Since he failed to find God in science or in war, Nader turned to prayer. He began to visit the former hermitage of St. Charbel in Annaya, Lebanon in 1985, about five years before the end of the country’s civil war.
He said that every day for almost 10 years, after he had finished both work and taking care of his family, he would go to the Annaya hermitage to pray in St. Charbel’s cell or chapel, spending the nights “praying, meditating, reading the Bible.”
One of these nights, Nov. 10, 1994, as he was praying as usual, “something in the air started changing around me,” he said. “It was so cold, you know, Annanaya is 1,300 meters above sea level. It’s so cold during winter.”
He described a sudden feeling of a warm breeze that transformed into a strong, hot wind blowing around him. “I felt so hot,” he said.
Nader had been reading the Bible by candlelight, and he recalled noticing that when the strange wind blew, everything around him moved except for the flames of the candles.
“I started looking for the cause of this hot wind in Annaya in the wintertime, which was a miracle. And I was shocked to see the flames not moving in spite of the strong and hot wind. So, I decided to touch the flames to see if I was okay or if I was hallucinating,” he said.
But before he could touch them, he felt like he was transported into another world. His senses stopped and he could no longer feel his body. He could no longer hear the usual sounds of the night in the area: the wind, the sound of foxes and dogs. “Everything stopped.”
“I couldn’t tell if I was standing or kneeling or feeling hot or feeling cold. And I found myself in a huge, powerful, light,” he said. He noted that he calls it a light, but that though it felt billions of times stronger than the sun, it had no heat and did not hurt his eyes.
“It was so powerful, so strong, but so smooth at the same time. It was so clear like a crystal, it had no color.”
He said he felt the presence of a being, which he now believes may have been the Lord or the Holy Spirit, though at the time he thought he might be dreaming; so he started talking to himself. But without words, without a voice he understood, “no, you’re not dreaming.”
“I didn’t see him, I didn’t know him, but I received this answer: ‘No, you’re not dreaming.’ … So, I thought maybe I was unconscious. And he said in the same way: ‘Now you are conscious. You have never been so conscious as you are now.’”
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“For a few seconds I was feeling something that I cannot describe easily. It was a feeling of joy, happiness, peace, strength, love, tenderness,” he said.
This is when Nader stopped asking questions: “about the universe, about life, about anything.”
Nader begged the presence not to leave, or if it went, to take him with him, and the communication came, “I am always everywhere,” before the light stopped and Nader was again in the cold, dark hermitage. Glancing at his watch, he said he realized four hours had passed “like a second.”
After returning to his car, the man noticed his sweater was sticking to his arm, so he pulled up his sleeve and, he says, he discovered five fingers “engraved” on his arm, with “blood and water coming out of the fingers.”
“So,” he said, “I went back home. And since that day everything changed in my life.”