At her public school, it wasn't easy. "I did not have very
many playmates," Marlene remembers, "because what could you
do or who could you spend the night with?"
This wasn't the only tragedy wrenching young Marlene. When
she was only 1 year old, her parents died in a motorcycle accident.
She was reared by great-grandparents and later by foster parents.
But at 12 years of age, when some friends brought her to a
youth rally, she committed her life to God. Young Marlene thought
she'd finally found the father she'd always needed.
"I was His, and He was my Dad -- and that was it forever,"
she declares. "I just thought that if I was born with cerebral
palsy, I must be born with it because God created me that way.
I didn't realize He wanted people healed. I didn't realize He
wanted good things for everyone, so, at first, I just thought,
Well, there's got to be a reason for it. He's smarter than
During her teenage years, Marlene suffered numerous spasms
caused by muscular surgery. These attacks were sometimes so
violent they left her attendants with broken bones. After one
severe spasm, Marlene was left almost totally paralyzed. Her
vision, along with the rest of her condition, grew progressively
In December 1980, as a last resort, Marlene was taken from
her home in Missouri to the world's finest hospital, the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Her former nurse, Nancy White, remembers her condition. "Marlene
was a spastic quadriplegic and pretty much depended on other
people to provide for her needs. She needed someone to help
her get in and out of bed, in and out of her wheelchair, and
to help her go to the bathroom. She was pretty much dependent
to the point where she really didn't do a lot physically herself."
Dr. Glen White was Marlene's recreational therapist. He witnessed
Marlene's extensive treatment and worsening condition. "She
didn't have really any control of her head or her neck. Her
head was sort of tipped back, and her lips and tongue were kind
of swollen and drooling. That is a very tough state to be in.
Reviewing team notes and team meetings, the staff was thinking
that there wasn't really a lot of hope for recovery."
Being sent to a nursing home was Marlene's greatest fear.
"As best as I could, I just yelled to heaven and I said,
'God, stop!'" Marlene recalls. "In other words, 'Just get out
of here,' but He didn't.
"You could just feel God's love and His presence, and it came
all around me, and it was really, really warm," she continues.
"God showed me in a vision that He was going to heal me. He
showed me the inside of a church. The church had light-colored
woodwork. The doorknob was a triangular glass-colored doorknob.
And then the vision showed me in a rust-colored stretcher and
people gathered around praying for me. There was a man in a
pinstriped suit. Then God showed me a picture of myself out
riding a bike on beautiful green grass, and it said 'March 29th'
in just great big bold letters -- that was three weeks away."
But three weeks passed, and nothing happened. Marlene thought
she would be healed in Missouri, but on March 28, the day before
the date given in her vision, she found herself still in Rochester,
still degenerating, still knowing no churches in the area.
She pleaded with God and believed He told her, of all things,
to have the nurse look in the Yellow Pages under 'churches'
the next morning.
"I just kept saying, 'Yellow Pages' over and over, and
she went and got them. I started flipping through them, and
it glowed off the page. It said 'Open Bible, Scott Emerson'
with a phone number."
"My wife honestly thought the person calling was drunk because
the speech was so slurred," says Pastor Scott Emerson of New
Life Open Bible Church. "She handed the phone to me, and it
was very difficult to understand Marlene. She started asking
me lots of questions about what the church believed. She asked
about healing -- did we believe in healing? Did we pray for
the sick? Have we ever seen a miracle? I answered several minutes'
worth of questions. And she said, 'OK, you're the one. You can
come see me.' And I thought, 'I can come see you?'"
So a skeptical Scott Emerson answered the call. He arrived
at the hospital in a pinstriped suit. Marlene told him he looked
identical to the man praying for her in the vision.
"She described how the pews were arranged and remembered the
colors within the church," Emerson remembers. "'There were some
swinging doors that entered into the sanctuary,' she said. `There
are windows with diamond shapes in them,' and there were. She
described everything in great detail, never having been in the
church. When somebody begins telling you things like that, you
take note of it."
Emerson then took Marlene to his church. She had to be strapped
in because her body was jerking so wildly.
"She was all scrunched up," says church member Lucille Bernard.
"I thought to myself, `My, I didn't realize that it was going
to be somebody this bad. Lord, this is going to have to be You.'"
Emerson had never had a miracle take place in his church.
"They gathered around me to pray," Marlene remembers, "and
the pastor said, 'I don't know how to pray.' But he asked God
to heal me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. And
then they asked if I wanted to stand up on faith."
"Immediately upon lifting her out of the chair, we began to
feel strength coming into her legs," says Emerson.
"She took a hold of the back of the pew, and she just leapt,"
Lucille Bernard recalls.
"My feet hit the floor, and I felt the floor for the first
time in my life," Marlene says with a smile.
"Her knees and her toes pointed together, and everything was
pointed in," remembers Emerson. "But with each step that she
took, they started to straighten out. And as her toes and her
knees straightened out, she got stronger and stronger. She took
a few steps on her own, and then was literally running around
"Then she started into going on a little bit of a dogtrot around
the church," says Lucille. "Finally, she began praising the
Lord and going around. And I tell you, you talk about the glory
of the Lord -- we just shouted. The presence of the Lord was
It was real enough for another miracle that night for the small
congregation of seven.
"My eyes got really warm, and God told me to take off the glasses,"
Marlene recalls. "And when I did, my vision was perfect."
Lucille was astounded. "All of a sudden, she put her glasses
aside. 'I don't need these anymore,' she said, and you could
understand her. I was there -- nobody could tell me that was
anything but the Lord."
After church, Marlene wanted to do something she'd never been
able to do -- hold and eat an ice cream cone. At the ice cream
parlor, they saw her therapist.
"I was surprised," Dr. White declares, "because one of those
people I saw was Marlene, and she wasn't using a wheelchair.
She was walking, and I just couldn't believe it."
Marlene's return to the hospital caused quite a reaction.
"The time from when she had left to when she came back was
probably a two-hour period at max," remembers Nurse White. "It
was quite a dramatic difference to see her return walking."
The Mayo doctors needed only to discharge Marlene to her home
The hospital records read: 'You returned to the rehabilitation
unit that evening walking, something you'd never done since
your admission to the unit. And when I saw you back at the clinic
some weeks later, you'd improved even more. All signs of previous
abnormality were gone. You were able to walk perfectly normal,
and your eyesight had improved so much that you did not need
to wear spectacles. We were all very thrilled and happy with
the outcome of your condition.'"
Marlene's life has been normal for more than 20 years. She's
attended Missouri Wesleyan College and has traveled through
the Midwest sharing her amazing story. It's much easier to do
things now, like arranging flowers in her floral shop -- and,
oh, yes, she enjoys riding her bike through the countryside
just as she'd seen in her vision years before.
"I was in a desperate situation, and there was no place else
to go but to Jesus Christ with my life -- and here I am. I'm
healed. I'm normal. There's nothing that I can't do that everyone
"I've always believed in the power of God and I've read the
Bible stories," saysEmerson, "but we were seeing a Bible story
in action -- something right out of the book of Acts. It was
like the lame man that Peter and John said, 'Silver and gold
have I none, but such as I have, give I thee. In the name of
Jesus Christ, get up and walk.' And the Bible says, 'The man
went walking and leaping and praising God.' We were seeing that
happen -- not something 2,000 years ago, but something that
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