From the desk

It was a warm, muggy evening in early July. Despite the uncomfortable weather, people seemed to cling close together because it felt safer than standing alone in the dark.

The tour guide pointed down the hill and said,“We are going into woods now. Are you guys ready?”

I nervously glanced over at my friend and co-worker, Megan. The only light that guided us was a faint line from the blood red moon, and then we stopped, gathering in a semi-circle around the tour guide.

“This is my most famous story,” the tour guide said. “It’s about a 13-year-old girl.”

Tens of thousands of men perished in the battle of Gettysburg, but I had never heard the story of a young girl. I was interested, and  I moved in a little closer to hear.

The tour guide said that nearly three years ago, he brought a small group of people out to the exact same woods where Megan and I stood now.  As he was facing the group, he recalled that several people continuously looked over his shoulder. One person then asked why there was a pale girl with black hair hovering in the trees behind him.

He turned around, and he saw the girl with matted hair. She came closer, looking as if she was going to leap at them, and then she vanished.

The crowd was silent as the tour guide paused. Some looked skeptical, others looked like they were about to run out of the woods.

“That girl’s name was Elizabeth,” the tour guide said. “She died 10 days after the battle.”

He stepped forward, almost looking like a ghost in his Confederate uniform. He pointed to the cemetery above the woods.

“She is buried up there, and she’s a very angry spirit,” he said.

He explained that Elizabeth’s parents had moved her across town during the battle, because they worried about her heart condition. They did not realize that they were moving her to the most intense area of the battle.

Just before she died, she told her brother that she blamed her parents for her looming fate. The tour guide said he believes that the girl carried this anger with her in the afterlife.

We went on three other tours that weekend, hearing dozens of other stories about one of the most haunted sites in America. I have visited Gettysburg every year since I was 13-years old, and I have seen and felt things that I cannot explain.

I have smelled fresh gunpowder when there were no re-enactments and heard horses’ hooves when there was no horse in sight. Most people would dismiss these occurrences as illusions. As Christians, we need to delve deeper into these issues.

The Bible says that spirits are real.  Ephesians 6:12 explains that our struggle is “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Many people may think that orbs (tiny white balls of light) are ghosts, but 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan disguises himself as an “angel of light.” The Bible also forbids contact with the dead, because the dead cannot communicate with the living (Luke 16:19-31).

This Halloween, when you’re telling ghost stories around the campfire, think about these issues. How can you help answer these questions for a friend?  Don’t take my word for it. Open the Bible and find out for yourself.

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