/ PAUL DU PREEZ / EDIT
I saw my first miracle only days ago.
I was an ordinary Christian. Had been for thirty-five years.
I went to a lovely church (still do). They made everyone feel welcome. They cared about social issues and the pastors really carried the burdens of the flock.
And I could see it getting them down.
Our experience of church didn’t match what I read in the New Testament. We didn’t see people getting healed. Hardly anyone new accepted Christ. I couldn’t live with that.
“Hey, step out in faith,” I joked with the Assistant Pastor. “If any of those oldsters you minister to got healed of arthritis it would make your day.”
“It would make my year,” he replied.
Yeah… But no. I just couldn’t live with that anymore.
So I joined the Groote Schuur Hospital Ministry run by Flynn Goodwin out of Journey of Grace Church in Cape Town, South Africa. God was good to me: after only a month, on Boxing Day, I and two others went up to the stroke unit. The first person we prayed for was a frail old man, paralysed whole way down his right side. (Cedric…yeah, that was his name.) We laid hands on him and straight away his leg became strong: he lifted it right up under the bed-sheet. He looked surprized. We all cheered.
But his arm stayed limp.
You must understand! I’d heard about miracles of healing from other teams at the hospital. All the time. But I hadn’t seen anything yet. And I wanted to see a miracle with my own eyes. Something for me; something that would sink deep into my heart and soul and germinate there like a seed sprouting with new life and hope.
It floated upwards, like a butterfly taking wing.
Cedric’s arm stayed limp, but I wouldn’t give up. I knew there was more. I picked up his arm, massaged it, manipulated his fingers back and forth. The arm felt like a dead fish – flaccid, powerless – but we kept praying. I felt a surge of compassion – a mounting tide; but also, as our prayer stretched out, drawing towards its end, a niggling doubt. I excluded it from my mind as ruthlessly as I could.
Finally, faith suspended in hope, I let go of Cedric’s arm. An unruly fragment of my mind still expected it to flop down on the bed-sheets, dead. But it floated upwards, like a butterfly taking wing, as he lifted it, fingers wriggling. We all gasped. We couldn’t stop smiling; couldn’t stop cheering and giving glory to God.
“I want you to know – and never forget it – that no one, absolutely no one, is unimportant to me.”
And right then God spoke into my heart: “See,” He said, “you thought Cedric was too old; his time was done. But I want you to know – and never forget it – that no one, absolutely no one, is unimportant to me.”
When we left the ward half an hour later we saw Cedric propped up on pillows, surrounded by his boisterous and overbearing family. He was peeling and eating an orange with his right hand and on his face was a gentle, private smile: he had received a Christmas present from God, personally.