Saved … and healed
By Scott Harrup
“We’ve often heard the Scripture where Christ tells us we
are to take up our cross and follow Him,” says Mary Beth DeLeon of Springfield,
Mo. “But it wasn’t until I completely wept in Jesus’ arms and said I would give
my cross back to Him and accept whatever His will is that things changed.”
That prayer took place in a hospital intensive care unit
following a surgery that nearly cost DeLeon her life.
DeLeon, 41, an internal network systems data assistant for
J.P. Morgan, attends James River Assembly of God in nearby Ozark, Mo., with
husband Ramiro and children Michael and Dianna. The DeLeon family has shared
Mary Beth’s cross the past several years as she has endured an array of
But Mary Beth’s faith journey once presented her with a very
different understanding of Jesus’ cross. Raised in a Catholic home, she entered
a religious order in California after completing nursing school. She served for
nearly six years as a nurse and a nun.
“On the one hand,” she remembers, “I admired the spirit of
service the nuns showed as they cared for the sick. I knew many of them had a
genuine relationship with Jesus.”
But the weekly liturgical practice focused on penance.
DeLeon always sensed an undertone of doubt regarding one’s salvation.
“Why was I still making amends for my sins?” DeLeon asks of
those years. “I couldn’t comprehend that. Why did I have to punish myself? I
knew Christ had died for my sins, but it was as if my heart did not know He did
it once and for all.”
At 25, DeLeon left the convent. She later met and married
Ramiro, raised a Catholic in Mexico. They moved to Springfield.
In 2001, DeLeon accepted an invitation from a co-worker to
visit a small fundamentalist church. The family soon joined her. Ramiro and
Michael accepted Christ as Savior on Easter 2002. The three of them were
baptized. In 2003 Dianna made the same decisions.
Truly living for Christ as a family changed the DeLeon home.
Then Mary Beth developed stage 3 liver disease, diabetes and an autoimmune
disease that nearly destroyed her ability to form blood clots.
“If I had cut myself with a paring knife while cooking,” she
says, “I could have bled to death. I had less than 10 percent of the platelets
my body needed.”
During what was supposed to be a relatively simple
outpatient surgery in Feb. 2005, DeLeon nearly died from blood loss. She woke
up in intensive care with five IVs across her body.
“They were trying to get fluids and blood back into me as
quickly as possible,” she says.
That crisis forced her to re-evaluate what it meant to carry
her cross for Christ. It was the turning point when she completely gave her
illness and possible death over to her Savior.
She knew God is able to heal any illness, but also knew
healing came through praying in faith. When she asked elders at her church to
pray for her, their reluctance and half-hearted compliance disheartened her.
By that time DeLeon was seeing Dr. Marcia Graham, an
Assemblies of God physician and volunteer with the Fellowship’s HealthCare
Ministries. Graham’s nurse Elaine Goodwin accompanied DeLeon to the prayer
meeting at her church, then invited her to come to James River Assembly for
“I will never forget October 23, 2005,” DeLeon says. “I
don’t remember who prayed for me or the songs that were playing, but I remember
God’s touch, feeling His Spirit. I felt like I was right next to heaven. A
warmth went through me.”
The family has attended James River since, and DeLeon is
active in the choir.
DeLeon felt God leading her to make personal changes that
would complement what He would do miraculously in her life. She went on an
extensive diet, eventually losing 100 pounds. Today she no longer needs
insulin, after having needed four to five injections a day. Her liver is returning
to health. Her platelet count is moving toward a healthy minimum.
“I give it all to God,” she says. “I know He can heal
instantly, but if this illness has brought me to this level of faith, then
that’s also healing.”
And more importantly, she says, is the continued assurance
she has of the eternal power of the Cross.
“I no longer wake up in the morning wondering if I’m saved
that day,” she says. “I know that Christ bore His cross once and for all for
SCOTT HARRUP is senior associate editor of Today’s
Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at sharrup.agblogger.org.
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