People see miracles happen more often than they realize, I think. God is always moving in ways we don't expect or believe that He can. But He does, and when He does, it's a miracle.
This miracle was not an instant healing or a miraculous conversion. Most people would not classify it as a miracle, but I do.
When the team from Innerkip, Ontario came to the Nehemiah Center the second week of February, we went to a community and visited people's homes. My group went to the home of a surly-looking man in need of a hip replacement. The pastor had explained to me ahead of time that he had run into this former parishioner's husband in the street walking with a cane and was surprised how this middle-aged man was so diminished from his former self. The pastor had promised Bismark that he would send a group from the visitors to go and pray for him, and he accepted.
That he accepted was the first step. Bismarck's wife, Janett, used to go to the church where we were visiting. However, she had fallen away. Her oldest son is in jail (another whole story of pain and God's hand at work) and at that time, he was awaiting his sentence. Bismarck and Janett have two younger sons at home, both working in nearby factories, a thirteen-year-old daughter, and a three-year-old daughter. We met the whole family when we were there.
We heard that Bismark, a former member of the military, had dedicated his post-military career to being the chofer of several superior officers. However, this man who looks to be in his 50s is now walking with a cane and experiencing incredible pain because his hip is worn out. He has bone rubbing on bone, and he can't drive anymore. He is essentially on disability, but instead of receiving a salary, he was fired (according to the pastor - Bismark didn't want to tell us all of this).
We prayed for Bismarck, Janett, and their children - especially the situation with their son in jail. Janet was crying during the prayer, and we invited them to the youth service that night. I was very glad to see Janet and her daughters there later that evening. The leaders at the campfire service made several alter calls, but I didn't see anyone I knew step forward. However, the pastor later told me that Janet had reconciled to the Lord earlier that afternoon, praise God! I caught her after the service and told her I was glad to see her.
The next morning, Sunday morning, we were again split up into small groups for door-to-door evangelism. Our group was assigned Janett and Bismarck's street. When we got close to their house, the Canadian group members approached the porch and greeted Janett and Bismarck, who were outside. We invited them to the potluck service that evening at the church, and Janett said she would be there, and she was bringing Bismarck.
Let me tell you what I knew about Bismarck at this point: the pastor had told me that Bismarck had never wanted anything to do with faith. His wife had come to church for years, but he had not darkened the door. Bismarck looks like a very serious man, built like a military man and smiles rarely. I hoped and prayed he would come to the service, but I wasn't going to be surprised if he didn't come.
When the church service started, there was no sign of anyone from the family. Then a little while in, Janett and her youngest daughter came to sit in the row behind the team and me. I felt disappointed that Bismarck wasn't with them, but not entirely surprised. In churches where the male:female ratio is about 70% female on the days all the men show up, I know that it's hard to get men in the church. You can imagine my surprise and joy, then, when I noticed Bismarck coming in on crutches! He sat through the service and stayed for the potluck supper afterwards. It was the first time - to the pastor's knowledge - that Bismarck had been to church.
|Bismarck is the man on the far right with the crutches, his daughter next to him, then his mother-in-law and his wife Janett is looking towards the camera. The others are team members from Canada and other church members behind.|
It was a miracle. A man who never comes to church decided to show up, decided to stay. A seed has been planted.
Even better, I received a text message from the pastor a month later telling me that Bismarck had come to the next potluck service, and he has asked the pastors to keep visiting them at home. The Spirit is on the move!