The 700 Club with Pat Robertson

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Stephen Howell: Divinely Timed Prayer

By Rich Santoro
The 700 Club

CBN.comLeaping out of a plane in flight and falling thousands of feet to the ground was all in a day’s work for U.S. Army paratrooper, Stephen Howell.

"I guess I’m just an adrenalin junkie," Stephen said. "I just love the thrill it gives you when you jump out of a plane going up to 130 mph."

One afternoon as the pilot and his air crew cruised through the clouds preparing for a jump, something went terribly wrong.

"The flap’s not tracking. Crew, this is the pilot. This is going to be a ‘no drop,’” is what Stephen and the other soldiers heard. “Right now, we’ve got a problem with the flaps. We’ve got to prepare for an emergency landing.”

"The flaps control the aircraft. So, if they don’t work properly, the plane can’t be slowed down enough to land or for us to jump out," Stephen said.

“After you throw your packs in the middle, take your seats and put your seatbelts on,” was the next instruction from the pilot.

Opening a chute with the plane going too fast could cause death to the paratroopers.

"When I saw the airman strapping himself down to the ramp, I knew something was wrong," Stephen said. "They passed out oxygen masks. I knew it was serious then."

Stephen didn’t know that at that very moment, while his life hung in the balance, his wife Whitney was home on the phone talking to a CBN prayer counselor. She and Stephen have been CBN partners for 13 years.

“The counselor said, ‘Is there anything I can be praying with you about?’ Well, my husband is jumping out of an airplane today,” Whitney said. “I hadn’t spent a lot of time in trepidation. His job is dangerous, but that goes to show you how you can get used to anything. And you can take things for granted. She just prayed for safety. There were no lightning flashes or thunder, just a sincere, brief prayer."

While Whitney and the counselor prayed, Stephen prayed as well.

"I made peace with God. I asked Him to forgive my sins. I asked God to protect my family and take care of them," Stephen said. "And I prayed for the soldiers around me, that if they didn’t know Christ, that they would have a moment to reflect."

As the plane continued to speed uncontrollably toward the landing field with the crew prepared for a crash landing, something miraculous happened:  the wing flaps began to function.

“We’ve still got to land, but it’s not an emergency landing,” the pilot said.

“I think God did it; I believe with all my heart,” Stephen said. 

Steven and his crew landed safely. Later, at a local coffee shop, he told his wife about the mechanical failure that could have turned tragic.

"As he was telling me this, in my mind I was calculating, ‘When did this happen?' And it suddenly dawned on me, ‘I was praying for you at that time!'” Whitney said.

"I was surprised as well," Stephen said. "I didn’t realize that CBN had called her and that they were praying together at the exact moment that this was going on. So I was really overwhelmed [about] how God was there to answer that specific prayer."

"We were both in awe of God’s sovereignty,” Whitney said. “God is involved in the every day details of people’s lives. It was really an awesome time of God pulling the curtain back a little bit for us and showing us, 'I care about you personally.'” 

"He knew I was going to be on that operation. Not just me, but 60 other soldiers. It was just a simple prayer and God honored that by protecting us," Stephen said. "He’ll do that for anybody. That’s all He wants from us. He just wants a relationship and prayer is the key to building that relationship. And I pray that even if just one person hears this they say, 'Yeah. I can trust God because He is – He’s faithful.  He’s trustworthy.'"

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