This was originally posted on 12/23/13. As we reflect on the blessing it has been to see thousands of people saved and changed by Jesus at Mars Hill Church we want to share some of these stories with you again as they are a testament to God’s amazing grace on us.
This is the story of Jo. She was saved in her 50s and has been healed multiple times. She is proof that God works in our lives even when we choose to be distant from him. We hope you’re encouraged by her story.
“When my son Jeremy was thirteen, the doctors told me my advanced state of breast cancer wasn’t going to allow me to see him graduate high school,” Jo says through tears.
Jeremy had been Jo’s idol since his birth on a spring morning in 1983. Functionally, she worshipped him, elevating him as the most important thing in her life. He was born into a house with no father and a mother who was a drug user and dealer.
“It was pretty much my son being born that helped me to stop doing drugs. I stopped while I was pregnant but then went back into it because it was how I made money. He was almost two years old before I quit for good.”
After quitting drugs, she put her effort into making a better life for Jeremy and herself. She went back to school, got a degree, bought a house, and worked to start her own business. She enrolled Jeremy in Snohomish Christian School, not because they were Christians, but because she felt they would provide better education than a public school. “I was the mom they all prayed for,” Jo says, laughing.
During her breast cancer, those parents were the only Christians she knew and they prayed for her continually. She recovered after brutal rounds of chemo treatment and the cancer has been in remission ever since. Even when she was distant from God, he continued to show her mercy.
“I had a pretty standard Seattle upbringing,” Jo says. “I didn’t go to church, didn’t believe in hell, and had my own ideas of who God was.”
Jeremy joined the military after he graduated from high school. An officer shared the gospel with him and Jeremy asked Jesus to save him. He returned home for a short leave and a childhood friend introduced him to Mars Hill Church. Jeremy begged his mother to come to church, but she refused. She says, “He was pretty hard in my face but I told him ‘I don’t want to hear this.’ I thought there was something wrong with him, like he had posttraumatic stress disorder.”
After several weeks she conceded and visited Mars Hill Ballard. The next day, Jeremy returned to his army base in North Carolina. “I started getting up every Sunday and going to church. I didn’t really know why. I thought yeah, right, can they really believe this? I cried as I drove in to church every week. I walked in the door and I would be bawling, sitting in the back corner of the church by myself. I believed in God but not anything else. I told God if he didn’t stop the crying, I wouldn’t go anymore. But he didn’t. And I kept going.”
One Sunday in 2007, Red Letter was playing Nothing But the Blood and Jo said, “The lyrics hit me like a ton of bricks.”
“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
“I was like oh God, the blood, it’s true. I’ve been wrong all this time. I was hardheaded, stiff-necked, and rebellious. I didn’t want to listen and then the Holy Spirit did his job. It turns out my son had been praying the blood of Christ would make an impact on me.”
“I had a T-shirt made that said, ‘Jesus saves old sinners too.’”
Fast forward to two years ago. Jo was watching TV with a friend and felt sharp pains in her stomach. She looked at her friend, a nurse, and said, “You know, I’m not doing well, what’s going on?” Then she stood up and said, “I need help,” before falling to the floor. “When I got to the hospital I was in excruciating pain. I remember screaming for painkillers but they couldn’t give me any until they figured out what was causing the pain.”
The cause was pancreatic failure and she awoke the next morning hooked up to machines with an enzyme level of 300. Normal is 30. Jeremy, who was living in Issaquah at the time, was told by the hospital to come in right away because pancreatic failure can be fatal. His community group filled the room as they prayed for her.
The next morning she woke up feeling great and asked the nurse if she could go home. “The nurse looked at me like I was crazy.” As the nurse looked at the information in her chart, recorded by the night nurses, she was baffled. “We have a problem,” she said, “something is wrong with your blood draw. We need to retake your blood.”
The doctor came in a few hours later and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on here, but your enzyme levels for your pancreas are normal and your tests don’t even show there was ever an issue.” A huge smile spread across Jo’s face and she said, “Jesus!” The doctor rolled her eyes, but the attendee looked at Jo and mouthed, “Praise Jesus.”
“I went from the doctors telling my son I was fatal, to being prayed for, to walking out of the hospital as if I was never sick. There’s only one answer for that,” Jo says.
As unbelievable as it may sound, Jo has another healing story. Jo has hepatitis C from when she used drugs. She also has latent tuberculosis (LTB), which she contracted from volunteering with Somalian refugees who had got into the U.S. with active LTB. She’s not able to take hepatitis C treatment because it will drop her immune system and could possibly onset the LTB. But her doctors don’t want to give her LTB treatment because it would attack her liver, causing it to become too weak for the hepatitis C.
Jo was presented with a possible treatment that was available for $100,000, which she, of course, did not have. Her insurance wouldn’t cover it and she didn’t qualify for state insurance. After much back and forth with the hospital, they elected to give her one-year of free medical treatment for both procedures.
The doctors warned Jo that both treatments would make her pretty ill. The LTB treatment was supposed to cause headaches, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, body rashes, and other problems. She met with a pastor after hearing Pastor Mark preach on healing and he anointed her with oil, praying she would make it comfortably through the treatment and asked God to heal her liver.
Since Jo’s treatments began, she’s only experienced tiredness. Her liver enzymes are better than they’ve been in four years, about the same numbers as a normal person. “Instead of damaging my liver, my liver is healing,” Jo proclaims. “Praise be to God. Maybe he’s healing me from the hepatitis C.”
“These last five years have been tough but I’ve been really blessed. Jesus has healed my heart and, physically, I’ve been healed three times by prayer. It’s been one test of faith after another. I’ve had my moments. I’ve gone through some serious identity crises throughout all of this. Recently, someone reminded me I was wonderfully made and the daughter of a King,” Jo says as she fights off tears again.
“That’s all I have to be. I don’t have to be anything else. Just to walk and learn day by day to lean more on God and trust in God because he is in control and he took care of me. It’s an amazing journey.”