A week after Wellsprings of Life, our October retreat with Judith MacNutt, Michelle Vitelli and Tammy Bachmann enthusiastically joined in the weekly Tuesday Holy Eucharist with Healing Prayer at The Prayer Center at St. Christopher. They came bearing gifts – specially made candles they had crafted for sale and specified that the income go to St. Christopher as their way of saying “thank you” for the retreat. Michelle asked for prayer at that time. A mass was growing at the base of her skull; physicians determined it was a large amount of walled-off scar tissue from her previous brain surgery. It was pressing on nerves and blood vessels causing severe head and neck pain. Laying on of hands and prayers were offered and group members continued to pray for her over the course of the next few months.
Brain surgery was scheduled for February 25th to remove scar tissue and provide relief. Another craniotomy would then take place in three months to hopefully relieve ear pain, although the physician said her eardrum could not be surgically repaired. He said that repair would require “divine intervention” for healing to occur.
Three days before surgery Michelle received ministry again at The Prayer Center. Her face had become partially paralyzed from the growing mass; her gait was unsteady and the pain unbearable. After receiving Holy Communion, Michelle haltingly made her way across the room to another member of the prayer group who had neurosurgery nearly a year earlier to remove a tumor (glioblastoma) and who has since received radiation and chemotherapy. Her compassionate heart had moved her to offer prayers for his healing and words of encouragement. Those present were weeping at her selfless act of ministry, offered even in the midst of her own great pain.
After surgery, Michelle’s healing progressed remarkably. Paralysis lifted, pain decreased considerably, and the surgical wound healed rapidly without infection. But severe vertigo plagued her and there was still pain in her ear. The residual vertigo was debilitating, and she required around the clock assistance with daily living. Neighborhood Bible study friends and families kept vigil with her; an Excel spreadsheet detailed help needed, and everyone signed up to care for Michelle.
Three weeks after the surgery, Michelle was quite determined to participate in a Day of Healing Prayer at St. Michael’s, Charleston, led by Judith MacNutt and her
team from CHM (Christian Healing Ministries). With the help of a walker and friends supporting on every side, she made it to a pew and collapsed. When prayer ministry was offered, she wobbled her way to a prayer team across the church. During that prayer time, she felt something happening in her body. For the first time since surgery, she could look up and into the faces of the prayer ministers without the room spinning violently. As she made her way back to the pew, she realized she no longer needed the walker for support. Friends rushed to her as she held up her walker and exclaimed, “It’s gone! It’s gone!” Over the course of two hours, vertigo disappeared. An usher who had witnessed Michelle’s arrival using a walker burst into tears when he saw her walking unaided and beaming! Michelle gave her testimony to the crowd at the Day of Healing Prayer. She returned the next day with her family to worship with St. Michael’s (on Sunday) and shared her healing with the congregation. But there is more to her testimony!
On Monday at her follow-up appointment with the neurosurgeon, Michelle asked him to look into her ear, the one with complete hearing loss and a perforated ear drum. She had felt something “going on” in that ear canal. After peering inside her ear, he stood back looking quite surprised. He said, “I see a perfectly healthy ear drum.” Moreover, she realized she had begun to hear sounds with that ear, sounds she had not heard in the 12 years since the loss was diagnosed. Now the pain was gone! Loud noises of heavy boxes filled with candle jars landing on metal shelves had been extremely painful; she always wore a protective device in that ear while working in the candle shop to decrease pain. Now pain and vertigo were gone! Hearing has returned to that ear! No further brain surgery is necessary!
Michelle and Tammy recently gifted St. Christopher with a double batch of candles to sell in support of the ministry. They plan to make St. Christopher an outlet for selling their crafted candles at the Conference Center gift shop. These two women, like the candles they create, will continue to shine in their walk of faith with the light and love of Jesus Christ!
by The Rev. Dr. Sandi Kerner, Chaplain, St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center