The call came at 2208hrs on 20 October 2006. The message was short and curt. I was asked to call an old college mate in about twenty minutes. His name was K… I knew he was involved with a lot of Bible Studies and counselling and praying for people during the current revival. It could only mean one thing. There was some important news. An SMS from my sister came. ‘Any news?’ she asked, as if she was also sensing something. There was nothing yet, I told her. I called up K… after twenty-two minutes. The mobile phone was switched off. I waited thinking that he must be talking or praying with people. His phone was still in that position even after 45 minutes. I decided to call another number where I knew I could catch him. He had just left.
My wife’s cousin decided not to keep me on tenterhooks any longer. ‘Angels,’ she said. ‘Angels appeared in Smit, but please get the full details from K… who was there. I called up K… this morning and got the story.
On Thursday, 19 October 2006, he had gone to Smit to give a Bible Study. A young girl from Sohra area who had been seeing miraculous visions had come to meet him that day. She went along with him to the Bible study. Bible studies are no longer small group meetings in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills these days. They are more like crusades. The church building was full and so were the church lawns. The young girl with visions had given her testimony, and had said that God would do wonderful things that night. God had been doing so many wonderful things that people half expected what would happen. That night, however, it was something a bit beyond the ordinarily wonderful things they had been used to. It was not simply a response to God’s word or miraculous visions (which are usually poured out to dozens of children nowadays). Heavens would open.
Towards the end of the meeting at about 9 pm, the congregation was singing a song, which had become very popular during this revival, ‘The Angels Sing.’ Suddenly there was a noise and commotion outside. The young girl with many visions said, “Let’s go out, God is going to show something to you.” The people outside had seen a bright light like lightning. The heavens towards the north seem to part and some saw what looked like hills, and then a rainbow (it is 9 pm at night). Then there were screams and shouts like, ‘Here, here,’ ‘There, on the right,’ ‘look there on the left.’ There were angels all around! Some fell down in fear or in shock. Some walking on the road dropped to their knees (some bottles of liquor were reportedly found the next morning).
K…, who had come out of the church building, took out his mobile phone and switched on the video camera. A big angel flashed right in the path of the lens. My cousins who saw the picture on the screen last night were still shaken even two hours later. They said they could see the wings and the vague shape of a body. Angels are something we read about and hear of. Not beings we actually expect to see. Some people stunned by the appearance could only scream, bow down or cry, while those inside continued singing. The background sounds were captured on K’s mobile phone video.
There was only one big angel, the one who was caught on K’s camera. There were however, a host of small angels flashing in and out of view. All the angels appeared only in flashes. It sounded, to me, like the story of the herald angels announcing to the shepherds, the coming of Jesus.
In the meantime the northern sky continued to play like the side stage. A bright sword was seen by some, and some others a bright cross. A senior pastor married to my aunt, came out of the church building. He had been sceptical during the initial periods of the revival. “What do you think of this?” I ventured. “Think of what?” he asked, “I saw it with my own eyes! I saw the northern sky towards the Himalayas, and there was this bright cross, clear and bright up there. I was not alone! Several of us saw. Then I saw another cross, closer.”
I had recently had a long conversation with him when I visited Shillong. I sensed now he was speaking with the excitement of one who was a part of something big happening, and I could no longer trace the scepticism in his words. However I could not resist probing a little more. Knowing him to be a thinking pastor, an intelligent and bright student, I asked how this fitted in to his theology. “Do you remember what Joel said? What is written there is happening. These are miracles,” he said, “When God does miracles how can we explain? These are beyond human explanations. I have seen and I believe.” I remembered those who do not see and yet believe. I had spoken to three eyewitnesses. They were excited, but how much can they be excited when God seems to be literally pouring out his Spirit all around?
Two weeks ago the same pastor had met a young boy of seven in a remote village. He had become unconscious one day, and had a vision. When he woke up the pastor asked him what happened. He said he had been to heaven, and as with many children who had visions of heaven or Jesus, he said that he did not want to return. Jesus had told him that he had to return for now and the boy had reluctantly found himself in the company of ordinary humans like this pastor. When asked if he had anything to say to anyone, he simply said, “Read Matthew 3.2.” Children of seven do not normally think of such verses, and certainly not someone who could hardly read.
Another story was telling in its simplicity. National Highway 44 connects the states of Mizoram, Tripura, and the plains of Cachar to the rest of the country, through the Jaintia Hills and Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. An empty refrigerated truck was returning after delivering its load of fish from Andhra Pradesh, in Silchar. The driver, also from Andhra, stopped at Bapung, in Jaintia Hills, that evening and heard singing from the Bapung Presbyterian Church. Something about the singing drew him to the church. He went and even took part in the singing even though he did not know the language. He left after praying with some of the counsellors from the church.
Yet another impresses the listener with the same message, which God seems to be drumming into our ears – the time is near. A deacon from the Iewrynghep Presbyterian Church (near Mawlyngngot), in East Khasi Hills, in a vision in his bedroom one night, saw a big angel about to blow the trumpet, but something made him pause and he dropped his arm. Almost all the children having visions repeat this same message, the door is about to be locked, or the book is about to be closed.
24th/Oct/2006, 9 a.m., Shillong, India
My dear friend Barkos was kind enough to send me the news and clip of video taken by his friend on his mobile/cell-phone. The video wasn't clear enough as could be expected with the quality of most of the mobile phone videos. However, bright objects flapping their wings is visible. And as described above, one of the angel swoops up right at the path of the camera. The screams and noise of the crowd, "there, over there", "wow! so many", "over here", "oh, it's shining" etc., could be heard. I watched the clip repeatedly and was shaken for quite some time.
We know God's angels are around us. It's just that they're not visible to us, of course, with the exception of some as in the case above. So this is not something for us to be either confounded or sceptic about. And as long as whether angels or even God Himself is invisible to us, we've to remind ourselves what Jesus so emphatically stated to Thomas, "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29)
Copyright 2006 Reuben Pradhan