Until the age of about 15, all my religious training had been very fundamentalist Christian - Baptist. I was taught that their way was the only way to get to heaven and all others led to hell. Around age 15, I asked my Pastor, "What about the people in other parts of the world who have never heard the name of Jesus?" His reply was that all have heard the name of Jesus at least once. I didn't counter him, because I knew it would be futile, but I knew that if such people had been raised in another religion and only heard of Jesus once (perhaps by a Missionary) that wouldn't necessarily be enough to convince such a person to accept Jesus and his own personal Savior. It was then that I started praying and asking for the truth to be shown to me.
In my search for the "true" religion, I've been a Mormon (and officially ex-communicated from that church when I told them that I wouldn't be coming back after I had been a member for awhile), a Missouri Synod Luthern, a Nicherin Dishonen Buddist, and a member of Unity Church.
Around year 2000, I happened to standing in the family room of some good friends of mine from Unity of Chesterland, Ted and Joan Yocum. Ted taught Unity principles. Over the fireplace mantel, was a huge picture of a very strange looking dark-skined man in a plain orange robe and an Afro hair style but he didn't look African.
I thought that was quite strange and asked who that man was. Ted told me that the man was the highest Avatar that ever lived. I replied (with a big mental question mark), "What's an Avatar?" Joan responded saying that alot of people think that He is God. I remember so distinctly thinking, "Oh no....How can you think that.....False God, False God, False God." I was really quite distressed knowing that Ted taught Unity principals.
I didn't personally know you or Jody at that point, Ted, but I did highly revere you as a newsman and anchor. Somehow, I found out that Jody was holding a meeting in Mentor to introduce people to this Sri Sathya Sai Baba. I invited two friends to go with me to this meeting, Roberta Fisher & Cindy Hauska. There, I talked to both you and Jody about this Sai Baba. It was either there, I believe, that Jody recommended that I read Sandweiss's book, The Holy Man & The Psychiatrist. I also was a huge 'doubting Thomas'. I remember going to a meeting where I heard Rao Garuda address the group quoting Baba as saying, "It makes no difference by what name you call me. All names and forms are mine." "It makes no difference what religion you are just be the best you can be in practing the five values of truth, right conduct, peace, love, and non-violence." I thought, "Well, that sounds good." I still was thinking "false God", however.
By this time, however, two things were going on: 1) I was skeptically reading The Holy Man and the Psychitrist was almost finished with it, 2) I was going the the chance in life and just couldn't sleep at night. On a Tuesday night I went to bed early because I had a very important meeting the next morning but at 1:30am I was still wide awake and was very frustrated. I thought about all the miracles that Dr. Sandweiss had seen Baba perform in India that were just unbelievable. I thought, "OK, I'm going to put this Baba to the test". I said out loud, " Baba, if you are for real and can do everything that I have read about, then, you can hear me. Please help me to get to sleep."
Imagine my shock and amazement when right after I said that, I glanced at the side of my bed and who is standing there laughing, waving, and winking at me.......Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Himself!!!!!"
I was so startled that I didn't know what to say or think. I could only think, "What do I do now, folks???" I can't tell you what happened after that because I really don't remember except that I went to sleep and really haven't had that kind of sleep deprevation since!
Right after that, a whole series of miracles happened which I have recorded in a document titled, "Beyond Belief".
Baba certainly got my attention and I believe in His teachings wholeheartedly. My life hasn't been the same since and I love it!
Thank you, once again, Ted and Jody, for all your wonderful work.
-By: Cynthia Rantala. Received: Jan. 2012