A church, a stranger, and a miracle

When 200 grand mal epileptic seizures in five weeks left a Somerset, Wis. woman paralyzed and with a major cognitive disorder, she and her husband turned to prayer. That’s when the miracles began.

Eleven years ago, a couple shared their story of miraculous healing and allowed me to publish it in a special section of the Osceola Sun newspaper.  They are happy to share the story again on God Tracks, but because the woman prefers not have her name published on the Internet, I will call her Ann, and her husband, Tom (not their real names).

On April 30, 1999, Ann endured 18 grand mal epileptic seizures before she made it to a hospital. In the next five weeks, 200 grand mal seizures turned the woman who graduated from college with a 3.8 grade point average into a person who could no longer tell time, remember what day it was, and figure the sum of three plus four. She was also paralyzed on her right side.

“We couldn’t leave her alone for any length of time,” says her husband Tom, who worked at that time for a Christian ministry. Ann had to leave her job as a medical lab technician, and Tom was forced to take a leave of absence from his ministry to care for his wife.  Ann couldn’t receive long-term disability payments because epilepsy was a pre-existing condition, and there was no family to rely on: They had just moved to Wisconsin from the east coast. But God did not let them down.

“People would ask us, ‘How are you managing?’ Our answer always is ‘God provides,’” Tom says. The bills were paid every month: More than once, the family found $1,000 in their mailbox or in their mail slot at the Alliance Church of the Valley in St. Croix Falls, Wis. One family gave the couple their Christmas bonus. Another family showed up routinely with bags of groceries.

The Miracle, Part One: Prayers at Church

In the fall of 1999, while Ann lay paralyzed in the hospital, Tom sought more prayer for his wife. One Sunday, Tom brought her from the hospital to their church. After the service, he pushed his wife’s wheelchair to the front of the sanctuary and a large group of church members gathered around her. People in other churches who knew the couple were also praying that day.

“When I brought her into the church, she couldn’t even sit up in the wheelchair,” Tom recalls.

“People were touching me and praying, “ Ann says. “On the one side I couldn’t feel them, but I knew they were there. As they prayed, not only could I feel their touch on my paralyzed side, I actually felt like there were hundreds of people holding me.”

When the prayer time ended, Ann was miraculously able to push herself from the wheelchair and take a shaky step. The paralysis was gone from her entire right side. I was part of the prayer group in St. Croix Falls, Wis. that day, and it was only later that I learned the entire story.

The healing of the paralysis was only the first part of Ann’s miracle, however.  She still couldn’t follow a simple recipe, tell time or remember something, even if her husband mentioned it to her 13 times over the course of a day. After three months of treatment at Courage Center in Stillwater, Minn., doctors began to lose hope that Ann’s brain would ever function normally again. One doctor told the couple that they would have to adjust to a new lifestyle.

“That may be your opinion,” Tom told the doctor, “but we haven’t heard God’s opinion yet.”

Credit: nuchylee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Miracle, Part Two: Prayer of a Stranger

On Dec. 11, 1999, Tom was reorganizing his home office with Ann at his side when a man they did not know stopped by their home.

“As soon as I saw him, I had this strange feeling,” Tom recalls. “Good strange, not bad strange.”

“I heard about your wife’s epilepsy,” said the stranger. “I have epilepsy, too. I’m a born again believer in Jesus Christ, and I just came by to pray with you.”

Tom invited the man into the house and to the family room where Ann was. “The guy wasn’t here five minutes,” Tom says, “There was no small talk, no cup of coffee.”

“My gift is a gift of love, “ he told the couple as they sat down. Kneeling on the floor, the man held hands with the couple and prayed for them.

“We’ve prayed with hundreds of people over the years and never experienced anything like this,” Tom says. “I don’t even remember what he said.”

After the man finished praying, the couple walked him to the door. The visitor gave Tom a little hug and said, “Love your wife.” Then he turned to Ann, gave her a hug, and said, “Love your husband.”

“I turned to give my wife a hug,” Tom says, “And when we turned to watch out the door to see him drive away, he was already gone.” Both Tom and Ann were filled with an “unbelievable feeling,” one they say they cannot describe.

As the couple returned to Tom’s home office and the task of reorganizing his files, Tom asked a question that he certainly did not expect Ann to answer. “What should we do next?” he said. Because the cognitive disorder made it difficult for Ann to keep focused on one idea and follow any sequence of steps, Tom and Ann were both shocked when Ann blurted out a string of ideas for how to organize the files.

“I looked at her, and she looked at me,” Tom says with a smile. “I didn’t dare ask her anything.”

“Give me a math problem,” Ann quickly asked Tom. Immediately, she figured 12 multiplications problems in her head. Tom pointed to the analog clock, which Ann could no longer read. “What time is it?” he asked her.

“I said 11:25. I’ll never forget it,” Ann says.

Tom started phoning family and friends with the good news, with Ann calling out phone numbers from her restored sense of memory. Later, the Courage Center gave Ann a clean bill of health and she returned to work as a lab technician.

Both Tom and Ann are astounded that they could not remember the visitor’s name. They are not sure why this stranger stopped at their home, or why was Ann was healed. The couple is quick to say that it’s not because of anything they’ve done.

“It’s not anything we deserve,” Tom says. “You know God can heal, but we don’t expect that he always will. It’s not because we’re in the ministry. I really believe it’s because people were praying. A lot of times, God chooses not to heal, but this time he chose to.”

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:13-14

 “And the people all tried to touch him [Jesus Christ], because power was coming from him and healing them all.” Luke 6:19

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10 Responses to A church, a stranger, and a miracle

  1. Bob Zemanski says:

    So why doesn’t god ever regrow severed limbs? There are a lot of US military veterans out there right now that really could use their limbs back. He’s got a great opportunity to mass heal them all and realy show His power. I wonder why He refuses to do that?

    I guess we’ll just have to worship his selective healing of only badly treated or diagnosed illnesses.

    • Avatar of god tracks god tracks says:

      Thanks for your comment, Bob. Maybe the best people to answer your question would be people who haven’t been healed, but who still believe in Jesus Christ and love him. Check out http://www.joniearecksontadastory.com/ for Joni Eareckson Tada’s story. She is a quadriplegic but loves Jesus and found a purpose in life and has encouraged millions with a ministry. In this link she talks about her struggle after the accident. Or check out http://soulsurfer.com/ and learn about a professional surfer who loves Jesus Christ even though a shark bit off her arm (and it didn’t grow back). And finally, the Bible teaches us that the ultimately, the bodies of those who believe in Jesus Christ will one day be completely restored in heaven, so Jesus will bring healing then.

      • Bob Zemanski says:

        Okay, I never said that there weren’t people missing arms and legs that didn’t believe in Jesus, so you really didn’t answer my question. Why doesn’t God ever regrow severed limbs? A thing that would be certainly be much closer to a miracle than this vague story that you’ve posted here. People who have epilepsy that comes and goes is not unusual or miraculous. To learn more about epilepsy (if in fact that’s what the person
        had/has, doctors screw up diagnosis all the time) visit the wikipedia page.

        You know what would be great is if the prayer group that “cured” this person, would go down to a hospital that has a lot of epileptic patients and then cured them all (or even some, even 20% would be great) . You could then ask for donations and go to the next hospital and rid this planet of epilepsy and see the world. I don’t know why this didn’t occur to you before.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epilepsy

        • Bob Zemanski says:

          1st sentence could be written better. “The fact that there are people missing limbs that believe in Jesus doesn’t really prove anything.” I’m sure there are people in other parts of the world that are missing arms and legs that also believe in the Buddha, does that prove to you that the buddha is the way to enlightenment?

          Also I don’t think anyone will really need their arms and legs back up in heaven, I thought only the soul went to heaven. Will their favorite pets be in heaven? Just the pets souls? or will the actual bodies of their pets be in heaven?

          • Avatar of god tracks god tracks says:

            Actually, Bob, I do know what epilepsy is. My daughter has it. To answer your questions, it is not always God’s will to heal us physically. Our full physical healing awaits us in heaven. In heaven, there will be no more pain, sickness, disease, suffering, or death (Revelation 21). The Bible, (1 Corinthians, chapter 15) explains about the resurrection and the resurrected body. In verses 35 and following, it says that our heavenly bodies will be different from our natural bodies. Verse 49 says that we will have a body like Jesus’ resurrected body (also 1 John 3:2). Jesus, after his resurrection, told his followers to touch him and to watch him eat, which shows that he was not just a spirit (Luke 24:37-43). You can read more about it in the Bible. If you have more questions, I’m sure a pastor would be willing to answer them.

  2. Candace Bettendorf says:

    The prayer chain in our church is 65 members strong, and we have seen miracles often enough to know that God can do anything. We have also seen God answer “no”, or “wait”. We have learned that healing is not always physical, and that sometimes prayer is more for those who are praying than for those who are prayed for. thank you for this beautiful article.

  3. Bev Rodriguez says:

    Wonderful story, and I’m sure it is bringing much encouragement to you for your daughter.

    Bob, read the book, The Shack, by William P. Young. It did a better job than anything else I have ever read as to why God doesn’t just “fix it”.

    • Bob Zemanski says:

      If god exists, he either can’t fix it or doesn’t want to… it’s that simple. From what i’ve read of the reviews on this book it also seems like Young also doesn’t deal with this topic very well.

    • Annie Leonard says:

      The Shack is a wonderful book and in spite of it’s depressing beginning it leaves the reader with such an uplifted feeling of God’s power and love.

  4. Bob Zemanski says:

    I hope your daughter gets better but you still haven’t answered my original question. Why doesn’t god EVER restore amputated limbs. He only seems capable of fixing things that sometimes get better all by themselves, with or without prayer groups mumbling and chanting beside them. The “miracle” you’ve posted here seems pretty weak to me.

    I’m glad to hear that we’ll be able to eat in heaven. I can’t imagine heaven without ice cream.

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