“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
My answer to the question I’ve raised is, “Yes!” But the story is more complex than that. However I’m not going to try to answer a lot of questions but to raise your faith with what I’ve seen and known first hand.
You might have wondered if God could work in the rustic place where we gathered for prayer. This was in 1957 or ’58 and occurred in Rio Preto in a rented hall that we used for services; you see we hoped to plant a church. This hall was little more than a shelter. There was no ceiling and just wooden doors to cover the openings that served as windows. And for pews we had some rough-cut planks that might give some unwanted slivers.
At that time I was still struggling with Portuguese so that if someone asked me a question outside of my small range of Portuguese, I was stumped. Yet blundering on was our only option. Yet how could prayer be answered in those circumstances?
This is the story. One evening at the weekly prayer meetings in this hall, Dna Maria brought a relative to this service for prayer. Dna Maria had been part of the Spiritist religion but after professing her faith in Jesus, she no longer felt she could take this lady to one of their séances for their ritual. So that evening a small group knelt to pray around this woman at that rough front bench.
This lady had come into Rio Preto because of a tumor in her abdomen. In fact she was scheduled for surgery the next day to have this grapefruit-sized growth removed. On schedule she was at the hospital, prepped and ready for surgery. But the surgeons never picked up a scalpel. After an initial examination they could find no sign of a tumour. Whatever answers to this event you may bring up, I saw every reason to believe in God’s healing.
A picture of the lady I’ve mentioned never has turned up, but I have a note on the picture below, “The lady in the middle had a wonderful experience of divine healing.” But the details of the story escape me.
My comments are: first, it seems that God at times provides extra help and healing for those who find themselves sick with few medical open doors. Second, this lady with this story on her lips, as she returned to the roça–this country area–she was a powerful influenced for Jesus.
Something similar happened in the village of Poloni. It began with an invitation from a man to hold a service and show film strips in his yard. Interest was high with families crowding in to watch and hear about the life of Christ.
Then one day a message was relayed to me that one of those families wished me to come to their home and pray for them. I found that the children in this home had what may have been pink eye, though I have no medical studies to say what it was. In any case I believed the problem could only be cured with an antibiotic. So it was with little faith that we prayed together there, asking for God’s healing mercy and intervention in the eyes of these suffering children.
A week later when I returned for the gathering in the back yard, the children were there but with no sign of eye problems. Though I have no medical background, I have heard that often such a malady disappears after a week or two. The problem is that the conditions in these poor homes often re-infect the family again and again. In any case we thanked God for his mercy that brought this family once again to hear the story of Jesus.
The next chapter in this story of our work Poloni is that we were able to rent a small hall and hold services there every week. The story I’ve just told may have made that possible. I suspect it did.