Look at the publish date and you’ll see its been over ten months since the last miracle healing I personally witnessed (Soccer Knee).
But I haven’t been goofing off.
I’ve been visiting hospitals to pray for the sick every week, sometimes twice, three times a week. And I’ve been battling with my own health problems. Long story…
At Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, Cape Town I prayed for a guy with a massive hernia. Basically, his abdominal wall was destroyed. The doctors were going to do their best to patch him up, but he didn’t know if he was going to be able run his business when they discharged him – he had to be on his feet a lot.
God didn’t heal him then and there. Not supernaturally, so I could see.
I told him I was going through a dry patch, and because I was honest – didn’t try to hype my experience – he opened up a bit. “Man,” he said, “God must be testing you. Don’t give up.”
And this guy wasn’t a Christian!
Sometimes God speaks clearest through those who aren’t religious at all.
Three weeks later I was back at Groote Schuur, Cape Town’s big hospital. Craig Nel (of Pioneer Ministries) and Chad Henning were just finishing up praying for someone when I joined them. Nothing was happening. Seemed like the guy had lost faith in our prayers, and in us. We left him in God’s hands. (Don’t get me wrong: God’s hands were where he needed to be from the start; I’m just saying that it seemed to me like he was hoping maybe we could pull a rabbit out of the hat for him. But we couldn’t. Because it’s Jesus, all the way, OK.)
So, we left him in God’s hands and went to the next ward.
There were two people in it. One was asleep. The other sat up and looked at us.
“Do you want prayer?” asked Craig. (No intros, or ‘how you feeling’ questions, just, Boom! – ‘You want prayer?’)
“Oh yes I do!” said the guy.
The sense of God’s presence was so strong, and I was so amped, I just told him, “You’re going to be healed today.”
“It’s all around me
– the light;
it’s filling me up!”
Then we did intros, and Craig asked Danny (that was his name) what was wrong with him.
“I was born Hydrocephalic,” he said.
He told us he’d had ‘water on the brain’ as a baby and doctors had implanted a shunt – a tube that drained the excess water to somewhere in his chest and relieved the pressure on his brain. Over time the shunt calcified and blocked up. Danny was in hospital to have it replaced – for the how-many-eth time, I don’t know (he looked to be in his mid-forties).
We still weren’t quite sure what to pray for. (‘Lord, take this shunt away,’ seemed…vague. Un-targeted.)
Until we asked him about his symptoms…
Because of the pressure on his brain he was prone to migraines (he said he had one right then, as he was talking to us). And, because of the pressure, he’d suffered a mild stroke some years before and couldn’t raise his left leg while lying down (he had to put both hands under his thigh and pick the leg up to get it raised). The stroke had also affected his coordination: when he spread his arms, and then brought his hands together, he had difficulty in matching up left and right finger-tips. He also told us that because of an accident he’d had, his left leg was two centimetres shorter than his right.
Lots to pray for.
While Chad and I prayed up a storm, Craig laid his hand on Danny’s head: “In Jesus’ name…” he began. “Whoa, my brain’s turned to ice!” exclaimed Danny. Craig looked a little put out. He was used to patients reporting heat. “Don’t worry,” I reassured him, “it’s a manifestation of the Spirit.” (I’d read a book written by Elsie Salmon, a mostly forgotten South African Christian with a powerful healing gift who was active in the 1940s and 50s. She and her patients reported a whole catalogue of Spirit generated sensations: cold, heat, light, electricity, etc.†)
“My headache’s gone,” said Danny.
Next, we prayed for strength to return to his left leg. “Do something you couldn’t do before,” we encouraged him as he lay on the bed. “Come on, lift it!” Danny tried. Hard. But he couldn’t do more than make it jerk up little. “But,” he grunted, “it’s more than I could do before.”
Then Craig sat him in a chair: “As far back as you can. Flatten your back against the back of the chair.” Danny did. Craig took Danny’s feet in his hands. His left leg was a clear two centimetres shorter than his right: he was wearing socks, and the difference was plain to see. “Now, we pray,” said Craig.
Nothing seemed to be happening.
But we knew he was going to be healed. God had put faith in our hearts.
We prayed, must have been five minutes, commanding in the name of Jesus, praying in tongues, worshipping.
I couldn’t see anything happening, but then…
“Look,” said Craig, “they’re almost the same length.”
So they were. The left leg seemed about a millimetre shorter than the right. Never mind – God was still busy working.
“Walk around,” said Craig.
Danny did, trying out his restored legs. “Whoa…this feels strange,” he commented, a little shaky, and then: “Guys, look at my feet!”
“What?” we asked.
“I used to have duck feet.” He explained, miming walking, using his hands at forty-five degrees to each other. “Now my feet are straight. Look!” He showed us.
“Awesome,” we echoed.
And then: “The hole in my back is gone!”
What hole? I wondered. He hadn’t said anything about a hole in his back.
“From my accident. Here… You can feel it.” He prodded at a region in the small of his back just above his left hip. “Except you can’t,” he laughed. “Because it’s gone.”
“And…” asked Craig. “Did you have back-pain?”
“All the time. But it’s gone,” beamed Danny.
He was overjoyed.
We were all happy. There was a Holy Spirit buzz in the air, and all things seemed possible.
The guy in the other bed had woken up and was watching Danny and us, a bit enviously.
Danny started bobbing and weaving. We were concerned, for a moment – then we realized he was trying to dance. “Ha,” puffed Craig, chuckling.
He was so up that if Satan came hunting we knew he’d find him silhouetted against the skyline.
Then Danny tried out his coordination, spreading his arms; touching his finger-tips together. There seemed to be improvement.
I wondered if it was time to pray for the other guy – he looked in a bad way.
“Hey, look at this, Guys,” called Danny. He was seated on a chair, lifting his feet, straightening his legs, both at the same time, lifting them till they were parallel the floor, pumping them up and down. In the ten minutes since we had prayed for the stroke paralysis of his left leg, God had finished healing him.
“Praise God!” we exclaimed. We were thrilled, exhilarated, bubbling over with praise and worship.
And Danny was very excited. He was so up that if Satan came hunting we knew he’d find him silhouetted against the skyline, a fat bantam escaped from the coop, roosting on the barn roof, and just begging to be shot down and bagged. He needed protection.
So, Craig led him in a re-commitment of his life to Jesus. Then we prayed for him to be filled with the Spirit. “Whoa!” shouted Danny. “It’s all around me – the light; it’s filling me up!” (No, he didn’t pray in tongues. Not yet… And I’m not going to debate the ins and outs of tongue-talking here.)
Visiting hour was nearly over – we’d been busy with Danny for more than forty-five minutes. Craig and Chad stayed with him, giving him last-minute counselling, while I stepped over to the other guy. He’d been shot, three times, and couldn’t move anything below his waist. It seemed like a much bigger job than praying for Danny and, I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t feel I had the faith for it – not without Craig and Chad praying alongside me. But they were busy. So I asked the guy if he wanted to receive Jesus, and we prayed the salvation prayer together.
After we had finished praying, I looked up, and there was Danny, dancing, at the far end of the ward, gliding over gleaming institutional vinyl, in the arms of the Spirit, wafted by music only he could hear. My guy, flat on his back, turned his head as far as he could and squinted at him, wistfully.
But (I like to think) full of hope.
The ward sister swept in. “Visiting hours are over. You have to go now, hear,” she announced, tapping her watch. Then she caught sight of her patient.
“Danny! Oh my heavens,” she exclaimed, and clapped her hands over her mouth.
† Salmon, Elsie. He Heals Today. Arthur James Ltd, 1951.