“Randy, God has healed me!”

Rob Mitchell’s words astounded me. It seemed impossible. And yet I knew it was true. I had known Rob all my life. He had always been weak, always had difficulty breathing, always had asthma. If he was in the room, everyone knew it. His loud wheezing was a constant reminder of his illness. But on that April night in 1971, I could no longer hear him breathing. The wheezing was gone.
Rob was healed, and I knew it!

Rob’s mother was Rh negative, and he was born Rh positive, a condition that can be fatal without treatment. Rob received a blood transfusion at birth to save his life. The transfusion caused his lungs to collapse, resulting in significant damage that made it difficult for Rob to exhale. He quickly developed multiple allergies that made it difficult for him to inhale. The combination caused the wheezing, which was familiar to his friends and embarrassing to him. He hated silence because everyone was aware of his handicap.

Rob’s parents spent thousands of dollars on treatment. Three times a week, he would go to the doctor’s office to get allergy shots and breathe into a respirator. In the fall and spring, when his allergies were worse but he was more tempted to participate in sports, Rob could have attacks so severe he simply could not draw enough oxygen into his lungs. Then he would be rushed to the hospital. Rob felt as though he were more of a patient and burden to his parents than a son. He was plagued with thoughts of suicide. “Wouldn’t it be easier for me and my parents if God took me?” he asked.

Rob and I grew up together. We went to the same school, and both of our families were faithful churchgoers. We heard Bible stories every week and believed them. However, I don’t remember ever hearing a clear presentation of the gospel and of my need for salvation. I had certainly never heard of God healing people in modern times.

. . . until that April night in 1971 at a youth retreat in northeast Oklahoma. The speaker’s message targeted churchgoers like me and my friends. Rob, along with several others, accompanied Billy, the speaker, to a prayer room.

Billy noticed Rob’s labored breathing and asked if he wanted to be healed. Rob raised his hands into the air and responded, “Yes, I want to be healed.” Billy laid his hands on Rob’s head and prayed. The next thing Rob remembers is lying on his bunk and being able to breathe freely. “It felt like I was able to suck all the furniture in the room into my lungs,” he says.

As the news spread, chaos broke out. People did not know what to do in the presence of the living God. Some held hands in a circle and began to dance. Others shouted or cried with joy. Others ran to ring the dinner bell, an event that occurred for hours. The news had to be proclaimed. A decision was made to take Rob to town to call his parents. As many people as would fit crammed into a car to go share the good news.

In the midst of such pandemonium—shouting, talking, crying, rejoicing—I felt alone in the presence of God. It was as if the roof had been removed from that retreat center and God had come down right there among us. I became acutely aware of the presence of God and of my own selfish life. I had lived to please myself, never thinking about the God who loved me and gave Himself for me. Even the “good” I did was only intended to cause others to think well of me. In that moment, I made a commitment to God: “Wherever you want me to go, I will go. Whatever you want me to do, I will do. Whatever you want me to say, I will say.”

I met the Lord of the universe that night, and my life changed radically. From that day forward, prayer became natural as I communicated with a God so near. Reading my Bible became a passion as the words leapt off the page to inspire my life. Sharing the good news about Jesus became a priority, a necessity.

The commitment I made that night eventually led me to serve the Lord overseas. In 1979, my wife, Deanna, and I arrived in the Congo to teach at a Bible institute. Our three children were born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

For 34 years—in the Congo, France, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire—I have been living out my commitment to go wherever He wants me to go.

*Adapted from Overwhelmed by the Spirit, ©2013 by Randall A. Harrison. Used by permission.

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