Of heads and eyes

Our son Mark started suffering with migraine headaches in his teen years. I have them too, but Mark’s were much worse. He would end up in the hospital in Nairobi, where were living at the time. He would have debilitating pain and stroke-like symptoms such has one side of his body going numb. One of Mark’s migraines was a major family event that took at least a day out of our lives and caused us lots of emotional anguish.

Through a Wycliffe colleague, we had come into contact with an African evangelist named Dennis. At the time he had no formal Bible or theological training, but he showed a gift for evangelism and ministry to the poor. A few days after Mark had been to the emergency room with one of his worst migraines, Dennis called the house to chat. Among other things he asked how we were doing. Dayle told him that she was discouraged about the headaches. Dennis asked if he could come pray for Mark. Of course, Dayle was happy to say yes. She set a date and time which worked for Dennis and Mark’s school schedule.

Even before the day came for Dennis to visit, he phoned to ask how Mark was doing. Dayle told him he had not had another migraine yet. Dennis told Dayle Mark was healed. But he looked forward to meeting with him and told Dayle that he would have no more migraines. Dayle told me when I came home. I was skeptical. I would wait and see.

That was April 2003. Shortly afterward the doctor suggested a change of medication. The newest and best drug was not working so he suggested a drug which had been around for so long that Dayle’s mother told us that she had taken it in her teens. Also, we were able to discover more triggers. Cured meats turned out to be one of the main culprits. So no pepperoni pizza for Mark.

Mark never again had a debilitating migraine while we were in Africa. In fact, it was not until 2010 that he had another severe migraine. Whether it was Dennis’ prayers, the new drug or identifying the triggers I don’t know. In any case I see God in all three. It also does not bother me that Dennis prediction lacked some accuracy. Contrary to what he said, Mark did have more migraines. But, from the day that Dennis prayed for Mark, his migraines ceased to be a major events in our lives and within a few months they ceased to be a cause of major concern. In my book, that qualifies as healing.

Years earlier in Burkina Faso, we were introduced to a young man named Adama, from that country, who had come to the Lord out of drugs. He was a very calm and enjoyable person, but he had used drugs and they had left him with a moderate mental impairment before he came to the Lord and quit using. He could not do complicated tasks and he worked very slowly. We hired him occasionally to do yard work. He did good work, but he could only do in one day what most people could do an hour or 2.

Our oldest son, Matthew, was about five years old. He was having a series of eye infections since he was one month old. Allergies coupled with the dry and dusty environment were making his eyes vulnerable. One day Adama came by and asked if there was anything he could pray for. Dayle said that Matthew had started another eye infection. Adama asked Matthew if he could pray for him. When Matthew said, “yes,” Adama stood behind him, put his hands over Matthew’s eyes and prayed for him. Matthew never had another eye infection.

In addition to giving glory to God, these stories point out something profoundly important for missionaries – the people they go to minister to can also minister effectively to them and it can be mutual spiritual enrichment and encouragement. It’s reciprocal.

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