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Skateboarder Credits God with Amazing Recovery

"Judah came in, I saw the blood and he said, 'Mom, I need help,'" recalled Judah Martin's mother, Heather Martin. Judah had his share of skateboard injuries. The 15-year-old practiced constantly, with dreams of going pro.

This one would be different. Her daughter, Madison, had been recording Judah on her iPad when he fell hard in their driveway. Heather recounted, "I watched the video and when I realized that he had knocked himself unconscious, I took Judah, put him in the car, took him up to Urgent Care. They determined he had no feeling on his left side. He couldn't feel anything.”

Ten minutes later, Judah’s dad, Jacob, arrived from work after getting a text from Heather. "And he was, you know, his neck was flopping all over the place. He was shaking. His body started to go into shock, and he was trembling. And at that point, you know, my heart began to break. So I grabbed his head and pulled him into my chest and just started praying in the Spirit over him. And as I grabbed him to pray he reaches up, grabs my arm, you know, while his body is shaking, and says, ‘Dad, don't worry, God's gonna heal me. We've got this,’” said Jacob.

Urgent care doctors called 911 to have Judah rushed to the trauma unit at the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Va. By the time the ambulance arrived, over a dozen doctors and nurses were waiting for him.  

Heather's faith became challenged as the reality began to set in, "That is when I started to come unglued a little bit, because of how serious it was. I mean, there were so many people poking, prodding, asking questions. And at that point the neurosurgeon and the team that was in there, he looked and he said, 'Get him into a CAT scan and an MRI immediately.' And I just broke down and I started crying."

Judah's father recalls, “After that first scan everything kind of started to come unraveled at that point. The doctors said, 'Hey, listen, there's something going on, we don't know what it is, but we've just found a spot on your son's brain.'"

Scans revealed the tendons connecting Judah’s spine were almost completely severed and he could be paralyzed.

Heather recalls the moment things shifted unexpectedly, “There was a moment where I felt the Holy Spirit just ask in the most gentle way, 'Do you still believe that God is good?' And I became so completely and utterly convinced by the goodness of God. Not even knowing what we were gonna hear, what we were gonna see, what they were gonna say.”

Jacob stayed with their son overnight, while Heather went home. He knew he needed to pray, but says God challenged him in a different way. The Holy Spirit prompted him to share Judah’s hospital picture on Facebook. “And I felt like the Lord challenging me, saying, 'I want you to trust your friends. I want you to trust the body of Christ to get up and pray for you.' And at that moment, it was like 3 in the morning, I was like, 'Probably no one's gonna see this.'  
But for some reason, it just caught fire, and we – we were getting texts from all over the country at that point.”  

First thing next morning, one of Judah’s doctors came into his room with test results. Judah had suffered a near fatal concussion and would need a neck brace for his body to heal, but there was something else. The first doctor came in at around 7 a.m. and said, '"Hey, we don't know what happened, but that spot on your son's brain is gone, completely gone,'” recalled Jacob with joy. “I remember jumping up in the hospital room and I was like, ‘Yeah! Come on, Jesus.’"  

Judah recalls his healing, “It really shook me, I really thought about it and I thought of all the people who have been paralyzed, and that could have been me."

After eight weeks of rehab and more prayer, Judah went back to his neurologist for a final check-up. Heather recalls the tension in the room. “And he [the doctor] comes in the room, and he goes, 'Alright,' he said, 'I've looked at Judah's MRI,' he said, "and honestly it doesn't even look like he had an injury to his neck at all. It doesn't look like anything even happened,'" recalled Heather, rejoicing. “That is God. Only God can do that.”

As for Judah, he’s back to doing what he loves. “He healed me, and because of Him I'm skateboarding and living a good life right now. And thinking on that is always good. Because no matter what I'm going through, I always have in my heart that I know that God healed me, and I can tell others about that and help them come to Christ."

Heather smiles,”That is why we have to surrender every day to the Lord and say, 'God, I invite you into this day. Whatever it looks like, whatever it holds, I am choosing to walk by faith and not by sight. I am choosing to trust You with the outcome of my day.' So for anybody that is experiencing trauma or has experienced loss, I would challenge them and say, 'Surrender your days to the Lord. Trust Him, because He's a trustworthy God. Seek His face in all things and surrender all things to the feet of Jesus and watch Him. Look for the fingerprint of God in your situation and in your circumstance. I promise you'll see it.'”



The Miracle of Clean, Accessible Water

10-year-old Madeline lives with her family in a remote community in Guatemala. Their greatest need is clean water for drinking, bathing, and cooking. “The water has a yellow color,” she told us. “It also has a rusty smell and tastes very bad.” The only water source is an open well contaminated with bacteria and high mineral content. Madeline’s dad, Jamie, told us it is dangerous. “It is not suitable for human consumption, so we must look for other resources to satisfy the need.”
To be safe, the family must buy drinking water packets nearly every day from a vendor in a nearby community. Buying water has put a strain on their budget. “The income I make is just enough for us to survive,” Jaime added. “I felt sad that other communities have clean water, but we don’t have any here,” Madeline said. 
Some days Jamie does not have enough money to buy water. On those days Madeline goes thirsty or runs the risk of sickness from drinking from the open well. “I didn't want to drink that water because I knew my stomach was going to hurt a lot,” she said. One day, Madeline said she was so thirsty that she finally gave in and drank the bad water. She said the pain got so bad she spent the entire day in bed. “My stomach hurt so much, I couldn't even stand up."
"I felt bad because I didn't have money to buy water,” said Jaime. “That time I had to borrow money to take my daughter to the hospital."

When Operation Blessing came to Madeline's community we confirmed the water was dangerous. We then dug a new well and installed a large water tank and filtration. Finally we ran pipes to each home. "Now the water tastes sweet and delicious,” declared Madeline. “Now I can go to work in peace knowing my children will have clean water to drink at home,” said Jaime. 

“Thank you so much for giving us this water. God bless you for what you did for us," said Madeline.

Divorce Doesn’t Give Wife Freedom

The Doss’ love story began in youth ministry. Casey was a young preacher, and Lindsey was, a gifted dancer in a well-known teen worship and performing arts group.

“What I love the most about Lindsey was she was fun loving, she was spontaneous, she was easy going.”

“And Casey was an incredibly godly man, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this man is way out of my league.”

They fell in love and married on Valentine’s Day in 2005.  Casey was 22 and Lindsey, 18. A few years later, Lindsey gave birth to two girls and the couple continued to work side by side in ministry. But underneath it all, Lindsey struggled with feeling accepted growing up, stemming from a strained relationship with her father. Lindsey’s suppressed feelings began to surface three years into her marriage, as she became consumed with her identity as a dancer and her priorities shifted.

“I was pouring all of my time into dancing.  All of my closest friends were much younger than me. And even beyond that, you know, even beyond age, they were just in a different phase of life. You know, I was a wife and a mother. And whenever they, you know, went out to a movie, I wanted to go out with them. And I was going to leave the kids with Casey, and go out and kind of live my life and be free."

Lindsey found the extra attention she was looking for in a co-worker, which slowly developed into an emotional affair. When the affair was uncovered, Casey gave his wife an ultimatum.  

“I basically told her, I love you. I want our marriage to work more than anything else in this world. But this relationship with him is over. And don’t ever speak to him again. And she said no, that’s not –that’s not going to happen.”

“For me to stay with Casey means I have to give up this, I don’t –I don’t want that. And so, I left.”

Lindsey moved out and filed for divorce. Although the relationship with her co-worker didn’t last, she began dating other men. Meanwhile, Casey hadn’t given up on their marriage.

“But I’ve got to do the right thing. If for nobody else, my daughters. I want to be able to look at them and say, I did everything I knew to do. I did everything all of these leaders in my life told me to do, and I did. They would tell me reach out to her, send her this, call her, and I did everything they asked me to do. But I never questioned God because I knew God was pursuing and speaking and dealing with her in His way. And then at the end it would be her decision.”

The couple had been separated for two years, and the divorce papers were prepared to be signed, when Lindsey began to have a change of heart.

“I thought this would be freedom and I’m not happy. Now whenever I would –whenever I looked at pictures of Casey on social media and I would see him with the kids and see him, you know, smiling. Thinking I miss that. You know, I miss him.”

One morning she opened her Bible to the story prodigal son and allowed God to speak to her heart.

“It said, ‘And he came to himself.’ God reminded him who he was. He reminded him of who he was supposed to be. And he said I will go to my father’s house and say father, I have sinned against you. You know, can I serve as a servant in your home? And I remember thinking—I remember thinking, I would rather be Casey’s maid than to live the way I’m living right now. I wanted to be right. I wanted my marriage. I wanted my family. I wanted my husband.

In January 2016, Lindsey reached out to Casey and they arranged a meeting to talk.

 “The only thing that gave me hope was when she walked in. I’d never seen that deep of a repentance.”

“I just want you. I just want to be your wife. I want to be our kids’ mother. That’s all I want. I’ll give up everything. And I said, but ‘I’m sorry’. And then he said to me, ‘I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay.’  I should be the one hugging you and kissing you. I should—I should be the one trying to make you feel better. And here you are doing it to me? Why? And knowing, you know, the depth of forgiveness and the depth of love he had for me, I’ve never seen a more beautiful picture of the love of God, the forgiveness of God.”

Over the next few months, the couple began to heal. They agreed on new boundaries to protect their relationship. Today their marriage is completely restored. they even have a new addition to their family.

“Our marriage now, I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. She’s my best friend.  We have a new son. The healing it’s brought to our children, just the unity, the oneness in our home.”

“You know, everything now from the sound of his Pepsi can opening at the house, it’s the most beautiful sound in the world. You know, of hearing him walk through the living room in the morning, it’s the most beautiful sound. There’s nothing like it.”

The couple lives in Knoxville, Tennessee where they have planted a church called Hope Unlimited. Lindsey shares a detailed account of their story in her book called The Way Home.

Now, when the Doss’ celebrate their anniversary on Valentine’s Day, they are reminded of love that forgives and restores.  

“Only God did it. And Valentine’s Day is where I celebrate His faithfulness. I look at my family and I think, I don’t need anything else in the world.”

“Now, it’s so far beyond, you know, just an anniversary. It’s a celebration of life in the same way that it’s a celebration of love. And it’s a celebration of God holding true to His word. It’s that He is a merciful and forgiving God, that He is willing to take something broken and make it whole.”


Gang Life Loses Luster in Light of Illness

Bobby Barrera’s earliest memories in Saginaw, Michigan were of fear, death, and crime. He was born into the notorious Barrera family, who lost many of their own to rival gangs. Bobby never knew when he might be next. “I always remember every time in the car, on the way there, I would always have these butterflies, like this feeling in my stomach,” said Bobby.

Bobby was six when his parents divorced. Living with their mom, he and his two brothers rarely saw their dad. When they did it was at the penitentiary where he was serving a life term for multiple crimes. 
Bobby said, “It was like the love just wasn't going to be there. Like, that wasn't an option to seek, like, being embraced.” 
By the time Bobby was 18, he was fully vested in the “family business” - dealing drugs, constantly on the run from police and rival gangs. He also had three children with his girlfriend, Sherry. 
“Houses getting shot up, kids couldn't sleep in the room. I would put them in the basement, thinking that they would be safer down there in case the house got shot. It was just real bad,” recalled Bobby.
It wasn’t long before Bobby was hooked on cocaine. He said, “All of those things combined. You know, to just medicate myself to maybe be at some peace." 

There was one person in his life who tried to convince Bobby there was a better way - his Aunt Becky. A once violent gang banger herself, she had found faith in Christ while serving time. 

She said, “I told him, this is not life. I said, 'You, you just got to know Bob, look at me. Look what God did for me, Miho.' I said, 'Can't you see how good He is and what He can do for you guys?'” 

Even though Bobby wanted to believe her, he couldn’t pull free from the life he knew. “So, it was like the street life was pulling me this way, but wanting to be that father in my kids' life was pulling me the other way. So it was like a battle, like a tug of war,” said Bobby. 

In 2010, after both his brothers landed in prison, Bobby, now 32, decided it was time for a fresh start, and moved his family two hours away to Grand Rapids. Nonetheless, he went back to what he knew – selling drugs. His addiction only got worse.

Bobby said, “The fear of being broke and, and not being able to pro-, I started providing for my kids at such a young age, it was something that always, that's what drove me was if I don't do this, what are we going to do?”

Now it was Sherry who was talking to Bobby about Jesus. They had started going to church on occasion after getting an invite from their new neighbors. 

“Sherry would always tell me, 'Bobby, God told me that if you would just do the right thing, that our lives would change.' But I never listened though,” he said. 

Bobby would continue ignoring Sherry, and God, for seven more years. Then in 2017, she was hospitalized with kidney failure. Doctors were not sure she would live. Bobby said, “None of the shootings, none of the drug raids, none of the, the violence, none of that stuff ever compared to this. This was a whole different kind of battle. I felt like it was my fault that she was in the hospital. It's my fault because I didn't want to do what's right.”  

There was only one thing left for Bobby to do. “I had to surrender. Called out to Jesus,” said Bobby. “It was just strictly between me and Him saying, 'I’m, I’m ready. I’m ready to, to just let go of my will. I’m ready to let go of these drugs. I’m ready to let go of this lifestyle. I’m ready to serve You. I’m ready to, for whatever it is that You have.'”

Bobby said he was delivered from cocaine instantly. Now sober, he began to understand what Sherry and Aunt Becky had been saying all along.    

“I started to realize that God really loves me,” said Bobby. “It was so real. Like I felt it. I’m like, He really loves me. Like He and me, after everything I did my whole life, all these, all these things that I did and this lifestyle that I’ve been living, I’m like, but You're still speaking to me?” 

Three months later, Sherry was released from the hospital and remarkably recovered. Bobby got a job and started making honest money. The Barrera’s married in 2018 and their whole family, nine in all, including two grandchildren, are benefitting from what God has done. 

“He filled me, He filled me with something that the money, the drugs, the reputation, the name, the whatever I thought I had back then, it was a whole different kind of love, confidence, courage,” said Bobby. “This is what it feels like to be sober, to be a man. This is what it feels like to be loved.”

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