The tradition of sharing one’s testimony, of telling what God has done in one’s life, is deeply rooted in the Protestant tradition. My own apologetic interest in testimonies is found in the presence of elements like documented healings and cases of synchronicity (or what are colloquially called “God moments” or “God winks; in my own published writings I refer to such synchronous events as “LAMPs” or “little amazing moments of providence”). Over the last year I’ve taken a special interest in instances of synchronicity as part of a larger book-length project.
With that in mind, I took particular interest in the testimony of my student David Haitel when he shared it at Taylor Seminary’s chapel a couple weeks ago. David is just completing an MDiv and is working as a chaplain. He is a well educated individual, articulate and thoughtful. And his testimony has some particular elements which are intriguing for they include both a documented healing of a serious medical condition (multiple sclerosis) as well as a notable instance of synchronicity (his brother’s conversion moments after he stated he’d prefer his brother’s conversion to a miraculous healing), and a less tangible but equally intriguing “fit” to the story evinced in the link David draws between his experience with MS and his later role as a chaplain.
For these reasons I thought David’s testimony would be of wider interest to my readership and so I invited him to share it with us. He willingly obliged and so here is David’s testimony.
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I was born in Emmen, Drenthe, the Netherlands on November 12, 1979. On October 15, 1981 I immigrated with my parents and two older brothers Josh and Mark to Alberta, Canada. We lived for six months in Medicine Hat, six months in Lethbridge and then moved to a hog farm near Redwater, Alberta. In 1991 my parents bought a hog farm in Freedom, Alberta, 15 minutes east of Barrhead.
Through much of my early life I was Roman Catholic and my family has been Roman Catholic for generations. I always loved the Lord and served as an altar server. In 1992 my parents enrolled myself and my younger siblings into a Canadian Reformed school in Neerlandia and became Dutch Reformed. I attended this school and graduated from High School in 1998. Later that year I began my first class at Augustana University College in Camrose, AB. I attended a Pentecostal Church there and began to date the pastor’s daughter Janelle. We got married in the summer of 2002 and moved to Edmonton where I began my M.A. at the University of Alberta and my employment as a Special Assistant to James Rajotte, MP Edmonton-Leduc.
I have always enjoyed playing hockey and in the summer of 2004 played in a Road hockey tournament in Westlock, AB. After the tournament I noticed numbness, tingling and weakness over my whole body, especially in my hands and feet. I got tired and fatigued very easily. I went to a number of specialists and finally to a neurologist. On February 28, 2005, after an MRI I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. This was a very difficult time in my life as well as that of my family. We were preparing to start a family. The Lord Jesus remained my rock and refuge during this calamitous time in my life. In the year and a half that followed I suffered from numbness in my hands and feet, loss of balance, diminishing eyesight and draining fatigue.
My brother Josh was a Christian and a spiritual mentor to me. My brother Mark struggled with alcohol and was not following the Lord. I always kept a special bookmark in my Bible that was awarded to him when he graduated High School in 1986. The Scripture on this bookmark is Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6 KJV) I prayed for him for more than 20 years every night begging the Lord to save him.
I was tired all the time. In the summer of 2006 I went camping with Janelle’s family in Gull Lake by Red Deer. I was feeling dizzy and weak continually. I was also struggling with my balance. I fell, sprained and cracked my left ankle. I got a cast put on my leg and was in a great deal of pain. On July 14, 2006 I was sitting in the Co-op in Rimbey having a coffee with my father-in-law and he said “MS is really doing a number on you. If you could ask God for anything would it be to be healed of this affiliation?” I told him no! If I could ask God for anything, it would be to save my brother Mark. We will be healed in heaven anyway but the lost will perish. I wanted Mark to come to the Lord more than anything. This was the desire of my heart. As we drove back to the camp ground roughly, ten minutes later, my cell phone rang and it was my mom and she was crying and said “You won’t believe this. Mark just gave his heart to God.” Incredible! I was so happy I got back to the campground and just fell to my knees crying! Thank you Lord! My brother Mark has since been baptised and he and his family are still serving the Lord today!
In the months and years following, I always could feel a stiffness and pain when I rotated my ankle or exercised it. I had sprained this ankle a number of times in previous years. While I struggled through a difficult year with MS, I cried out to Jesus to heal me. On October 15, 2006 as I was working on my computer I experienced a strange aura of streams of bright white light. I fell to the floor and my wife called 911. I cannot explain what I experienced but I was told I had had a seizure. This was a difficult time for my wife and me as we did not know what was happening. I was so scared for many weeks but noticed that my eyes had cleared up for the first time in years and that I was no longer as tired or experiencing fatigue. Hot weather always used to bother me a great deal and I needed air conditioning in the summer. Since this ‘seizure’ I have not experienced one bout of MS all my symptoms have also disappeared. My health has been stellar ever since this experience. For instance I used to get blurry vision and numbness in my hands and feet when I exercised but when I engaged in physical activity that Summer I did not. I really believe that it was a touch from God.
I had felt the call of God on my life to go into ministry since I was a small child. When I was young I wanted to be a Catholic priest when I grew up. Even the Archbishop Joseph McNeil told when I was confirmed that I would be in ministry one day. I avoided going into the pastoral ministry because I did not want this sort of life and thought I would be more fulfilled in a political career. As I obtained my BA in history and political science and began working for a Member of Parliament I felt a deep sense of un-fulfillment in my soul. As my health began to improve I felt God’s call burning within me and I could deny it no more.
“If I say, “I won’t mention Him
or speak any longer in His name,”
His message becomes a fire burning in my heart,
shut up in my bones.
I become tired of holding it in,
and I cannot prevail.” (Jeremiah 20:9 HCSB)
On Palm Sunday on April 1, 2007 I made the commitment to enter into ministry and applied to study at Vanguard.
In the summer of 2007 (July 4-8, 2007), I attended the Revival Meetings under the Tent at the Lighthouse church in Stony Plain, AB with Todd Bentley. On the evening service on July 6, 2007, Todd called out a word of knowledge for Multiple Sclerosis. I went up for prayer and was told I had no MS in my body. It was then that I realised that my experience with a seizure was in reality a touch from God. Thank you Jesus! My chains are one and the Lord has set me free!
I also had a wonderful experience of God’s mercy and healing touch at the Living Streams meeting at the Lighthouse church in Stony Plain, AB. Below is a portion of my testimony from their website:
“At the Living Streams meeting in Stony Plain, AB, a word of knowledge was called out for a left ankle sprain that happened two years ago. I applied varying degrees of pressure to my foot and I felt no pain or stiffness! Later on that night, pastor Archie called out a word for a brain injury and seizure. I felt God telling me to go up and receive prayer. I was prophesied over and felt a tingling sensation around my head. I can’t wait for my next MRI to show that my MS lesions are gone! I believe the Lord has restored me completely! God Has done other incredible miracles in my family, of healing and salvation as well. I am so thankful for His grace and mercy. Jesus Christ is truly the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) I love you Jesus thank you for healing my body!” (http://lighthousestreams.org/healingtest.htm Last Accessed January 25, 2009)
To this day, there is no pain in my ankle when I run or exercise!
I often asked God why I suffered through many of the terrible things I did with MS such as blurred vision (and the real chance that I could go blind in the future), I had trouble walking and often lost my balance and fell often hurting myself in the process, I experienced numbness and loss of feeling and sensation in my hands and feet. I remember looking at canes every time I went shopping with my wife in that difficult year. I asked God why I went through these trials and heartaches He would answer me in His own time.
When I ministered at Shepherd’s Care – Barrhead in November 2009, I handed out song books to the residents and many of them said they could not see or could not see well, I spoke to someone who told me he had fallen in his room and hurt his shoulder, leg and back, and there was a lady who cried as she told me that she had dropped her groceries because she had no strength or feeling in her hands. I could really relate to these problems and struggles that these residents at Shepherd’s Care were facing. As I walked back to my car after the service, God impressed it upon my heart that this was the reason I struggled with what I went through so I could engage them in their suffering because I truly knew what it was they were going through. My experiences with MS have helped me to engage suffering in a real way. I have experienced life, its pain, sorrow and brokenness. I have also more importantly experienced the saving and healing touch of Jesus Christ who has restored my body and set me free from this debilitating illness. All praise, honour and glory be unto Him!
My parents and my whole family has grown in their following the Lord.
I have seen my faith, prayer life and intimacy with God increase greatly since the healing of my body. I have learned to trust God with all my heart and in all circumstances. My faith and trust in God has grown as he continues to teach me and guide my steps. Due to God healing me I have also asked Him for the gift of healing and words of knowledge so that I can use my testimony and the measure of faith He has given me to minister healing to others. God used my brokenness and weakness to show his great power and mercy in healing me and equipping me to minister to those who are suffering and broken. I can directly relate to the suffering of many of the seniors when I minister to them at Shepherd’s Care in Barrhead. As God raises me up in my weakness, I am able to minister His saving grace and love to others who are downtrodden and crushed by the travail and turmoil of this life. No more will I embrace my perceived strength and my desire to do life on my own terms He is my strength and salvation, my saviour and my God. I can truly boast as Paul did, not in myself, but in my weaknesses, for when I am weak God strengthens and renews me. So I can only boast in His name.
Jehovah Rapha – the God who Heals
I cried out to you in my despair and you answered me and set me free.
I share this with you so that you can be built up in your faith and know that God is good and
Keep praying keep hoping and keep believing because God has an answer for you!