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No Miracles Required

It was on a Sunday around 11 a.m. when my fire department engine company responded
to a teenage female having difficulty breathing. When we arrived, there were
about fifteen people, mostly teenagers, crowded around a girl who was sitting
on the porch hyperventilating. I was able to determine, from her presentation
and history, that she was not having an asthma attack or other serious respiratory
compromise, but an anxiety attack. For the next 20 minutes I sat with this
girl, coaching her breathing, speaking calmly, holding her hand — just basic
Success! Her breathing returned to normal, after which she felt a little
tired, so we had her lie down on a sofa inside. As she lay down, the girl
suddenly told me, “You know, you should come to my church with me!”

Now, as a person in a position of trust, I have to be careful about what
I say to people while on duty. I also knew it wouldn’t take much to rekindle
this girl’s anxiety attack, so, smiling, I replied, “uh, I don’t think
that would be a very good idea.”
I then attempted to change the subject
back to her breathing, but she persisted, adding, “No, really, you should
come to my church with me! It’s a wonderful church, it’s New Life . . .”

I had to call in a report to my base hospital, so I took this moment to
do so. While I was in the next room on the telephone another girl said to
me, “Yeah, we really would like to have you at our church!”

After this second invitation it dawned on me that we had walked into a
Christian group meeting! This wasn’t to be the end of it, however. When I
returned to the first girl to give her some final instructions about “controlling
her breathing,”
she continued with her mission: “You know, you really
do need to come to my church.”
And then, putting her hand on my arm,
she added, “It’s OK, I used to be a bad person too!”

I was stunned by this insult and asked her if I was a bad person because
I don’t go to her church? She immediately responded that she “hadn’t meant
it that way.”
Maybe. In either case, I told her that I have already been
where she is, and have no desire to go back; and that she has much to learn
and I hope one day she comes to understand that.

What disturbs me most about this event is not what the girl said about
me, but what she said about herself — that she “used to be a bad person,”
but now that she accepts Jesus, she’s suddenly “good.” Nonsense! She
was undoubtedly a “good person” to begin with, and she would be so
regardless of the religion she professed to, if any at all. While the particular
religious beliefs of these young people may be a great source of happiness
for them, it is a shame that their church leaders teach them that anyone
not believing as they do is “bad” or in need of “saving.”

We should also ask why, in accordance with Mark 16:17-18, the
“laying-on of hands”
by her Christian friends didn’t help this girl, but
the care provided by a heathen humanitarian did resolve the problem — no
miracles required.