Saturday, December 13, 2008

A True Christmas Miracle

In the denomination in which I had my Theological training, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, one is trained to look for miracles. The CMA (which will give various false leads in Google if you are looking for the denomination instead of the Country Music Awards) believes that God works today as He did in the days of the New Testament, if you have the eyes of faith to perceive it.

I think that was one of the tenants that drew me to the Denomination like a magnet in the days when my faith in Christ was fresh and new. The excitement of infinite possibilities of faith visibly manifest in the congregation of the local church was a possibility I intrinsically knew existed, although many faiths have either ignored or denied such manifestations of the Godhead in modern times.

It was made real to me early in my Christian walk when I was told the story of Bettie by a new friend of mine at Lake Shore Alliance.

Sadly the church is no longer in existence. The World War 2 founders of the church have had their time to thrived and pass on, they have all recently gone through the veils of eternity. The church was experiencing a rapidly declining enrollment in the early 80s when I first began to attend the congregation. By the turn of the century the church had closed and its land was acquired by the denomination in order to start a new fresh outreach to the west county of Erie.

But back in 1983 when I first came to the church it was populated by a small but loyal group of people who reached out in love and compassion to anyone who entered their doors.

I was one of them.

As a troubled youth I had ran into trouble in the neighborhood and the congregants knew of me before my shadow even graced the steps of the front door. In the late 70s I was swept up in the drug culture and my companions were various elements of the criminal underground, my friends were thieves, drug dealers, violent bikers and various other malcontents. So inevitably I myself came to personally get to know the local law enforcement in the area, in a bad way.

But in May of 1983 I had a personal religious experience that changed my life, and instead of shopping around for a church I just went down to the end of the street to the nearest one, Lake Shore Alliance.

It was a wonderful match. I was immediately accepted and nurtured by wonderful caring people of all ages. It was a rarity even back then.

In the years at the church I heard my first Missionary stories, some of which I have related in this forum. In the atmosphere of acceptance of the supernatural I also had related to me many stories of miracles and works of wonder.

One of them I have to classify as a true Christmas miracle.

Jamie was only 16 and had been diagnosed with leukemia. She was a bright and thoughtful young girl who often spent her time helping others. She volunteered in a local rescue mission to feed the homeless, formed a youth group for inner city children and every holiday she would gather clothing and toys for the underprivileged who suffered through the long and harsh North Eastern winter season.

But in her 16th year she could do none of these special things to help others that she thrived on. Instead she spent the Thanksgiving and Christmas season on the other end of the helping arm of charity as she was in the final stages of the disease and she could hardly even care for herself.

The family loved to camp, and in this her final Christmas they thought it would be a wonderful idea to spend the holidays in the camp they had deep in the Allegheny woodland, far from any vestiges of civilization. Jamie loved the snow covered landscape when they would come here during the winter season and having a special Christmas with just family and friends would build memories and ease her soul.

It was a wonderful time and the snow came down slowly making the experience a perfect holiday moment for the entire family. However, by December 23rd the storm had increased to a full blown blizzard and it seems that the family would have no choice than to spend the holidays in the cabin for all the roads quickly became impassible.

That night as the winter gales blew and the thick snow mounted up around the cabin Jaime’s father was woken by an odd noise. It was the sound of the strong winds rushing through the cabin.

Upon exploring the reason for the sound Jamie’s father found that the front door of the cabin was wide open, and it seems it had been for quite a while, since a large pile of snow had built up at the doorstep.

Quickly he pushed the snow out of the way and closed and secured the door. As he turned to the couch in front of the fireplace where he had left his daughter for the night his heart skipped a beat.

Although the fire still roared in the fireplace, the couch was empty.

Jamie was gone.

He searched the cabin but she was nowhere to be found. So there was only one answer, for some reason she had wandered out into the storm.

In our day this would be tragic enough, but in the days before wireless phone service there was no way to alert the local authorities to the plight of the missing girl except for direct contact. There was no landline phone service in the isolated wilderness where the cabin was located.

So instead of immediately contacting the authorities the family bundled up and went searching for the young girl through the storm themselves.

Of course the blowing snow had covered all traces of her footprints, so their all night search was fruitless.

By morning they had lost hope that they could find the girl on their own so the father decided to finally make the long trip through the treacherous winter roads to the nearest town in order to contact the nearest authorities to aid them in the search.

It was a long and arduous journey just to get to the nearest main road in the mountainous area. It was almost mid day before he made it to the first road that had been plowed, and as he turned onto the road he saw something out of the corner of his eye.

There was a body lying in a snow drift by the side of the road.

It was Jamie.

As he ran to her it was obvious that she had somehow made it all the way down here in the night and she had come to the road after the plow had come through. She was unconscious on the drift of plowed snow. She was cold and barely breathing, but still alive. Quickly her father scooped her up and took her to the car. Frantically he drove to the nearest hospital which was almost an hour away. During this time he could hear her daughter mumble, which gave him some encouragement. But the words she mumbled puzzled him, “beautiful” she kept repeating, “you are so beautiful”.

They arrived at the emergency room and the doctors quickly took her back to make sure she had not suffered any permanent damage from the unsheltered overnight stay in the harsh winter storm.

Jamie’s father paced the floor for hours outside the hospital room waiting to hear the results of all the examinations and tests. The night had begun to fall on the 24th before he would receive any concrete news about Jamie’s condition. Finally about 7:30PM the doctor overseeing her care came to him and told him the good news. Miraculously she was fine. She had a mild case of hypothermia but there was no frostbite and all the test came back normal. She was in perfect health.

Jamie’s father was a bit confused. In the confusion of the moment had he forgotten to tell the physicians about her terminal illness, or were they just speaking in general terms?

He asked the doctor how this incident would affect her battle with the cancer. The doctor looked puzzled, and looked back at the young girls chart.

Shaking his head in confusion he told the man that there was no sign of cancer in the young girl, but he would have to make a few more tests.

The father was upset and distraught, how could they have missed such a condition while they examined the young girl for so long a time? But there was nothing he could do but sit and wait again as the doctors preformed yet a few more tests on the young girl.

During an interim between going to x-rays and having blood tests he finally got to see Jamie. She looked healthier than she had in over a year. She was awake and smiling. He asked her what in the world she was thinking, wandering out in the harsh winter weather like she did.

As she replied her face seemed to radiate a peace and serenity that he had never noticed before. “Daddy, an angel came to me in the night. He carried me into the snow and carried me up to heaven. God did not want me there yet, He told me I had a lot to do before He would see me there. The angel took me back left me beside the road, he told me you would be coming soon but I got tired and I fell asleep.” Before saying any more the orderly took her away to the x-ray room.

Soon all the tests came back.

There was no sign of the Leukemia.

Jamie was cured.

A true Christmas miracle.

Jamie was sure she was not delusional and had wandered out in the blizzard by her own. She knew she had been given a second chance and had been touched by the healing hand of God. Therefore she dedicated her life to serving Him and helping others, and eventually went onto the Mission field to serve the underprivileged in the third world.

I never met Jamie, her family attended another CMA church in the area. But her story inspired many in the early 80s, including myself. How God worked in her life gave a comforting assurance that no matter how dire the circumstances God is always there. Sometimes there might not be a miraculous healing as spectacular as hers, but still God is there to comfort and help.

However, every once in a while in the midst of oppressive strife and suffering you do get a real unexplainable occurrence that defies all logic.

An honest to goodness miracle, that impacts lives for generations.

Until Next Time,

Pastor Swope


Anonymous said...

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Sam said...

Thanks for the story Pastor Swope.

It is always inspirational to hear a story such as this one, especially this time of the year.

Its good to know that sometimes we get second chances, and obviously on this particular Christmas Jamie was given the greastest gift of all.

Merry Christmas to All!

cryptidsrus said...

Wonderfully sentimental story there, Swope.
Thanks for telling it.
Love those "miracle" stories.

Lokizz said...

great stories mr swope.i dont just mean this one but all the ones youve posted. itsgreat to come across a site that looks at all the unexplained thins in the world not just the more popular ones. thanks for sharing your experienes.

Mojo Mom said...

I, too believe in miracles...and I believe EVERYDAY of the year, but it seems to be more talked about this time of year. Thank you for sharing Jamie's story.

Anonymous said...

I too believe in Miracles and the power of prayer and would like to ask for Prayer for my Mom who is currently in the ICU on ventilation machines.

She is a remarkable women! Her only son and my brother was declared dead as a toddler but because of her love for the son she so longed for and prayed for 10 years and her faith in God ... God performed a great miracle! She reached out for prayer just as I am doing now for my mom and ask that you be apart of another miracle

Please pray for my mom

God Bless