I recently ‘stumbled upon’ an author whose life seems to encapsulate the lightthroughthecracks theme of this blog.
Her name is Chrissie Chapman, and her book, ‘The Night the Angels Came‘, is an easy read and not too long. But it’s not just the book itself that has caught my attention. It’s the ‘About the Author’ appendix at the end!
Let me explain …
The book describes how, in 1990, Chrissie left the UK to live and work in Burundi, a landlocked nation in the Great Rift Valley, where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. If you find it on a map, you’ll see it’s shaped like a heart.
Trained as a midwife, Chrissie settled at the top of a mountain, in a rural part of the country, where she opened a maternity clinic and dispensary, based in a healing centre. Then, just three years after arriving, a political coup was declared, and Burundi descended into a civil war, which went on to last thirteen years.
Chrissie’s book describes how, throughout that time, she witnessed God repeatedly performing remarkable miracles of provision and protection, in the lives of people who had lost everything – including in the home she found herself setting up for abandoned babies and traumatised children.
The title of the book comes from an incredible incident, one night, just after the war had started, when she and her mission director, David Ndarahutse, were sitting in the healing centre, praying.
Each day, they were struggling to cope with the swarms of needy people, coming to them, seeking refuge.
Each night, there was gunfire – and this night was no exception.
“Chrissie, look up,” David urged her.
Chrissie looked up, wondered what he was pointing out, and promptly bowed her head again to pray.
Realising that she couldn’t see what he was seeing, David laid his hands on her eyes, and asked God to open them, that she might be able to see what he could see.
God heard David’s prayer.
When Chrissie opened her eyes, she saw dozens of angels, standing shoulder to shoulder, on guard, on top of the walls surrounding the healing centre.
“From that moment on,” Chrissie writes in the book, “I never experienced or felt fear for my life.”
If this taster of the book doesn’t tempt you to read it, then let me also tell you the back story of how Chrissie came to find faith in Jesus, more than a decade before she went to Burundi …
Born and brought up in Stockport, a large town in North West England, her childhood was marred by constant ill health, multiple hospital stays, and several near death experiences.
This impacted her schooling and led to poor educational attainment. So none were as surprised as Chrissie when she qualified as a nurse, and then later as a midwife.
Shortly after completing her training, and once again in hospital and at death’s door, she was treated by a Christian doctor, who talked with her about Jesus. As she listened, she gave her life to God, in a profound encounter.
A few years later, following several serious asthmatic attacks, she suffered a respiratory arrest, stopped breathing, and was placed in intensive care on a life support machine. Her lungs were deeply damaged, her joints had swollen, she was in excruciating pain, had no sensation down the right side of her body, and had lost huge clumps of hair.
The duty doctor pronounced that she was dying.
As she lay in this state, she heard an audible voice saying, “It’s time to go home, because I’m going to heal you.” She knew immediately it was God, and decided to obey what He was asking of her, even though it made no sense.
To cut a long story short (because you really need to read the book, and the appendix, to appreciate this in all its fullness) Chrissie’s friends took her home in a wheelchair – and over the course of the next 12 hours, God miraculously healed her!
He had given her a Bible verse, in hospital, to hold onto, from 1 Peter 2 verse 24: “He [Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds, you have been healed.”
It was as she proclaimed this Scripture, and prayed it into being, that she became aware of pins and needles, and other sensations, all over her body. One broken piece after another, God was healing her.
The following day, she returned her wheelchair to the hospital, and the doctors could not believe what they were witnessing. The duty doctor who had pronounced her to be dying reached out to touch her hair, which had grown back, before slumping to the floor, on his knees, praying and worshipping God.
Over the course of the following few weeks, many of the staff in that hospital became Christians.
God had given Chrissie two completely brand new lungs.
And Chrissie, in response, gave her life completely to God.
That healing miracle took place 45 years ago.
This film of Chrissie speaking in the USA, is from five years ago. I recommend you find 26 minutes of time to watch it, if you want to be inspired by this ordinary woman and the extraordinary God who healed her:
If you want to buy Chrissie’s book, you will find it at Bookshop, Eden, Waterstones, Blackwells or Amazon. (I’m giving a selection, so you can choose which bookseller you want to support, before you part with your cash!)
Most of us will never experience such a dramatic healing as Chrissie did. And most of us will not be called to leave our lives and our nations, become missionaries in countries like Burundi. But there is still something of Chrissie’s story, which can stir our spirits in response …
If you don’t know Jesus, why don’t you give your life to Him, as Chrissie did?
If you do know Jesus, are you prepared to listen for His voice, and obey Him, even when it makes no sense, as Chrissie did?
And if you are a Christian, who works in one of the healthcare professions, may Chrissie’s story inspire you to never underestimate the power of your prayers for your patients!
As ever, if you want to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below, you would be most welcome!
Photo by Anna Shvets via Pexels.