ARCHIVES:

Posts in this section were archived prior to February 2010. For more recent posts, go to the HOME PAGE.

3/19/2007                                                                                       View Comments

It's a miracle!

By Dave, the WM

I'd just moved into an apartment in Japan. My daughter was two-and-a-half years old, could talk in full paragraphs, and entertained my wife and I by singing all the words to every chorus sung at the English-speaking Assembly of God church we attended. We were far from home, but the joy of the Lord was our strength, and the oddness of our surroundings only helped solidify our church family relationships and our faith. We believed we had been sent to this far country to represent the one true god.

I was up every day at 4am for an hour of intercessory prayer, followed by a solid hour of in-depth Bible study and memorization. Then I was out the door for a morning run before reporting to work. The Air Force was inflexible in its scheduling requirements, so I was never late.

In a short time my family and I embraced a mission to be part of the evangelical effort in Japan. The military may have assigned us here, but we believed there was a higher purpose to finding ourselves in the land of the rising sun, where only 1% of the population claimed belief in some form of Christianity.

We dove into English evangelism at a nearby non-English-speaking church. Evangelical churches in Japan frequently hire "native speakers" to teach proper English pronunciation to interested Japanese people. Everyone in Japan takes years and years of English in school. As a result, most people can read English quite fluently, but because Japanese are teaching English pronunciation to Japanese, the general population speaks broken English, sometimes derogatorily referred to as "Japlish."

Since English is the international language of commerce, many Japanese people desire to speak it correctly. And the only way to be sure of speaking correctly is to hire someone who natively speaks the language. When I was in Japan, a considerable number of military members, and/or their spouses, taught English to private students. They had weekly "conversation lessons" with Japanese who would pay liberally just to have someone talk with them in real English.

This practice was so popular among the Japanese adult population, that churches offered the service, hiring committed Christians from English-speaking churches . Of course, the church versions of "English class" would heavily flavor the lessons with stories from the Bible. Sometimes the English students would convert to Christianity. That's why it was called English evangelism.

When I wasn't working, or praying, or teaching English, or attending church, or participating in a home cell group, or traveling with mission trips to northern Japan, I was in the train stations of Tokyo, passing out tracks.

This introduction is to help show that I was very active and believed that I was indeed, a "True Christian."

And that's why when I had a miracle, I was extremely grateful, but not overly surprised. My god was a mighty god, after all, who reigned from heaven on high. Miracles were a normal part of my theology.

My daughter was running/toddling around our apartment, and in her clumsy exuberance, crashed headlong into the pointed corner of our coffee table. Her half-dozen teeth were crushed backwards into her face, blood was gushing everywhere, and her two young parents were hysterical. Her face was a wreck.

At the hospital, the doctors told us there was nothing anyone could do. Her teeth would probably fall out. All they could offer, they said, was something for the pain and to stop the bleeding.

So, with our now deformed-mouthed little girl, we went home, laid hands on her, and prayed to the Lord of Hosts to heal our whimpering baby.

The pain medicine made our daughter groggy, so we put her to bed. When she awoke the next morning, her teeth were perfectly straight, and except for a small scar where she'd bitten through her lip during the fall, she was completely healed.

It was a miracle. God had healed our daughter. We spread the news far and wide, and used that experience to testify to the living reality of our God.

That was 15 years ago. About seven years ago, I started to severely question my faith. I eventually left Christianity and started this website.

So, what about that miracle?

In the last couple of years I've noticed that when our daughter sings, her face lacks symmetry. This doesn't seem to affect her ability for music, but it is somewhat distracting to the people watching her sing. I took her to an orthodontist for an opinion and found out that one side of her jaw is longer than the other. The only way to correct the problem, he said, was to break her jaw and re-set it. When it healed, hopefully, the two sides of her face when singing would appear more symmetrical.

I asked what would have caused such a problem. He replied by asking if she'd had a hard fall when she was very young.

"The coffee table!" I thought.

The doctor explained that what probably had happened was that my daughter had damaged the jaw during the fall, which stunted the growth on one side. He assured us there was nothing anyone could have done, and there was no way to know the extent of the damage until our daughter grew up.

We told him about her teeth being bashed into her mouth in the fall, and how the teeth had straightened over night. He said that things like that were not uncommon. The healing powers of the body, especially a young body, were amazing at times.

What is my point with this little personal introspection?

Many Christians hang on to their faith based on some personal experience that they consider to be miraculous. I know Christians frequently do this, because I was one of those Christians. Typically, the so-called miracles are fairly minor events, events that could be easily explained by any number of natural causes. I know this, too, because my miracle mentioned here is a prime example.

For those Christians who are sure that Christianity is true because someone was healed of a backache, or someone babbled in an unknown tongue, or some old lady left her wheel chair for an hour or two, or something equally routine, I challenge that person to ask why amputees never grow new limbs. Ask why people who have lungs removed, never grow new ones. Ask why all the so-called miracles of healing by Almighty God are so easily mimicked by the natural healing powers of the body.

Believing is nice. It gives a wonderful feeling of being watched over and protected, but it's all a lie.

I was simple believer. I didn't think I deserved a miracle, I didn't expect special treatment, I was just living out my faith in the best way I knew how. Along the way, I saw what I believed were miracles from time to time, performed just for my little clan, or other Christians, by the great and wonderful god of creation. Since leaving Christianity, I've come to realize I was wrong. For those who are so afraid to admit to being wrong, let me assure you, it's not shameful to admit to being wrong.

Christian, I was wrong. I have since come to realize that everything I believed to be real in Christianity only contained the reality of dreams, crafted in my imagination.

And finally, if the gift of tongues is real, how come every English speaking evangelist in Japan had to learn the Japanese language the hard way?

34 comments:

freeman said...

WM Dave,
When I believed, I always thought the gift of tongues given to the disciples was so that they could speak the many languages of the world to spread the "word". When I found out that it was only giberish, I knew it was bullshit! To this day, I do not understand how anyone could believe in tongues!

J. C. Samuelson said...

Dave,

I really enjoy your writing, and you always share something that is relevant and illustrative of the elements that contribute to Christian faith. This one is no different.

No doubt I would've interpreted the miracle the same way, had this been my daughter. Heck, my daughter has had some pretty nasty cuts & bruises - including having her head split open after a fall - that seemed to heal overnight. The body's ability to heal itself, especially in the young, is nothing short of amazing.

You're tha man, Dave! Even if you are a "gay-ass wigga." ;)

religionkills said...

Hey Dave!

I'm back after a long time out. (Been REALLY busy with work)

Wow...I had wondered a bit about your back ground and what had developed to change your views about xianity. Of course, you didn't really say what was the issues that developed about 7 years ago that made you question your faith. But, still, a bit better insight into you. :)

I can give you bit of insight about what made me question mine.

Basically, to start with...I died.
I did have a strange experience while I was out of my body...but it was nothing like what I had been taught my whole life that would happen when one died. Something does happen, and we do survive our physical death...but i saw no indications of what has classically been described as heaven or hell. More of a place that was a stop between lifetimes..if we chose to hang there for a bit and learn. I did not see Jesus, any of the apostles, or any gates that I can recall either. I remember remembering EVERYTHING....as in every lifetime I had had for ages.
That was weird. But, I saw no god, or angels, or anything that ever corroborated anything I had been taught my whole life.

And, over the years I started taking a look at things from a very scientific point of view too. I am a reader...I rarely to never watch TV. ( I work too much for that) And, I am on the Net too often working. I spend any leisure time I have either reading
Terry Pratchett, Sitchin, Gaiman,
Hiaasen, and many other authors...both fiction and non-fiction.

I found Zecharia Sitchin's books to be very illuminating. They certainly made a lot of things make a hell of a lot more sense. As to whether or not they are true...that is up to each individual to decide. Me? I've gotten to be the major skeptic...but I leave the possibilities open. Who knows? Try reading them. I recommend starting with the first one...The 12th Planet.

.:webmaster:. said...

Thanks, JC.

You failed to mention, however, that not only am I a G-A W, I am also old and flabby. I think it's important to remember that as well.

RK, my daughter's condition had nothing to do with my leaving Christianity. I'd already left the fold when I finally understood there had been no miracle there. I just use the story as illustrative of how a person could wrongly believe a miracle had occured.

And, I too have had an OBE. Perhaps one day I'll share that story here.

HeIsSailing said...

Great article - thanks for sharing. I have been a Christian for many years and I still think that most Christians secretly do not believe in miracles. They seem not so since they only pray for things that take no faith to believe anyway. Check out this article I wrote last month for my idea:

http://heissailing.edublogs.org/2007/02/11/my-miraculous-hangup/

Anonymous said...

Dave, so glad I "met" you now and not your former self!

You see I live in Japan. One of the main reasons I still live here is that no one f***s with me. I can sit down in the lunch room knowing that no one is going to start an "discusion" about the Iraq War. I can stand around the water cooler without someone starting a "discusion" about abortion. I know that on the train I'm not going to be accosted by someone wanting to push his opinions about governemt intrusion into our lives. And with very few exceptions (Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses) people do not bother me with religion. Japanese respect peoples' personal lives and know better than to lecture people (unless you are carrying a baby and everyone is suddenly an expert on baby care!!!!).

The occasional missionary that accosts me is left in no doubt about my opinions - the last a yound attractive Filipina girl was in tears and hopefully took my advice, to go back to the Philipines, marry a nice man, start a family and enjoy herself.

Brett
Kawasaki

Telmi said...

If miracles can happen, they can happen on a large scale and benefit the entire community or the entire world. But we have seen nothing of this nature. The miracles of the Bible and the so-called apparitions of the so-called Virgin Mary allegedly happened but apparently affected only a small group of people. Surely, an omnipotent God can do better than this?

Compared to the miracles [inventions] of man, which are repeatable, the so-called miracles of God are nothing.

Some friends and I had dinner last night at a restaurant and all, except me, suffered from tummyache a few hours later. Can I call that a miracle? Or should I say that I did not suffer from tummyache because I did not eat the food, I only drank beer?

People who believe in miracles are probably God-believers or gullible people. Science has taught us to distinguish between fantasy and reality but, unfortunately, there are people who still prefer to believe in fantasy. And that's life.

preston said...

Amputees DO grow limbs, people ARE raised from the dead, and a lung is just easy. Get out of america, and look at all the miracles that happen across the world. Well even in america alot of things happen.. Apparently you no very little about what you claim to know.

Don't you want to do a little more than reading articles, and hearing what the news or other people have to say about it? I challenge you to go to healing crusades. Go to the corners of the world and find out if these things really do happen. Because you obviously haven't.

Theoretically we are talking about eternity. You don't want to be wrong, do you?

.:webmaster:. said...

Preston, there has not been one single amputee that has re-grown a limb.

Not one.

Preston. NOT ONE!

And unless you can show some verifiable evidence to the contrary, you are guilty of lying.

BTW, I spent a few years outside the US. I was in Japan. Didn't you read the article?

The problem with all your so-called miracle stories, preston, is that they only occur in third-world countries where the general education level is quite low, the people are superstitious, and the resulting stories are impossible to verify or falisfy.

Although Japan is only 1% Christian, it is an educated culture, so there are relatively no ridiculous stories of silly miracles, except those bandied about by religious fanatics like my idiotic miracle story told above.

god said...

very interesting insight Dave!

I'm curious how old your daughter was when the accident happened. Infants are often "vacuumed" out of the womb if a delivery gets difficult, and they come out with a very long "conehead". Yet their skulls are so soft and unformed than within a few days it will return to it's normal shape.

Cuts, bruises and just about anything short of amputation heals very quickly the younger the human body is. Even now as I age I can observe how slow some wounds seem to heal compared to the recent past. Remember when you skinned your knee or really hurt yourself as a kid, such falls these days can not only seriously injure your back but cause broken bones and other secondary injuries. Old people bruise easier and take much longer to heal.

And such is the "miracle" of youth and process of aging.

It's interesting that many christian miracles are judged purely via outward appearances. They are completely ignorant of how failable and weak our mind and visual perceptions can be. Never looking past the surface, it's no wonder they seem to believe everything they see and hear. When parapalegics can suddenly walk, a woman claims she can see or hear again, virgin mary's show up in toilet bowl stains and jesus forms grow out of tree bark patterns.. it's omg, I see it with mine own eyes! it mu..mu.must be true!

japan is definitely an interesting country.. would you say they are more or less superstitious than other parts of asia or america? i do wish they would stop avoiding the number 4 like americans avoid the number 13. as all the people living on the 13th floor in japan and the 4th floor in america should by all rights have suffered grave misfortune and death =)

muttmutt1978 said...

my experiences with christianity, and why i left were much different. I think if i lived in Japan i might have been a Taoist a lot sooner, and i love the anime and the culture, but i heard it was expensive there. I do see a lot of flaws in christianity, its not so much about the walking on water and people rising from the dead, its more about the ethics that i had a real problem. Like, what kind of loving God would order his children to be drowned? It would be nice if there was magic on this planet, but one can only dream.........

MrEusOne said...

No, no, no Dave, you've got it all wrong.

Gawd did miraculously heal your little girl that day! But when you lost your faith, he decided to fuck up her jaw in retaliation!

Read your bible, that's his Modus Operandi. 'Cause he's a dick.

Andrea said...

Dave,
that was an amazing part of your testimony, thanks for sharing it. How is your daughter now?

I have a real soft spot in my heart for Japan. I was raised in a military family and we were stationed there for 4 years. I think it left a subconscious impression on me that a society does not *have* to be xtian to be successful and ethical, unlike what some americans believe. The Japanese are not perfect, but they certainly seem to function just fine without our particular set of hysterical superstitions.

Muttmutt, you heard right - Japan is pricey as hell. I'd love to visit again some day though. Just need to save up!

preston said...

Dave, yes they do. Stuff like that happens more than you think. I'VE even watched a man's leg grow six inches!

Obviously the only other fall back plan you have is to say that i'm a liar. Yes, There is no way to prove myself, so i can only hope you see such a miracle yourself one day.

alanh said...

preston wrote:

I'VE even watched a man's leg grow six inches!

You're sure it was a leg?

.:webmaster:. said...

Hi Andrea,

My daughter elected to forgo the experience of having her jaw broken. Other than the problem of lack of symmetry, she's fine.

To god: She was 2.5 years old when she fell.

Anonymous said...

alanh said...

preston wrote:

I'VE even watched a man's leg grow six inches!


You're sure it was a leg?


Must have been the third leg!

twincats said...

Was that "leg" on a priest, by any chance?

Jim Arvo said...

preston: "I'VE even watched a man's leg grow six inches!"

Good grief! A bright five year old won't even fall for that one; but the gullible ones do. I'll wager there is a strong correlation with which ones grow up to be religious.

Farris said...

Preston,
How do you know that it was six inches? Is it because it was three times as long as your...

Lance said...

Preston,
Seriously about the 6 inch leg thing. Did the stump just get longer or did he get his foot back too? Does god think a stump that is 6 inches longer will fit the prosthesis better? Why not just grow back the foot as well? What is the point of a longer stump?

tigg13 said...

Preston.

Have you ever seen the miracle where the guy pulls a rabbit out of his hat?

I love that one.

eel_shepherd said...

For all of you who have been to Japan, or wish you'd gone there, here's a video you might like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwaYNlSSCKE

This has nothing at all to do with Xtianity or ex-Xtianity, but it might bring back pleasant memories. I don't feel like I'm jeopardising the elevated tone of the post-Preston commentary in this thread... ;-/

SpaceMonk said...

Preston, this is for you:

Amazing Faith Healer grows a leg by three inches!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53yHE9Y1bdA

Spirula said...

Dave,

Thanks for the post. You really have a gift for writing in a concise and readable style.

You might be interested to know, I do research and work with Orthodontic residents frequently (though my research is in facial pain). They have mentioned the frustration of dealing with facial injuries in children and the resulting asymmetrical growth. The causes are not understood, but clearly the injured tissues suffer growth abnormalities (even if slight). Usually, it is retarded growth.

As to this drivel,

Get out of america, and look at all the miracles that happen across the world. Well even in america alot of things happen.. Apparently you no very little about what you claim to know.


Are reading comprehension skills totally lacking in Christobots? Is that a by-product of self-delusion?

jim earl said...

Hell, I saw a man saw a woman completed in half!! Then he put her back together and she was good as new. The most amazing thing about this was he did it all without the first prayer. I saw this with my own eyes and just know it had to be a miracle. Right?? Someone tell me Preston is really just fooling around with us. He must think we are absolute fools if he expects us to believe his stories.

.:webmaster:. said...

Thanks, Spirula.

And thanks for the link, Spacemonk.

Preston, that video is also available here on this site, too. Click here.

Anonymous said...

HI Dave,

I have read many comments about Christianity how we do not need it. Infact I support this Christianity can become a religion and to be a true beliver in Jesus is to have a relationship with Him . Yes many Christians may not walk a deep walk of faith but maybe that is because they have not learned yet to put strong roots down this comes from God the strength to walk strongly.

Miracles are from God wether you are a believer in Christ or not for all we see is His creation. All the wisdom man has comes from Him. I saw a boy run over by a truck in Japan and the father took him to the hospital and the doctors found no injury. Can a body resist the weight of a truck, doubt it. On tongues who understands not me but then it is for the building of oneself through the Holy Spirit. God encourages us to speak in tongues but does not order all who believe to do it. Yet it is a part of the ohana(family) each has a gift. It boils down to one thing at the end of our lives where shall we go. Many religions postpone the envitable but we all have to have a final death and either we are with God or we have chosen to be seperated from Him for eternity.

The light of this worll is God's and darkness is from the devil choose you all what you want God will honor your choice for it is your life. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord Jesus.

Aloha Kea Akua
JapanJoe

Nvrgoingbk said...

To Anonymous:

I will forgive your countless gramatical errors and explain them away by assuming you are not as familiar with the English lanuage as the rest of us. I would rather believe that than to assume you are simply ignorant and uneducated.

Now, as for your "miracle". Yes, my friend, the body CAN withstand the weight of a truck. The human body is capable of much more than we are aware. "Miracles" like this happen everyday, but these "miracles" are NOT evidence of your Christian God.

The "miracles" you speak of arbitary and random, anyway. While one Christian may experience an "answer" to his prayer, another Christian won't. While that boy may have escaped uninjured from beneath the truck, another Christian child with Christian parents dies of Luekemia, despite the woeful prayers from their sincere and faithful hearts.

"Miracles" happen every day in the natural world with no help from prayer. A gazelle escaping the hungry jaws of a lion is no more religious than the one who is unable to escape them a day later. He was simply LUCKY. The gazelle that made it out alive was NOT a Christian or a Muslim or a Buddhist. The gazelle was just a gazelle, and it did not pray before it escaped.

The surviving gazelle does not sit around with his family later that evening giving thanks to the Christian God for saving it's life, and the family members of the one that died do not sit around thinking, "I guess he just didn't have enough faith. If he'd just believed in miracles."

It's utterly ridiculous that you attribute one "miraculous" event to this god of yours, but then tell another Christian that the reason he doesn't recieve his long-awaited miracle is due to a lack of faith or the existence of some hidden sin on his or her part. You Christians are fickle people.

Spirula said...

Can a body resist the weight of a truck, doubt it.

As someone who got his foot and ankle run over...yes. Not even a bruise.

So, by your "reasoning", if the child had been injured or died then that would be further proof that Gawd doesn't exist or, at best, shows Gawd whimsically plays favorites with those he/she/it "helps".

J. C. Samuelson said...

JapanJoe/Anonymous,

"I saw a boy run over by a truck in Japan and the father took him to the hospital and the doctors found no injury."

Not knowing when you witnessed this or how old the boy is, I just grabbed the most recent numbers. See, in Japan during 2006, there were 158 fatalities (64 of them pedestrian) for youths aged 0 - 15 due to traffic accidents (see )here). There were also 776 fatalities (46 pedestrian) for those aged 16 - 24. Altogether, there were 2,051 pedestrian fatalities due to traffic in Japan during 2006.

Hmmm. Would you care to shed some light on what criteria God uses to determine who gets this kind of miracle and who doesn't? Apparently, faith is not among these criteria, because Japan is 65% secular (according to Zuckerman, 2005, though Shinto, Tenrikyo, and Buddhism also figure prominently). Then again, perhaps this boy was a believer and the rest of them weren't?

The statistics are even worse in the U.S. (as we would expect) - Traffic Fatalities for 2003: Under 1 y.o.= 144; 1-3 y.o.= 385; 4-7 y.o.= 479; 8-15 y.o.= 1,582 (see here). Nevertheless, it's guaranteed that someone, somewhere has a child who narrowly escapes death and/or major injury and attributes it to God.

The point being that hundreds of children die each year in traffic accidents and hundreds don't, so is it more likely that God whimsically dispenses miracles, or that dumb luck decides their fates? You choose.

Relationship NOT religion said...

it is so obvious in your little attaboy forum that none of you were true Christians in order to now be ex ones. The bible explains every bit of what you are discussing in all of your self proclaimed (lack of) wisdom!! If you no longer choose the Christian faith because your 'works' didn't work out, then just live your lives!! How pointless of a life you exhibit discussing things your 'wisdom' can't even fathom. None of you ever knew Jesus or you would be truly wise. I would suggest trying again and getting to know JESUS instead of religion and works.

I will give you a little clue as to why God doesn't heal amputees that evidently all of your 'reading and memorizing and prayer' didn't help you with even though it is clearly written in the Bible. It is because He has a plan that is bigger than you and your mindless circular thinking. I have seen paraplegics with better and more productive lives than you seem to have who THANK God for their problems because their problems brought them freedoms that you can never understand. All of your faith that there is no God is no more provable than a Christians faith IN Him. Your faith is in the mind that you are worshiping and Christ can change even your foolish ones! Say no to religion but at least give Jesus a try, you have never done so or you would know the answers to your silly pointless questions.

.:webmaster:. said...

To the relationship troll:

*Yawn*

Anonymous said...

Blah blah blahaahaaaaahhh. I hope you brush your teeth after having vomited all that out... -Wes.