Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the
evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do
what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to
the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to
the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.
I read in the Bible of miracles and last night I experienced one. With the brightness of the light of God, the gunmen fell and you, Lord have let me live to carry the cross another day!
It’s a day after God’s intervention, a day after the pointing of guns and falling gunmen and I’m still tingling with wonder and awe at your power.
Now I must tell you, Lord, that I was prepared to die. You know that I really felt those were my last moments.
When I looked up and saw the gunmen on the ground, then seeing them run off, I actually felt a deep disappointment. I’ve prepared for this moment, I’ve expected it. I was ready for heaven, but you still have more miles for me to walk.
I am reminded of the Scripture, “For me to live is Christ but to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, my paraphrase). So I’ll just go on until that time really comes for me. I know it may not be long because there is still so much fighting along this highway. It’s true that life is only moment by moment. I live by the racing traffic and am but only one stumble from death. Somehow death makes me focus on life and meaning and what your purposes are, Lord. So lead me on, oh, God, you hold my life and health in your hands.
I’ll keep going until you call my name.
I realize that followers of Jesus today have various ideas and convictions on the subject of miracles, particularly the role of our faith in experiencing God’s miraculous power. But while the sovereignty of God will always inject a strong dose of mystery into this topic, all believers can surely agree that God is a god of miracles and that God’s son, Jesus, brings glory to the Father through the manifestation of miracles. Furthermore, Jesus made it clear that his followers would continue his miraculous ministry after he ascended to heaven.
?Sometimes we pray for a miracle and things don’t turn out the way we prayed. Don’t lose heart. God loves you and is working in your life. No matter what happens, trust Jesus – and the Holy Spirit will give you the grace you need regardless of your circumstances. Miracles are happening that you just can’t see right now.
God has chosen to work many astounding miracles in my life and in my journeys with the cross. They have been so incredible that there is no mistaking them. Miracles have accompanied us along the way in many places around the world. Wherever we go, we seem to experience the most amazing things. This chapter records a few of these stories. My goal in sharing them is not to focus on myself but to inspire you to a greater sense of awe concerning God’s majesty and power.
A Miracle in the Face of a Firing Squad
The following experience is one of those times when God chose to spare me in his own divine way. It was not because of my merit that I was given this miracle. Many others more holy that I have had the honor of being martyred for Christ. It was simply the sovereignty of God. He chose to extend my life for this purpose. As of this writing, my two companions in this experience are still alive. They too speak of this miracle in war-torn Nicaragua.
In 1978, I carried the cross on the Pan American Highway south of Leone. At the end of a long day’s walk I arrived where our four-wheel drive vehicle, pulling a small camping trailer, was parked.
Mike Ooten was driving the truck, which was full of gospel material; and Don Price, a veterinary doctor from Key Largo, Florida, was spending his two week vacation interpreting and teaching me Spanish. They had driven ahead of me and were parked on the roadside talking with some people who had gathered. A few homes housing a small number of old people and children were scattered nearby. The people said to Don and Mike, “Don’t stay here. They will kill you. At night everything on this road dies. Go to the next town and sleep at the church. You will be safe there.”
The civil war in Nicaragua was raging at the time. The popular Sandinista guerilla movement was revolting against the Samoza dictatorship and bloody terror was everywhere.
“I never run,” I said. “We will sleep where we stop with the cross. I have learned you must face fear and overcome it, or it will haunt you.”
An old man made the sign of the cross as we parked the truck and trailer under a tree. We opened some cold canned food, ate and soon fell into bed. Mike was in the front bed, Don was at the back on the top bunk and I was on the bottom bunk. I was so exhausted that I immediately fell sound asleep. The night was hot and I was wet with sweat. Suddenly, a loud banging on the side of the trailer and the voice of a man shouting, “Narcotica policia!” awakened me.
I shook my head as I sat up in bed and pulled back the window curtain to look out. A gun was aimed at my face.
I turned on the light, slipped into my pants and opened the door. Guns were pointed at me. One short, middle-aged man put a pistol directly in my face, pushing me back and stepping inside. All of our assailants were dressed in either khakis or blue jeans and plain shirts. Most were in their late teens or early twenties. Several came into the trailer and looked around. Don didn’t say a word, even though he spoke Spanish. Mike sat up in bed, wondering what was going on. He couldn’t find his glasses.
“What’s happening, Arthur? What’s going on with all these guys?” he asked sleepily.
“Pray, Mike. Pray.”
The short man waved his pistol toward the door. They took me by the shoulder and arm. As I moved toward the door, I snatched the truck keys. This was simply on impulse, for no particular reason. Maybe I thought they might want the truck – and they could have it if they really wanted it. Without a doubt, these men were not narcotics police. The people later said these men were government troops, the government would say they were guerrillas. In either case, their mission was to rob, to kill and to terrorize the land.
I began to speak in the little Spanish I knew, telling the gunmen that God loved them and that Jesus would forgive them and come to live in their hearts. No one seemed to hear my words. Since it was a clear night I could see seven men with rifles and pistols, plus two others lying on the back of the truck with machine guns. Maybe they wanted to rob us, I thought. But then they shoved me next to the truck and ordered me not to move. They lined up about fifteen feet away, raised their guns and pointed them toward me. Suddenly I realized they were going to shoot me. I was standing before a firing squad!
The cross was on top of the truck and difficult to get to. This is what flashed through my mind next: If I’m going to die, I don’t want to die without a Bible.
All these guns were aimed at me as I quickly turned to the right, took two quick steps and reached with my hand to put the key in the keyhole of the truck door. I was successful on the first try. I was thinking, even if they shoot me, I think I can get the door open before I die and grab a box of Bibles.
The men shouted, “No! No!”
I swung the door open, pushed the front seat forward and grabbed a box of Bibles. The gunmen had no way of knowing what I was doing. Only God knows why they didn’t shoot. But I decided it didn’t matter whether the front or the back of my body was shot – I had to get the Bibles.
I put the box on the ground and stooped down to get it open. The boxes of Bibles were bound with strong tape, making them almost impossible to open without a knife. I could see the feet of the men around me and feel their pull on my shoulders as they tried to get me up. Finally, I got the box open. I thought I’d give them all a Bible, too, so I filled my arms and stood up. But no one was there!
I didn’t know what had happened. All the gunmen were on the ground, flat on their backs! The short man who seemed to be the leader was lying inside the trailer with only his legs sticking out. As I walked toward them, they slowly got up in a daze. The short man sat at the door of the trailer, collecting himself.
“Do you want a Bible?” I asked in Spanish.
“We won’t bother you,” he replied.
I picked up a water bottle and offered them a drink. They all jumped up, ran to their truck and raced off into the night without turning on the headlights.
I stood in silence. What had happened? It all took place so fast.
As I walked into the trailer, Don said, “We thought you were dead!”
“They were going to shoot me,” I said. “But I opened the truck and got some Bibles. When I looked up, the men were all on the ground.”
“Arthur, we could hear the blows of meat against meat. We thought they were killing you. Then we heard them cry out and then they fell backward. One of the men fell into the doorway.”
The three of us sat there talking the rest of the night. At dawn, as I prepared to carry the cross down the highway, the people who lived nearby were waiting for me outside the trailer. They said, “We saw a bright light. God was there and the gunmen fell to the ground.”
That same night, in Phoenix, Arizona, Paul and Jan Crouch of TBN were in bed about ready to drift off to sleep. Suddenly Jan had a vision. The ceiling of the room lit up with my face. In the vision, she saw me about to die. She grabbed Paul and shouted, “Paul, pray! Arthur is about to die!”
Jan had been reading Billy Graham’s book Angels. She prayed in her own special and beautiful way: “Lord, send twelve big angels down right now and deliver Arthur.”
Soon they felt peace and Jan said, “Arthur is okay now.”
An Amazing Visit to South Africa
After walking with the cross across much of South Africa for almost four months late in 1985, I returned with my son Joshua in June 1986. I felt that Jesus led me to do a twenty-one day fast, seven days each in the major cities of: Johannes-burg, Cape Town and Durban. During those twenty-one days we stayed in central city parks. I wanted to be where all kinds of people could see and approach the cross and me. Except for taking a bath or using the restroom, I stayed outside twenty-four hours a day – sharing and praying with the people and sleeping in a sleeping bag when I could find time.
South Africa was being torn by virtual civil war. The white minority was trying to maintain control over the black majority through the oppression of racial apartheid and anti-apartheid groups were striking back. The government had declared a state of emergency.
Shortly after we arrived in the city park in Johannesburg, a bomb exploded in a crowded restaurant not more than a hundred yards away from us. Soon there was a second explosion, this time in a garbage bin outside the nearby Holiday Inn. More blood, more broken bodies. Some victims were white, some were black.
No one knew if there would be more explosions. There was no place to flee to safety, but hundreds gathered around the cross that was now in the middle of their suffering. Their sincerity was indescribable as men and women stopped up and said, “I want to know Christ.” As people prayed, weeping and seeking peace for their country, a bond of love and urgency formed around the cross – a recognition that the only one who could solve their problems was Jesus, because the root of the problem lay within the human heart.
Physical and Spiritual Miracles
The miracles of physical healing that happened in other countries were intensified in South Africa. A couple of hours after the bombings, a woman suddenly rushed to me in the park, weeping and smiling at the same time.
“What is this?” she asked. “What has happened?”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“I have been sick for years. I just went to the doctor today. I was walking along the pedestrian mall right there in great pain. Suddenly I was completely healed. I have no pain! I stopped, looked around and saw that cross. What is happening?”
I explained our mission to the amazed woman and prayed with her to receive Christ. She went on her way rejoicing, saying “I’m going to send my sick friends to this park!”
I had not even prayed for her; she had been healed by the sovereign work of God.
After witnessing this, another woman stepped out of the crowd. She was crippled with arthritis in her knees, elbows and fingers. “Pray for me,” she asked.
When I prayed for the woman, God healed her instantly.
The first day of the fast had begun!
Things like this went on hour after hour, day after day, for seven days in that park. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the government owned television network, filmed many of these miracles and then continued filming in the other two cities I visited.
Another memorable incident involved a thirteen-year old girl who had been crippled by polio in her right arm and hand. As we prayed together, the power of God healed her. Yet her arm was quite weak since it had been immobile for over seven years. I encouraged the girl to exercise her muscles. She could raise her hand above her head, open and close her hand and move her arm out. The girl was almost in a state of shock.
“How do you feel now?” I asked?
“Fine,” she replied, “except for my thumb, it won’t move.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Her arm and hand were fine and she could move her fingers, yet her thumb was frozen tight like her arm and hand had been. I took her hand in mine and a small crowd gathered around. I prayed for her thumb and suddenly she could move it perfectly. She kept wiggling her thumb. She seemed more excited about that thumb working than anything else. What a joyful time!
On another occasion a man about thirty-five years old made his way to me through the crowd and said he wanted to find Christ as his Savior, and he asked me to pray for his healing. The man was badly crippled in one arm. I explained to him how he could know Jesus, and he was gloriously converted.
Seven years earlier the man had been in a construction accident in which the bones throughout most of his body were broken. He explained how the doctors put bone and skin from his legs into his arm, resulting in horrible scars all along his right arm. His arm was frozen in the joints, with just a fraction of movement in his elbow and wrist. When I saw this man’s condition, a complete healing in his arm seemed impossible. But I put my hands on his arm and prayed quietly.
There was a pop in his elbow and then a crunching sound as I touched his wrist. He could now straighten his arm and move his wrist. He reached with his arm to touch his ear and then he scratched the back of his head. He was excited beyond words.
“I can scratch my head with my right hand,” he said. “Oh, God, what is happening/”
The crowd, the man and I were flabbergasted.
After this man was healed, an elderly woman who had suffered with an excruciating sore on her ankle for seven years approached me. Because of the pain, she walked only on the ball of her foot and was unable to extend her heel to the ground. She had seen many doctors over those years to no avail.
I knelt and prayed for this dear woman. As I prayed, her sore was healed, her pain went away and her leg extended until her heel was even with the ground and she could walk normally. She began not only to walk but also to dance and leap – shouting, “Thank you, Jesus” Thank you, Jesus,” I’ve spent all my money on doctors and now I’m whole!”
You can imagine the response as word of these miracles spread around the city. In addition, an SABC TV crew filmed these last two miracles. Crowds, crowds, crowds swarmed the park as the miraculous power of God was manifest.
During these twenty-one days of fasting and prayer, we saw hundreds of people healed and thousands of people pray to receive Jesus as Savior. As huge crowds gathered, I shouted out for those wanting to accept Christ to gather in one group and those needing healing to gather in another group. We had team sharing the gospel and following up with the new converts and we had other people praying for the sick. It was amazing!
Relational and Social Miracles
The other kind of miracle we saw in South Africa, along with physical and spiritual healings within individuals, was healing between people.
On the fifth day of my fast in Johannesburg, I witnessed one of the most wonderful scenes ever. People from all over the greater Johannesburg area were praying around the cross, including many blacks who lived in the sprawling township of Soweto and who were deeply committed to Christ. A group of white soldiers in uniform was also in the park. They had been called from the reserves during the state of emergency to patrol in nearby Soweto. I had met these young men earlier in a church, so I knew they were likewise deeply committed to Christ.
Somehow the black residents of Soweto and the white soldiers met each other. They moved away from the crowd and sat on the grass. I saw them talking, smiling and praying together. After about an hour I walked over and heard them sharing about their children and families.
They said to me, “Because of Christ and the cross, we are one family. Can we come over and gather around the cross and pray together for the healing of South Africa; for the end of hate, death and injustice; for understanding, love and peace?”
We gathered around the cross and a throng of people joined us. We were smiling and weeping and praising God. I thought to myself, this is the hope of South Africa.
On Sunday afternoon during my fast in Durban, we held a worship service in a church that met in an old movie theater a few blocks from the park we were using. Thousands of people from all four of South Africa’s racial categories – blacks, whites, Coloureds and Indians – overflowed the premises. We sang choruses and worshiped the Lord as people tried to get into the building. Finally I stood on the stage, tears pouring from my eyes as I took in what was before me. And then I slowly said, “This is the new South Africa. This is the real South Africa. If only the world could see.”
I read the account of the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:26-29, Gathered together in remembrance of Jesus, we enjoyed a beautiful celebration of communion. After we received the bread and the wine, I shared about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper as recorded in John 13. I wanted us to follow Jesus’ instructions to wash one another’s feet, recognizing that believers are one family; one body – the body of Christ – not divided by race or language.
The only way we knew to foot wash with such a large crowd packed so closely together was to give out prepackaged wet hand wipes. I asked the people to wash the feet of the person on either side of them. That way everyone would wash the feet of at least two other individuals.
The scene that followed will live with me forever. There in South Africa, with a crowd that represented a mixture of all the racial groupings, people washed the feet of the person next to them and prayed for that person. They laughed, cried, smiled and hugged each other.
These explosions of love, hope and unity were a powerful response to the explosions of violence tearing South Africa apart. The nation’s news media reported these outbreaks of spiritual unity that crossed racial barriers. South African TV made two specials of our time in the parks of the three cities. This period of miracle after miracle was a foretaste of the peace that eventually came to South Africa. Praise God!
Miracles of Protection
Many year before this, during my first trip to carry the cross in Africa in 1973, I lay in bed under a mosquito net, reading my Bible by lamplight. The wonderful missionaries in whose home I was staying that night had told me, “You can’t walk across Africa, especially carrying a twelve-foot cross. You can’t eat the local food; you can’t drink the local water unless you boil it first. If you sleep in people’s homes you will encounter all kinds of bugs, diseases and worms.”
I prayed, Jesus, I need an answer. They tell me I can’t do this, but you have led me here.
I know this may not be the best way to study the Bible, but I just opened my Bible and pointed my finger on the page that fell open. I began reading the tenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Based on that passage, I committed myself to these four things;
1 .Whatever house you enter, say, “Peace be to this house.”
2.Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever is set before you.
3.Don’t move around from house to house.
4.Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.
I did walk across Africa and on around the world – and this scripture is how I lived. I have never been sick a day on the road from parasites or germs in the food or drink and I have never had diarrhea or fever.
Every time I eat or drink, I pray: Lord, kill them all. If there is anything in my body that should not be there, cleanse it. If there is anything I need and it is not there, put it in and make everything work perfectly. In Jesus’ name.
God has answered that prayer over and over and I think that is a miracle. The protection I have received in many difficult situations is truly nothing short of a series of miracles.
You may never need to pray for the kind of protections I have needed, but you will need God’s miracles as you walk along your own road of life. The miracles on your road will warm your heart and fill you with joy. I know it! This is the way of the cross, whether the cross is being carried around the world or reigning in your heart.