In Delena, Papua New Guinea on outreach we would walk by this man’s house every day. He was always sitting in the same place near a window and as our team would make our way to the church he would always greet us with “Raurani Namona”, or “Good Morning!”
It was a bit odd that he was always there no matter what, but either way we waved hello and kept on our way. After week one in the village we received a request from a man named Willie, via one of the Village Chiefs. Of course we accepted and were later that day led to the same house who always had the joyful man sitting at the window. We didn’t know what we were doing there, and who needed prayer – but it didn’t take long to figure it out when they carried Willie to the carpet and sat him down.
His legs were barely bone, and you could tell he spent most of his life sitting on the ground without using his muscles. He was smiling and eager to shake our hands as we made our way onto the platform of his house. His smile was genuine, and you could tell that he is an honest, and joyful man. We began talking to him and hearing his story of getting TB, and later becoming paralyzed from the waist down. As of 1992 Willie has not walked, and has had no movement in his legs. As missionaries we get request almost hourly to pray for healing, and in those moments it doesn’t matter if you are Baptist, Pentecostal, Non-denominational, Catholic, Lutheran or anything else… you smile, shake hands, and then you pray. The reality is that the Holy Spirit is the only doctor in range for miles and miles around this village. All my life I heard stories of healing in the bible, and even on TV occasionally and after a few years of missions I have prayed many times over knees, backs, necks, and other normal joint pain etc. Never in my life have I been faced with a mountain this big. When you pray for knee pain you walk away never knowing what happens – you have faith and you “know God will finish what he starts” but the reality is that healing may never actually take place.
This was different. If we accepted this request we would walk away knowing whether or not it “worked”. We would be giving hope, but maybe nothing would happen. We had to choose… and it was clear to see that each of us were choosing faith.
We began to pray and after about 20 minutes we saw Willie’s right big toe begin to wiggle. It wasn’t much, and Willie’s eyes were still closed as we prayed. We each undoubtedly saw the movement, but Willie didn’t skip a beat of flinch one bit so we each figured it had always been that way.
We concluded the prayer and committed it all back to God, made our way down the unstable ladder to the ground and walked home.
We didn’t talk much that day, but we did all know that we felt a little defeated yet equally honored that he even asked us to pray. Who are we, but 8 young adults with matching shirts?
No matter the outcome we all believed to continue building relationship with Willie, so we made the decision to stop by each day to meet, and pray with him.
We showed up the second day and Willie was again carried outside to the platform and we began to pray. After about an hour of seeing our faith strengthened and lots of “in Jesus name’s” we saw his leg lift just a bit off the ground. A few of the team members felt to wash his feet and continue praying – for whatever reason we knew God wanted to move that day. Keep in mind…none of us have ever seen a miracle or healing in this ball field.
I leaned over to Willie’s father and asked him if this movement was normal, or new. He stood up and saw what was happening, and his eyes filled with tears. He said he hasn’t moved a thing on his body under his waist since 1992. As we attempted to process that information the praying got a little louder, and you could fill the hope, and joy in the atmosphere. We said “Amen” and again made our way down the unstable ladder to the ground, and walked home.
We still didn’t talk much about what had happened, but knew we would see Willie the next day.
The next day Willie greeted us with real fresh lemonade and a smile. We prayed again and began to see his left ankle move and extend outward. He stopped to thank us for our time, and to let us know that his faith had been renewed and he knew that God was only doing this miracle a bit at a time so that he could build muscle, and his faith together. He said he knows now, that God hasn’t forgotten him.
Each day we prayed, and each day another part of his legs were able to move.
Before we left on Sunday we stopped at Willie’s to say a final prayer, and a last goodbye. At this stage both legs were able to move off of the ground, and his right ankel and toes had almost full movement!
Willie agreed to pray for us too, and we assured him we would never forget him and always keep him in our prayers.
I can’t quite explain how this felt, but I do know we were all speechless!
Click here to see Willie in action!