DEATH is a long sleep.’ That was Carmel’s first words, after a sparse introduction.
And those first words made the boy’s listeners here in Montagne Posée Prisons wonder.
For the sitting prisoners reasoned among themselves. ‘Does this boy want to scare already dead convicts with a lecture on death?
‘And to think that it is a little boy lecturing adults on death, ha-ha!’
Yet now the inmates were curious. And they wanted to know what else this little boy could say to them about death.
The young and little Carmel began his speech now.
‘My mothers and sisters. Who has ever woken up from death, and goes back to the grave, and then wakes up again in the morning, only to die again by night?
‘Death is not like the everyday sleep. It is a sleep that takes forever. It is an eternal sleep…’
A silent murmur drifted across the hall. And several little chatters spread amid the seated listeners.
‘How can this boy dare talk about this to us? And with some audacity for that matter?’
‘What does he know? Even we adults fear death!’
‘Who is this boy by the way?’
Yet some of the inmates were amazed at the authority the kid commanded. And many others were amazed by the very words he spoke.
Well, to the prisoners here, death had always been what it literally meant. Or at least a little more peculiar.
But that cool Saturday morning was the first time the prisoners were seeing death from the perspective of a different sleep, an endless one.
And it hit them in the face like a blatant truth. The kind they just couldn’t escape.
Now Carmel’s listeners were more curious to know. And the little preacher went on in a moment.
‘Now let’s imagine the things that happen when we sleep,’ said Carmel. ‘To at least be able to picture this long sleep we call Death.’
Carmel motioned to his listeners. ‘Let’s close our eyes for a while, please,’ he requested. And his audience quietly obliged.
‘Thank you,’ the boy remarked. ‘Now let’s imagine the sweet dreams we have in our sleep. ‘The blissful dreams with beautiful experiences we don’t want to forget…’
Carmel paused a moment, while his listeners relished in their sweet reminiscences.
‘Now,’ he resumed, ‘imagine the empty dreams… the dreams that aren’t towards anything at all. Also imagine the dead sleep we have when we snore all through, with nothing to bring out of the entire night.
‘Let’s remember when we float in our sleep, too. Those sleep that are too shallow to give a feel of real sleep.
‘Or when we sleepwalk, or sleeptalk. Or when we have sleep paralysis. Let’s imagine those experiences…’ Carmel paused for a bit now.
‘And, now’ he said after a moment, ‘imagine the nightmares… Let’s picture the long, long sleep filled with nightmares…’
By now, when the young evangelist mentioned the nightmares, his listeners all began to open their eyes. One person after another.
Within a moment all eyes were wide open, and wide awake.
Now everyone in the audience was too eager to know where the speaker was going. And they wanted to know what they could do about the reality he was shoving in their face.
And so they listened with rapt attention. And Abby’s attention, too, was a hundred percent, where she sat in the audience.
Little Carmel charged on.
‘My mothers and sisters,’ he called.
‘Everyone will sleep the death sleep. But have you thought about the type of sleep you’ll have after leaving this hectic world?
‘In that long sleep of death do you think your sleep will be filled with sweet dreams? Or will it be burdened with nightmares?’
A heavy sigh drifted across the seated audience now. Abby, too, let out a burdened breath.
The teenage preacher went on. ‘Life is already a nightmare to some people, and a blissful daydream to others.
‘But no matter what type of life we have on earth, we will all die. Death is that thing that equalises everybody.
‘Both the people life was fair to, and those that life cheated. Death equalises everybody after all. Just like everybody will sleep at night.
‘But not everyone has the same sleep, you know. What type of death sleep do you want to have… my dear mothers and sisters?
‘Is it the one of a nightmare? Or is it the sound and beautiful sleep which ends in eternal glory? What type of sleep are you working to have in death?’
Abby heaved a thoughtful sigh now.
Carmel continued. ‘The only way death won’t be a continuity of this world’s stress, is to come to the Lord Jesus for help. He is our true Helper in life and in the afterlife.
‘Jesus Christ has already invited you. He said: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
‘My listeners, God was already leading the old Israelite nation to the Promised land, when He swore in His anger that they wouldn’t enter His rest because of their unbelief.
‘Yet in Hebrews chapters 3 and 4, Paul said by the revelation of the Holy Spirit – he said that the Promised Land in Canaan was not the peculiar rest God was talking about.
‘He explained that if the Promised Land which Joshua led the Israelites to was that anticipated rest, David wouldn’t have prophesied much later. He wouldn’t have prophesied that today again, if Israel will hear God’s call to enter His rest, they shouldn’t harden their hearts like in times past.
‘And so Paul explained that just as God rested on the seventh day after His work of creation, He promises a true rest for His own people after our toils and sojourn on earth.
‘It won’t be okay, my dear mothers and sisters, if we are restrained in this world, and we still end up in bonds and fetters in the life after. It won’t be all right at all.
‘Death is the fair deal for everybody. But what happens to us in death will be decided by us. And only those who surrender their life to the Lord Jesus, who is the only Way to God the Father, can have this promised rest!’ Carmel declared.
With that the young evangelist began calling. ‘My sisters and mothers, come now and surrender your life to Jesus! Come now and have His assurance for true rest here and hereafter.
‘Please come to Jesus your helper and burden bearer!
‘Please come now, and right away!’
Abby was touched to her very soul. For although she had been a church girl all her life, Abby had never known Jesus Christ on a personal level. She hadn’t ever surrendered her life to Him.
Now the young lady felt that vacuum deep down in her soul. And she felt that desperate need for the Saviour.
Abby looked up at the podium right now, and she saw some of the inmates walking to the front and kneeling down to pray.
The altar call went on, and Abby felt the need even more urgent. She stood up to her feet in a moment, and she headed for the altar, too.
That altar. The call altar where the young preacher stood… no it felt to Abby like a powerful magnet that drew her closer by the seconds.
Abby trudged to the altar, her heart and mind fixed on one thing. And it was those words that pulled her up to her feet. The glorious words about an everlasting rest.
Abby pressed forwards still, with her hands gently laid over her heart. But just while the altar was a small distance away, the yielding girl halted in her steps.
For just about now Abby passed beside the warden she’d been searching for so desperately. She passed by that Mother Teresa of Montagne Posée.
For Abby’s eyes fell on the warden’s golden tag: ‘Madame Annie Augustine.’ And the girl’s feet dragged to a sudden stop.
Right then, the yielding young lady turned about a full circle.
And she sprinted to catch up with the older woman.
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© 2021 by Kayode & Tola Olla