He waited until almost the end of the service to make his move. Todd White was wrapping up his session at Charis Bible College when Angelo got out of his seat, bent over, scooped up his wife and made his way toward the stage. Todd noticed him approaching and paused the story he was telling; I was moved by his compassion.
As Angelo approached, he cried out one simple word, “please,” as he held his wife’s body out toward Todd. Todd got as close to the edge of the stage as he could and then kneeled as he reached out to this precious couple. This is where I completely lost it.
You see, I’ve read stories like this in the Bible. Matthew 9 tells of a desperate father (a Jewish ruler) who approached Jesus, knowing he could be expelled from the synagogue because of their connection. He didn’t care. As he knelt in front of Jesus he said, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” As Jesus was leaving to follow the man to his home, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment. She said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus responded with compassion. “Take heart, daughter,” he said. “Your faith has made you well.” (And yes, she was indeed made whole.)
Jesus left and proceeded to the home of the Jewish ruler where he announced the young girl was not dead, but just sleeping. He then took her hand and she got up. After he left her, two blind men followed him, crying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” they answered, “Yes, Lord.” And when he touched their eyes, they were opened.
Can you imagine? This was just one day in the life of Jesus. I think about how these people and their families must have felt that night. I envision celebrations and tears of joy as loved ones gathered with the realization that their lives had been forever changed that day.
I’ve known these stories my entire life. But I had never actually seen someone with this kind of faith-filled hope reach out with such desperation. Enter Angelo.
In four months, he and Linda will celebrate half a century of marriage. As I’m writing, he texted me a pic from their wedding. They are exactly as I imagined they would be, an attractive, young couple ready to conquer the world as a duo. They would go on to run a very successful business together and spend years and years volunteering their time in marriage ministry. Fifty years ago I’m sure they never imagined that Linda would be diagnosed with an aggressive brain disease that would attack her body and leave her debilitated.
I have watched this man love his wife so well in health and then in sickness—fulfilling the very vows he spoke as he held her hand at the altar. I have observed him walk this difficult road. I have seen him completely exhausted and yet unwavering in his commitment and love for his wife. I have had the privilege of knowing him when times were good and then when they took a painful turn. I have seen this man love faithfully, relentlessly and tirelessly, and then love some more.
In December, Angelo reached out to me and asked for prayer for their family as Linda had only been given months to maybe a year to live. He was heartbroken. “Just thinking of losing the love of my life is really more than I can handle on my own,” he shared. “God is helping me but honestly, having just celebrated our 49th anniversary, I don’t know anything different than the joy Linda has been to me.”
Angelo stood at the edge of the stage with his wife in his arms as he cried out for help. Todd asked some of the men to come forward to help hold Linda up as he started to pray for her. Angelo was crying. His son, daughter and grandson joined him as the entire auditorium began to pray. Linda’s body was stiff; she couldn’t move much at first but she curled her rigid hand around his neck. As the prayer went on, her body relaxed. Life went into her limbs and she began cradling her husband’s head in her hands, then reached out to touch the face of her daughter who was sobbing. You could feel the powerful love between all of them.
At one point Todd asked Angelo if there was a way he could check and see a difference in his wife. “What would she be able to do,” he asked? “How would you know that healing is happening right now?”
Almost anything,” Angelo responded through tears. “Talking, or looking, or listening, or moving, or standing, or speaking.” Todd started talking to Linda. He said “Jesus” and she repeated. They did this several times. He asked her name and she responded. She told him her shoulder hurt so he prayed and she said the pain went away. And then the most amazing thing happened…they sat Linda up on the stage and the crowd cheered as she smiled at everyone. And then she stood. Her family surrounded her in the biggest, most beautiful bear hug you could imagine.
I’ve been texting with Angelo this week. He sent me another picture and gave me permission to share it and their story. It’s of Linda at home, fully dressed, standing on her own and showing off her pearly whites. “This is the first time in three years that she has been able to stand by herself,” he wrote. “With God all things are possible.”
And then he said this… “Linda is the absolute LOVE of my life! I couldn’t possibly find a more beautiful, sensitive, smart, cute, gorgeous, loving woman in all the world greater than my love!”
This is the real deal, friends. This is the love we read about in fairy tales. This is a man who has selflessly cared for his incapacitated wife for the last three years and had the faith and boldness to pursue God’s healing for her. It’s so good to be reminded that this kind of love exists. And so does the love of our heavenly father who is our refuge and strength (Ps 46:1), our helper (Exodus 15:2), and our strong tower, where we can run and be safe (Prov. 18:10). God showed up in an amazing way for this family this week. That’s also what He did for me. And that’s why I write this blog.
If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear.