The Walking Dead is another in a long line of TV shows and movies fascinated with Zombies. Haiti is somewhat to blame. One of the most famous zombie stories comes from this Third-World country, the poorest in our hemisphere. I learned of it many years ago when Karen and I were preparing to go to Haiti as youth ministers. Here’s how the story goes.
On April 30, 1962, Clairvius Narcisse showed up at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital complaining of aches and running a high fever. Within three days he was dead.
His death was confirmed by two American trained doctors. His sister Angelina identified the body and another sister authenticated the death certificate. The next day he was buried under a heavy concrete slab.
Imagine Angelina’s surprise and shock eighteen years later when, while at the market, a shuffling, vacant-eyed man approached her and told her he was Clairvius. Angelina, others in the family, and many villagers recognized him. He answered questions about his childhood that only he would know and satisfied investigators.
He talked of how he was dug up and pulled from his grave after he was buried. A boker, or sorcerer, beat and bound him and gave him a hallucinogenic drug. Then he was taken to work as a zombie slave on a plantation. After two years there was a zombie breakout and he wandered the Haitian countryside for years afraid to return to his village until he heard his brother had died. You see, his brother had put a voodoo contract on him over a land dispute and had him zombified.
He had quite a story of returning from the grave. And so do you.
Paul gives a simple outline of the good news in Ephesians 2. He says “You were dead . . . but God . . . made us alive.” The bad news is that we don’t just need a tweak to our characters. Sin doesn’t make us bad. It makes us dead. And when you’re dead, there’s nothing you can do for yourself. He says that this is the way we once “walked.” We were among the walking dead.
“But God” . . . Aren’t you glad those words are there? Paul says God is rich in mercy. God has great love for us. And because we were dead and he is not, he acts.
What did he do? He “made us alive with Christ . . . raised us up with him . . . seated us with him in heavenly places.” He reminds us that none of this is our doing. We are God’s workmanship, or literally in the original language, his “poetry.” He crafted us to do good works “that we should walk in them.”
Wade Davis, who went to Haiti in the early 80’s to study zombification and wrote about his experience in his book The Serpent and the Rainbow, says, “In the popular culture . . . the fear is of zombies coming and attacking you. But in Haiti, the fear is not of zombies, but of becoming a zombie.”
May you and I fear being among the walking dead. Instead, there ought to be stories today of people who show up in the marketplace and, because of the new life that is in them, shock their family and friends.
We have quite a story of returning from the grave to tell. We have a new way to walk.
Question: What “death to life” story do you have to tell?