BY JULIA O'CAREY
(Written in first person based on a Zoom interview with an ASAP church planter couple in a closed country)
My eyes spotted her amidst the hustle and bustle of the marketplace. Her back hunched over and her eyes looked down at the dirty ground. I weaved in and out of the crowds until I got right up to her, tapped her lightly on the shoulder, and politely said, “Grandma, would you like a DVD?” Slowly the woman lifted her head and her pained eyes met mine. The deep wrinkles in her face alluded to stories of a life of suffering. “Yes,” she replied simply with a little smile as she took the DVD, along with the tract I laid on top of it. After we exchanged a few pleasantries, I was surprised at the words that came out of my mouth next. “Grandma, I would love to come visit you in your home. Would you like that?” Her eyes twinkled a little now and she said, “That would be so nice, young man.” With that short exchange, a special friendship began with Grandma Bao.*
My wife and I went to her little humble home that same week, and we had a friendly chat with her. For the first two visits, our conversation stayed superficial. We talked about COVID-19, things on the news, our families, food, and life in general. On the third visit, I gathered the courage to tell her the story of Jesus. After starting, I noticed she shifted uncomfortably. She remained polite, but guarded. She did not want to hear about Jesus. I quickly changed the subject. But each time we visited, I shared a little more about Jesus’ story and other stories and truths found in the Bible.
Just as flowing water eventually erodes rocks, the love and truth of Jesus eroded the hardness in Grandma Bao’s heart. I’ll never forget the day she said, “I want to let Jesus into my heart. I want to give my life to him.” We rejoiced together and I told her, “Grandma, Jesus loves you so much and wants to talk to you and listen to you. Just as we’ve been praying for you, you can pray to Jesus on your own.” We taught her to give Jesus her cares and concerns and told her there was nothing too hard for Him. She bluntly asked, “Can I ask him to heal my back?” It didn’t matter that her back had been hunched as long as she could remember. She took my words that there was nothing too hard for Jesus literally and personally. I responded, “Yes, Grandma, you can pray for healing for your back, and we will join you.” After the first time Grandma Bao prayed for her back, she tried to stand up straight but a searing pain ripped through her. She kept praying, though, and we kept visiting her regularly.
About two months after I met Grandma Bao at the market, I got a special call from her. I could hear the excitement in her voice. “Come to my house quickly and bring anyone from the church that is available.” When ten of us arrived, we saw a lady burst from her home with a huge smile on her face. It was Grandma Bao, not walking with a cane, but running, with a straight back and head held high. “God completely healed me! He did it!” she shouted, laughed and cried all at the same time. We had no doubt this day would come, but when I witnessed God’s miracle firsthand, I was so moved. It was not just the fact that a 75-year-old lady’s humped back was restored, it was the healing that took place in her heart, in her spirit. Grandma Bao truly experienced a transformation, inside and out!
Just like the paralytic who was healed and couldn’t keep the news to himself, Grandma Bao shared her miracle healing with her family and friends! On the special day of healing, God opened an opportunity for me to testify to the power of God, the One we can thank for the healing. After witnessing the miracle, Grandma Bao’s sister, whom she lives with, along with one of her nephews, were convicted by the Holy Spirit. They decided to also give their lives to the Lord, along with their families. They dismantled and burned the large altars in their homes where they gave offerings to their deceased relatives. To this day, they continue to faithfully serve God even though other relatives actively ridicule them for forsaking their former religion. Please join Grandma Bao in thanking God for being a healer God and pray that many more people in this area will accept Jesus as their Savior.