Before my salvation, my brother Joe introduced me to his favorite late night TV show Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The comedic episode featured a healing evangelist before an audience stocked with paid actors who shouted their healings as the front man fleeced naïve attendees.
At first, I thought the show sacrilegious; after all Catholics of which I had been one, believe that Mary healed at Guadalupe, Fatima and Lourdes. Nevertheless, Shambach’s brutal tent meeting performance, persuaded me, Mary Hartman producers were exposing charlatans. God did not heal; He saved me, but I knew without a doubt – God did not heal.
At the third prayer meeting since her diagnosis, the Brazilian woman again attended. All thirty women had eaten, mingled and now it was time to pray. We arranged our chairs in a circle, prayer lists in hand, silence reigned for a moment when through the door burst old Beulah Bowers. Helen and I sat side by side on a broken spring couch low to the floor, directly across from the Brazilian woman.
Beulah lived on the Kenscoff Mountain miles above Petionville. In her youth, she birthed an illegitimate child and then left the US for isolated, impoverished missionary service. Recently an American church bought her a car and Beulah found her way to the prayer meeting. In a threadbare, flowered housedress and taupe orthopedic shoes, Beulah sat in the only empty chair, next to the elegantly coiffured Brazilian, I felt as though I was looking up to a stage.
Unaware she was late to the meeting, Beulah talked happily; she had not seen another white woman for months. No one said a word but senior missionaries exchanged disapproving looks; dumbfounded I listened.
Joyfully energized the old spinster missionary fetched a story from the cobwebbed shelves of her memory – a tale of healing miracle.
Beulah didn’t know I did not believe in healing, nor did she know the Brazilian ambassador’s wife needed healing.
“When I was eighteen, I worked on an American Indian reservation. I went in the cellar to get a jar of preserves. There was a low beam overhead; I stood up straight and fractured my skull.”
Beulah pointed to the top of her head.
“The pain was excruciating.”
Grey haired Beulah swiveled in her straw chair to include everyone as she spoke, “A tumor grew on my brain; I could feel it press against the roof of my mouth and pushed with my thumbs to relieve the pressure.”
She placed both her thumbs in her mouth to demonstrate the tumor’s position. “In those days, doctors gave me a fifty percent chance of surviving brain surgery. Even if I did survive, they gave me no guarantee of not being a vegetable. Soon I was unable to stand and confined to bed.”
Animated now, Beulah continued, “One night my coworkers carried me on a stretcher into the bible study. It was not a prayer meeting or a worship service, just a bible study. Enough of the word was ministered to give me faith for healing; and I got up off the stretcher and walked, that was almost fifty years ago.”
Finished with her story, Beulah leaned back in her chair still unaware of the brain tumor afflicted woman next to her.
The Brazilian woman wept silently and then turned to Beulah as she unfolded a delicate lace and linen handkerchief to wipe her tears. “You do not know I have been diagnosed with a brain tumor by five doctors.”
Beulah looked startled, she did not know the woman’s diagnosis or prayer requests; this was her first time at the meetings. She barely found the house and missed the coffee, pastries and fellowship.
The Brazilian continued, “They tell me they cannot guarantee the outcome of surgery whether I will survive or be a vegetable. They tell me I may never walk or talk again.”
Mascara rivulets coursed down the pale skin, the embroidered handkerchief now a wadded ball in manicured hands. “You do not know I almost did not come today. I took painkillers to drag myself out of bed to get here.”
Beulah stared at the weeping woman; truly, she knew nothing of how God used her to speak faith to the woman and to me. With the Brazilian’s closing words, a palpable Holy Spirit presence permeated the room. “And you don’t know I can barely speak English but I understood every word you said.”
The silver, beehive crested, Church of God missionary, Odine Sims, and the raven black haired Assemblies’ missionary, Ruth Sherman, both soon to retire, rose to their feet, hands and voices lifted in reverence. Every one followed, again circling our Brazilian sister, this time laying hands on her with faith-filled prayers for divine healing.
The next week the Brazilian ambassador’s wife returned with a large manila envelope, she smiled, “No more pain killers. I am healed! And I have the encephalogram to prove it.”
We, thirty missionary prayer warriors, gathered around and examined the X rays where the tumor’s white points shadowed the black film and the new films with no tumor.
I believed then that God heals -after all, I had a front and center seat before His two holy servants as different as day and night, one poor and one rich but sisters by His shed blood and healing hand.