By Mark Ellis
It was a small miracle that Marie Cribbs made it to the evening service on May 4th at Magnolia Church in Port Neches, Texas. But that night God did an even greater miracle that will leave her a “walking witness” for Jesus the rest of her life.
She had been confined to a wheelchair for four years — unable to walk – due to complications of diabetes, two bouts of breast cancer, and psoriatic arthritis. “She had chemotherapy and whenever the chemo left her system her arthritis came back in a fury and left every one of her joints inflamed,” says husband Bill.
“It made it very hard for her to move and because of that her whole body degenerated and it was impossible for her to walk,” he says.
Bill became her caregiver, helping her with basic needs for the last four years. “My whole body was almost shut down,” Marie says. “I couldn’t lift my arms or my legs or do anything. My husband had to take care of everything. I was in extreme pain.”
On May 4th, Magnolia Church had a special guest speaker for their evening service, Paul Ai, who founded Vision Outreach International. Paul, known as “the Apostle Paul of Vietnam,” is a former witchcraft doctor who came to Christ during the Vietnam War through the influence of American missionaries.
He spent 10 years in communist prisons due to his bold faith and church planting activities. When the government deported him in 1999, he had 15,000 in his underground church network. He continues to plant churches in south Asia from a base in Cambodia.
Due to her illness and disability, Marie had only been to church 10 times in the last four years. “I love to go, but I hadn’t been to church in a long time,” she admits.
Drawn to the service
But something compelled her to go that day, even though she didn’t know anything about Paul Ai. “I’m going to go,” she told Bill. “I feel like something is going to happen.”
Still, she had to overcome her own body to get there. “I was hurting,” she recounts. “Bill had to put me in the car as always and get me in and out of the wheelchair.”
After they arrived at the service, her husband rolled her wheelchair past Paul. Marie felt something very strange as the chair passed Paul and his wife. “I felt an intense burning in my back when we rolled by,” she says.
Paul taught about prayer that night in a message that went on for two hours. At the end of his talk, he called up Vietnam veterans to receive prayer. Then he called up anyone who needed prayer for healing.
Bill wheeled Marie up to get prayer. Both Paul and his wife Ruth prayed for her. “Pastor Paul commanded all my cells and my legs to align with the Holy Spirit,” Marie says. “Then Ruth extended her hand to me,” beckoning her to stand up.
“Immediately, I stood up and started walking!” recounts Marie, her voice breaking.
The entire church erupted in applause and shouts of praise to God – Hallelujahs – as Marie began to walk around the perimeter of the room.
When Bill and Marie called their daughter Lolly to tell her, she refused to believe them until she saw it with her own eyes. She sped over the next day and like doubting Thomas, she saw and believed. “Right from that moment my mom got back to walking and jumping and running as if she was a teenager,” Lolly says.
“I still can’t believe it and call her each morning asking, ‘Mom, do you still walk’? I’m skeptical of these things. But it happened to my very own mom, on May the 4th. Praise the Lord for using Pastor Paul Ai for this miracle.”
Bill has noticed other changes in wife Marie since the miracle happened. “She used to wake up in the morning with pain in her face and her brow furrowed,” he says. “Every night she’s had a visitation by the Holy Spirit in her sleep. She wakes up and her face is glowing.”
“She’s become very conversant with deep theological things,” he adds. “God has taken her to a higher level – it’s almost like a spiritual boot camp.”
Pastor Brent Williams was at the May 4th service and observed the miracle.
Before that night, “Marie’s body was ravaged; she was a shell of a human being,” Pastor Williams says. “She needed a break.”
“When Ruth took her by the hand, the presence of God came all over Marie. It was a really powerful moment.
Everybody was applauding and excited – this was something special.”
Pastor Williams has known Paul Ai for several years. “I believe signs and wonders follow Paul and Ruth. Ruth had the boldness to grab her hand and Marie had the faith to take that step.”
Bill and Marie believe this wonderful healing miracle testifies to the power of God. “Now by the grace of God I am healed. I will be a walking witness the rest of my life,” Marie says.