All pastors are crazy; I've known that since seminary. Some pastors, however, have fewer cards in their decks than others. Nick Overduin, pastor of Toronto First Christian Reformed Church, began to question his own sanity after an experience that was beyond explanation.

Overduin now believes God was in this encounter. You may believe otherwise. In either case, reading Nick's account has made me wonder - as more church leaders are rethinking the nature of ministry in a post-Christian culture, is it also time to rethink our assumptions about the supernatural, and its place in our communities?

Who wants to be known as a crazy nut-case preacher that hears voices? I don't advocate hearing voices; I just happen to have heard one.

I did not hear any strange "voices" in my first church. Nor did I feel distracted by the supernatural during my second charge, a University Chaplaincy. In my third posting I was perhaps too busy to hear any divine whisperings. My congregation had 800 members. My fourth church is conceivably the most implausible setting for a semi-mystical deviation. Many of its 120 members are certified experts, executives, or independent entrepreneurs. My wife Nandy and I have been married 25 years, and at first I didn't tell even her. I am writing the episode now partly because I believe it could be sinful to keep it to myself.

About three years ago I woke up one night very suddenly. It was as if I had been jerked from deep sleep into alert wakefulness in less than a second.

I was surrounded by a darkness that seemed thicker than usual. It felt like something or someone ominous was in the room with me.

The blackness around the bookshelves in my office where I had fallen asleep was so substantial that I could see nothing. ...

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