Woman Who Slipped To The 'Other Side' Recommends Special Heavenly Praises (2 stories)
By Michael H. Brown
We continue to be intrigued by the testimonies of those who seem to have gotten a glimpse of the afterlife -- the many experiencing what are widely known as "near-death" episodes. Do they actually grant insights into eternity -- and hints on how to prepare?
In coming weeks, we'll be having more reports. Whatever the actuality of every case, many find that such experiences transform their lives -- often granting what seem like spiritual gifts. Such was the case, it appears, with a California woman, Sharon Richie of Santa Clarita (near San Diego), with whom we spoke recently. "I had a brain tumor in July of 1999," she explains. "And I was rushed by Medevac to the Mayo Clinic with a one percent life expectancy. The doctor looked across at me 60 days later and said, 'You were the sickest woman I'd ever seen.'"
Her options had not been very many. As Sharon, a housewife, puts it, her "last grain of sand" was in the hourglass. She had told her husband, a mechanic, to be prepared, that she would either be dead or in a vegetative state.
It was a raging headache that kicked it off, with an MRI showing a pituitary tumor that may have been with her since puberty.
"But God intervened all the way around," she says. "Here I end up at the number one brain center in the world. A lot of people die trying to get there. Sometime while I was under anesthesia and wouldn't come back to the real world, it happened. The surgery was a success, but they couldn't bring me out. They hauled me in for another MRI to see if I had a brain bleed or secondary complication and they just told my husband they didn't know. I wasn't responding."
Did she see the tunnel and a light, or deceased loved ones, or her life in review -- as so many report?
"No," Sharon replies firmly. There was no tunnel. She did not behold the beatific vision. Instead she heard voices preparing her.
"I was like in a holding thing in the dark and I had two or three people telling me what to expect from the heavenlies -- that there would be bright colors and brilliance like I'd never seen before. I was told to pick out the brightest color and I said 'red' and they said it would be nothing compared to what I would see. I was told music would play and that it didn't need any instruments, that it would just exist, an entity by itself. You just think of something and it plays. I was told flowers would just come to you if you held out your hands, that everything was in harmony and there was no disconnect. I was like in a holding area and decisions were being made."
Was this real? Were these angels speaking to her?
"That's my sense of it," asserts Mrs. Richie. "I guess most people who have these experiences flip out when they figure that they're out of their bodies and they realize their souls exist, so I think they were waiting for the same for me. But I was just awestruck. Then God had a conversation with me -- conscience to conscience. He asked what on the earthly plane I desired. I said I was content, that short of a papal visit I couldn't think of much. He wanted to know my wants and desires. He shares whatever He wants to with you. He can manifest any way He wants. He seemed very matter-of-fact -- no holds barred, this is the way it is. The feeling of existing without a body... The last thing I remember was being written in the Book of Life just like the Bible says. At that point I thought it was permanent -- that I was not coming back, and that's when I started in about my daughter -- who I wanted to see grown and married. Then everything closed and it was like, okay: she asks, He said, and she's out of here. My soul was thrown back into my body and there I was."
Does Sharon have supernatural experiences now? Does she still feel effects of what seemed like a journey out of her body, as the surgeons were trying to bring her back?
"All the time," says the Californian. "The Holy Spirit is always placing me in places for a reason. I have seen some future things. I was sent out on real-people object lessons. Now I go where I'm placed. What I find now in doing intercessory prayer with people is that they can't believe God would care enough to come to their aid and rescue. I keep trying to convince them that He cares more than you could ever measure."
There are many things in our lives that have been healed, obstacles that have been removed by God that we don't realize, she says. There have also been healings around the housewife, who simply asks God to take over situations when she encounters someone ill. The Blessed Mother hasn't appeared to her, says Sharon, but she felt reprimanded by her voice one time when she was ready to stop going to a church after a priest insulted her. She was needed there to help others, she now realizes.
What about September 11?
Sharon's feeling is that "this was only a small portion of what happened, that something happened in the heavenlies that mirrored what happened here. I don't know what, but that's my impression."
Sharon particularly recommends praise services and, while a Catholic, ministers to various denominations and does so everywhere: at prayer groups, in Wal-Mart parking lots, at Seven-Elevens.
Why does she minister at both Catholic and non-Catholic churches?
Like so many who have this experience, there is a sense that God does not separate us, that we do that. "I can't get in the way when He says, 'Minister to all of My children,'" she answers.
It's the praise and worship, she says, that "puts God into gear. He waits on the sidelines and wants to answer people's wants and needs -- and praise and worship put Him into manifestation, particularly where there is a worry or concern. We shouldn't worry about anything," says Sharon. "God enjoys doing things for His children. But He also wants the thanks, the praise, and the worship. He wants to be recognized in our lives now than ever before." She especially recommends Psalms 91, 100, and 121.
What does she think will happen in the future?
"All I know is that the message I got during a praise-and-worship session a few weeks ago, the word I got was 'reign': He always has, and always will. He has a pace, and we shouldn't get ahead of Him. Neither should we get behind it. We should never try to sideline Him. He knows exactly where He is going and what He is doing. He has a pace, and it's not in our timing or our knowledge. But I can guarantee you one thing: the more that is offered up in praise and worship, the more He is recognized in people's lives, instead of us thinking it is a coincidence, the more He manifests. And the more people say, 'that was a Godsend' -- and thank Him for it -- the less chastisement mankind is going to get."
[see also: Magnify the Lord and Feel the Positive Force]
Resources for this article available in the SpiritDaily Bookstore: Her Life After Death, My Descent into Hell, After Life, Amazing Secrets of the Souls in Purgatory, Unpublished Manuscript on Purgatory, Secrets of Purgatory
California Woman Who Had Near-Death Experience Has Ideas On World's Future
By Linda Keslar
More earth changes are likely to be ahead, says Sharon Ritchie, a California woman who had a near-death experience in 1999. Like many who have had such an experience (she recounted an alleged discussion with the Lord as she tottered between the two realities), Sharon received revelations of future events, particularly that the earth’s rotation around its axis would alter, affecting the entire planet. In fact, after the recent quake in Asia, the earth's rotation was affected in such a way that the North Pole moved about an inch and the day was shortened by 2.5 microseconds -- minuscule effects but ones that could have unknown long-term consequences.
“God is recreating the earth the way He intended,” says Sharon, a devout Catholic whose near-death brush, following a bursting brain tumor, was profiled by Spirit Daily two years ago (above). I was told there would be a shift in the earth’s axis, and a reshaping of the way the world is configured,” she says -- which we submit only for discernment.
But Sharon’s tactic in such revelations isn’t, she says, “to set people running scared” by the threat of potential catastrophes, but to urge them to pray, and come closer to God, both for the sake of their own souls as well as the future of the planet. “God is in control, He knows what He is doing. But He needs our hands, feet, and prayers to generate his edict. I think prayer changes the course of action and allows God to come in and heal,” she assures. “God is in the same healing business he was yesterday, today, and forever. Every life is precious to him. He wants our eternal life in His kingdom and none of us to perish.”
What she wasn’t shown in her encounter was a timetable for such events. But in prayer last November, Sharon says, she received a prompting. “’Launched,’ that’s what I heard from God, and I got the sense that things are really going to accelerate, that God really wants our attention, that things are just too out of balance,” she says, due to so much sin in the world. She is particularly alarmed by the impact of abortion and the potential misuse of stem-cell research, among other evils. “Idolatry is so rampant,” she warns. “God didn’t design us to manipulate the greater plan He has in mind.”
Her revelation also echoes the anonymous prophecy of December 22, warning of a major disruption in a region of the world. Then came the Asian tsunami, triggered by a 9.0 earthquake so massive that it has impacted the earth’s rotation and devastated large land masses. Like many, Ritchie is grieving and praying for the victims, but she also maintains that the disaster is part of God’s plan. “From a mortal point of view, yes, its terrible that so many people died and are suffering,” she says. “I don’t know why it happened, but I do know that from chaos comes God’s blessing. “ One fruit is the massive aid coming from all over the world, she says. “Many parts of that region have been ravaged by poverty and spiritual darkness, so this may be one way to build a new foundation for those people on many levels, both economic and spiritual,” she says. “It may take 60 years or more to understand why that part of the world is undergoing what it is, but God has a reason.” She believes that such events are a sign of the Second Coming.
Whether or not there is such an apocalyptic element, there is little doubt that we are in a special period and Sharon’s daily life is a testimony to the power of prayer. This California housewife attends Mass every morning and ministers constantly, with the numbers she’s prayed with and for growing to hundreds of people over the years. On any given day, she can be found praying over people everywhere she goes, from church and bible study, to restaurants like the local IHOP and Starbucks, to the parking lots of Kmart or the supermarket, and at many churches. She prays with people of all denominations and others whom she optimistically dubs “soon-to-be Christians, instead of non-Christians,” quoting Malachi 2:10: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” “We need to all be thinking in that vein, in terms of unity, not division,” she says.
And often these prayers are also complemented by a handout from her car trunk, packed with an array of rosaries, packets of healing oil, and blessed salt, and books about Mother Mary, the power of prayer, and God’s promises. “I start every day asking where I can be of greater service to further the Kingdom,” she says, jokingly calling herself “God’s Call Box.” “People ask me if I’ve seen that TV show ‘Joan of Arcadia,” about the high school girl who hears from God. I tell them I’m living it.”
And the result has been many answered prayers for friends, acquaintances, and strangers, for physical and emotional healings, as well as other fruits, too many to report. But what follows is just an example of some willing to come forward to share their experiences with Sharon.
“Sharon is literally all over the place, praying at different churches around the area,” says Roxeanne Jennerson, one of many who have benefited from Sharon’s intercessory prayers. “People who know Sharon know she’s special and has this gift.”
Last year, Roxeanne, who attends Blessed Kateri in Santa Clarita, the same Catholic parish as Sharon, had been alarmed by an abnormal blood test early in her pregnancy, one that showed her unborn baby at an increased risk for Down’s syndrome. Since abortion wasn’t an option due to her faith, she and her husband met with a genetics counselor to better understand their predicament. But beyond all the scientific information, says Roxeanne, she felt most guided by her faith. “Sharon prayed over me throughout my pregnancy and her prayers, as well as those of others, were a great comfort.” And the prayers were answered. Roxeanne gave birth last year to a perfectly healthy daughter.
But this was what Roxeanne calls her “second” special encounter with Sharon acting as a strong prayer intercessor on her behalf. The first was born of tragedy when her sister accidentally killed a teenage girl who ran suddenly across the street in front of the car she was driving. She told Sharon about it, as well as her prayer group. “We prayed for that girl and her family, as well as for my sister, who was so distraught.” Days later, Sharon was stopped in the parking lot of another church, where she attends a bible study, by a woman looking for directions. She was on her way to the funeral service of her niece, she told Sharon, who had been tragically killed when a car hit her. It was the same girl Sharon had prayed for and she immediately told the woman she knew the driver’s sister and her family, who were deeply grieved. “Tell them we know it was an accident, that there is no blame,” the woman told Sharon, who relayed the message to Roxeanne. “It was both a grace and a comfort,” says Roxeanne.
And to Sharon, it was far from coincidence, just another sign of God’s constant interaction and care for his people, for which she is an “envoy.
“That’s just one of the new words He’s given me, ‘envoy,’ she says. Sometimes, she says, God will tell her specifically where he wants her to be and what He wants her to do. “Or people are drawn to me or placed in my midst. Things just unfold during the day as just part of my regular walk of life. I may pass someone who has a cast on their hand or leg, or on crutches, I may just have someone in mind, or sometimes, I’ve even have a tingling sensation going through my body about whatever someone is praying about that needs an additional request.”
And there’s a lesson in that for everyone who comes to prayer, she says: prayer in action. “People cross directly in front of our paths for a reason, or a name comes to mind for a reason,” she says. “Pay attention, and step out of things that are always about yourself. You can’t be blessed if you’re always rowing your own boat.” And if you encounter a prayer opportunity, don’t just add a name to prayer list to go over hours later. “Pray immediately, in the name of Jesus,” she advises, echoing St. Paul’s command to be in constant prayer. “This stuff about writing things down and getting to it later, that’s fine, but the immediacy makes more of an impact. Move with prayer that conjoins at that place and time. If more people would do that, all kinds of things could happen. Jesus is right there. Don’t miss an opportunity for prayer.”
Joyce Valenzuela, who also knows Sharon through Blessed Kateri, says she suffered back problems for over 20 years, though she hadn’t come to Sharon for prayer in church. One day, the pain was so bad that she couldn’t stand up. Out of the blue, Sharon dropped by her home on an incidental errand, came in, laid hands on her and prayed for Jesus’s intervention. “It was a wonderful blessing,” Joyce says. The pain ceased within days, she says, and has been gone for over a year.
The prayer concerns she hears most frequently, Sharon says, are those of basic human dilemmas, both large and small ones, about illness, finances, job concerns, broken hearts, family matters, even criminal cases. For example, three years ago, Sharon prayed with a woman fearful her teenage son faced life imprisonment as a suspect in a sensational gang-led murder. In that prayer, the Holy Spirit, Sharon says, told her to assure the mother, much to both of their surprise, “that God had him in a safe place, that he was in His hands, and that truth and justice would reign in the court room.” Last summer, the son was acquitted and walked out of court a free man while several other gang members were sentenced to life in prison.
Sharon has never seen or spoken to that woman again and only learned of her son’s release through the newspaper. But that’s not unusual. Most of the people she prays with are, in fact, complete strangers, and since she’s not soliciting donations, few ask her more than her first name, rarely even a phone number. Once, not long after she petitioned God, she says, “to show me what I looked like on other people’s lives,” she was led to pray with a disgruntled pregnant young woman with a cranky toddler in tow at a local Christian bookstore. Sharon noticed she had a bandage on her arm, the result of a blood test, and asked if she had a prayer need. It turns out the woman was concerned about the potential of an abnormal pregnancy. Sharon prayed for God’s blessing and a healthy pregnancy, and weeks later, learned the woman had left a note in the store addressed to her and thanking her. “I came into the store that day with so much negative feeling about everyone and everything,” it says. “I left thanking God that there are people like you, compelled to approach total strangers like me and take their burdens on themselves. I bless God for bringing you and I into the store at that moment in time to be reminded all I need in this world is my faith in Jesus.”
Then there was the morning that Rene Urbanovich answered the door to the Three Rivers Church, a non-denominational Protestant church where her husband is pastor, to find Sharon, whose daughter takes voice lessons from her. “No one knew I was there, but Sharon said she’d been led to me, that God had sent her, what was the need?” says Rene. And indeed there was. Sharon learned that the church was hoping to expand to the building next door, which has been recently vacated, but didn’t have the money. “We prayed for a short while and asked the Lord for help,” says Rene. Sharon even laid hands on the building next door for prayer, and asked that God’s will be done. Within three days, the landlord of the adjacent building called and offered the church free rent for three months, time to allow them to raise additional funds. “It was not only an answered prayer, but also a confirmation from God that we were going in the right direction,” says Rene. “I think Sharon’s on a different plane than the rest of us, this isn’t a matter of being psychic.”
And Sharon would be the first to disclaim that she has any special powers, other than the fruits the Holy Spirit bestows upon her, only at God’s discretion. In fact, she is intensely critical of people who use their psychic gifts as mediums or tarot card readers, or those who charge for “energy” healing. She has encountered such people particularly in the meetings she has attended at the local chapter of the International Association of Near Death Studies, where she has gone to share her NDE experience with those who have also claimed to have crossed over into supernatural realms. “I’m still trying to understand my own experience, since I seem to live between two worlds, the heavenly realm and this one, ” she explains. But, instead, she finds herself going to pray over some of the other members, the healers and mediums. “Many of these people have good intentions, but I really haven’t seen the fruits of their efforts,” she says. “None of it rings true with me. The Bible forbids it. And just look at the example of Jesus. He didn’t say to the woman at the well ‘cross my hand with coin and I’ll help you.’ God help anyone if money is the object of meeting a prayer need.”
And though Sharon has recovered from the brain tumor, she also faces an array of other health problems, severe enough to keep her from returning to the workforce full time, but leaving her enough energy to continue her ministry. When people ask her why she wasn’t totally healed, she says it clearly wasn’t God’s plan. “I just figure it must be part of my walk of faith, knowing he can do it, it's His choice, and His timing.”
Her role, she says, is of humble servant. “I’m not here for money or jewels in my crown. I’m here to serve Him. I don’t know why I was chosen, but I know I’m back here for His children’s needs and purposes. And I can assure people that God always has a better plan in mind, he isn’t doing anything to torment or torture you. It all has a meaning and a purpose.”
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