Recently we’ve had stories detailing some mystical insights of an extraordinary convert to Christianity, Sundar Singh, who hailed from India and after his conversion roamed four continents evangelizing. He died years back — 1929 — in the foothills of the Himalayas.
And his visions and insights indeed were amazing. We have decided to carry a book about his visions of the afterlife. They are totally in line with near-death experiences and Catholicism.
But as amazing as those was his conversion.
It takes little research to learn that Sundar Singh’s mother died when he was the tender age of fourteen. Angered by that tragedy, young Singh burned a Bible page by page as friends watched.
“Sundar felt that his religious pursuits and the questioning of Christian priests left him without ultimate meaning,” says Wikipedia. “Sundar resolved to kill himself by throwing himself upon a railroad track. He asked that whosoever is the ‘True God’ would appear before him, or else he would kill himself.
“That very night he had a vision of Jesus.”
When young Sundar told his father, Sher Singh, that he was going to become a Christian missionary, his father officially rejected him, and Sundar’s own brother, Rajender, attempted to poison him (a number of times!).
Folks in that area, steeped as it is in demonic Hinduism, tossed reptiles — snakes — into Singh’s abode in an attempt (India is known for its vipers) to kill him. He was rescued from such bizarre mistreatment with the help of a nearby British Christian. “On his sixteenth birthday, he was publicly baptized as a Christian in the parish church in Simla, in the Himalayan foothills,” we learn.
“In October 1906, he set out on his journey as a new Christian, wearing a saffron turban and the saffron robe of a sadhu, an ascetic devoted to spiritual practice. Singh propagated himself as a sadhu, albeit one within Christianity because he realized Indians could not be converted unless it was in an Indian way.”
Referred to as “the apostle with the bleeding feet” (due to his journeys on foot), he suffered arrest, physical abuse, and even stoning — but at the same time and through the rest of his years, also experienced mystical encounters.
His life was a strictly ascetic one.
And when he visited the West, Singh was “appalled by what he saw as the materialism, emptiness, and irreligion he found, contrasting it with Asia’s awareness of God, no matter how limited that might be.”
And so goes the easy-to-find background of this man who wrote books from which we have drawn surprising insights, whose afterlife visions included that of a “man of God examining his appointed mansion” in Heaven, which at first he saw from a distance.
In the afterlife, there are often “intermediate” stages, he claimed, where souls are schooled, prepared, and purified before entry into paradise. This man, devoid of harshness and pride, pure of intention, apparently was ready.
Wrote Singh in the book, “When this man, in company with the angels, arrived at the door of his appointed mansion, he saw written on it in shining letters the word ‘Welcome,’ and from the letters themselves ‘Welcome, Welcome,’ in audible sound repeated and repeated again.
“When he had entered his home, to his surprise he found the Lord there before him. At this his joy was more than he can describe, and he exclaimed, ‘I left the Lord’s Presence and came here at His command, but I find that the Lord Himself is here to dwell with me.’
“In the mansion was everything that his imagination could have conceived, and everyone was ready to serve him. In the nearby houses, saints, like-minded to himself, lived in happy fellowship.
“For this heavenly house is the kingdom which has been prepared for the saints from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34), and this is the glorious future that awaits every true follower of Christ.”
No wonder it is that, while not Catholic per se (he joined no denomination), was declared a saint by Christians.
[resources: Visions of the Spiritual World]