Jesus Heals Johanna's Back
The year was 1994. Our family had been in Guatemala for four years. Our youngest daughter Johanna was nine years old and in the fourth grade. She was a student at the Christian Academy of Guatemala. Like many institutions of its sort (a missionary kids school), it had few resources. However, it did have a small playground with a swing set, which was in a small plot of ground covered with sand and surrounded by a concrete curb to keep the sand off of the sidewalk.
Johanna was playing on the swing set in the morning before class, which was about 7:30 A.M. She decided to swing high and then jump out of the swing. She flew over the top of the concrete curb, landed on her feet and fell backwards over the curb. In doing this she fractured her 1st lumbar vertebra. The children who were playing with her ran to get an adult who was wise enough to tell Johanna not to move. They informed the school director that Johanna was injured. The school director called me at my office. Our office opened at 8:00 A.M. but I preferred to get there about an hour early so I could work without interruption. That morning my wife Margi had dropped me off at work so our car was at home with her. When I received the call, I told them they would need to call Margi, since I was unable to come for help.
At this point many may be wondering why the school just didn't inform us and call an ambulance. But this was Guatemala. They have ambulances, but the ambulance attendants are just as likely to cause more injury as to help; so whenever possible it is wisest to get people to the hospital yourselves. Further, they would have automatically taken her to the closest hospital. In Guatemala there are really only a few hospitals which are safe to use; they are private. The national hospitals are quite dangerous and again might cause more problems than they solve.
Margi arrived as soon as she possibly could. No one had tried to move Johanna, which was good since she had a severe back injury involving her spine. Margi and another mother carefully moved Johanna into the car trying not to move her back. Margi then carefully drove to the nearest adequate hospital. Again, one needs to understand that this is Guatemala. The roads are full of very deep pot holes. Driving down a typical Guatemalan highway and through the streets of Guatemala City with a child with an injured spine is very dangerous. To drive into a deep pot hole could sever her spine.
Margi arrived at the hospital by herself and had to get Johanna into the hospital by herself. This was quite stressful. However, once Johanna got into the hospital and the staff had heard what had happened, they took her to radiology. It was then that it was confirmed that she had fractured a vertebra. She was heavily sedated for her pain and admitted to the hospital in a private room. Margi called to inform me what had happened and where they were.
In Guatemala it is common for a family member to stay in the room with a patient to take care of their needs since nursing staff is kept to a bare minimum. This is particularly true with children and the elderly. Margi stayed with Johanna in her room. That evening we were able to visit Johanna as a family. Johanna had many other visitors as well. One memorable visit was from the family of one of her close friends. They were Wycliffe Bible Translator missionaries. Before they left, the father prayed that Johanna would be healed.
About 2 A.M. Margi was trying to sleep on the floor and was not quite sure if she was dozing or not. Johanna was asleep because she was heavily sedated. Suddenly Johanna sat straight up in bed and announced “Jesus just healed me!” She then flopped back down and continued her sleep.
There are two interesting facts about this event. First, Johanna probably never woke up. She has no memory of this event. Second, she had a broken back and was in extreme pain. It would have been impossible, in normal circumstances, for her to have even been able to sit up since her back would not have supported her and the pain would have been excruciating. Yet that is exactly what happened. However, when Johanna sat bolt upright in bed and announced that “Jesus just healed me!” it got Margi's immediate attention. Margi sat there on the floor stunned, wondering what was going on. Johanna in the mean time was sleeping peacefully.
Margi did not get much sleep that night. Had Jesus healed her? Did Johanna do this because she was heavily sedated? What in the world was going on? Early in the morning Johanna woke up. She seemed to be fine, with just a tiny bit of pain and stiffness, but no sign of a broken vertebra. Johanna's doctor came in and wanted to know what in the world was going on with Johanna. She was not acting like she should be. He checked over he back. He could not figure out what was happening. He checked the x-ray. She had a broken 1st lumbar vertebra in the x-ray, but she was not acting like she did. In fact, the day before she had even been numb in her feet, which is not a good sign. He tried to rationalize what he was seeing, but didn't know how. The day before there was a broken vertebra, numbness and tremendous pain. Now, there was no broken vertebra, no numbness and little pain.
So, the morning before, Johanna came to the doctor with a broken 1st lumbar vertebra. Jesus healed her in the middle of the night and even somehow got her to announce this in her sleep to an audience of one. The next morning Johanna went home, with no broken vertebra. We can try to rationalize this all we want. The doctor sure tried but could come up with an adequate rationalization. There is really only one real explanation. Jesus is powerful and Jesus heals.
February 10, 2006
The audio of this is told within The Dog That Walked On Water playlist on Soundcloud also linked from this site.