Voyage Church • Palm Coast
A LIFE OF MIRACLES
by Pastor Don Schulze
A LIFE OF MIRACLES takes the reader on a spiritual, faith-filled, roller-coaster ride. These chapters take the Schulze family over America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and East Africa; from a comfortable Southern California suburban lifestyle to difficult days in war torn Uganda.
A decision to leave everything to follow the Lord by faith brought this family into many supernatural experiences - many miraculous healings, miraculous provision and divine direction, the privilege of seeing hundreds of people find peace with God, and the constant manifestation of God's love and faithfulness.
Each chapter of A LIFE OF MIRACLES is a self-contained story. So, you can pick this book up anytime, anywhere, wonderful, inspirational encouragement.
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Invading the Impossible
Uganda, East Africa
Covered by only a stained sheet, Lieutenant Raymond Okwonga lay on a bare mattress. His head was propped up on one thin pillow, and his eyes were closed.
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness of his apartment, I took in Raymond's bleak surroundings. Though he was a member of Uganda’s elite Presidential Guard, he lived in a shabby flat set aside for junior military officers. The furniture was simple and un-upholstered. Unspeakably dirty and torn draperies hung in front of filthy windows. The cracked concrete walls were stained with mold, smoke, and dirt, and the paint was flaking off in places. The modest surroundings of Raymond's small apartment were in stark contrast to his person. Even though he was weak and lying flat on his back, he seemed to maintain his military bearing and quiet dignity. The enemy he faced now was far more brutal than any he’d encountered in his army career.
Raymond was dying of what the Ugandans ruefully call “slim.” We know it as AIDS. When I visited Lieutenant Okwanga, nearly two million of Uganda’s nineteen million people were living with HIV; hundreds of thousands had died, and entire villages had become virtual ghost towns. Seeing John lying there, I was sure he was within twenty-four hours of becoming another statistic.
Raymond attended the church I pastored in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Richard, my Ugandan assistant pastor, and I had been summoned to Raymond’s home by Vincent and Mary, church council members. They rose to greet us as we entered the darkened room where Raymond lay.
Vincent whispered, “The doctor says he dies soon. He hasn’t taken food for many days; now he cannot keep water down. His family is bringing in a coffin from the village.”
I glanced toward Raymonds’s sleeping form. I hoped he hadn’t heard Vincent. “Raymond,” Vincent said softly, “Pastor Don is here.”
He and Mary tried to rouse the dying man. Raymond opened his mouth, trying to say something, but no sound came out. He opened his eyes; they were feverish, red and yellow, and sunken into gaunt cheeks. His breathing was raspy, shallow, and irregular. He tried to smile. I reached down and touched his cheek. His skin felt like very hot, dry, thin rice paper. His skeletal hand gripped my wrist.
From just behind me Mary broke the silence. “Pastor, can you pray for John now? Maybe it’s not too late!”
I glanced at Richard, my assistant; he turned his palms upward in a sign of helplessness. His eyes said, It’s up to you. They were looking for a miracle, and I was confronting the impossible.
I’d first met Raymond several months before during a Sunday morning church service, not long after my wife and I arrived in Uganda. That morning I felt I should offer to pray for anyone who needed healing. Many of the slum dwellers that came to our church couldn’t afford medical care. God was their only hope.
A long line of people came forward and faced the platform. As Pastor Richard and I prayed for each one I asked them what their need was.
Eventually a well-dressed man reached the front of the line. His neatly tailored gray suit and crisply pressed white shirt indicated that he was a man of some substance.
“What can we do for you, sir?” I asked.
He looked at me through red-rimmed eyes. He cleared his throat several times. “Ah, I have a very, very bad cough. Please pray for me.”
Suddenly the man had a severe coughing fit. And before he could retrieve his handkerchief and cover his mouth, he sprayed droplets of saliva all over Richard and me. When his coughing subsided, I spoke a brief but sincere prayer for healing of the cough. When I glanced up, I noticed that Richard was almost grimacing as he continued to pray silently and intensely.
After the crowd was gone, Richard asked, “Pastor, do you remember that man in the suit?”
“Of course,” I replied.
“That was Raymond Okwanga. He has AIDS and is in the last stages of the disease.”
I felt the cold hand of fear grab my heart. Today, antiretroviral drugs enable people to live with AIDS for many years. In 1995, an AIDS diagnosis, especially in Africa, meant death in a few months or a couple of years. We knew that body fluids contained the virus, though it was unknown whether AIDS could be transmitted by saliva.
“Richard, I wish I had known that. How am I supposed to pray for a guy with AIDS when I think he has a cold?” It suddenly hit me that I was more concerned for myself than I was for Raymond. I felt ill as I left church that day.
A few weeks after praying for Raymond at the front of the church, Vincent and Mary had summoned Richard and me to his home. They’d gone there regularly to pray with John and comfort his family; now they asked to join them before it was too late.
As Richard and I bounced down the dirt road in my Land Rover toward Raymond's place I felt terribly inadequate.
God, what do I say to this man? He wants me to pray for him; his friends want me to pray for him. How do I pray? I tried to still my racing mind. I’d learned years before that when I wasn’t sure how to pray for someone, I needed to ask God, Lord, give me grace that’s sufficient for this situation. I couldn’t help John, but I knew that God’s grace—his love and power in action—could overcome anything. After asking the Lord for his grace that day, I simply listened. Suddenly, I knew that God was directing me to tell Raymond about certain verses of Scriptures. I didn’t understand why, but I knew it was important. I breathed a deep sigh of relief. At least I wasn’t going into this situation without direction.
Then I was there, on one knee in Raymond’s apartment after Mary’s urgent plea. It was time to pray.
“Raymond, I want you to know God loves you,” I began . “He has given me something to share with you. These are his words, not mine. I believe they will have special meaning to you.” Then I opened my Bible to the psalms and began reading:
For as the heavens are high above the earth
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
After reading the psalmist’s familiar words, I turned to the book of Isaiah:
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.
By now, Raymond’s eyes had closed. I wasn’t sure he even heard me. Yet I had one more passage to read to him:
"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness;
but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
I looked at Raymond when I’d finished reading the final verse. “Raymond, did you hear what I read to you?”
He nodded slowly and smiled weakly.
“Raymond, I don’t want to presume what God is doing. But it seems to me that there is a clear message here. Whatever you have done in the past was forgiven when you put your faith in Jesus. God has forgotten all about it.”
John smiled and seemed to doze off.
“Well, Pastor,” Mary said insistently, “aren’t you going to pray for him?”
I had already done what I felt God wanted me to do, so as we prayed, I simply asked God to help Raymond. Mary gave Vincent a disgusted look and shook her head. I had not raised the dead.
The next Sunday morning, I stood in front of our church, which met in a big green tent, welcoming people as they arrived. Huge, ugly marabou storks picked at piles of garbage on the street corner. It was not quite ten in the morning, but I was already perspiring heavily. As I squinted in the blazing, equatorial sun, I watched a large group of people approaching.
At the head of the crowd was a tall, thin man in a suit. I must be seeing things, I thought. The man looked like Raymond Okwanga. But it couldn’t be—Raymond was supposed to be dead. Yet it was him. Raymond came up to me and wrapped his arms around me. His cheek pressed against mine.
Raymond slowly pushed me to arms’ length distance. His white teeth glistened in his wide smile. His eyes were clear and white. He looked radiant.
“Pastor, later I have to tell you my story. . . .”
Sounds of people singing the opening chorus drew us inside. Throughout the service my eyes were drawn again and again to Raymond’s beaming smile.
After the service, Raymond and I sat together on a bench.
“When I got very sick from the ‘slim,’”Raymond began, “I thought it was my punishment for what I did in the war. You see, I fought in the bush against the Obote government. The Obote army terrorized and punished the villagers who supported us and we terrorized the ones we thought supported the government troops.”
Raymond looked down. “I was a commander. I did terrible things. I beat the brains out of children with a shock absorber right in front of their parents. I led gang rapes and murders of many people. . My crimes were so horrible that I felt that even though God had forgiven me in a general way, I still had to pay. My first wife infected me with AIDS. I felt the slim was a just punishment and I had no hope of being healed. Now my second wife and most of my children are also infected with AIDS.
“After you came and read those Scriptures to me, I realized that God had not only forgiven my sins, but He had forgotten them. After you left, I prayed. I asked God to heal me and give me another chance at life. I wanted to be able to tell people what a wonderful God He is and to raise my family.
“Then I drifted off to sleep. Sometime in the night I had a dream, or a vision. I’m not sure which. I was standing in a great room with blood up to my knees. I was horrified. Then I heard a voice calling me. Some distance away I saw my first wife. She had contracted AIDS from someone while I was away fighting. Like I said, she infected me before she died. Now there she was. She had an evil smile on her face. ‘Raymond,’ she said, ‘today you will be with me!’
“I heard myself say ‘Lord Jesus, save me.’ There was something like a bolt of lightning that came and struck my former wife. She disintegrated into many tiny pieces. There was another great flash of light. I looked down, and the blood I had been standing in was now crystal-clear water.”
Raymond looked back up at me. I didn’t know what to say. It was incredible, but there he was. He continued. “When I woke up in the morning I felt so good, so happy . . . so full of life. I thought I must have died and gone to heaven. But when I looked around my flat, I realized this was not heaven.”
I could certainly understand that.
Raymond began to chuckle. “I got up out of bed. I had not been outside in weeks, so I wanted to see the sun. I went out wrapped in my sheet. My neighbors all started screaming and running away; they thought they were seeing a ghost.”
“So, Raymond, how are you now?” I asked.
“Pastor, look at me. I am as strong as ever. I’ve been eating and putting on weight. I feel wonderful! I truly believe God has healed me of HIV!” Looking at him it seemed he might be right.
“The army is going to give me my job back in the presidential guard if my blood test comes out negative. I’m very happy!”
Raymond's smile faded a bit as he met my gaze. “Pastor, I hope I haven’t gone too far in my faith. “Now I have also asked God to heal my wife and children. When I go for my blood tests I am going to take them with me. Do you think that’s okay?”
What could I say? Raymond, that seems perfectly fine to me. I’ll be praying for you and your family. Please let me know what you find out.”
The next Sunday Raymond stood before the whole church and testified of his complete healing. There were no HIV antibodies in his blood at all. The blood tests of his infected wife and children also came back negative. It seems they were all healed at the same time.
Skeptics kept waiting for Raymond'ss AIDS symptoms to reappear. Frankly, I wondered about his prognosis myself. But when my wife and I left Uganda three years later,Raymond was still healthy and telling everyone what God had done for him.
• "I read A Life of Miracles in one sitting because I did not want to put it down. This autobiographical account of one married couple’s journey of obedience to God’s call on their lives will build your faith and stir your soul. Most of all, it brings glory to God rather than people, and it provides numerous glimpses of the coming Kingdom."
LYLE W. DORSETT, PH.D.
Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
• "A Life of Miracles is a series of engaging stories strung together with the thread of God’s faithfulness, love, and supernatural power. Told in an easy-going conversational style, these stories ring true because they are true. I wholeheartedly recommend this book."
Bestselling author of Water’s Edge and The List
• "Filled with adventurous stories of faith, A Life of Miracles is exciting, inspirational, and hard to put down. The book encourages us to greater faith, and the author’s humility reminds us that faith is an adventure in which we can all participate. We can identify with him in his struggles and rejoice with him in his victories, while the real hero who shines through these stories is the same God who regularly shows himself strong in the lives of his children."
DR. CRAIG S. KEENER
Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary; author of Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts and The Historical Jesus of the Gospels
• "I loved reading A Life of Miracles because I love faith-building stories and testimonials of our gracious God’s everyday faithfulness. I stayed awake much longer at night than I planned on while telling myself, Okay, I’ll read just one more quick story, then I have to turn out the light. . . Four stories later, I was telling myself the same thing. Whether you have been in ministry for twenty-five years or have known the Lord for just twenty-five days, you will be encouraged, educated, and challenged by this book. You’ll learn how to walk deeper with God too."
Gold Record Award–winning Christian songwriter; author of The Butterfly Song
• "Don Schulze is a talented natural storyteller, so I could commend his book as a series of well-crafted and engaging accounts of miracles witnessed by ordinary people. And that it is. But it is more than just an uplifting read. The stories will inspire other ordinary people to try out the spiritual life lessons Don teaches. As my wife, Beth, read the book she was inspired to pray for the healing of a chronic injury in my back. I was immediately healed and am now pain free. This happened for two ordinary people. Buy the book. Read the book. Be encouraged to become an ordinary person witnessing the power and presence of an extraordinary God."
REV. HENRY ANDREW CORCORAN, PH.D.
• "What I especially admire in Don Schulze’s writing is this: in everyday life he finds a constant flow of “God sightings.” A Life of Miracles encourages me to look for the same affirming glimpses in my own life."
Roving editor, Guideposts magazine; coauthor of The Hiding Place, The Cross and the Switchblade, and God's Smuggler
• "It was impossible not to stop and smile as I read Don Schulze’s book. An infectious joy bubbles forth from story after story of our Lord’s astounding power and mercy. Miracles, we learn, are not for special people; they are for anyone who dares to believe that God sees, God cares, and God acts! This book is a powerful and worthy record of God’s unending faithfulness to those who will follow him."
GREGORY V. JOHNSON
Associate Pastor, DFW New Beginnings Church, Dallas
• "From the opening chapters describing Don’s life-threatening experiences while serving our nation in Vietnam to his ten years of missionary service in East Africa, the book is an enthralling roller-coaster of faith tried and tested in the midst of amazing circumstances."
DR. A. CHRISTIAN VAN GORDER,
D.Phil. of Queen’s University of Belfast, Ireland, and Professor of Religion at Baylor University, Texas
• "A Life of Miracles serves as a wonderful reminder that we serve a living God who desires to have an intimate relationship with his people. It encourages, inspires, and challenges each of us to “give more” to the Lord, even during times of great struggle. This is a must-have book for all who hunger and thirst for the truth."
RAYMOND M. THOMANN
Senior pastor and founder of Hope Is Alive; host of Tough Love daily radio program
• "I found it hard to take a break from reading A Life of Miracles. I was amazed at the number of miracles Don and Leia experienced, and I was in awe of the Schulzes’ obedience to God's call."
• "A Life of Miracles is a must-read—saturated with the love of God, filled with truths of God’s handiwork. Because of the tears of joy it brought to my eyes, I had to stop reading this book several times."
Christian businessman, San Dimas, CA
• "A Life of Miracles describes an exciting way to live that all people can experience but that very few people do. The book encourages readers to give God the chance to prove his promises are true. If you want to experience an exciting life full of miracles and answered prayer, follow the example of the Schulze family."
Teacher, York County, South Carolina
• "Don Schulze expresses himself with clarity, humor, and sensitivity. A Life of Miracles is a fascinating read that will challenge and amaze people who believe that miracles have ceased and are not for this day and time. The book offers an authentic and candid portrayal of God’s miraculous and exciting intervention in the life of a couple who are living by faith."
Retired educator and administrator, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District, North Carolina