Did you ever turn on the television and come across one of those Bible-thumping preachers curing people? Usually they have someone on crutches or in a wheelchair in front of them. The preacher bellows out how great our God is and then commands the person to get up or walk… and they do!I never trusted those preachers. Maybe it is my cynical New Jersey upbringing. Maybe it is a faith issue. But they always seemed too scripted and dramatic and similar.
Yesterday, Yesenia and I attended a mega-church in the city for morning services. They showed a video of an event the church hosted in Uruguay, where people told their stories of healing through faith and laying of hands. It was very uplifting, but again it seemed a little scripted and dramatic.
But then the pastor disarmed me a bit when he preached how no one in the audience needs him, his hands, or anyone else’s hands on them to be healed. The Bible tells us that Jesus and the Apostles did not have to touch the people who were healed. Sometimes they just walked by. Sometimes, they just had a conversation or prayed. Jesus consistently exclaims, “Your Faith has healed you.” The pastor repeated that obedience to God and Faith is all we need to realize miracles.
At that point, he had everyone in the building pray to God to heal them. We were instructed to raise one hand to God and place the other hand over part of our body that needed healing. I could not coordinate myself enough to touch my arthritic feet, so I went with my stomach, which has been extremely testy lately. And we prayed hard and sang for quite a while. Then the pastor invited anyone who had a miracle happen in that moment to the stage.
A couple of dozen people made their way down. One of them was a teenaged boy who bounded from the seats behind us. As he passed me, I could see that his face was absolutely glowing with excitement. He was one of the 6 people who were brought on stage. He had been blinded in one eye a few years back and was told there was no hope to recover. The pastor ran him through a few visual challenges and ascertained that he could indeed see from both eyes. It was obvious that the boy was excited and nervous all at once. Certainly, it was not a scripted moment as he flustered his way through the presentation. I knew he couldn’t wait to go home and tell his family and friends what had happened.
And I was like, “Wow!” His faith healed him.
Immediately, I thought of a conversation I had with a visiting missionary just a day earlier. He was visiting with a team from Wisconsin and spent most of this past week building a new house for a large poor family. Things were already behind schedule when a missionary team’s worst nightmare occurred; they all started getting sick. Four members of the team were unable to participate on what was to be the final day and there was concern that the project would not get finished.
The missionary related to me how he had some stomach issues himself that morning and skipped breakfast. Later, as he was straddling the rafters trying to finish the roof, he felt the ominous wave of nausea creeping up on him. He soon was at the point where he knew he was going to be sick, so he looked up to God and said, “Jesus, I need you. We really need to finish this house and I can’t be sick right now. I’m putting myself in your hands to get me through this.”
The nausea passed, the roof (and house) got done, and some hours later, the missionary was enjoying tamales in front of me. When he told me the story, it did not seem like he felt it was anything extraordinary. He fully expected that his short little prayer would do the trick. There was no mega-church full of people praying with him. There was no famous pastor laying his hands upon him. His own faith was enough to heal him.
Whether it is God’s grace, our own faith, or the help and prayer of others, healing miracles do happen. In 25 years of nursing, I have witnessed many recoveries that were simply beyond explanation. In my personal life, I have known a couple of people who have defied medical prognoses and gone on to lead fruitful lives. Sometimes, it is not a cure, but a respite. In my last nursing job, I worked with people who had fatal diseases. I saw many people who were so happy to get that one last “normal” Christmas. I have seen people who become lucid just long enough to say, “I love you” or “it’s okay!” to their families before being called home.
Miracles do happen and I want them to happen to me. I believe in Jesus and pray hard for the faith and strength to trust Him in the face of every challenge. I pray miracles happen for you too. That we all remember He is with us; He is for us; He wants to give us miracles. Pray hard. Trust in Jesus. Expect miracles.
Yesenia and I occasionally attend services at a mega church named Casa De Dios in Guatemala City. They boast an 11,000 seat facility in a sprawling complex and a large international flock. They also assist many small churches serving the poorest sections of the city. This includes providing food assistance to programs such as Fundacion Ciudad de Refugio, the foundation operated by Yesenia’s family. If you are ever in the Guatemala City area, it is worth a visit to Casa de Dios.