By: Cynthia Butler
South Calhoun Baptist was a church unlike any that Allen and Marcia had ever been a part of. It was Allen Crosby’s first full-time pastorate, and although he was the one in the pulpit each Sunday preaching, he learned as much as he taught because of the faith of the people who worshiped there. In fact, it was at the request of one of the members that Allen first anointed someone with oil for healing.
Nancy Pagent had been having severe headaches, so she called Allen to ask that he and the Deacons would come to her home and anoint her with oil. Allen felt uncomfortable with the request at first, but after studying a passage in James and talking to the Deacons, he saw that it was scriptural and agreed to come. With the oil still wet on her forehead, Nancy claimed healing right away. Her faith was an inspiration, and Allen rejoiced with her, believing that God had already answered her prayer. Soon after the experience, Nancy gave testimony in church confirming what God had done. She was indeed healed!
When Allen again received an invitation to come and pray, it was a desperate request, this time from a child whose mother was dying. Allen went alone to the hospital and found the girl’s grandmother there. She told him how her daughter Peggy had just had surgery to correct acid reflux. Peggy had already gone home and was beginning to recover until she had a bad coughing attack that ripped open the surgical site. Internal bleeding led to blood clots in her lungs. When Allen arrived several days after the surgery, the doctors were predicting that she would not even last through the night.
Peggy’s mother led Allen into the hospital room. He could see this tiny lady lying on the bed, struggling for her life. He could hear her labored breathing punctuated by the beeps of the medical equipment. The situation seemed dire, but he prayed all the same. Nothing seemed to happen. He left with no expectations.
To his surprise, on Sunday, when Allen had just come up to the pulpit to preach, Peggy came walking in. She was still weak, but she was alive, and she was on her feet. Allen recognized her and could hardly believe his eyes. The last time he had seen her she was at death’s door. Now she was at the door of the church instead, ready to start a new life. After the sermon Peggy came to thank Allen for praying for her. Allen could tell that she knew in her heart what she needed to do. So he asked her if she was saved. She had never been saved before, but she said she was ready that morning to give her life to the Lord. So she prayed to receive Christ as her savior and joined the church. When Allen told the congregation what had happened, they rejoiced and many people moved toward the alter to give praise to God.
Having seen these awesome answers to prayers, Allen and Marcia were convinced that God still works miracles. But despite these encouragements, what they were about to face shook them to their core.
They had been at Calhoun Baptist for 2 years and had gotten to know many of the people there. But the Stocks were special, because they shared so much in common with them. The two couples had been high-school sweet-hearts and had ended up having the same number of children in the same order (first a girl, then a boy, and finally another girl). The youngest girls, Bree Stocks and Melissa Crosby, who were 7 or 8 at the time, were classmates at school and at church. They had become best friends. Melissa would even spend the night at Bree’s house sometimes. So when the Crosbys received devastating news about Bree, it hit close to home.
Bree had all of a sudden gone blind in her right eye, and her parents took her that very day to neurologist Dr. Mitch Fritz. He scheduled her for an MRI to see what had caused the blindness. Dr. Fritz was a long-time friend of the Stocks; they had grown up together, so when he had seen the results of the MRI, he came out to where they were waiting and spoke very candidly to them. There was a tumor on Bree’s brain in the worst place possible. They would have to do surgery as soon as they could, but even the surgery itself would be dangerous.
Such news could have paralyzed her parents in fear, but in the midst of their terrifying situation, the Stocks relied on prayer. That Sunday they brought Bree to the front of the church at the end of the service. The Deacons came forward and laid hands on her, and Allen anointed her with oil. Then the whole congregation joined them at the alter to pray for Bree.
Bree was scheduled to have surgery within a week, but on Monday, the day after the Deacons had prayed for her, she woke up and found that her sight had been restored! Elated, she started running through the house telling her family that she had been healed. That day they took her back to Dr. Fritz to have another MRI. The tumor was gone! There was no sign of it. Dr. Fritz showed the two MRI pictures side by side to the family proving that the abnormality had disappeared!
Word spread around the church, and the people were overjoyed! The next Sunday, Bree’s dad Bruce gave testimony during the service. Many church members shed tears of celebration as they shared in the amazing experience. Allen and Marcia were especially impacted since Bree was so precious to their family. Little did Allen know that in a few years he would witness the healing of another little girl, this time on foreign soil.
Allen had become the pastor of Living Word Baptist Church and had had several opportunities to go on mission trips to Peru. During one of these trips, toward the end of the week, the mission team chartered a bus with another church group in order to attend a festival at the top of a desert mountain. There they hoped to find people with which they could share the gospel. The road going up the mountain was a narrow winding dirt path with a 1000 foot drop-off on one side. At one point when the bus was going around a hair-pin curve the rear wheels almost came off the road. Everyone in the bus ran to the left side of the vehicle screaming for the bus-driver to stop. So he parked the bus there in the middle of the road and all the passengers got off. The group hiked the rest of the way up, and the driver backed the bus all the way down the mountain, while someone stood behind him checking his position, and motioning to him.
Once the mission team reached the top of the mountain a crowd began to gather around them in the open market. It was like a sea of people; mothers, fathers and children. Allen could see beyond them squatter fields on the slope where people had made tiny make-shift huts and, at the base of the mountain, a lush green valley near a creek. Allen and the ministry team hoped to bring life to the hundreds in front of them just as the creek brought life to the valley in the midst of the desert. So they took the high-ground and loudly addressed the crowd. Several people told their testimonies about God’s work in their lives and then Allen gave a clear presentation of the gospel. “This must have been what it was like in the book of Acts when the disciples would stand and preach and the crowds would gather,” he pondered. After he was done preaching, people began approaching Allen and the ministry team, some of them committing their lives to Christ for the first time. Then two children pushed their way through the crowd toward Allen carrying their sister who was unable to walk. Her legs were drawn up under her, shriveled and misshapen. Through an interpreter they asked Allen to pray for her. He was broken hearted over her condition. Several from the ministry team gathered around, laid hands on her and prayed while Allen held her in his arms. Immediately after they prayed some of the youth on the ministry team called out, “Miss Sue has fallen!” In alarm, Allen handed the girl back to her siblings and quickly moved to where he last remembered seeing Miss Sue. He thought perhaps she had fallen off the side of the mountain, because she had been standing on a pile of rocks near the cliff. Thankfully when he arrived he saw that she had fallen on the other side of the rubble, not over the cliff. She was sore, but safe.
It was time for the mission team to return, so they grabbed their gear and started down the mountain. Many of the kids walked beside them, talking to them along the way. At the bottom of the mountain Allen gathered everyone up to board the bus that was waiting for them there. At that moment, the two girls who had brought their sister for prayer came running up toward Allen. But this time their sister, who had been crippled since birth as far as Allen had understood, was not in their arms. She was running beside them. Her legs were no longer shriveled under her; they were bounding through the sand. Allen had only a few seconds to speak with them before getting on the bus. He had barely enough time to realize what had just happened. As the bus driver pulled away from the treacherous desert Mountain, though, and the ministry team talked on the bus ride, they all realized that a miracle had taken place right before their very eyes.
Now as Allen reflects on all that he’s experienced- A women freed of headaches, a mother rescued from death, a friend healed of cancer and blindness, a girl given the ability to walk- it is plain to see that God keeps working in unexpected and supernatural ways. “It always surprises me,” Allen marvels. “I don’t know why. What baffles me is my unbelief. But still, the greatest miracle is salvation”. And that is the miracle Allen continues to pursue as he preaches the gospel each week, now at First Baptist Church of Jewett, TX. The question is, what surprises will God reveal next?