Art's Book: A Walking Miracle
Thursday, July 10, 2008
A Walking Miracle
I hated to finish this book. Chapter by chapter it was a blessing, so much so that I have added it to my favorite book section on this blog. My faith grew and strengthened as Art Sanborn shared his powerful story of international ministry and a physical healing that would be impossible except by God.
Someone should make a movie of this book, which is framed by two life-altering experiences. In the first chapter Sanborn recounts the frightening afternoon of body surfing that left him a terminal quadriplegic. In the final chapter he writes of the joy nine months later of walking into the office of the doctor who treated him. In between he shares the many miracles he encountered over the years through his work as a missionary in Southeast Asia.
I love reading stories about people with strong faith, but I have never read about anyone for whom miracles were provided on such a regular basis. It was because of these miracles that Sanborn was saved from despair when he was told after his accident that the best he could hope for would be to breathe without a respirator. Having broken the third and fourth cervical vertebrae in his spine, doctors said his injury was as severe as Christopher Reeve’s and that there was no hope of his ever regaining use of his arms or legs.
“I felt my spirit fighting to stay alive,” he writes. “I had seen others die before, and I knew that, when a life hangs by a thread, the patient’s level of determination is often what makes the difference.
“But why fight it? If I survived this ordeal, I would only live to be a full-time burden on my family. And living with a 24-hour-a-day migraine and no ability to move wouldn’t really be living anyway.
“Struggling against these thoughts, I turned my focus toward worshipping Jesus. As I did so, He filled me with the will to persevere. I reflected on Scriptures that I had memorized, and those Scriptures gave light to my present situation. The thought had been nagging me, What can I possibly do in this situation to be productive?
It occurred to me that I could use this time to pray and intercede for others. So I spent much of my waking hours doing just that. I knew I was robbing Satan of any little victory he might have gained from the destruction of my spinal cord.”
And he prayed for himself, for healing, “since the miraculous power of Jesus has no limits.”
Rather than chronicle his medical journey, he flashes back to the extraordinary life he, his wife, Ellen, and their three children, Sean, Michelle and David, lived as missionaries. The stories of miracles are so uplifting -- the mysterious truck and driver appearing on a narrow mountain path to carry them to their destination before vanishing into thin air, the financial needs that are met to the penny, a lost pocketbook returned by someone who didn’t seem to exist -- these are just some of the remarkable incidents in the lives of the Sanborns.
The stories are told to praise God, but Sanborn’s great sense of humor keeps them from sounding preachy. Even his experiences that don’t involve miracles make for compelling reading, amounting to fascinating lessons in cultural differences, in food -- I could not have eaten what he did! -- and languages -- he once told a group of university students that Jesus was crucified on a pair of trousers, and another time trying to lead a prayer to the Almighty God of the Universe he had prayed to “the fat woman on the bicycle.”
In closing, Sanborn writes about the reaction he gets from people to his miraculous healing. Although he could walk, he had no feeling in his legs. When people asked how he could walk under those circumstances, he’d reply: “Because I’m a Christian. I don’t walk by feelings. I walk by faith.”
Once a rehabilitation nurse, after meeting him at church and seeing him as a fully functioning man, accused him of lying, saying that he never could have been a quadriplegic.
“That left me a little rattled at first,” he writes, “but upon reflection, that encounter actually became a source of affirmation. Anyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus knows that He can do all things. He could have completely healing me moments after my accident, but if He had, who would have believed that I had really broken my neck? Now I have MRI films that were taken both before and after my operation, in addition to all the other hospital records that verify my injury.”
He quotes Isaiah 40:31 in explaining his foundation, his ability to continue through adversity, . . . “God has proven to me, time and again, that ‘those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.’”
A Walking Miracle is a beautifully written account of a life beautifully lived.
Posted by Retta Blaney at 11:12 AM
Life Upon the Sacred Stage
Published by Ron
In our evening family reading time we have been reading "Walking Miracle" by Art Sanborn. This is another in the series "International Adventures" from YWAM publishing. Last evening at the end of our reading, there was this paragraph:
On Thursday, December 20, by good friend Dean Curry invited me to come to a prayer meeting during the lunch hour in his office at the U.S. Information Service. Just before the prayer time started, a guy stood up and said, "God has a message for someone in this room, and it’s this: God isn’t looking for men and women who will step out only in their own abilities and talents, because then they would receive the glory, Instead, God is looking for those who will step out in faith and do what God asks, regardless of their own samll abilities. Then, when God’s tasks are accomplished, He will receive all the glory."
When I read this it was one of those ah ha moments. I have been thinking about "why don’t I see God at work through me?" Why we don’t see God at work more in our American churches? The conclusion I have been coming to is that stated by the young man in the prayer meeting. I have been so rooted in what I know I can do, with my own abilities, that when ministry happens it is easy to take the credit.
Let me take this a step further. We as affluent Americans don’t really find ourselves in positions where we need a miracle. If we have financial stress we can borrow, use credit cards, or sell some of our multitude of posesions. If we have a health care issue, we have great faith in our medical system, which is arguably the best in the world. We purchase insurance to cover us when we have a car accident, when we are sick, when our house burns down, when we die, when someone trips on the skateboard on our front porch, when we knock something from the shelf in a store. We take great measures to not to need God.
We do the same thing in ministry. We look for formula’s, particular ways of doing things that are gaurnteed to work. We focus on style, eloquence, delivery, our education and knowledge. We just need the right materials, a great worship team, a dynamic youth pastor, the right website. We don’t really need God to move because we know what to expect and we stay within the boundaries of the comfortable.
I have been spending time repenting in prayer for being fat and lazy, for wanting instant church growth, instant maturity without struggle, for spiritual victory without spiritual battle, intimacy with God without seeking him in earnest. I have been giving back to God those things that I had reserved for myself. Let me give you some examples. I had some preconditions about how I wanted to be used by God. Here is a partial list:
* I didn’t want to go to Africa
* I don’t want to be financially stressed while serving him. (Let me get my financial act together then I will go and serve in missions, and have something to come home to)
* I wanted to control my childrens well being and their future.
* I don’t want to be thought badly of by those around me.
* I don’t want to face bodily harm.
* I struggle with pride and wanting to be exalted for my abilities etc. I have wanted the credit instead of giving the credit to God.
* I don’t like looking foolish and learning another language gives plenty of opportunity to look foolish.
* I don’t like humbling myself and be totally honest about what I struggle with. The truth about my thought life is often embarassing.
I am convinced that God wants to do amazing things through me and through you. But this can only happen if we put ourselves in a position of total dependence on him. We need to step out in obedience to Gods voice, step into what looks risky from our human vantage point, then we will see God work.
5 out of 5 stars
Great humor, great stories. , January 13, 2008
By David Marshall (Seattle area)
One of the defining experiences of my life was an outreach I took part in, in the fall of 1984, to northern Thailand. The outreach was led by the author of this book, Art Sanborn. I remember swimming in the Mekong River (or just where another river flows into it), an "international" outreach to villagers on the Thai and Burmese sides of the Maesai River, teak forests, the loud roar of ciccatas as Art preached in remote villages. Most of all, I remember the great stories Art told about exotic adventures in the Golden Triangle. Art had special compassion for the tribal peoples of SE Asia, and for girls forced into prostitution. We visited the red light district in Bangkok to talk with people there, and a Lahu village where men had been offered one of the girls, for a cheap price, when they visited. These stories had an effect on me: for a few years, I did my best to combat forced prostitution in Taiwan. It was on this trip that I first felt called by God to do so.
Walking Miracle begins in Hawaii, however. Art is skin-diving, is caught by a large wave, and breaks his neck. The story of the Sanborn families' adventures in Asia is framed by this personal story of slow and partial recovery from his severe injuries.
All in all, Walking Miracle is a great story. It also gives the reader a chance to get to know Art. And that's always a great adventure, because God always seems close at hand here. The story is full of miracles, and remarkable answers to prayer. (Sorry, skeptics -- that's the way life is, sometimes.) What keeps it humble, is Art's great sense of humor. The story of the cop who holds up traffic for the missionaries to blast people with water is hilarious. The chapter on "beloved cuisine" (crickets, etc) brings back lots of memories . . . including some of the stories Art told us, 23 years ago. He even updates his story of elephants delivering post in Burma, which he now calls the original "e-mail."
Art Sanborn: Faith That Restored a Quadriplegic
By Richard Santoro
The 700 Club
Christian missionary Art Sanborn found the Hawaiian coast too great a temptation. Before teaching a seminar in Hawaii, he spent a day at the beach body surfing with his son David.
But the joy of surfing ended abruptly when a giant wave slammed Art to the ocean floor, cracking his neck.
“It was one of those rogue waves that picks you up and throws you down, and when I hit the bottom of the beach, I heard my neck go crack,” Art explains.
Suddenly, Art Sanborn found himself paralyzed, bobbing face-down in the water.
“As I tried to move and swim, I just – nothing was moving. I could see my body, but I just couldn’t feel any part of my body,” he says.
According to Art, that tragic day in 1998 was actually the beginning of a series of God’s miracles. For example, an off-duty lifeguard just happened to see the accident and came to Art’s rescue the second he could no longer hold his breath.
“He then pulled me to shore and held me in a vice-like grip until the ambulance arrived 40 minutes later,” notes Art.
Paramedics rushed Art to the hospital, and he was airlifted to a top neurosurgeon in Honolulu.
“It was a spinal cord contusion secondary to a spinal cord compression and very high level in his neck – above the level of breathing,” says Dr. Robinson. “It could have easily killed him.”
The damaged nerves threatened to shut down Art’s breathing ability at any moment. If his condition wasn’t stabilized, he could suffocate. After six hours of surgery, Art’s life was saved – but he was paralyzed from the neck down.
“They kept telling me this was an injury as serious as Christopher Reeves’,” Art recalls. “He just said, for my own mental health, I needed to accept the fact that I would have to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.”
Despite all the negative medical reports, Art was determined that he would walk again.
“I had zero feeling, but I was able to move both my feet and the fingers on my left hand,” he says.
When Art left the hospital nine weeks later, his wife and son became his caregivers. After a physical therapist worked with Art in a swimming pool, his wife, Ellen, took over.
“I put his feet on my feet and his hands in my hands and we began to dance around the pool. I began to sing to him, and I just felt, somehow, we can do this,” says Ellen.
The family also enlisted prayer support.
“We were getting something like 25 e-mails a day from friends in Thailand and friends in California saying our church of 2,000 is praying for you, so thousands of people around the world were praying, people that didn’t even know us,” Ellen remarks.
Within one month of leaving the hospital, Art was able to stand with a walker and move his legs, even though they had no feeling.
“When I was able to stand up, just being in a vertical stance, there was just something in my spirit letting me know that if I just pursued the little bit, God would do the big bit,” says Art. “I was going to be able to walk again.”
In another six weeks, he could move around with the help of a cane. Ten months later, against all medical opinions, Art Sanborn walked on his own for the first time without a cane. He also returned to the hospital in Hawaii to say hello and challenge his former therapists to a basketball game.
“They said, ‘Look, we can’t play you.’ And I said, ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘If we beat you, what are we going to brag? That we beat a quadriplegic?’”
Art also visited with quadriplegic patients from his former hospital ward.
“’You were a patient here?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ ‘But,’ they said, ‘this is a ward for quadriplegics.’ And I said, ‘Yes. That’s what I was.’ And they said, ‘But you’re walking around.’ And I said, ‘That’s the power of prayer.’”
Two years later, feeling returned to his legs. Today, Art runs five days a week, six miles a day. His testimony also has inspired others to new depths of faith in God’s ability to heal. Art plans to write a book about his healing.
“I’m not going to be able to write my last chapter until I can beat my two sons in basketball,” he says. “Then I’m coming back here to play the therapists.”
“This miracle of healing is strictly about prayer and nothing else,” notes Ellen. “There is no earthly reason to believe that he would ever walk again.”
A Walking Miracle - Art Sanborn Jun 19, '06 9:05 PM
by: Chocolate High for everyone
I'm gonna be writing an entire series on this book. Its an amazing story which has caused my faith to be stretched like never before. I truly hope it will bless you too.
In this first chapter, Art writes about how he had broken his neck surfing. He could do absolutely nothing on his own. Doctors all said that he would never recover. Nurses said he was lucky he could still have the ability to breathe.
However, within half a year, he could move. The occupational therapist was amazed. He was a walking quad! (Someone who should be a quadriplegic, but for some unknown reason, can walk with assistance, despite having no feeling).
Throughout this entire time, Art didn't look at his situation bleakly. He trusted in God, despite all the frustrations. He couldn't go to the washroom, couldn't bathe, couldn't scratch the mosquito bites on his head, couldn't eat (some insensitive nurses even left the food in his room and said "Bon Appetit" and when they came back wondered if he didn't like the food, that's why he didn't eat it. Like, duh??) He couldn't read the Bible by himself. He had to wait for others to read it to him. He couldn't jump and lift his hands to glorify God anymore. He wrote this book with a sense of humour in it throughout the entire book. I honestly can't say I would deal with the situation the same way.
At the end of the first chapter, a therapist asked Art what he's gonna do now that he would be mostly wheelchair-bound for the rest of his life. Art replied that he was first gonna write a book. The first chapter would be about his accident and his experiences in the hospital. Then everything up to the last chapter will be about the miracles God had performed in his life up until then. And the last chapter will be about his miraculous healing from quadriplegia, which he will write after beating his sons in basketball.
"Could you beat your sons in basketball before your injury?"
"It would have taken a miracle!"
Then Art said that he would come back to this hospital to challenge each of the therapists in a one-on-one basketball game, exactly one year from then - March 2000.
One of the guys rolled their eyes. "Yeah, right."
I can't wait for the final chapter.
The Early Life Jun 20, '06 12:21 AM
In this second chapter, Art talks about his younger days, when he just became a Christian and started his family.
In one scene, David (Art's youngest son) fell down the stairs. His face turned purplish, and there was a huge lump on his head. He was not breathing. Art yelled and rushed around frantically to get his son to the hospital. And suddenly, little Sean (David's elder brother) told his dad to pray for his healing instead. Art, for some reason, decided to humour him, and let him speak his simple prayer.
"Dear Jesus, please heal my baby brother, Amen!"
And even as Art got ready to dash his son to the hospital straight after the prayer, David suddenly gasped and started to breathe. The lump shrunk before Art's eyes, and his face turned back to a pinkish hue.
The next part, I have to quote directly from the book. 'Having worked around hospitals for many years, I knew that when someone experiences a trauma like this, the body goes into shock, and one of the first signs of shock is loss of appetite. What happened next, I believe, was God's way of keeping me from ever rationalizing away this miracle. David opened his eyes and said, "Daddy, I'm hungry."'
The book goes on to say that till this day David has never had an interest in food, and always tends to forget to eat.
The next miracle mentioned: Art and Ellen wanted to send their children to a Christian school, but the cost was $1,798. They did some accounting work, and figured that they could do it if they scrimped and saved. What was more important was that their kids got a good education. The day they enrolled their kids to the school, Art got an unexpected pay raise.
The amount was exactly $1,798.
Reading these miracles give me goosebumps and made me cry. But as the story continues, you'll hear of even more miracles that happen in their life through their amazing faith in God.
Preparing for the Big One Jun 20, '06 8:57 PM
This is the chapter that changed my mindset on serving in the choir. This is for you, Ivy ;)
Art and family already knew their calling to be in the missions field. They just didn't know when.
They had a family meeting to discuss this, and Art passed all of them little pieces of paper, which he seperated into 3 columns. He instructed his children, "In the first column write a number from 1 to 31, and in the second a number from 1 to 12, and in the thrid, any number larger than 1979."
When Ellen unfolded all the papers, it all said 1-1-1980.
Now, they had to decide on what mission field they would go into. All the people that approached them did not meet all their criteria, until one day, a man called Colonel Vic Lipsey called Art up, representing Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
It sounded perfect. Too perfect. Art freaked a bit, undecisive. He felt it was too much. He felt he was unable and unqualified to handle it.
Now I gotta pause a bit here. For those who don't know, I have joined the choir. I have felt God calling me to join since the middle of last year till now, but I have always freaked, coz I didn't have any confidence in my abilities. And the most arrogant thing is that I told God that if he wanted me to join the choir, He would have to send someone to come and "praise" me until I felt confident to join. And this person had to be a random person whom I didn't know or something like that. (I know, I know... Very arrogant) This was during the time when I was praying to God on which ministry in church I should join.
Then.. I read this book. Read the following.
On December 20, Art went for a prayer meeting and before it started, a man rose up and said this:
"God isn't looking for men or women who will step out into their own abilities and talents, because then, they would receive the glory. Instead, God is looking for those who will step out in faith and do what God asks, regardless of their confidence in their own abilities. Then when God's tasks are accomplished, HE will receive all the glory!"
This message hit both Art and I like a ton of bricks. Tears immediately coarsed down my cheeks with shame at reading these words, and I kneeled and begged for God's forgiveness for my arrogance. Truly my serving is to give Him the glory, not me!
So yes, I have repented, and I'm looking forward to a year of singing.
MIracles at Work Jun 22, '06 8:40 PM
As reviewing each chapter of The Walking Miracle per blog is waaaayyy too long, I'm gonna have to compile some of the main miracles in a few chapters.
Art and Ellen meet this policeman and try to share God's word to him. Turns out that Art had stumbled him before when he was younger! Amazing that words and actions spoken before can have such a huge impact on a person. Even till 20 years down the road.
A student called Frank had a history of rebellion, but when he encountered God, his life changed completely. One afternoon, he went missing. Everyone prayed for him, and they all said things like "I think he's hurt somewhere." "I feel his chest hurts." "I think he can't breathe." Later, it turns out that a truck had run over him and he had died. But through sharing this story, so many people gave their lives to Christ! All the people that had lost someone, or the drug addicts, were like "You wouldn't know how it feels..." But they did. They could share about Frank. Even such horrible circumstances could turn into good.
Art and Ellen decided to take their kids picnic-ing on a remote beach, but they forgot to bring enough water. While trekking back, the kids were exhauster adn dehydrated, and all felt they couldn't take another step. They prayed to God, and suddenly a truck appeared from nowhere and the guy offered them a ride. Grateful, they piled in. At the gas station, they waved goodbye to the guy, when Art realized that there was no license plate on the truck. "That's strange," he thought, when suddenly the truck just evaporated! Sean (his son) and him spoke at the same time "Did you see that??!!"
They couldn't deny it was an angel from God. After all, Angels don't need license plates.
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