A Grim Forecast Turns Bright for Young Girl
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The time had finally come for Joy Willis; the first day of a Christian youth camp in Ozark, Arkansas in June of 2021. She’d already been twice before and loved the games, activities, and fellowship. However, this time was different, because Joy, now 14, couldn’t walk or raise her arms.
Joy said, “I was frustrated and upset, because I wanted to go and play with them, but I couldn't.”
Growing up, Joy loved running around with her siblings, but when she was 7-years-old, she began to feel pain in her knees and ankles.
“I would try to run and then it would just hurt too bad, and sometimes I'd twist my ankle,” explained Joy.
At first, her father, Robbie, and mother, Anna May, didn’t think much of it.
Anna May said, “I thought maybe it was growing pains or something like that.”
It wasn’t. In fact, it got worse. Her hands and other joints began to hurt or were easily dislocated and would take a long time to heal.
Joy said, “My jaw would pop out sometimes when I'd eat. My cousin gave me a hug and it popped my rib out. I was in pain like constantly for as long as I can remember.”
For seven years, the family prayed for healing and for answers, yet, doctors couldn’t find a cause. The only thing they could offer was to help joy manage her symptoms; medication for the pain, physical therapy, and braces to strengthen and support her joints.
Robbie explained, “And if she walked, and especially if she tried to move very quickly at all without the ankle braces, she would fall completely to the ground.”
Joy started losing hope that her dreams would ever come true.
“I want to be a chef someday. So, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to do that,” said Joy. “And I want to raise kids someday and, you know, it would be kind of hard if you can't even take care of yourself, to take care of children.”
Then finally, when Joy was 13, a doctor diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; a hereditary, connective tissue disorder that is incurable.
Joy said, “It was terrifying, because the doctor said it wouldn't get better, it would actually get worse. So, it was scary.”
Anna May said, “To hear a doctor say your child's not going to get better, she's not going to have a decent life, you know, that's pretty troubling.”
With tears in his eyes, Robbie explained, “I said, ‘God, you're a good Father and your Word tells me You're a better father than I am, but I want You to know that today, if I could heal her, I would do that. So, I'm having a real hard time understanding how You haven't already.’"
By June 2021, Joy was in a wheelchair with both arms dislocated and barely able to move or care for herself. As she had done many times before, Anna May cried out to God. This time, however, was different.
Anna May said, “We had a child that was coming to stay with us, and she had quite a bit of special needs. And I said, ‘God, I literally can't do both things, because both things take, it takes all of me.’ And I heard Him speak very clearly to me and He just simply said, ‘Okay, I'll heal Joy then.’"
She wasn’t the only one who would hear those words. The next day, the family made their annual trip to the youth camp in the Ozarks. As always, after the games were over, they held a worship service. It was then, Joy’s friend, Jaelyn, believed God gave her a message for Joy.
Jaelyn explained, “I just felt a big wave of just happiness and joy just come over me, and He told me that I needed to tell Joy that she was going to be healed.”
Joy hoped that Jaelyn’s news was true, but after the years of disappointment, she wasn’t expecting much. Then the speaker at the service, Pastor David Willis, also felt God was telling him the same thing.
Pastor David said, “But He told me that it wasn't going to be at like my hands or any of the adults, that He wanted the kids to pray for her and that He was going to use the kids to perform this miracle. And they started laying hands on her and began praying with her.”
Then, Joy’s older brother, Tim, told her what he felt God had put on his heart.
Tim said, “In the Bible, whenever Jesus healed the lame, He said, ‘Get up and walk,’ and they had to have the faith to stand up.”
Joy knew then God was at work. After her dad helped her take her first couple steps, she asked him to remove her ankle braces.
Robbie said, “And the next thing I know, without my help, she's walking back and forth across that platform.”
Joy said, “I felt really happy, and all the pain was just slowly going away. After a little while, I stopped and started trying to raise my arms.”
Robbie exclaimed with tears of joy, “Next thing I know, both her hands are raised straight up in the air, worshipping Jesus. And the whole place went nuts! Our camp director was dancing, he was jumping. I was weeping. I had tears just dripping off of my face. I couldn't talk, I couldn't wrap my mind around what God was doing!”
Jaelyn said with excitement, “It just made me want to almost scream, because I was like, ‘It was true!’”
Right after the service, Joy actually ran up a road. Joy explained, “It was like for the first time ever, that I can remember, my legs didn't hurt.”
Joy’s physical therapist was also amazed. Joy said, “Even she said, ‘Nobody, without a miracle, gets better that fast.’”
She and her family believe that it was only through prayer and God’s love that she can once again enjoy all life has to offer.
Robbie said, “He was doing things I never could have done, and that I didn't even have the faith to believe could be done.”
Anna May said, “I was very grateful for God healing her, and I knew that Joy was going to have a future.”
“I'm able to cook by myself now and I like to go hiking,” said Joy. “I like to pray for other people too, because, if God can heal me, He can heal them too.”
Special thanks to YWAM Ozarks, Arkansas, for the use of their facilities while shooting interviews and re-enactments.
7119 Mountain View Dr.
Ozark, Arkansas 72949
For more information about YMAM Ozarks, please visit https://ywamozarks.org/ or email them at email@example.com.
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