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.”
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