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Biblical, modern-day miracles affirmed in new book from WMU

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–Asked to name a few miracles in Old Testament times, one might mention that God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, demolished the walls of Jericho and delivered Jonah from the belly of a large fish.

Even more familiar, perhaps, are the accounts of miracles performed by Jesus as he healed the sick, raised the dead and quieted the storm.

But 2,000 years later, do miracles still happen? Dellanna O’Brien, retired executive director of Woman’s Missionary Union, believes they definitely do.

In “Beyond Belief,” the WMU emphasis book for 2000-2001, O’Brien pairs scriptural accounts of miracles and contemporary stories related by missionaries.

“The thread of truth about God’s activity in the hearts and lives of his people is unbroken throughout all time,” O’Brien said in an interview. “And that evidence … abounds if we are just open.” With the power of God remaining available today, O’Brien said, “… we as Christians must rely on him to lead and empower us for those ministries he has for us, beyond our own confessions of our belief.” God has promised to equip for extraordinary service those who are faithful to his cause, she said.

O’Brien recounts in her book the “strange strategy of war” employed by Joshua in obedience to God’s command. Joshua led the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho each day for six days. On the seventh day, still obeying God’s instructions, Joshua commanded that ragtag army to “Shout!” and the walls of Jericho tumbled down.

Centuries later, another miracle happened with the dismantling of the Berlin Wall reuniting Germany as a nation and ending communist rule. German Christians had been praying for years for that freedom, and they definitely recognized those changes in government as a miracle from God.

Using a New Testament example of a miracle, O’Brien retells the story of Paul and his companions arriving at Malta. The 276 passengers swam to shore after being shipwrecked, and everyone survived. The Maltans built a fire to warm the weary, wet travelers.

While seeking wood for the fire, the apostle Paul was bitten by a venomous snake. He amazed the natives by shaking the snake into the fire and suffering no ill effects from its bite.

No less a miracle from God is the story of John Dina of Mozambique, O’Brien writes. In 1996, a poisonous snake also bit him. Far from medical help, his situation seemed hopeless. The Christian Mozambicans formed a circle around Dina and prayed unceasingly.

This crucial prayer request was communicated by the International Mission Board to the Woman’s Missionary Union of Florida and on to women in individual churches who had committed to pray for missionaries. The request for prayer also was posted on the IMB’s prayerline, and millions of women began praying for Dina. Not coincidentally, of course, Dina’s birthday was only four days before the incident, and because his name appeared on the WMU prayer calendar, Baptist women all over the world had prayed for him.

Dina was airlifted to Johannesburg in extremely serious condition. After intensive medical treatment for four days, Dina began recovering. Today he credits that recovery to a miracle from God. O’Brien agrees. Dina’s restoration to health and ministry, she says, is every bit as much a miracle as Paul experienced 2,000 years earlier.

O’Brien believes that too many Christians explain away current miracles as either exaggerations or misunderstandings. After hearing a Korean pastor speak, she realized that Christians in other countries might be more open to believing in modern-day miracles. The pastor stated that the reason Korean Christians rely so on prayer is that they are taught that God moves powerfully in answer to prayer.

“Where there is a cultural acceptance of spiritual power,” O’Brien said, “people are more open to the supreme power of God when they become Christians. On the other hand, we Americans are prone to believe things just happen.”

When asked what changes she desired on the part of readers of “Beyond Belief,” O’Brien said: “I would like them to have a renewed appreciation for the miraculous deeds recorded in Scripture, but also I hope it will make the reader more expectant of God’s work today in miraculous ways. Expecting to see God’s power manifested in today’s world opens our eyes and hearts to his mighty power in our day.”

Beyond Belief may be purchased through WMU by calling 1-800-968-7301 or visiting their online bookstore at www.wmustore.com. It is also available through LifeWay Christian Stores.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: BEYOND BELIEF.

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  • Sammie Jo Barstow