Jeff: In June 1977, right after Lisa came to believe in Jesus, she started having an erratic fever that was just not going away. We went to the doctor and to the emergency room, but no one could give us a clear diagnosis. We drove down to Brooklyn to visit our parents and to take Lisa to her family doctor. He sent her to a specialist, who discovered that she had an enlarged spleen and liver, as well as fluid in her pleural cavity. So she ended up in the hospital.
They did a variety of tests over a period of two weeks. Then the doctor informed me that they were pretty certain Lisa had cancer of the lymph system. I asked the doctor not to tell her; I said I would. But I didn’t. Not right away.
A few days before the doctor told me about the cancer, something happened that forced me take a hard look at myself. While I was staying in the hospital all day with Lisa, the truth is that toward the end of each day, I couldn’t wait to leave so I could smoke pot and get high. I was staying at Lisa’s parents’ house, because they would leave me alone and I could get high in one of the bedrooms. One night I went to light up a joint, and I saw my reflection in the TV screen. Looking at myself, I thought, Here I am, my wife is in the hospital with something very serious, and I can’t wait to get high. It hit me like a ton of bricks: this is what sin is. I’m a sinner.
This is going to sound self-centered, but the moment the doctor told me that they were pretty certain Lisa had cancer, I knew immediately that this was happening to force me to deal with the seriousness of who Jesus is in relation to life and death and heaven and hell.
That’s why I said, “Don’t tell her. I’ll tell her.” I wanted to be able to encourage her that if she were going to die, she would be going to a great place. But to tell her that, I had to be genuine about it. I didn’t want to say it until I got right with God myself.
That day I tried to act normally toward Lisa at the hospital. Finally, around 11:30 that night, I walked out of her room, and as soon as I turned the corner, I started crying. I jumped into my VW bug and drove to the Canarsie Pier in Brooklyn, arriving around midnight. No one was there. I got my screwdriver and removed the door panels from my car so I could take out all the pot that I had stored there. I put it in a big bag, walked to the end of the pier and threw it into the bay. I cried out to God, “I can’t take it anymore. I know who Jesus is and this is all true. Please come in and take over and forgive all my sins.” Then I just broke down, sobbing like a baby, because I knew I had been “born again.” (That expression may be “out of fashion” now, but it is actually described in the New Testament in John 3:7–8.)
I had not gone to the pier that night to negotiate with God for Lisa to be healed; I just went to get right with Him. But then a wonderful thing happened. As I was sobbing, I heard that same voice I had heard at the yoga retreat a couple of years before. And this time He said, “Lisa’s going to be fine.”
That night I went to my parents’ house and read the entire Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. I knew it talked about events at the end of the world, and I wanted to make sure everything worked out all right!
The next morning I drove to the hospital and told Lisa what the doctor had said. I also told her, our families, the doctor and anybody who would listen that God told me that she was going to be okay.
Lisa: Actually, the doctor had already come in that morning to tell me about the cancer. I got emotional and cried. But I was already prepared by the time Jeff came in. Then Jeff told me that he had received Jesus as his Messiah, and that God told him I was going to be okay. And I felt pretty confident that I would be.
We really dug into the Bible that week, including some accounts in the two books of Kings in the Hebrew Scriptures about people who were healed. I had to have a liver and bone marrow biopsy, and those were very painful procedures back in those days. You were supposed to be in a lot of pain in recovery. But Jeff prayed, and I had little to no pain afterward.
Since they couldn’t find anything conclusive about my condition, the doctors decided to do exploratory surgery.
Jeff: They thought that she had cancer because all the tests showed that her body was out of whack. The way I recall it, confirmation for that kind of cancer in those days involved doing a biopsy of the lymph nodes.
Lisa: The doctors told me on Thursday that they would do the surgery on Monday. But then on Saturday evening, we had an experience.
Jeff: The idea of the exploratory surgery really disturbed me, because God had told me He was going to heal her.
So that night, while Lisa was asleep in the hospital bed, I sat alongside her, laid my hands on her and began to pray for God to heal her. I was praying for quite a while, when all at once something happened in me emotionally, which I would have to say was the Spirit of God. Suddenly I started commanding the corruption in her body to go out of her into outer darkness. I don’t know if I had heard that expression someplace, but that’s what came out of my mouth. When I finished praying, I knew she was healed.
I went back to my parents’ house, and Sunday morning Lisa phoned me with some good news.
Lisa: I had no fever for the first time in six weeks. And my temperature stayed normal all day. When the surgeon showed up Monday morning, he was in a suit, not his scrubs. He said, “We’re not going to do the surgery. We did some bloodwork, and now all of a sudden your liver, spleen and everything else is coming back to where it should be. So we’re going to observe you for a few more days, and then you should be able to go home.”
They sent me home a few days later, and that was it. We went back to New Paltz to college. We found a congregation of other believers in Jesus, started regularly reading our Bible and praying, and we’ve been following Jesus ever since. We have three grown kids who are also followers of our Messiah, Jesus, and five grandchildren.
Jeff: God has blessed us with an insurance agency specializing in Medicare Supplements that we operate together. We have two residences, one in North Carolina and one in Colorado. Our kids and grandkids all live in Colorado.
Lisa: We love hiking in the mountains, whether it’s in the Rocky Mountains or in the Smoky Mountains. I paint and quilt and enjoy art. We love getting together with friends and family, having good dinners and fellowship.
The thing about my healing is that we were just these two Jewish kids from Brooklyn who didn’t have a clue about anything biblical. We just came to the realization that Jesus is our Messiah, the Messiah of Israel, and we are so grateful for the way he has worked in our lives.