Over the last six years of doing full-time missionary work, I have seen Jesus do amazing miracles to provide, guide, and protect me.
A friend asked me recently what my biggest leap of faith had been to date. It was hard to pick a certain moment, as I’ve come to see that every time Jesus presents a challenge and through faith I overcome, He “upgrades” me; the next challenge is a little harder and more faith is required. In that way my faith is always growing.
But there was one time that I can say was a definite turning point in my life of faith. I was 18 years old and on my way to Ethiopia with another missionary friend. Neither of us had been there before, I had never been to Africa period. So I felt rather uncertain. We landed in Frankfurt, Germany, and on arrival at the train station, we started talking to two people who turned out to be from Ethiopia. They introduced us to their church and the locals there. We didn’t have any finances for the tickets, and the deadline for the flight was getting closer as the days passed.
For a couple of days prior I had been experiencing odd twinges in the right side of my stomach. The twinges quickly turned into sharp, stabbing pain, but up till that point I had never been really sick before and so I ignored it. The morning before our departure, I woke up with a start. Nothing had awaken me, but something wasn’t right. I got out of bed and suddenly blacked out.
When I woke up a few minutes later, the pain was unimaginable. My friend had woken up when she heard me falling on the floor. She rushed me to the hospital. After hours of medical examinations, the doctors discovered that I had ovarian cysts and that two large ones had ruptured, causing internal bleeding.
The doctors explained that I needed to have surgery immediately. Then he asked for my insurance details. Being a young and new missionary, I had never thought about medical insurance. The doctor was upset as the surgery would cost me 15,000 euros and he wondered how I was to pay it.
He said, “What are you going to do?”
When I started to hesitantly say that I believed God could do a miracle, he just laughed. I was afraid, and in the back of my mind was this voice saying, “This is a punishment for the things you’ve done wrong. If you really had faith, this wouldn’t have happened.” They wouldn’t let my friend in, so I lay there asking myself, “What will I do? What will I do?”
An angel, in the form of a nurse, came in just then and said, “Don’t think about the money. You belong to God. If you can’t have faith in anything else, trust in His love.”
I decided to go ahead with the surgery. Later I learned that my friends who were doing mission projects throughout Europe and Africa were having hourly prayer vigil. They were also considering how they could help me pay for the operation.
The days after the operation were tough. The rules of the hospital did not allow my friend to visit much. However what really frustrated me was that I should have been in Ethiopia by then.
Just a few months before all these events, I had dedicated my life to serving Jesus. Now this happened! Laying there in the hospital, my mind was in turmoil.
"How am I going to pay for the surgery? Is this a punishment from God? Why did it happen?"
During this time another lady patient was put in my room. I could hear her talking to her daughter, saying, “I don’t want to die. I don’t want to face God’s punishments. What will happen to my family ... and why is God allowing this?” This lady was speaking in Turkish, and while I was by no means fluent in Turkish, yet I understood what she was saying.
I started to speak to her through her daughter, who spoke English. I told them about God’s love and how perfect it is. How God allows suffering so that we can better understand His love and grow closer to Him. As I shared with her, I started to find the answers to the very same fears and doubts that I had been struggling with.
The frightened lady was dying of cancer of the intestines. The doctors would operate on her but apparently with her serious condition, there was only a 30% chance of success.
The day before I was released from the hospital, she called me over and said, “In the Koran, Jesus is called the Healer. I have heard you pray to Him. Please pray now for my life.” Her whole family was standing there with such expectant faith. I don’t remember the prayer or what I said, but I was so desperate for Jesus to do something to honor their faith.
The next day I was released from the hospital but was told to rest in bed for two weeks. The only problem was that I had nowhere to go. I was issued a paper asking me to pay the bill within a month’s period. I did not know what to do. As I walked aimlessly, I found a seat near the entrance of the hospital and started to pray.
About two hours later I heard someone calling my name. IIt was the daughter of the Turkish lady woman, who had since been operated.
“It’s a miracle! The miracle from God,” the daughter was saying over and over again. She explained that just before the surgery, the doctors decided to do one more scan. in the previous scan, the cancer had wrapped itself all around her intestines. But this new scan showed something completely different. All of the cancer was gone, except for a small bit right at the top of the organ. The operation took very little time and she was fine. The doctors said they had never seen anything like that before—it was a miracle.
After hearing my plight, the lady and her daughter invited me stayed with their family. For two weeks, each of them took turns to ask me questions about God’s love and Jesus’ power to heal. During that time the father, mother, and daughter asked Jesus to come into their hearts. Jesus changed their lives.
The hospital bill still needed to be paid. And I needed a miracle. With fear and trembling, I went to the hospital on the appointed date. However, with the first miracle, my faith was strengthened. I gave the receptionist my name and waited to be called to face the music. Finally I was ushered into an office by a lady. She looked at me with a confused look and then looked back at the file. Finally she asked me for my date of birth and birthplace. I told her, and she shook her head. For forty long minutes she rattled on her keyboard, made calls, and got angrier and absolutely frustrated.
Finally she threw the file down and said, “Bah! There is no real record of your having even been here.”
I must have looked as confused as I felt, as she continued, “There was a woman here with the same name as you, but according to our files she was 76 years old, had inflammation of the joints, and was covered by our medical insurance policy. We cannot charge you if there is no record of you even existing. You can go!”
I stumbled out of that office hardly believing that Jesus had a wonderful sense of humor. He had taken my medical file and replaced it with that of a 76-year-old lady. When I went back to the house of my new found friends and told them what had happened, the mother called the hospital to make sure. It was as the secretary had said: they couldn’t find a single trace of paperwork that I had ever been in the hospital.
Apparently, the hospital administrator said, “And to us Germans, if it’s not on paper, then it hasn’t happened.”
Before that miracle, I had always thought that miracles came to those that were more spiritual, to someone who was very close to Jesus. During that time I didn’t feel very full of faith at all. In fact, I was at my lowest point—just struggling to trust that Jesus loved me.
Remembering this experience helps me so much when I’m facing impossible situations and feel like I don’t have what it takes to receive a miracle. Since then the miracles I’ve experienced have always happened when I stopped trying to use my “common sense” and learn to depend upon Jesus alone. Today, I tell Jesus that I need Him and whenever He gives me instruction, I do not question but just do it.