Dumbfounded by the news of a family's desperate att-empt to raise their loved one from the dead, religious leaders on Grand Bahama yesterday spoke out on the story that has most of the island stunned.
Sometime on Friday it was reported by police that the family of an 85-year-old woman, who had died, had kept her rotting body in an apartment in Bahama Reef for more than a week, praying for her to return to life.
Grand Bahama Christian Council (GBCC) President Sobig Kemp said in a telephone interview that al-though he admired the family's strong belief in the power of prayer, he cannot help but believe that they misinterpreted the Word of God.
Kemp's second in command, GBCC Vice President Bishop Arnold Pinder, shared similar sentiments on the matter, saying that the family's judgment had been clouded by their blind faith.
Kemp said he was shocked upon hearing of the tragic story.
"Basically I was very surprised that something like that could happen in our community. We live in a society that is well versed in God's laws and the principles of God and so it sounded to me like I might have been in a foreign country where there are a whole lot of cults and other activities that happen," Kemp said. "In our society, we have a full understanding of the revealed will of God and as Bahamians I would never think that we would hear something of that nature."
Kemp said that persons must understand the plan and purpose of God.
"God allows some people to live while he allows others to die," he said. "What I think happened is that the persons were subconsciously grieving and in denial. One of the stages in grieving is denial and it's quite possible that that may have pretty much set in, resulting in them not wanting to release their loved one."
The pastor said that it is understandable that the family would want to do all that they could to ensure that their loved ones are with them for as long as possible, but it is unrealistic to think that they could actually raise someone from the dead.
"Just because we want our loved ones to live on, doesn't mean that God is going to favour one family over so many others who felt the same way. I think it's really presumptuous," he said.
Meanwhile, Bishop Pinder said he believes "there's a lesson to be learned in that because in a lot of ways what we need is teaching. I think that those people sincerely believed that they could bring their loved one back," he said.
"But I also believed that they did not use wisdom because after they realized that the first few rounds of prayer wasn't working, they should have turned the body over to the authorities."
While commending for their display of faith, he can-not help but "to question their belief and what their take is on religion," adding that he would like to personally speak with members of the family to find out the meaning behind their act-ions.
Central Detective Unit officers on Grand Bahama are still investigating the bizarre circumstances surrounding the matter. No charges have been filed in this incident.
According to reports at about 11:45 a.m. on Friday, April 4, CDU and Lucayan Division officers proceeded to Falston Apartments, situated on Indiana Lane, to investigate reports of a foul odour emanating from Apt #6.
They were met by a 56-year-old male, who informed them that his mother, Florence Ophelia Russell, who occupied that apart-ment, had been suffering from diabetes and died nine days earlier on March 27.
He further stated that the family got together and decided that instead of calling the police or EMS personnel, they would commence a fasting and prayer vigil, in hopes that God would restore their mother back to life.
He stated that after nine days of continuous prayers, without any result, they decided to call the police.
Officers examined the badly decomposed body of Russell, which was lying in bed, clad in sleep wear, but found no signs of any violence.
While this matter is being dealt with as a sudden death, police are awaiting the results of a post-mortem, before making an official classification.