Tuesday, December 20, 2011
This is probably my craziest story yet. I’ve seen some undeniable miracles, but never anything to this degree. I will never forget Panama, because this is the country where I first saw the lame walk.
With the guidance of a YWAM leader, our team travelled to one of the ghettos within Panama City to meet with some people from the local community. We were warned that if we brought anything of value along, it would be quickly swiped from us. After my experience in Costa Rica, I felt a bit uneasy but knew I needed to go. As we drove into that neighborhood, the graffiti on the streets said it all. There were murals that read, “No more war. Change your neighborhood.” It was clear that such taggings were put there for a reason. We parked our car along a little alley, walked into a dilapidated apartment building, wound up a dark dingy staircase and entered an open area in the middle of an apartment complex. There was a local pastor preaching, but it was hard to hear a word he said over the chaos. Children were playing loudly, talking over the pastor, and bouncing from seat to seat.
We were told to begin talking to people and offer to pray for them. I wasn’t quite sure where to start. I noticed a small woman in a wheelchair and approached her with a couple other girls from my team. We asked if we could pray, and with no show of emotion, she gave a subtle nod. We asked her a few questions and tried to converse amidst the noise. It was almost impossible to hear her, and trying to understand Spanish in such a loud environment made the challenge even more difficult. Regardless, we figured God understood what was going on and decided to pray to Him for miraculous healing in her legs. We prayed for a few moments, but nothing seemed to happen. A woman from the local community grabbed us away after a bit and asked us to pray for some others.
Afterwards, Natalie felt we should return to the woman in the wheelchair. She looked so incredibly sad and discouraged, and we wanted to at least talk to her more. Healing or no healing, we figured we could at least show her some love. We went back to her wheelchair and knelt down to speak to her. We found out that she’d contracted tuberculosis a while back, and the disease had gone to her spine. It had affected her walking ability, and she’d been unable to walk without assistance for the past year. As we talked to her, children crawled in and out of her lap, then ran off to play. She explained that she had two children, but she was raising them single as her husband had died nine months ago. This poor woman was only twenty-seven years old. We are the same age, but our stories are so very different. I can’t imagine being a widow at my age, alone raising two children already. My heart broke for this woman as she shared her sad story.
I used my best broken Spanish to tell the woman how her Heavenly Father loves her dearly, that He is close to the broken-hearted and how He longs to heal her. The woman said she had once followed Christ, but turned from her faith after she was married. After we conversed for a while, she decided to turn back to God for hope. She bowed her head in prayer and accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. After she made this declaration of faith, Natalie and I decided to pray for healing in her legs again. She’d just received healing in her heart (the most important healing), but now it was time for healing in her body. As we prayed, Natalie sensed that something had happened. I wasn’t sure. Natalie asked the woman to get out of her wheelchair and try to walk. The woman said she was scared. I was scared too. I honestly was afraid to push her, but Natalie insisted. She knew in her heart that the woman had been healed, and told her she needed to claim that healing and begin to walk. After a few moments of the woman staring at us in fear, she took the boldest step I’ve ever seen. She let Natalie and I help her out of her wheelchair and she began to move her legs. Slowly, slowly, slowly she began to walk with our help. She looked like she was in pain. I wasn’t so sure we should keep doing this. But as the woman took baby step after baby step, she eventually let go of our arms. And she continued to walk—alone. Completely unassisted, the crippled woman was seriously walking—WALKING! Amazed and overwhelmed, I followed behind her. She made a circle around the apartment complex, and as we headed back towards her wheelchair, I foolishly assumed she would be tired and would want to rest. But the moment we reached her wheelchair, she walked right past it and kept going! Ha! I’ve never seen anything like it. Moments before, this woman had been sitting in a wheelchair; this was crazy! She finally paused for a moment, and her eyes welled up with tears. Her once stone-cold face cracked with emotion, and she cried tears of joy for her healing. I began to cry as well, so overwhelmed by the miracle I’d just been a part of. The Bible says Jesus can make the lame walk, but this was the first time I saw it with my very own eyes!
Days later, our team heard a report from one of the community leaders in the apartment complex. Apparently, someone had claimed that this miraculous healing couldn’t be real. At first, she didn’t believe that the woman in the wheelchair had actually been healed. But days later, the woman was still walking on her own. The doubter was blown away, dazed and confused as to how this could be possible. The healing was the talk of the apartment. All I know is that when we prayed for healing in Jesus’ name, that crippled woman got out of her wheelchair and started walking. And the tears in her eyes told me how very real her healing was. I praise God for what He did in this woman’s life and know more than ever than we can’t put a limit on what God can do.