December 2017 Feature: Testimonies of Answered Prayer
By Michele Joseph
The doctors had given their prognosis. Linda and Craig Johnson responded by calling anyone who had been active in their daughter Hannah’s life: their local Pathfinder director at Pennsylvania Conference’s Blue Mountain Academy (BMA) church in Hamburg, pastors, church members, family and friends. They needed everyone to pray. Now!
Hannah fractured a vertebra while doing a flip—a routine she had completed numerous times on a mini trampoline—during recess at Blue Mountain Elementary School, where she attended seventh-grade. That day—May 13, 2016—doctors in the pediatric trauma unit at Lehigh Valley Hospital told her parents an X-ray, CAT scan and MRI all confirmed a C4 vertebra fracture. Doctors sedated Hannah as they considered treatment options.
The next day, a Sabbath, members spread the news throughout Pennsylvania, to people in North Carolina and Michigan, and even to people on prayer lines in India and Africa.
“To me, it was a great comfort knowing that there were so many people out there who cared for Hannah that they were willing to pray for her,” Linda says. “We put the word out there, and God was in control.” Between phone calls to people connected with prayer groups, Linda continued to pray.
On Sabbath, while preaching at the academy church, Latoya Wright, assistant chaplain at BMA, told the congregation she felt impressed to stop and pray for Hannah. Wright asked God to work a miracle that even the doctors would not understand, Linda recalls.
That evening the doctors ordered another X-ray to assess Hannah’s condition and determine how to treat her. They didn’t find a fracture.
Her parents were shocked.
“What do you mean it’s gone?” Linda says, remembering her reaction to the doctor’s news. “Are you going to come down in a few weeks and say you were wrong?”
Craig later encouraged her to trust God, saying He must be shaking His head at their response to His miracle.
“We need to be praising God for what He did instead of questioning the doctors,” Linda says, recalling her husband’s words.
Doctors released Hannah from the hospital the next day, but it would still be a long road to recovery. A concussion on both sides of her brain left her with memory loss, migraines and instability when walking. She could not attend the last two weeks of school, and during summer vacation, the doctors did not allow her to read, watch television or use electronic devices.
“I prayed a lot for patience for her and patience for me, and just guidance for what God needed us to do for her,” says Linda.
God restored her. Today most of the side effects from the concussion are gone, and Hannah, 15, sings in BMA’s Bell Canto choir and plays the violin in the orchestra.
The journey reinforced Linda’s belief in the power of prayer.
“I’ve always been a pray-er,” she says. “… My husband was active duty military for 26 years. He did three tours in Iraq, and I think that’s when my prayer life became really strong.”
The Miracle and the Lesson
Mandy Corea carefully counted every piece of fruit and each cracker she was going to serve during the agape feast at the Reach International Children’s Home in Santa Barbara, Honduras. She knew she had just enough food to give small servings to the approximately 60 residents and live-in volunteers.
Food like egg salad, grapes, strawberries and cantaloupe were rare, as the budget usually included more economical choices like rice and beans, Corea says. While shopping, she and the other live-in volunteers carefully chose ingredients and items to offer specific portions per resident.
To ensure each child received the treat, Corea checked with the home’s director to make sure no visitors were scheduled for the Friday evening vespers and agape feast. That night, however, as Corea presented the vesper message, the director arrived with 16 American guests.
Corea admits, even as she spoke that night, she became angry.
“Who are these people?” she recalled thinking. “Why are they here?”
When vespers ended, Corea and the other live-in volunteers went into the kitchen to make last-minute preparations. Meanwhile, the visitors, whom she hoped would leave, joined the children in the cafeteria.
Corea said a “quick, angry prayer” asking God to make the food stretch.
Corea told the high schoolers who were assigned to serve at the event to ration the food, giving a specific number of each item to children, middle schoolers, high schoolers and adults. She also told them to serve the guests first. The live-in volunteers would not eat.
“One by one the kids [who were] serving came back, and there [was] still food on the platter,” Corea says, remembering that night.
She figured they had not followed her instructions, and went to inspect the tables. Everyone was eating the portions she designated. Corea told the students to serve again, giving the smallest residents more food, since they had the tiniest portions the first time.
“They kept coming back to me with food on the platter,” she says.
She told the servers to ask the older students and adults if they wanted seconds. Even after that round of service, leftovers of everything remained. They even had enough for a small snack the next night.
Corea attributes the leftovers, which based on her math should not have existed, as a miracle and a lesson from God.
“He was working on ways to fight my anger and frustration,” Corea says. “I believe wholeheartedly that the Holy Spirit multiplied that food.”
That night in 2010 is one she shares with her current students at Chesapeake Conference’s Highland View Academy in Hagerstown, Md., where she now serves as the Campus Ministries director and English as a Second Language teacher.
“We can feel like the things that we have to pray for are so unimportant,” she says in her testimony to the students. “… If God wants to take the time to count the hairs on my head, then He absolutely cares about the things I’ve brought before Him.”
Resources From Heaven
Prayer has played a key role in the journey of Ohio Conference’s Northern Ohio Adventist Academy (NOAA), says principal Leona Bange. From teacher Jeanne Sinka finding the North Sheffield Lake property before it was listed on the market, to the Home Depot staff volunteering to clean and repair the school’s playground and completing other projects for free, Bange says she has seen God “pour out the resources of heaven for these kids.” When she comes across any situation, “whether it seems small or insignificant, or whether it’s momentous like [Sinka] recently being diagnosed with stage 4 adrenal cancer, I can take all of that to God immediately, give it to Him and trust His answers,” Bange says.
Her prayers join those of church members in the area, who fast and pray for the needs of the school, Bange says. The students have learned to pray as they have witnessed God’s miracle after miracle bless their school.
The students “pray every day for their teacher, Mrs. Sinka,” Bange says. “She may be sick on the weekends, but by Monday morning she is in here teaching school.”
It is the students, 31 in all, who remind Bange that “God has been doing miracles for us. This is just one more He can do for us,” she says.
Recently, the high schoolers prayed for new students, and God brought four. One came from Michigan, after learning about the school from a family member who attended one of the constituent Adventist churches in the Cleveland area. The girl’s mom couldn’t afford academy in Michigan. After visiting the school, the mother prayed that God would do a miracle if she wanted her daughter to attend NOAA, Bange says. The woman was able to sell her house and find rental housing in time for her daughter to begin school in August.
“It’s definitely been a faith-building experience
for the students, staff and for our supporting churches to see what God is doing and how He is leading,” Bange says.
In late August, board member Michael Wisecup informed Bange that his employer, Nanofilm, in Valley View, Ohio, was getting rid of equipment. The Nanofilm Lab Manager Travis Bennett visited the school and asked for dimensions of the room set aside for a ninth- and tenth-grade science lab. He designed the school’s lab based on equipment available from Nanofilm, some of it brand new, Bange says. It took two trips with a 26-foot U-Haul truck to deliver all of the glassware, cupboards, workstations, sinks, a hood vent and more. The equipment allowed NOAA to fulfill an accreditation requirement for its junior academy.
“This is how God has been taking care of us,” Bange says.
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