Brazil, 2007.

The wind blows warm air through a tiny window in 14-year-old Sandra’s bedroom, but she can’t feel anything.

Lying on the bed, Sandra’s cold body shakes, her tongue stiffens, saliva runs down her face.

The bed is wet.

She is unconscious.

Those witnessing her suffering are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The fervent prayers begin.

Cold hands come together in the name of Jesus.

Sandra’s parents and siblings ask Jesus to cure her.

Time passes; her body turns blue.

Sandra doesn’t know she is dying; neither do her parents, who are convinced that Jesus will answer their prayers. Jesus will save their daughter.

Their faith is too great to call an ambulance.

Their trust in God is beyond rational thinking.

They can’t betray their beliefs at a moment like this.

How could this happen?

Sandra’s parents are well-educated.

Her father is a financial agent at one of the largest national banks in the country. At his job, he is considered a smart, rational man. Her mother is also highly regarded by her boss and colleagues. She is a history teacher.

Someone knocks on the door.

It’s Mrs. Anderson, the neighbor.

Sandra’s little sister runs to open it.

Mrs. Anderson asks for her mother, whom she usually goes on a walk with at this time.

The little sister runs back to Sandra’s room and leaves the front door open.

Mrs. Anderson follows her.

A few steps before reaching Sandra’s room, Mrs. Anderson hears a Church song sung with voices of despair.

With astonishment, she stands at the door.

Sandra’s parents, along with her little sister and brother, are holding hands around her convulsing body while they sing one of Jesus’ devotional songs.

Mrs. Anderson diagnoses the situation with a rational mind. Sandra needs medical assistance, not prayers.

Mrs. Anderson rushes to the phone to dial the emergency number.

Sandra survives a possibly fatal seizure thanks to someone who refuses to sing a song of faith when, instead, composing a song of reason is required.

Later on, Sandra’s parents reported that this event had strengthened their faith in Jesus. They were proud to say that Jesus sent the neighbor to their house that day to save their daughter.

I bet I know what you are thinking.

The parents ignored the fact that the neighbor often came to their house at that designated time to invite the mother for a walk. Jesus didn’t send Mrs. Anderson to their home at the same hour of the same day for the past year in order to save a girl in the future. If Jesus was trying to save someone using this method, it would have been the mother. After all, walking does improve our general health, thus preventing premature death.

Experience and understanding have taught me that suffering is an ever-present challenge in our lives and that clear and rational thinking, when inspired by love, can be the antidote to unnecessary misery.

In contrast, most of our unnecessary suffering is created by unquestioned belief systems that have long forgotten the meaning of “love.”

I believe in the kind of love that uses reason to pave the road for a life of well-being.

The kind of love that inspires us to do what is right and what is good—as individuals and collective beings.

Much love,


** This narrative is based on true events **