The Rev. Steve Brown, working Friday on drywall at the Matt: 25 Hope Center in Clovis, said he attributes the miracle he witnessed to God. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
The night was dark and the highway seemingly empty. Two men inside a truck had the radio on and the windows rolled up, the vents of the vehicle pumping out a stream of cool air.
From behind a bank, a woman in red appeared. She yelled “stop.” The men heard her, and the driver slowed down.
This, Jimmie Stephenson said, happened to her sons-in-law 15 years ago. Had they continued driving at the same speed, she said, they would have slammed into a van ahead of them, which only seconds before had collided with another car.
“Both swear they saw this lady in a red dress standing on a bank a good ways from the road … It was just really bizarre,” said Stephenson, a resident of Portales.
Her sons-in-law rushed to the aid of the survivors of the accident, Stephenson said. Several died, but the woman in red was not amongst them, nor was she seen in the crowd of survivors, or ever again by the men, Stephenson said.
“We just felt like it was one of those things. They got a warning. They weren’t supposed to be in that accident,” Stephenson said.
“A lot of people,” she said, “label miracles too freely. But I think this was one. It is just unexplainable.”
A miracle, according to the Catholic doctrine, is indeed an extraordinary event, but it occurs most frequently with prayer and the intercession of a saint — the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most powerful, according to Father Leonardo Pahamtang of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Muleshoe. To achieve sainthood status, one must intercede in three miracles afterlife, he said. But a miracle cannot occur without the blessing of God, Pahamtang said.
Others define a miracle less stringently.
Friona’s Joyce Veazey didn’t pray to a saint for the miracle she received. But if not for it, she fears what may have happened.
Four bombs tore through the London subway on July 7. That morning, Veazey left London for Paris.
She and her grandson had been staying with Veazey’s oldest daughter about 75 miles east of London. Her daughter made plans for herself and her guests, sending them sightseeing in Paris, rather than to the heart of London.
“We could have been there,” Veazey said. “The more we thought about it, the scarier it became.”
The family, who caught a train to Paris in a station outside London, did not learn of their could-have-been brush with tragedy until reading a headline in an English paper.
“I think God was with my daughter when she made those plans not to go into London that day. And I also think God has a purpose for us not being caught in that mess,” Veazey said.
This concept sweeps across religions and cultures and it is not limited to the Catholic faith, or any other, said the Rev. Scott Jarvis, an instructor of religion at Eastern New Mexico University.
“A miracle is something that is beyond the order of things. It is not just a Christian concept. What one person considers a miracle, someone else may pass off as a coincidence. There is no even definition for what is miraculous,” Jarvis said.
Though miraculous events — defined by one dictionary as an event or action that contradicts known scientific laws — have been attributed to higher beings of a multitude of names, the miracle Rev. Steve Brown witnessed, he attributes to God.
Brown prayed for a healing, and he got it.
It was last summer when Brown’s friend was seriously injured in a bicycle accident and he rushed to the emergency room at Clovis’ Plains Regional Medical Center. As he waited for word on the friend’s condition, a woman seated near him moaned in pain, her stomach swollen.
“As a Christian, I am sensitive to people in pain,” said Brown, who immediately assumed the woman was pregnant. “I said ‘How’s your baby?’ and she said she was not pregnant, she had a gall bladder infection.”
Brown locked hands with the moaning woman’s and began to pray. The woman interrupted him, his prayer not yet complete.
Her distended belly had shrunk.
“She said ‘I am not in pain anymore.’ All this had happened in a matter of seconds. I have prayed for many people,” the reverend said, an open Bible near him on a table, “but never have I seen an instant healing like this. There is no doubt in my mind that God had done something incredible.”
His friend and colleague in ministry, Larry Coiner, also witnessed the healing.
“Her stomach didn’t just pancake up, but it went slowly down as (Brown) was praying,” Coiner said, leaning forward in a large, drafty room which he and Brown hope to turn into a ministry center.
“It was a miracle,” he added, his hands crossed below his knees, “I can tell you that.”