“Mooooommmm…Dad’s at it again!” She had always hated this old, broken-down house in this nasty neighborhood, never knowing when a shot from a drive-by shooting might accidentally go through a wall or a window, hurting or killing one of the children. One of her neighbors had dug a bullet out of their mattress a couple of weeks ago. The officer took a report and noted everything but nobody ever heard any more about it after that. Whoever didn’t have roaches, had bedbugs and all of the parents in the neighborhood seemed to fight a neverending battle with lice on their children and themselves. But no matter how bad it got, it seemed like most of the time everybody got along pretty well.
Nowadays she was actually beginning to be thankful for this old ‘hood. Ever since Hector fell off the ladder, all of the neighbors had been compassionate and understanding in their own way. They knew the spot she was in and sympathized. Many of the women thought about how their lives could change in an instant and the men in the neighborhood had all liked, or at least respected, Hector.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Kowalski, you make too much money. I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do. You aren’t eligible for any kind of food or medical assistance. You’ll have to shop the Exchange for health insurance.”
“We can’t afford that.”
“You may have to cash in your savings. Never mind, you don’t have any savings. Maybe one of you can get a better job that has medical benefits.”
“But my husband needs help! Surely there’s something the government can do‽”
“I’m sorry for your predicament, Mrs. Kowalski, but the hospital has already used their charity program to forgive almost all of your huge debt and Medicaid has determined that they can’t pay any more for mental health benefits because your husband is as well as they can make him. Have a tissue.”
Many of the folks in the neighborhood had had similar conversations with the social workers and understood Eunice’s plight.
Species Dysphoric Boanthropia was his diagnosis. Her husband thought he was a cow. It scared her more and more each time it happened because he would stay that way longer and longer. They told her it was impossible for it to be caused by falling off the ladder but they had no other solutions to offer other than their same old script.
“Throw a blanket over him, Timmy, and I’ll try to get him into the house.” She was grateful to God that her son, Timothy, at ten years old the oldest of five, was able to help her with him. She could choose to look at life one way or another. Either she could be angry at God for having cursed her with a sick husband and five young children and no money, or she could be thankful that most of the children were too young to understand what was going on, and that she had good neighbors who had quit calling the cops when they understood her predicament and who helped her out when she needed it. She chose to be positive.
She remembered that first day it happened. He had been out of the hospital for a few weeks after the fall and she thought nothing of it when he had stepped outside for some air. It was the knock on the door by the neighbor lady, Sister Myrtle, that changed her life forever.
“Excuse me, Miss Eunice, but your husband is crawling around on all fours in the backyard, mooing like a cow and taking mouthfuls of grass every once in a while and, um, well, he ain’t got no clothes on, either.”
That was the beginning of her premature graying. He would take off his clothes and get down on all fours and start eating what little grass they had in the backyard. Thankfully the back door was easier for him to get out of, although there were a couple of embarrassing moments when he got out front and into the street. Once old man Crivitz understood what the situation really was and that it wasn’t more of that drug foolishness so prevalent in the ‘hood but that it was a serious problem for the family he became very helpful. He was from the church, too, and would give his right arm to help someone in genuine need.
At least her husband didn’t think he was some sort of werewolf or something monstrous like that and try to injure people. She thought about all those stories she had heard and shivered. A cow was definitely better.
She went outside and talked to him. Timmy had been kind enough to use the big soft velvety blanket they had gotten at the fair in happier times. She watched him crawl up to her on all fours as he responded to her voice. They had always loved each other and enjoyed sitting on the back porch, talking. She looked deeply into his vacuous eyes, searching for anything, and finding nothing. How long would it last this time?
“Baby. I love you,” She tousled his hair, “I need you to come back. I need you to stay back. Come on in the house.” Brightening up, she added, “Pastor is coming to see you again. He is such a godsend.” She laughed at her own joke but it was true. She had no idea how her family would ever have survived without the Church. The ladies often came and helped her do some of her work, even bringing the younger children to their house when she was just at a breaking point. They were so wonderful and she loved them all, knowing she could never repay their kindnesses. She just wanted her husband back to normal.
Pastor and Sister Wu prayed as they drove along. “Oh, Heavenly Father, Creator, and Savior, please help us to help Brother Kowalski and his family. We need a miracle in this situation.”
“What do you think is wrong with him? Do you think it’s something spiritual?”
“I don’t know. We’re going over there now to see him in his changed state.”
“You’ve been fasting a lot.”
“Praying too. I’m trying to find the mind of the Spirit. I felt such an unusual prompting by the Holy Ghost to go visit the Kowalskis today.”
“You know, we will have a lot of visiting to do after this. Everybody in the neighborhood loves you. Are you up to it? This last fast was a long one.”
“Oh, yeah. I love the kids,” he looked at her and grinned, “and a lot of the grownups aren’t too bad either. And everybody has needs. Most of them have needs that only God can provide and they are all souls. Besides, this is what God called us here to do.”
When they arrived, the children swarmed them with hugs and loves. There were several neighbors who looked out of their windows. Many of them had been to the little Pentecostal church and liked Pastor Wu, even if they weren’t members of the church. A lot of the neighborhood kids went to their Sunday School and knew more about the Bible than their parents did. It was kind of like a celebrity arriving. In a way he was. He had been in many of these homes, praying for fevered children, counseling with people, while Sister Wu would talk to the children. She was the Sunday School superintendent, head teacher, and helper all in one. He motioned to Brother Crivitz and Sister Myrtle. They had faith and knew how to pray and he would need all the help he could get. “Come with me, please. We are going to pray for Brother Hector’s healing.”
He looked deep into Hector’s eyes and saw nothing. Nothing at all. He had looked into the eyes of many different kinds of people, people with demons, people with pain, good and honest and righteous people, and the rankest of sinners. There was never a time when he saw nothing in a person’s eyes at all. His spirit was stirred. He had compassion for this man. And what about his children and their poor mother? “Brother Kowalski,” there was no visible reaction, “The Word of God says that Jesus’ back was beaten raw by the Romans’ whip so that by His stripes we could be healed. In Mark 16, he says “…they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. ” In the book of James, he says, ‘is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.’ We’re going to ask God to heal you completely.”
“Let’s pray.” He could hear the two old prayer warriors groaning and his wife’s voice lifted up and then, as he was opening the bottle of anointing oil, he felt it. The power of the Holy Spirit of God had entered into the room and the two prayer warriors were praying in unknown tongues as the Spirit helped them pray for what they did not know or understand. Eunice Kowalski was sitting next to her husband praying and crying, hands in the air. Brother Wu felt the power overwhelming him as he prayed and thought about the great good this healing would be for this family. What a testimony to this neighborhood about the awe-inspiring power of Almighty God. Tears ran down his cheeks as compassion for this man and his family overwhelmed him. He dribbled some of the olive oil onto his fingertips and put it on Hector’s forehead, then he gently put his whole hand on Hector’s head, feeling the love and power of God as he did. The laying on of hands was not the rough, melodramatic thing the televangelists make it out to be, but the Spirit of Christ is gentle and compassionate. He had experienced countless different reactions to it however when the person felt God’s power. Brother Wu understood that it wasn’t in his power or ability and trusted the power and mercy of the Almighty.
Suddenly Hector’s body started convulsing violently as Pastor Wu felt the power of God flow through his body into Hector. He kept his hand lightly on his head and said, “In Jesus’ name!” Hector’s body jerked off the couch, kind of into the air and everybody heard a noise that sounded for all the world like a hundred people cracking their knuckles simultaneously and then he flopped back onto the couch, limp as a dishrag. Timmy covered him with the blanket again as he came to.
“What happened? What’s going on?”
“God healed you, Bro. Kowalski.”
The word spread throughout the old neighborhood and a lot of people came to the church after that and the shootings slowed down and stopped altogether as the revival spread. There were a lot of healings and people getting filled with the Spirit and getting baptized in the name of Jesus. The same Jesus who had healed Hector Kowalski.
People can say what they want to, but I know what God did there those fifty years ago because I was there.
Pastor Timothy Kowalski
Prompt = a father of five receives a head injury and starts to think he’s an animal.