Photographer's Incurable Eye Condition Healed
“Look at the pretty birds and flowers and just all the joy there is in photography! It's a moment captured in time. The flower that I had opening, that will never happen again. The picture that you take will never be the same again. It's a memory in time.”
Sandi Angel has long enjoyed capturing the beauty of God’s creation around her hometown of Sidney, Montana. In May 2019, her eye doctor gave her news that could very well take that all away.
“He said, ‘Yep, you have wet macular, so we're just going to start the medication right now.’ I didn't really understand what could happen to me. I didn't connect a wet macular with going blind.”
Wet macular degeneration is a disorder that occurs when abnormal blood vessels leak into the retina and interfere with vision. While incurable, it is treatable. The treatments, however, would be lifelong and painful. “I said, are you talking about a shot? He said, 'I am.' A shot in my eye?! 'Yes, in your eye.' And I just panicked! It's not normal to have a needle coming into your eye.”
Sandi’s doctor told her she would need shots in her left eye every two months. A friend had to drive her the forty-five minutes to and from each appointment.
"The stress level was high, and I wasn't very nice. You have somebody coming at you with a needle, it’s scary. He would say, ‘Look, pick a spot on the ceiling and don't move,’ but it still hurt.”
Even with pain medication, Sandi says the pain from the shot was terrible and lasted until the next day. “It was the nights that were bad. I mean, sometimes I'd be up all night long with tears just running from my eyes, from the pain. It was going to be a lifetime thing because nobody gets off the needle. I didn't ask God for healing. I didn't pray for it. I thought it was just getting old. The eyes are getting old.”
For three years, Sandi continued with her treatments, and with her daily routine of watching the 700 Club.
“The testimonies, and the prayers, the words of knowledge, and all these things that are being answered, I love all the 700 Club!”
Then on April 27th, 2022, she heard Ashley say:
“I believe that the Lord is healing eyesight right now. The left eye, I believe that God is healing that for you right now. Claim this for yourself, receive it. Receive the healing from God who sees you and loves you. He heals you right now.”
"I said that's for me! And I just knew it was for me. I knew it in my heart. And I jumped up. That's for me! I felt important. All of a sudden, I felt like I was seen but I know I always was seen.”
A few days later, Sandi was scheduled for another painful shot. This time, she was ready.
"My heart was just smiling because I knew what he was going to say. And when he walked in, he said, ‘Are you ready for some good news?’ And I said, 'Yeah.' He said, ‘Not only are you reading your eye chart better, but you no longer have wet macular. You don't need the shots anymore. Nobody gets off the shots. This is a miracle!”’
Sandi hasn’t had to have a shot since and continues to get good reports from her eye doctor.
“I'm thanking God! And I feel so blessed because He knew what was going to happen in the long run. He knew I could have gone blind and I would miss everything that's out here, everything that I love. And so that made me feel pretty special. He was taking care of me. And I mean, if He can count every hair on your head and on a little sparrow, think about that. Even the tiniest little thing that you think is little, God is watching and taking care of you.”
Set Free from Tragic Offense
On January 16, 1996, Harold Mcdonald was running errands when he received a phone call no parent wants to get.
Harold says, “My pastor had told me to rush to the hospital because Shawnee had been in an accident.”
By the time Harold arrived at the hospital his six-year-old daughter Shantaya whom he affectionately called Shawnee had died.
Harold shares, “I couldn't believe it. It's like something punched me in the gut and took the life out of me because (EMOTIONAL) (CRYING) that's all I had.”
Harold, who had sole custody of his daughter, learned she had dropped a picture she had drawn for him in the street. When she went back to pick it up, a car hit her, leaving her with fatal injuries. In his pain and grief, Harold turned his focus toward the driver, who never stopped.
Harold says, “I wanted to be pleasing to God and whatever I can do to be that example, I was willing to do it, even if it hurts. I was willing to forgive.”
By now, the heart-breaking story of Shawnee’s death had hit the local news. What touched the community even more, was Harold’s response when reporters asked if he had a message for the person responsible for taking his daughter’s life.
Harold says, “I pleaded with him to turn himself in. And I said, ‘ love you and God loves you.’”
The next day, Mandrel Swiney turned himself into the police. Harold didn’t press charges. The young man was charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of the accident and released on bond. The following day, Harold visited Mandrell at his home.
Harold recalls, “And here's this young guy, 18 years old, who says, ‘Harold, I am so sorry. I didn't see your baby. I didn't see her. I was going too fast and would you please forgive me?’ As I extended forgiveness to Mandrel, Mandrel began to just cry and he came and hugged me and I had the opportunity to pray with him. Forgiveness wasn't for Mandrel, it was for me. And it started the process of healing instantly.”
More than 500 people gathered at Shawnee’s funeral.
Harold shares, “I was an example to our community on how to forgive, how to give grace, how to love, how to just let go.”
A year later, Harold fulfilled his dream and opened his barbershop. As he emerged as a strong pillar in the community he was still grieving the death of his daughter.
Harold says, “I would wake up (EMOTIONAL) where I would dream that she was here with me. And the prayers I would pray is just ‘God, help me. Lord, help me.’”
By then, Harold’s story and gesture of forgiveness had faded from the public eye. Yet, some still remembered. One was Dalonika who recalls talking to Harold in his shop about his daughter.
Dalonika shares, “That man who was on television, his personality, his ability to forgive, I felt like he was just unreal as-as a person.”
That started a friendship that led to their marriage 3 years later, during that time, Dalonika saw on a deeper level the grief her husband was still going through.
Dalonika recalls, “He still hurt. Did he forgive? He had nothing but good to say about Mandrel. There was no denial that Harold loved this man with a God-like love.”
Harold believes that forgiveness, along with Dalonika’s prayers and support, brought healing, and an end to the nightmares.
Harold shares, “The type of life that I would be living if I would not have forgiven Mandrel would have been a life of pain, life of revenge, life of anger and I would not have met my wife. But because of it I'm able to live in the fullness of life.”
On january 16th, 2021, as they’ve done for years, the family released balloons to remember Shawnee’s life, one balloon for each year.
Harold says, “Releasing the balloons is significant of releasing love and peace and joy and happiness. And this is what I believe that Shawnee was on this earth for.”
Ever since, Harold found his own healing from grief. He gives people in his barber’s chair more than a haircut. He offers counsel to those struggling with forgiveness. The couple also have a weekly radio show where they minister to married couples. They also co-authored a book on Harold’s journey of forgiveness that led to his total healing.
Dalonika says, “Let God heal your heart and it doesn't matter if it's 7 times 77, give it back to God and say, ‘I choose to forgive" and trust God to heal you.’”
Harold says, “God can heal you and He can set you free from all the struggle, all the pain, all the heartache. You've got to trust that God's got it.”
Feel free to contact Harold & Dalonika McDonald @
Harold & Dalonika McDonald
P.O. Box 82755
Austin, TX 78708
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.
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