Friday, August 22, 2008

Two Empty Wheelchairs!

Sorry that updates have been so sparse, but when lots of stuff is happening, it’s sometimes difficult for me to stop and write down all that’s going on. I actually have felt the Lord drawing me to do some more writing. So, in wrapping our India trip report: India was intense, but I think the trip was really significant, both for us and also for the kids and staff involved at the youth camp. You can read more testimonies here. (Look under “Youth Camp in Northern India”.

Anyway, what we’ve really been into the last few months that I haven’t really talked about at all is the high-crime, low-income areas of the inner city of Atlanta: “The Hood”. I LOVE the hood! Government housing is one of the most violent, gang-ridden, immoral and faithless areas of Atlanta… and I LOVE it! Light belongs in the darkness and in the hood, there is deep darkness. Teenage pregnancy, abortions, alcoholism, drugs, drug dealers, gangs, violence, drive-by shootings and a host of other demonic activity fills these places. We first discovered them a year and a half ago and weren’t really able to concentrate much time in there until this year. Since we have though, I don’t think that we will ever want to go back! Miracles have been happening with great frequency and we seem to be having quite an impact on these areas. People are getting saved and Jesus is being proclaimed as King!

We met “Mr. Joe” on one of our first visits in the hood. We had discovered this particular neighborhood, being told about it by folks we were ministering to in another area. Mr. Joe is an elderly gentleman that we first met as he rolled around in a motorized wheelchair. We asked him what he was in the wheelchair for and found out that he had Chronic COPD and asthma. He told us that whenever he took even a few steps he would be out of breath and exhausted. Of course we told him of the Kingdom of God (There’s no COPD in Heaven, is there?) and asked if we could pray. As we prayed over him, an unusual anointing came on him and he said that he felt what could be described as a “swirling” over his head and he felt “all light” like power was flowing through his body.

That day, he didn’t try anything new, but thanked us for praying for him. The very next week we were back in the neighborhood and were greeted by the smiling “Mr. Joe”. He told us that he had DEFINITELY experienced a change in his breathing and his condition had greatly improved as he told us of all the new things that he could do as a result of his progressive healing. Weeks later, he doesn’t need the chair AT ALL and is only using it as a comfortable easy chair that he sits in on his front porch. We bought him a couple of rocking chairs and he has promised that we can have the chair to hang on the wall at church as a testimony of God’s power! Mr. Joe has rededicated his life to the Lord after this miracle and each week greets us and we have a good time encouraging him in his new-found faith!

We met John, again by seeing someone go rolling by in an electric wheelchair. When we caught up with him, he was standing by his wheelchair, propped up on a car that he was trying to wash, obviously with great difficulty. We asked him why he was using the chair and he went into a laundry list of symptoms that he had been experiencing for many years. Just in the last few years he had several heart attacks, strokes and open heart surgeries. In 5 different open heart surgeries, veins were taken from his legs and put into his heart. After each surgery, the circulation in his legs would get worse. Now, it was so bad that when he stood up from his chair, in a matter of minutes his legs would start tingling painfully and then suddenly go numb, one leg at a time. Living a normal life outside of the chair was impossible to him, after only a few minutes standing, he would have to sit again. In addition to that, he was totally addicted to “uppers”. He said that while working as a trucker for almost 20 years, he would have to take drugs just to keep him awake on the long night hauls. As a result, for the last 16 years he had slept only an average of 1-2 hours per night! No wonder he had no strength to stand!

He allowed us to speak to him and we told him of the Kingdom of God. We told him that in Heaven, there is no one using a wheelchair with an inability to walk and according to the Lord’s Prayer we were instructed to pray “On earth as it is in Heaven”. He let us pray and as we were asking him what happened as we prayed, he told us that he could breathe better! I was like, “What? You never said anything about your breathing!” As it turned out, he forgot to even mention his severe asthma, but as we prayed for everything else, God touched his lungs and he was instantly healed of asthma (and we didn’t even pray for it!). He began to take deep breaths and thanked us profusely. We told him that we would come back and check on the other symptoms.

Two weeks later we were back in his neighborhood and encountered him, WALKING ACROSS THE STREET! We ran him down and asked what was going on and why wasn’t he in his chair?! He started with, “You’re not going to believe this…” I interrupted and said, “Yeah, I bet I will”. The first thing that he told us is that from the day we prayed for him, every night he had been sleeping AT LEAST 6 hours, many times 8! For a 16 year insomniac, this is a big deal! And the best part is, NO DRUGS. Total, peaceful, drug free sleep! He had experienced a HUGE boost in his strength as a result. More than that, he hadn’t had the first bit pf pain or numbness in his legs for two weeks! The circulation in his legs was NORMAL. God had restored what all the surgeries took away from his ability to walk! Each morning he had been getting up early (well rested and WITHOUT the aid of his wheelchair) and walked the 1/4 – 1/3 mile to the convenience store to get his coffee! All without pain! More than that, the 20 + pills that he was on every day were now totally useless. Without us even telling him and just because he felt so good he had stopped taking all the prescriptions that he was on! We stood in front of his apartment and praised God together.

Come on Jesus!