Chapter 1 - Personal experiences in the field of spiritual apparitions

- 36 - parish. The spirit that spoke through him always came with the greeting: “Der Friede Gottes sei mit euch!” (God’s peace be with you) or, whenever the messages were especially important, with the words: “Gottes Wort sei mit euch!” (God’s word be with you). We were soon to receive confirmation, in a way that moved us all deeply, of the truth of the messages brought us by this spirit. I had a very dear friend in Germany, a simple man of the people, who lived in a small rural community, and of whom I had taken leave personally before I sailed for America. On July 20th, 1930, at one of our services, the spirit speaking through Mr. Niemann announced that my friend in Germany was very ill and would soon die. The actual text of the message was: “Your friend H. S. is very ill. He is suffering from a chronic disease. You will not see him again on earth.” Seeing that the shock of this news brought tears to my eyes, the spirit went on consolingly: “Your friend is a noble man. He is in good hands with us. If you want to write him, do so at once, so that your letter may reach him before he dies.” Then, seemingly to make sure that my letter would still arrive in time, the medium turned his head to one side as though questioning someone; then, facing me again, he assured me: “Yes, the letter will reach him in time, but do not put off writing it.” I wrote on the following day and as a sort of farewell enclosed my picture. Naturally, I said nothing of the prediction of his impending death; on the contrary, I expressed my pleasure at the prospect of seeing him again soon and asked him to meet me in Bremen on my return. On August 20th, 1930, I received a letter from my sister in Germany, who lived near my friend. This letter was dated August 11th and began as follows: “It pains me to tell you that your best friend, H. S., of O., has died. I heard that only last Monday he received a letter from you with your picture. So, he saw you once more and could bid you goodbye. They say he wept bitterly, as you had written asking him to meet you in Bremen on your return. He is now in eternity.” On the day on which my sister’s letter came, our little circle held a service. Since the evening on which my friend’s approaching death had been foretold, the spirit that had manifested itself through Mr. Niemann had not spoken, but now it entered the medium and spoke the following words, which were taken down in shorthand by Mrs. Niemann: “God’s word be with you! Amen! It is by way of an exception that I am speaking through him today, so that your request may be granted.” (During the day I had been praying to God for words of comfort.) You have suffered a loss that weighs heavily on you as a mortal. But do not mourn. He (meaning my friend) is now much, much better off. And as a reward to you, he is standing at your right side, his face turned toward you. He is smiling at you and stroking your head with his right hand. He sends you his love and bids you not to take it so hard. Perhaps later you may hear from him (meaning that my friend would perhaps speak to me himself through the medium), but not yet. His last struggle was not very hard. He wanted to see you and to speak to you once more. Now he can do the first (the seeing), but not yet the second (the speaking). He died in the midst of a prayer to God. Oh, you poor mortals! Life is so hard for you, but keep your faith! Do not weaken, do not falter, and your reward will not be lacking. Many whose lot on earth was not as good as that of others stand far higher in the Beyond than those who were their rulers on earth. ‘Matter’ does not bring happiness.” (By matter, the spirit means money, a word it never utters, using ‘matter’ instead.) “Therefore, do not take things so hard! Oh, if you could only see him! The fact of his being here is a sign that he stands very high. He still has to