by Chris Meehan
Photo: Mary Timler
Blessed Are the Sorrowful
The blonde-haired woman who answered the door was in her 50s. Patty was quick to say she was a Christian, and she spent the next 30 minutes pouring out her sorrows to three Evansville missionaries: John Earhart, Joe Maguire and Mary Timler.
Two of her children had wrecked three different cars, and her third child was in prison. Her water and electricity had been shut off. “To top it all off, three weeks ago the hearing in my left ear started to go bad. It’s like it’s blocked up, but I’ve been too busy to think about it.”
Standing on her front porch, the missionaries laid hands on Patty and prayed, concluding with a powerful “Amen!” (Their “Amen” was immediately echoed by a woman across the street.)
Mary asked Patty if she could hear better.
“Yes, somewhat,” she replied. She explained that before the prayer human voices had sounded muffled, like people were mumbling. Her hearing had improved to about 70% of what it had been before the hearing problem started, she said.
They prayed again, and this time Patty said with a smile, “It’s 90, no—it’s at 100%. Wow! Thank you, Jesus!”
Two weeks later Mary and Joe returned with Evan Lent. Patty said her ear was still fine and her water was back on. That day her niece Allison was visiting with two of her sons. “We’ve known Allison for years, but we didn’t know she was related to Patty,” Evan explained.
A single mom, Allison said she was “really going through it.” Her brother had gone to jail and both her stepfather and an uncle had died, all in a matter of a few weeks. “All the men in my family are gone,” she said. “I have to be the man now.”
Her water had also been cut off. “I feel like I’ve failed,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears.
Evan suggested they stop and pray for a few minutes and listen to the Lord.
“Is there such a thing as a 27th psalm?” Allison asked after the prayer.
“Do you want me to read it?” asked Mary.
“Is it going to make me cry?”
Mary began, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. . . . Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Allison shed a few more tears. The missionaries began to pray over her, and they prayed with Patty too.
“I knew there was a reason I came here today,” Allison said with a smile.
All in a Day’s Work
John Crimmins and David Katcher smelled marijuana as they approached a group of five men standing in an Evansville yard. One of the men held a joint.
“We’re Christians. We were praying and God told us to tell people that he wants us to stop sinning,” David said. “What do you think of that?”
David couldn’t quite tell what they thought, since the men all hid their eyes. Three of them exited the yard, got in a car and drove off.
“This is crazy!” the fourth man said before going inside a house. The fifth man walked away.
Later that afternoon, after a few more tough conversations, David battled feelings of failure. He and John were both new missionaries, with only a few months in the field. Thoughts such as, God isn’t really with us, we were not really sent out, ran through his mind.
Recognizing a temptation from the enemy, David asked John to pray with him. His gloom lifted.
The two missionaries came to another house, where they found two men and two boys in the front yard. One of the men, Ted, began shouting at them. “We don’t need God here! We’re good. They need him down the street where the crime is worse!”
“Let’s talk about that,” John said. “Have you ever seen a miracle?”
He told them the story about Patty.
“She was probably lying to you,” Ted replied. “I’m very direct. I say what’s on my mind.” His voice kept growing louder.
John and David tried to match his volume, speaking boldly and directly. “We didn’t perceive him as being angry at us personally, so we took on the challenge of sticking to our ground, as if he was testing us,” John said. They told another story about a healing of a knee that turned out to involve two people Ted knew and respected. He began to soften.
“I’ve had a grudge against God for over 10 years and I’m just barely starting to get over it,” he admitted. His newborn son had died, and afterward Ted had raged against God. “I deserved to have that baby, but God took him away!”
As he told the story, he paced back and forth. He complained that God didn’t hear prayers, that prayers always fell on deaf ears.
“Ted, it’s clear that you don’t realize how much God loves you,” David said, his heart welling up with love. “Open your eyes. His love is flowing through me to you, and now I love you!”
Ted smiled a little.
All this while, the two boys had been waiting for someone to pick them up, so the missionaries offered to pray that the driver would show up soon. They were surprised when Ted agreed to join them for the prayer.
He drew closer to the missionaries, stopping just a few feet away from them, and David and John prayed aloud for the boys and that Ted would come to know God’s love. After the prayer, they asked Ted if they could come back and see him again.
“Sure,” he said, smiling again.
“As we walked away, we shook our heads in disbelief,” said David. “There were little changes in his demeanor, as we talked, that kept us persisting. We were challenging without being aggressive, and that’s what it took to make the difference.”
A few weeks later, they returned, approaching Ted with big smiles on their faces.
“I’ve never had people so excited to see me,” he said.
Ted’s grandmother came out of the house and Ted introduced the missionaries to her. “I just met these guys and I feel like I’ve known them for 10 years. I didn’t get what they were saying at first, but now I get it. It’s true that God loves us.”
He turned to the two missionaries. “That night after we spoke I got on my knees and asked God to help me. I’ve been praying ever since. I pray for you guys too.”
“I think it’s a bad idea for you to come today.”
Donna was brusque with the two missionaries who knocked on the door of her well-kept home late last summer. Before she could shut the door, though, her little dog ran out, tore through the yard and onto the busy avenue.
David chased the dog, dodging traffic, and brought him back safely to Donna’s house.
About a week later, he was staffing the missionaries’ produce stand outside their urban farm when Donna dropped by for the first time, but neither David nor Donna recognized each other. It was only afterward, when David knocked on Donna’s door a second time, that they put two and two together.
Eventually more missionaries got to know Donna, and her initial brusqueness faded. She would greet them with a smile, though she told them with sadness that her dog had died after being run over by a car. Donna lived alone, and told them how upset she was about losing the dog, who was her primary companion.
On a Wednesday in November, David and Ellen Reed went to visit Donna again. David and two other missionaries had independently gotten words about offering Donna the baptism in the Holy Spirit, so they were hoping to offer to pray with her for it. When they got there they learned that Donna was having a hard week. She had pneumonia and didn’t invite them in. Her back hurt, and she was bracing her body against the doorframe while they talked. David suggested they pray with her. After the prayer, “Her back immediately was better,” David says. “Her whole demeanor changed.”
For the remainder of their conversation, Donna kept moving her back around, remarking joyfully, “Wow, God is with me.”
Ellen mentioned that her back also hurt from standing in one spot for so long, so the group prayed with Ellen. She too felt instantly better.
“We all rejoiced together,” David said. Figuring the moment was ripe to bring up the Holy Spirit, David spoke to Donna about Pentecost, and the two missionaries shared their testimonies.
“Would you like this?” David asked.
“Come on in!” Donna said.
After some more explanation and a few more questions for Donna, the missionaries prayed with her to receive the Holy Spirit.
Afterward, David warned her that the devil might try to convince her that nothing had happened during the prayer.
“No problem there,” Donna replied. “I know something happened!”