The following is an amazing God-experience that I wrote about last year at exactly this time of year. Only a few people know about it. I'm ready to share it.
Early this spring (2016), I decided to volunteer with the Fellowship of Christian Farmers of Ontario. I had heard from a friend that this organization is involved in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ locally at fairs, festivals and other fun events. One of the organizers had invited me and some friends to come help out at the first event of 2016, which happened to be the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmvale, Ontario. This tiny town spring event had many visitors—more than I had expected.
When I arrived at the Christian Farmer’s well-organized booth, I was surprised to see quite a few volunteers already busy talking to visitors of all ages. Each of them was holding a wooden walking stick and handing sticks out to the visitors. The sticks were round poles, slightly shaped at the handle, and decorated with a brown leather band with five coloured beads on it. I had seen this type of stick before and I had also been given a leather bracelet decorated with the same coloured beads several years earlier. I knew that these were “gospel beads” and that each of the colours had a specific meaning to help tell the gospel story in simple, understandable terms.
The gold bead represents God and heaven, since God is perfect and pure and without fault, just like the purest metal of all—gold. We also know from the Holy Bible that heaven’s streets are paved with gold. The next bead is black, representing sin, the fall of man, and our separation from God. Then comes the red bead. It represents the blood of Jesus, which was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and to bring us back to God. As we give our life to Jesus, we are forgiven, totally cleansed and made as white as snow. This is explained by the white bead. Finally, the green bead stands for growth. Just as green grass grows and green leaves grow on the trees, we grow in our faith as we begin to have fellowship with other believers and hear the Word of God regularly.
I really enjoyed learning how to share the gospel—that is, the good news of Jesus Christ—by listening to the more experienced volunteers and just following their lead. Hundreds of visitors flocked to our booth to get one of these free walking sticks. People outside the arena were telling others about our booth because strangers were asking them where they got their cool sticks. These walking sticks were a bigger hit than the yummy maple syrup products at the Maple Syrup Festival!
Having adapted the story to my personal style of communication, I was able to share the gospel message with over seventy people, young and old, that day. I even had the pleasure of leading several listeners to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour that day. These were people who admitted that they had never heard the good news about free forgiveness told quite like this before.
By mid-afternoon, I was excited about what God was doing through this wonderful ministry. It’s not often people from all kinds of backgrounds come flocking to a booth that’s promoting Christianity and witnessing for Jesus. The crowds got bigger and bigger and the isles were filled with masses of people during the afternoon. One lady came towards me and asked if she could please have one of our walking sticks for her friend. I told her I’d love to give her one, but I asked where her friend is because I wanted to give both of them a stick. She pointed to a woman in the crowed isle between the rows of booths. “Please ask her to come over here because I’d like to tell you a story,” I said, and moments later both ladies were standing in front of me.
I gave each of them one of our decorated walking sticks, suited to their height, and asked them if I could tell them the story behind the five beads that are on the leather band attached to the stick. “Of course,” one of the ladies said. “I’d love to hear it.” So I began my story about God, about heaven, about how Jesus, the Son of God, came down to earth to take the punishment for our sins and to offer us free forgiveness, making us as pure and white as snow, and helping us to grow in our faith in Him when we let Him into our heart. When I got to the part about free forgiveness, the woman on my right began to weep. “I need that!” she clearly said. That touched me. I pursued by asking her if she would like to receive that forgiveness right here and right now, and she eagerly replied, “Yes, I would!” Her friend was smiling and glowing with pleasure. I sensed that this friend was probably already a believer.
I asked the woman who was seeking forgiveness from Jesus if she would say a short prayer with me, to ask Jesus to come into her heart. As I spoke, I opened one of our small pamphlets, which briefly explains the gospel story and the meaning of the beads with Scriptures. It also contains a printed prayer. I pointed to the prayer and asked her to read it with me. The woman took the pamphlet in her own hands, looked down at the medium-sized type on the page, and said loudly, “I can see it!”
“Good, I responded. Let’s read it together.”
“I can see it!” the woman repeated. “I can actually read it.”
“OK, let’s read it together,” I repeated calmly. She began to read, rather slowly at first—word by word—then somewhat quicker. Her index finger was following along the words on the page. She looked up at me and smiled.
“I actually read that!” she reported happily. Her friend intervened and added, “She’s blind! She couldn’t read that before. She’s been diagnosed as legally blind, and she usually carries her white cane. Today she didn’t bring it because of the crowds.”
“Really?” I questioned. “You couldn’t see that before?”
“No, I couldn’t read anything.” She began to weep again, but out of pure joy.
“Wow! Jesus just saved you and healed you. Can you see things far away too?” I pointed to a sign that had large lettering on it, hanging on the far side of the arena wall. The woman looked up, focused her eyes, and began to read the words out loud. All three of us rejoiced and we thanked Jesus together for this miracle. She now had a regular walking stick and no longer needed her white cane.
I revealed to the two women that I volunteer with a healing prayer group, and that a couple of the other volunteers were with me at the booth that day as well. I explained that we love to pray for healing. By this time, I had found out that the formerly blind woman’s name was Debbie. Pointing to her friend, Debbie asked me, “Can you pray for my friend, Joan? She’s deaf!”
Oh my! I thought. The deaf leading the blind! “Yes, I said, I’d love to pray for her.” Turning to Joan, I questioned, “But how have you been able to hear everything I’ve said so far?” It was evident that she could hear me very clearly because she had been interacting with me and talking to me.
Her reply was, “I can read your lips well.”
“Oh, you’ve been lip-reading what I’ve said to you and to your friend?”
“Yes,” came the confirming reply.
I quickly called over one of my prayer partners and introduced him to the two women. After explaining briefly what had already transpired over the past few minutes, I asked my friend, Herman, if he could help me lay hands on Joan and pray for her hearing. “I’d love to,” was his instant reply. Herman laid his hands on the woman and, after only a very short commanding prayer in the name of Jesus, the deaf woman happily exclaimed, “I can hear!”
“Wow, you can hear us?” I asked.
“Yes, I can hear you!” she repeated. I was excited. Then I stepped backwards one step and asked, “Can you still hear me?”
“Yes, I can still hear you,” the woman replied. I stepped backwards another step and tested her hearing again. She could still hear me. Suddenly Joan said, “Wait!” and she turned herself around so that her back was towards me. I said a few more words to her, knowing that she could no longer see or read my lips, but she clearly repeated the words back to me, confirming that she was truly able to hear. When Joan turned around to face us again, she was clapping and visibly full of joy.
“I can really hear!” she exclaimed again, and we all thanked Jesus once more. He was with us that day to save, to heal, and to bring joy into the lives of these two ladies. And off they went into the crowd, both seeing, both hearing.
About the Author
Doris Schuster is a Christian Editor from Angus, Ontario. She has her own company called Christian Editing Services. She has also published a book called God’s Not Dead: True Miracle Stories of God’s Goodness & Grace. Doris regularly volunteers at various Christian organizations, and ministers to others to spread God’s Word.