be thinking, “Well, they just didn’t practice Santeria correctly. This doesn’t mean you have to reject it. Others can freely practice it without experiences like these.” You’re absolutely right. Every human being has a choice in what they believe and practice. God will not force Himself upon any individual; He is a gentleman. But, I hold the Bible to be the only true religious text and therefore must completely reject Santeria as a viable spiritual practice for myself and for anyone who is seeking to know the One True God.

Let’s take a look at the person of Jesus Christ. Historians agree that such a man named Jesus certainly existed. Whether or not He is the Lord, the Messiah, and the Son of God is the question. Many religious texts and practices agree that Jesus was a good teacher and some even go so far as to claim that He was a great prophet, but nothing more. What’s perplexing and should bring pause is that these religions feel they need to answer the Jesus question. Jesus is so singular that they cannot ignore His existence and ministry on Earth. His teachings are radical and confusing. Readers, you can reject Jesus as God, you can believe in Him as just a prophet, you can merely enjoy His teachings about helping the poor, but there is one thing you cannot do. You cannot ignore Jesus Christ as a person. If major world religions, such as Islam, have an answer for Jesus while still denying His deity, you must form an opinion about Him. Many people have said that Jesus is either Lord or an absolute nut/fraud.

Jesus Christ made some authoritative claims about Himself that have never been made by another person in history. Here’s one of them: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” – John 14:6

Wait, what? Jesus claimed to be the only way to know God, and also was God Himself. Who else has made such an outrageous claim? Mohammed claimed to be a prophet but certainly did not claim to be the Messiah or God Himself. All religions claim to point to the way, such as through a specific diet or abstaining from things like music and sex, but no one else has claimed to be God. This is a claim that we must investigate and take seriously because if He is correct, then all human life hinges upon this claim.

So let’s say that Jesus is just crazy and/or a fraud. What do we do with His other teachings and behavior? Jesus was a 1st century Jewish Rabbi. In His culture, associating with women was forbidden and a Gentile woman was like a dog. Jesus made it a part of His ministry to specifically reach out to women, even Gentile women. Two examples of Jesus showing love to Gentile women are found in John 4 and Matthew 15. To Jewish women, Jesus saved one of them from being stoned in John 8 and allowed a sinful woman to anoint Him in Luke 7, much to the shock of all of the religious leaders around Him at the time. As far as His teachings about the poor go, one simply has to read Matthew 5 in its entirety to see a man committed to societal equity and loving those who are vulnerable.

We cannot believe that Jesus is crazy while also accepting His teachings and praising His kind and forgiving behavior. The two are absolutely mutually exclusive. So if Jesus is not crazy, then who is He? He must be Lord, because He claimed no other title.

I could write for hours about why I believe the Bible to be true and why Jesus is God, but that would turn into a book. Note to self: write a book before you die.

Jesus claimed to be the only way to God and I accept that claim as the truth. If I accept Jesus, then I also accept the Hebrew Scriptures He preached from and referenced. The Bible is full of warnings against witchcraft or spiritual practices that don’t center around Christ. God warns us that we are not safe with mediums (psychics) or witches. He tells us this quite forcefully in Leviticus: “Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.” (Lev. 19:31) and “I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people” (Lev. 20:6). Scripture clearly states that if a person is to know the One True God, the God of the Bible, they cannot have anything to do with witchcraft. It results in loss of relationship with God, which is what He wants with us. We cannot serve two masters. How can we claim to worship Jesus, who professed to be the only way to God, while also worshipping African deities? We must choose. I am not saying this. Jesus says this.

What will your choice be today? If you’ve been living life as a Santera or Santero and you want to talk more about Jesus or if you want to leave that life, please reach out to me! I’d love to talk about this more in depth and pray for you.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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Rosalie Avila’s Suicide (My Story)

A few days ago, a young girl named Rosalie Avila committed suicide. She was 13 years old. According to news sources, she ended her life because of constant bullying from fellow students at her school. She documented each act of verbal violence every day in her journal. Two months before her death, she began cutting herself and was receiving therapy. In her suicide note, she apologized to her mother, knowing that she would find her dead in her room.

A young girl killed herself because other kids bullied her. I have so many questions and feelings.

  1. Why didn’t the school do more?
  2. Could the parents have done more?
  3. Why does this keep happening?

I’m left dumbstruck, gobsmacked, and disturbed. The older I get, the younger the kids are who kill themselves. When I was 13, the thought of suicide never entered my head. I don’t think I had ever thought about it, even as a concept. I had heard of ancient people who committed suicide, but I had never known someone who had committed this act of violence against themselves.

My initial thoughts on Rosalie Avila is that she did not know the ramifications of her final actions. She did not actually know what she was doing. Her mental state was not clear and she was not in control of herself. At 13 years old, her insular academic world was her entire world. She could not picture a world outside of her school. She was not able to imagine a positive future for herself apart from her situation as a bullied child.

Therefore, she took her life. Personally, I believe that she’s rejoicing with the Lord right now. As she was a child, I believe God didn’t hold her to the standard that He holds adults to. Her brain couldn’t comprehend her actions. Now, 13-year olds can definitely have a beautiful, holy, childlike grasp of the Gospel, but that’s another conversation.

Ultimately, my heart breaks for this young Latina. She had an incredible future ahead of her. God created each and every person with a specific purpose and plan. It was NOT God’s will for Rosalie Avila to kill herself at 13 years old. He knew it would happen, but He hoped the whole time that she wouldn’t do this. He created her to serve Him, enjoy the beautiful world that He created, and bring others to a loving knowledge of Himself. I wish this beautiful Latina grew up to become a freedom fighter, fighting alongside me and others as we push forward toward God’s kingdom.

 

 

Personally, I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts three times in my life. At ages 15, 17, and 23, I was tortured with unwanted suicidal thoughts. These thoughts bombarded my mind and I couldn’t free myself from them. Rosalie’s story could’ve been my story.

It took constant fighting against these thoughts to become somewhat free. But, I quickly realized that I wasn’t fighting against myself. These thoughts weren’t coming from my own brain. If my brain produced these thoughts on its own, I would welcome them. I would not be disgusted or scared of them if they were of my own creation. The human being wants to survive. We have natural survival instincts that automatically kick in whenever our lives are threatened, or are perceived to be at risk.

These suicidal thoughts came from the prince of darkness, Satan. I began fighting Satan, not just the thoughts. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” – Ephesians 6:12 

Clearly the Word tells us that we fight Satan, not others and certainly not ourselves! When a suicidal or negative thought came into my head, I would combat it with the truth. What is the truth? The Bible. I literally forced myself to read an uplifting verse in the Bible or to sing Christian worship songs in my head. This helped immensely. I took every thought into captivity, as the Word tells us to do.

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” – II Corinthians 10:5

Practically, there are several things you can do when you find yourself targeted by Satan with suicidal or negative thoughts. I’m not a mental health counselor, but these are the practices that have helped me and brought me further onto this path of divine healing.

  1. First and foremost, tell a trusted person about your thoughts. The number one thing that Satan wants to do during this time is isolate you and make you think you’re crazy. Fight against that desire to isolate yourself. That comes from Satan. It will make your situation worse if you isolate yourself.
  2. Bring these thoughts to God Himself. He is not surprised by these thoughts. He knew you would have them before you were even born! He wants you to ask Him for help. He will send His angels to guard you and protect you from the demons that are attacking your mind. “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:11
  3. Do exactly what I described a few paragraphs above. Replace these intrusive thoughts with Scripture and worship lyrics. This will truly help you!
  4. Seek therapy, spiritual counseling, and/or mentoring. There is absolutely nothing wrong with therapy. God loves it! It’s so biblical to seek help from others. It doesn’t mean you are insane or weird if you have a therapist. Honestly, so many issues around the world would be solved if every person received therapy for their problems.
  5. Don’t give up. My number one piece of advice is NEVER give up! Satan wants to make you think your life is over, you have no future, you’re crazy, no one loves you, and you’re worthless. LIES! ALL LIES! This is why we need to know Scripture because Scripture tells us the opposite. God loves us, we have a bright future in Him, and we are worth much because Christ died and rose for us.

If you ever need to talk to someone, I’m great to talk to about these things. These issues are more common than you think, so there’s no shame in coming forth about them.

 

Here’s a lifeline you can call if you feel you need immediate help (or call 911): 1-800-273-8255

They even have an online chat if you can’t talk by phone for whatever reason.

 

Be blessed. Be strengthened in Christ’s love for you. Be well.

 

Love,

 

Gabby G.

Saving Mr. Banks (Adults with Traumatic Childhoods)

Readers,

I just finished watching Saving Mr. Banks, the film about the making of Mary Poppins that was released a few years ago. I know, I’m so late with this movie. After wiping away my tears, I have to talk about this film!

Throughout the film, I was amazed at the portrayal of P.L. Travers, Emma Thompson’s character and the author of Mary Poppins. She was a little girl lost inside the body of a middle-aged woman. Her traumatic childhood affected her every day. Travers experienced repeated flashbacks that left her mentally unstable, to a certain extent. She was often in her own little world, specifically the past, which made it difficult for her to work with the men on Mary Poppins. This was so encouraging because as an adult survivor of a traumatic childhood, I’m well acquainted with those painful moments when flashbacks smack you in the face and you relive difficult experiences. Often they come out of nowhere and you’re powerless to stop it. How encouraging it was to me to see someone else struggle with them, especially an older woman. Readers, there’s no expiration date on dealing with and healing from trauma. Don’t feel pressured to “have it all together.” It will take our whole lives to heal, and that’s okay!! Healing is a process. It ebbs and flows.

Now, when Travers was a little girl, all she knew was trauma. She experienced immense poverty, an alcoholic but loving father, a mentally unstable mother (she attempted suicide), and the responsibility of caring for her little sister. She was often forced into inappropriate circumstances, like witnessing her father’s excessive drinking which led to her giving him his bottle, in order for her beloved Daddy to feel better. She witnessed her mother’s suicide attempt and saved her from completing the act. These are traumatic experiences that no human, let alone a child, can or should experience.

To release her pain, Travers wrote Mary Poppins and poured her love, desires, and sadness into the work. Travers turned her distress into pure art, which thankfully was captured on the big screen in the film of the same name.

As a child, I always loved watching Mary Poppins. The music excited me. I thought that Dick Van Dyke was cute. But, it was Mary Poppins herself who perplexed me so much. She was practically perfect in every way. She knew how to be a good mother figure and a friend, to Bert.

I never understood Mr. Banks. I thought of him as a mean, old dad who didn’t love his children at all. All he cared about was money and work. By watching this film, and reflecting on my own upbringing, I can now see that the pressures of making money and supporting a family can catapult a person into a cage of commitment that can keep them from being the type of parent they long to be.

A child cannot understand this. When I was young, I couldn’t see why my dad chose to work overtime rather than come to my choral concerts at school. Why did he sleep at the office? Why did he go away for weeks on end to foreign countries and bring home trinkets, hoping that would lessen the pain brought by distance? (They did, actually. Dad knew how to pick out gifts!)

As an adult, I can understand that Mr. Banks was in pain just like the children were. He needed Mary Poppins, too.

The first scene in Saving Mr. Banks that brought me to tears was the scene where Emma Thompson begins singing and dancing along to “Let’s Go Fly A Kite.” I can’t quite explain it, but that song always makes me feel sad. Every time I listen to it, I feel this yearning rush over me. Now I understand what that is. Travers, like me, just wants her father to take off work for a day and take us around to fly kites, enjoy each other’s company, and live. Just to simply live and not worry about tomorrow.

 

Readers, go fly a kite! Go dancing! Take a cooking class. Run around the yard barefoot. Tell your loved ones that you LOVE them.

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

The Vietnam Vet on the 1 Train

The other night, the night before my 24th birthday to be exact, I held a piping hot cup of masala chai on the 1 train. I had just left an evening of Korean fried chicken and boy talk with one of my good guy friends. My head was full of possible solutions to boy problems (so dumb and a waste of my precious time) and, while holding the pole, my book, and my chai (no small feat), I glanced down and saw an elderly man with a Vietnam veteran hat.

Now I had just rewatched Forrest Gump, and while that’s obviously not a film solely about the Vietnam war, it does showcase the brutality of the war and the ways it mentally or physically ruined these young men. I looked at him and wondered, “Did he enlist?” “Was he drafted?” “I wonder how old he was when he served. He must have been in his early 20s.”

I had to say something. “Excuse me, sir? Thank you for your service.”

This elderly man merely gave me a half-smile, shrugged his slight shoulders and said, “Someone had to do it.”

He then went on to exhort me to join the military (not happening) and he explained that in life, you do what you need to do because it has to be done. That’s it. No discussion.

 

When he left, I sat in his spot and thought if I could ever fill that role of fighter. I definitely have no interest in the military, but God has called us to fight this fight of faith until the day He returns or calls us home. We must stick to this battle, remembering that the war has been won.

This is a battle we enlisted in when we signed up to be followers of Jesus. Jesus promised us that we would have to fight and we would often be hurt or killed for His name’s sake.

 

“Jesus asked, ‘Do you finally believe? But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.'” – John 16:31-33

 

Take heart! Be brave. Be valiant. Christ is WITH YOU! We do not fight this battle alone. We are a part of a larger army than we know. Believers around the world are praying at all times, quite literally because of time zone differences, and although you do not know your brother in the Congo or in India, he prays for you. Pray for him and for your sister in Pakistan who cannot speak the name of Jesus. Pray for your siblings in Christ like you would pray for your own flesh and blood. They are your eternal family. ❤

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

The Woman, the Watermelon, and the WTF??

Readers,

Yesterday was my 24th birthday. Now what should have been a time of utter joy and good vibes was marred by a sexually suggestive comment from an older man. I know, I know. I’m sure most of you women experience these types of comments every day. I know I do. But, the one day I just didn’t want to be bothered was my birthday.

Before I left my apartment to head toward the restaurant, I knew that men would stare at me. I looked beautiful! My dress was short and sparkly, my hair lavishly picked out into an afro, and my eyeliner made my eyes look large and expressive. On the train, men stared a little but no one dared to make any remark toward me. Thank God! Maybe I’ll be spared that little burst of terror that comes with a catcall!

Running to the restaurant, tripping and almost spraining my ankle, I forgot about the possibility of being harassed inside the restaurant. The only people who do this are men on the street, right? No employee would bother me.

I wasn’t inside the restaurant for five seconds before an employee, an older Latino man, made a sexually suggestive comment about my…wait for it…can you guess?

My body! Nope.

My hair! Nope.

My lips! Nope.

This man talked about my watermelon purse. Ah yes, the sexy and provocative watermelon purse, known for centuries as the best way to illicit a man’s desire. Seriously?

He said to me, verbatim, “I want to eat your watermelon.” and then he pretended to eat it, while staring me down. This brought back a memory of the last time I had worn this purse. A man on the street had yelled, “Can I taste your watermelon?”

Okay. What? I’m being threatened with oral sex by strange men because they like my watermelon purse? WTF??

This just adds to the long list of “proof”, not that we need it, that clothing does not dictate how a man will treat you. If I can receive borderline explicit sexual remarks because of  a watermelon purse, I’m not sure what WON’T turn men on.

These predators need to take about ten steps back, because otherwise they’ll have to catch these hands.

 

Ladies, be safe. Carry pepper spray. Take self-defense lessons. And talk right back to them!

 

Gabrielle G.

Cultivating Divine Gratitude

Readers,

 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! (If you’re in my time zone, that is.) What a problematic holiday, am I right? Native and indigenous rights are being discussed more and more as each Thanksgiving passes and I love it. This piece isn’t about that, but it is about something we all need to read right now. After you read my piece, go read up on the Dakota pipeline news.

 

The fabulous Jenay, the creator of the Afro-Latina blog “HashtagIAmEnough”, asked me to write a piece of thankfulness and God. I’ve never been ASKED to write about God before so this was certainly a thrill for me! Head on over to her blog to read it and check out her other amazing posts.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Cultivating Divine Gratitude by Gabrielle Greiner

Hussain and His Mom (NYC Homeless)

I had an incredible encounter today. As I took an unusual route home, I came across a young undocumented woman with her baby, a boy named Hussain. I initially walked by but the Spirit of the Lord was thickly upon me! I bought a snack and some water for them and turned around to go back to them. Sitting on the ground with her, I learned that because she’s undocumented, she can’t find a place to stay. She can receive food stamps for her U.S. citizen baby, but nothing for herself. She told me where she was from and because of that and her son’s name, I assumed that she was Muslim.

Her precious baby, Hussain, was crying a lot, but the moment he saw me, he smiled so brightly. I called his name and he giggled, putting his finger to my lips. I kissed his finger. He reached out both of his arms toward me. He wanted me to hold him. Me! A stranger! I believe he saw the face of Christ through me.

Before giving this woman the names of some faith-based places she can go, I asked if we could pray together. I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder, but she wanted to hold hands. Well, we held hands and prayed to FATHER God through Jesus the Messiah and Son of God together! This was the first time I EVER prayed to Abba, through Jesus, with a Muslim person. Please pray for her physical needs and salvation!

 

 

Photo used is for representation only. They aren’t the people I met.

Blessings,

Gabrielle G.

Mass Shootings (A Millennial’s Perspective)

I’m 23-years old, so I suppose that classifies me as a “millennial.” Now, this isn’t a term I cling to with pride and joy. I am typically averse to being labeled as one of “those hipster lazy, non-committal, freeloaders.” However, my position as a millennial has afforded me the ability to be a witness to some of the worst events in modern history. This has caused a numbing effect on my sensibilities: I hardly react anymore to shocking news of mass shootings, bombings, stabbings, etc.

I was a child when the school shooting at Columbine happened in 1999. Although I wasn’t in high school, like the victims and shooters were, my school made it perfectly clear that a shooting could happen at my precious elementary school in Upstate New York. In fact, the perceived threat was so palpable throughout the school halls that we practiced what to do in an active shooter situation. The teacher would place a dark cloth over the small window in our door, preventing the shooter from seeing inside our classroom. We were to stay in the classroom, of course, and if at any point a shooter began attacking while we were in the halls, we were to run into the nearest open classroom and take cover. We would be reunited with our teacher after the shooter was…taken care of.

Soon after Columbine, 9/11 broke my beloved New York down to its core. My father worked close to the Twin Towers. Praise God that he didn’t have to work that day. I remember the day exactly. My brother and I were called out of our respective classes at our elementary school and we were met by our anxious father in the lobby. Once at home, we were glued to the television, just in time to see the second plane slide through the second tower.

When the US entered war with Iraq and Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, the threat of school bombings was discussed. Should the Middle East decide to bomb my elementary school, we were to take cover in the halls, by our lockers. We were to crouch to the ground, cover the back of our necks with our hands and keep our heads down.

Throughout my entire educational career, various shootings and bombings appeared on the daily newspaper, then on the TV, and soon shifted to the Internet. Now, I get most of this information via social media, which can’t always be trusted.

In the wake of today’s mass shooting at a Baptist church in Texas, I’ve realized something quite disturbing about my generation, especially myself. Because I have seen so many shootings, bombings, hijackings, and stabbings, the effect is nearly lost on me. I feel a twinge of sadness when I read those headlines. I say a short, silent prayer for the families of the victims. Then I move on. I can’t sit in those feelings for a long time. I actually don’t have much feeling to reside in. All that sets in is deep, profound, numbness. A numbness I can’t shake off. A numbness I feel ashamed of. My generation is traumatized. We were traumatized in our infancy. It is something we live with each day, knowing that as we ride the subway, sit in class, or drive down the highway, someone could decide to take our life.

Jehovah Rapha

God, thank You for Your unconditional love for me.
You pursue me like I’m a lost treasure.
You search me out, intentionally.
Your presence crashes over me in waves.
You bring healing to my body and soul.
When I am misunderstood, You reach out to me.
When I am neglected, You sweep me into your arms.
When I am exposed, You clothe me in Your understanding and protective care.
If I praise Your name in my deep troubles,
You make Yourself known and You act.
You rescue me because I am Your daughter.
As a Father, You discipline me because I am Your disciple.
You open doors and shut them, creating a rhythm that suits my life.
You give me life.
Abundantly.

Praise Report! I’ve been dealing with neck pain and swelling for the past week. The doctors were confounded! It wasn’t meningitis. My thyroid was fine. Bloodwork was absolutely beautiful. They resolved to put me on antibiotics. On the way to the doctor, I had a minor panic attack and had to jump off of the train for a minute! As I prayed my typical, feverish “Lord, please don’t take me! Let me stay! Please heal me and help me.”, I clearly felt God saying “I will be your healer. Not the doctors. No one but Me. I will be your healer.”

Last night, I attended my bible study meeting and had the group lay hands on me to pray for healing. My bible study leader is actually one of the church elders so he anointed my neck with oil as well. He told me that I’m the second person ever to ask for healing, although Scripture tells us to seek healing and prayer from our elders. (Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. – James 5:14).

While I was prayed over, I felt something spiritual happen. My heart started palpitating and my body flushed. This happened when they prayed against any possible demonic attack that may be causing my neck pain. I knew this was a spiritual thing!

This morning I woke up with no swelling, no heat (my neck had become quite hot to the touch), and only minor discomfort. There’s no pain! The Lord healed me in my sleep.

 

Praise God!

Why God Allowed My Ulcers? (A Theory)

I was diagnosed with large, but superficial (meaning not deep) stomach ulcers a month ago. Prior to that point I suffered from intense acid reflux, constantly throwing up acid in my mouth. Citrus fruits became unbearable and onions and garlic, although delicious, badly hurt my stomach. Every doctor I saw about this just said it was plain old acid reflux and they prescribed me acid reflux medication. Not one person thought it could be ulcers.

Well, the problem persisted. My stomach would hurt after eating almost anything. Intense nausea would randomly come upon me and it lasted for hours. Not satisfied with the “it’s just acid reflux” theory, I saw another doctor. He admitted that it perhaps could be ulcers and sent me off for an endoscopy. 

After the endoscopy, I learned that I had several large ulcers and a growth in my esophagus. Wait. What?? What’s that? My gastroenterologist did not explain why I had the growth, the ulcers, or the best course of treatment. She simply stated that taking 20mg of my acid reflux medication would be sufficient treatment.

Something in my spirit told me to seek a second opinion, so I met with another gastroenterologist. He informed me that my previous GI doctor made huge mistakes. She prescribed the incorrect dosage for my medication. Instead of 20mg, I should’ve been taking 80mg! That’s a grave mistake.

Not only did she make that error, but she neglected to inform me that while the growth in my esophagus was normal, it could turn into cancer. Let me explain.  When you have this type of growth in your esophagus, it is HPV. As a never sexually active woman, I didn’t think that HPV was a concern for me, so I was never vaccinated against it, per my mother’s wishes.

My new GI doctor told me that I will have to keep an eye on my esophagus and there’s a possibility that they could grow back. If they do indeed grow back and they aren’t removed, they could be cancerous. 

If he had never told me that, I would never have gotten another endoscopy, allowing a doctor to check for these growths. I would never have known about this cancer risk. I would have been at risk for developing this type of cancer!! Talk about medical malpractice from my other doctor.

 

Anyway, I’ve been wondering why I got ulcers at 23 years old. I’d never heard of a young person having ulcers. None of my doctors thought it conceivable for someone so young to have these issues. I think I have an idea why, apart from possible personal mistakes (taking too much ibuprofen-people, this can cause ulcers! I didn’t know that!)

 

If I had never had ulcers, this growth in my esophagus would have continued to grow and it could have turned into cancer. God essentially saved me from that by allowing me to suffer in a different way, in order to correct the esophagus issue.

 

Although my lifestyle has changed regarding food and drink and although I get stomach pains from time to time, I’m grateful to God for His wisdom and mercy in this situation.