Be Careful How You Pray
The personal testimony of Freda and Bill Longstaff, who were both healed in their home after attending a Miracle Healing Service.
So remarkable was the healing of Freda Longstaff that United Press International (UPI) published the facts regarding the miracle. The lengthening of her leg took place in the bedroom of her own home and NOT in a miracle service. No one can tell it better than Freda herself.
The following letter was written by Freda Longstaff.
"Dear Jesus, please help Bill. We need him so much and he is in so much pain. Please, Jesus, I will not ask you to heal me if you will just heal Bill." It was the first real prayer I had ever prayed. But we were at the end of our rope.
Bill, my husband, had been injured in England seven years before. He had been a chief radio operator in the military, and had been knocked down a flight of steps and hurt his back. He did not report it since there was such a critical shortage of men in his outfit, but it got much worse. Now it was very bad. The doctor said he could do nothing except keep him strapped and braced. The time was fast approaching when he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The only relief Bill seemed to get was through constant chiropractic adjustments. Bill was a big man, but sometimes he would cry when he walked, the pain was so intense.
Neither of us was very religious. Bill had grown up in the Church of God in Anderson, Indiana, and I had been a Methodist all my life. But recently we had been desperately searching for something real in our spiritual lives. The hunger--oh, the spiritual hunger we felt. And it was more intense because of Bill's suffering.
I, too, WAS deformed. Actually, far more deformed than Bill. I had been born with a congenital dislocation of both hips and a curvature of the spine. I was seven years old when my folks took me to the Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the doctors had performed corrective bone surgery on both hips. "She will walk," they told my parents, "but she will always be deformed."
They were right. My left hip stuck way out on one side. And because of the dislocation my left knee turned inward and it threw my leg out in an awkward manner each time I took a step. But I had been able to have two children, although my doctor had said I must not have any more. I was not concerned about my own physical deformities. I was concerned about Bill.
It was a cold, rainy morning. I was wakened by the ringing phone. I heard Bill talking to his mother and father . They wanted us to ride over to Pittsburgh with them. Bill shouted up the steps to see if I wanted to go. "If Audrey will keep the children, it is all right with me," I said. And so in very short order we were out on the highway heading toward Pittsburgh, sixty miles away.
All Bill's mother and father could talk about were the Kathryn Kuhlman Miracle Healing Services in Pittsburgh. I looked at Bill out of the corner of my eye. He asked, "Is this where we are going?" "Your father has been after me to go to one of the Healing Services," Bill's mother said innocently, "so we thought you would like to come along."
Bill glanced out the window at the steady drizzle of rain. "Come on, Dad. . ." Bill began, but I poked him with my elbow. We had come too far now to turn around and I could see that his parents had their hearts set on us going with them.
It was a miserable day. Bill's dad insisted on going directly to Carnegie Hall. The doors were not scheduled to open until five o'clock in the evening and we had arrived at eight o'clock in the morning. "Dad, for goodness sake, are we going to have to wait here all day?" Bill complained. But his dad was stubborn and would have it no other way. "If we don't arrive early we don't get a good seat." "I know, but nine hours early?" Bill asked.
It was the longest wait I had ever endured. The rain was drizzling and everyone had raincoats and umbrellas. But since I was so much shorter than everyone else, it seemed that all the rain was dripping off the umbrellas and down the back of my neck. My hips hurt and my legs were killing me. I thought of poor Bill. He sat on the wide, concrete banisters for a while, but they were cold and wet, so he leaned disgustedly against the wall.
Some of Bill's dad's friends, Catholics from Warwood, had joined us and were chatting away, oblivious to the horrible weather. The rain turned to sleet and I was so miserable and uncomfortable.
By noon, the press of the crowd was so great we could not have left if we wanted to. We were pressed almost flat against the front doors. Being first may have its advantages, unless you are the first one into the bottom of a barrel. Oh, I was so miserable.
When the doors finally opened, we were swept into the vestibule with the crowd. There was no hesitating, no turning, no holding back else we would have been crushed in the mob of pushing, shoving people. We wanted to sit on the main floor but the part of the crowd we were in somehow turned and headed toward the right balcony. We had no choice but to go along or be trampled. Bill's dad and one of his friends grabbed Bill by the elbows and literally carried him up the stairs to keep him from being crushed.
The service started a few minutes before six. Immediately, things began to happen--not to us, but all around us. Bill just could not seem to take his eyes off a little woman sitting several seats down on our right, who was shaking violently. I kept punching him, trying to get him to pay attention to Miss Kuhlman. But every time I looked up at him he was staring at that poor little woman who was trying so hard to control her violent trembling.
"What is wrong with her?" Bill whispered loudly. Too loudly, for everyone in our section turned and looked at us. I was afraid to look at her. Then Miss Kuhlman called out that someone was being healed of a curvature of the spine and that woman got up and went downstairs.
"Did you see that?" Bill said in a loud voice. "All that shaking, and now she is healed. Look at her. There she goes up on the stage." More people were looking at Bill than were watching the little woman. But he just sat there, his eyes as big as saucers. "Shhh," I said to Bill, trying to calm him down. He just looked at me and shook his head in dismay. "I cannot believe it," he muttered.
The one thing that impressed me more than anything else was a statement Miss Kuhlman made. It was as though she were speaking directly to me. "Nothing is impossible with GOD!" It followed me home that day and stayed with me. "Nothing is impossible with God!"
At the time, we lived in a duplex apartment next to Bill's sister and brother-in-law, Audrey and Sherl Tyler, in their home town of Warwood, West Virginia.
The following Tuesday, Bill and his brother-in-law decided to drive back into Pittsburgh to another service--this was a preaching service. When they got home at eleven o'clock that night, Audrey and I were waiting up for them.
They were too excited to eat supper. Both had made extensive notes and had their pockets stuffed with folded papers. Bill said, "Honey, this is what we have been looking for all along. I know it. This is the answer to our search."
And it was the answer. Bill and Sherl were so excited about the teaching of the Bible that Miss Kuhlman had given them in the service that they were both trying to talk at the same time. They repeated word for word everything that she had said- it was all so new to us, so thrilling, for we had never had the Bible explained to us like that. We sat up for hours that night, just reading the Bible and looking up the Scriptures that Miss Kuhlman had read during the service. My heart seemed to beat a little faster and Bill was more excited than I had ever seen him in all our married life. Suddenly God had become real to us and it was as though His presence were right there in the room. There was no sleep in any of us. No one wanted to sleep. We were not- hungry; nor were we tired. We had found something we had been searching for all our lives.
It was two o'clock in the morning when Audrey and Sherl reluctantly left. I climbed the stairs in our little duplex apartment to my bedroom. The only way Bill could climb the stairs was on his knees and elbows, So he slept downstairs on the dining room table in a crazy, bent position, to relieve some of the pain in his back. Many times he had spent the night sitting up in a chair with a pillow on his lap, bent over in an awkward position to ease the pain.
Reaching my bedroom, I fell on my twisted knees and began to pray. Suddenly, something began to happen there at the bedside. It was as though a tent of some kind had been lowered around me and covered me completely. I was entirely shut off from the outside world. I felt myself begin to rise. I stopped praying, having a strange sensation that it was not necessary any more. There were no more words as I felt myself being drawn up. . . up to Some great unknown height. It was a slow, lifting process as though I were in an open elevator. I was aware of nothing but the rising sensation.
Then, just as I seemed to reach some kind of a summit, I felt a strange tingling sensation in my hips. Then noise, a grinding noise. It was the bones in my hips. I could feel them moving, grating together. I was powerless to control it, but even on my knees I could feel my body moving and shifting as a powerful, yet oh, so gentle force put it into perfect alignment. Then my knees, as I felt them being pulled back into their proper position, scraped inward across the floor until they were lined up with my hips.
I was scared, afraid to move. I knew I was being healed, but I was afraid to speak a word. The tears began to flow. I made no sound, just continued to kneel and weep silently.
I have no idea how long the whole process took. It seemed like ages, but I suspect it was over in just a few moments. But then the bones finally stopped moving and I felt another sensation going through my body. It was much like I had stuck my finger in an electric socket and the current was flowing through me from the top of my
head to the soles of my feet. I could feel my body vibrating from the current. Then it, too, faded.
I felt myself being lowered-slowly; coming down, just as I had been lifted up. When I reached the bottom, the covering was slowly removed. I was aware of my surroundings. I looked across the bed at the mirror on the dresser. How different I looked! Then I said out loud, "I have been healed! I have been healed!" "Bill," I called out, "you have got to come up here right away ." I could hear him rousing. "What is it, Freda?" he mumbled. "I can't tell you," I was almost crying, out please hurry." I could hear him crawling up the steps. I knew how painful and difficult it was for him.
He finally reached the top and I heard him groan in pain as he got to his feet. He came to the door and peered in. "What is it, Freda? Are you all right?" My voice was shaking as I looked up from my kneeling position. Bill stood framed in the doorway. "Bill, I've been healed."
He tried to move toward me, but seemed to be stopped dead in his tracks by some invisible force. He made another move toward me but fell back into the door. "Bill, please call Audrey and Sherl. Something has happened to me. I have been healed!"
Bill backed out of the room and I heard him moving as quickly as he could through the children's bedroom to the connecting upstairs door to the Tyler's apartment. He was pounding on the door. "Freda says she's been healed. You all get over here as fast as you can."
Bill was pulling at my arm and trying to get me off my knees. "No, Bill, I am afraid to stand up. But I know God touched me. I felt it." Audrey was in her pajamas, but she fell to her knees beside my bed. Moments later Sherl knelt beside her and then Bill, groaning from the pain, clumsily knelt beside me.
None of us were Christians, but we all tried to pray anyway. I remember Audrey praying, "Dear God, please forgive my sins!" And I thought, "yes, that's what I ought to say too." And I did. And as I did I felt that same electric-like current running through my body again. "He has answered my prayer," I thought. "I have been saved." But I didn't know how to say it or what to do about it.
Bill pulled himself to his feet and tried to pull me up. At last, I was able to get my legs under me and slowly stood. I ran my hands down the sides of my hips and down my legs where the awful deformities had been moments before. They were perfectly straight. I moved toward the door and before I knew it I was running: down the steps, into the living room, through the kitchen, back through the dining area where Bill's pillow and cover were still on the table; running. . . laughing and running.
I heard Bill and then Sherl on the telephone. It was not long before there was a pounding on the front door and in came my parents, then Bill's, then Sherl's. All joined in the strange rejoicing as I pranced back and forth like a fashion model in front of a housefull of astonished people. And at 3 AM we had the wildest pajama party ever to hit Warwood.
The next week Bill and Sherl went back to Pittsburgh. I do not think wild horses could have kept the two away. When they returned to Warwood, we had a prayer meeting in Audrey's living room in the middle of the night. Bill had reached a stage of desperation. God had obviously healed me when I wasn't even asking for it. Now, Bill wanted a healing for himself. I had never seen him the way he was that night, literally challenging God to do something.
Even though I knew nothing about praying, I shuddered when it came his turn to pray. He was NOT thanking God, like the rest of us. He was almost shouting at Him. "God, why is it that all these others seem to know You and I do not know You. You healed Freda-why don't You heal me? You have just got to prove Yourself to me!" He almost hollered.
Suddenly, it was as though some unseen giant hand had picked him up and he was literally thrown against the doorframe. Bill weighed almost two hundred pounds at the time, but this force effortlessly tossed him across the room. He lay in a heap, almost lifeless, piled against the doorframe.
I remember screaming and Sherl and Audrey looked at him with wide-eyed terror. All we knew was that we had heard Bill pray this awful prayer and then he was slammed against the wall hard enough to break his body into pieces. His eyes were still wide open and he began shouting again. "God, I am desperate! I challenge You! Do something for me!" Again, that great unseen force knocked him on the floor. It was as though he had been struck by lightning!
Suddenly Sherl said, "Maybe it's because he hasn't eaten. Tha's why he can't stand up." I knew good and well that the lack of food wasn't knocking Bill across the room, but I thought perhaps it would be a good idea to try to get some nourishment into him. So the three of us tried to pull him to his feet. But he was too heavy to move. His body seemed lifeless, without movement. We were frightened and I began to plead with him to get up. "Please, Bill, try ." His lips moved and he mumbled, "I cannot move. I cannot do anything for myself."
While we were rushing around, frying bacon and eggs, I saw Bill suddenly straighten up in the chair and then, as though that same giant hand had slapped him across the back, he skidded across the kitchen floor and crashed heavily into the refrigerator. We just stood there in stark unbelief.
Softly, tenderly I heard him begin to praise the Lord - worshiping Jesus and thanking Him for His goodness. He was praying the penitent's prayer, asking forgiveness as a little child would ask the forgiveness of a parent. I bent over his prone body. And sure enough I could actually hear the bones in his back snapping and cracking. I knew that Bill was being healed.
Moments later, he stood to his feet, supporting himself with one hand on the refrigerator. He stood erect in the middle of the floor and a slow grin spread over his face. "Wow!" he said softly shaking his head. "Whatever that was, it fixed my back. The pain is gone. Look!"
With that, he began to bend and twist, touching the floor with his fingertips. That night, for the first time in months and months, he was able to stretch out on his bed and sleep without pain. The rest is history.
A Catholic friend notified the local paper, The Wheeling News Register, and the reporters came out and took our picture and ran it on the front page. The United Press picked it up and it was carried nationwide on the wire service.
Our hearts were so filled with joy and gladness that we told God we would follow His leading into any field He desired, and that we would follow Him unconditionally. Bill was ordained as a Minister and was asked to be a pastor of a small church. We accepted and have been in this phase of the ministry ever since.
My doctor had warned me not ever to have any more children. "Your hips and pelvis cannot stand it," he had said. But a year later I gave birth to a little girl. There were no complications and I went through childbirth with flying colors. And then, as though to add frosting on the cake, God allowed me to give birth to twin boys seven years later. When my former doctor learned of it, he just threw up his hands and said, "Physically impossible!" Bill and I just grinned; we knew better!