“After rejecting God for so many years and after all my reckless behaviour, I wasn’t sure I deserved to be healed. I knew though, from my Christian roots, that God is a God of grace.”
It happened in an instant. I bent over to pick up a Christmas card and felt the disc in my back shift. I knew this wasn’t good. At first, I had a sharp pain down my leg and then over the next few hours, I lost all feeling in that leg. I thought I was paralysed. I started thinking about all the things I hadn’t done. I hadn’t got married or had kids or owned a home. I hadn’t travelled much. It felt like a scene from the movie, Chicken Run, where Babs saw her life flash before her eyes. In a single moment, I saw every opportunity I might have disappear. My life was over, and I was only 24!
On top of this, I was in excruciating pain and on large doses of Endone and Valium, which replaced a drug addiction I’d been battling for years. Back in 2012, after a netball injury, I had spiralled out of control—I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and taking very addictive drugs. It was a slippery slope. I became reckless. I was withdrawn, irritable. I slept a lot and was secretive. I was self-loathing, but also obsessed with my appearance, and the drugs helped to maintain that standard. I had so many dark moments. I can remember lying in my bed for days on end, not wanting to eat or get out of bed, or talk to anyone. The constant sadness I felt was crushing. I remember hoping God would take me.
After injuring my back this time, I lost all hope. I was in constant agony. I couldn’t sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. Any movement would trigger shooting pain in my legs and back. Days were spent sitting, hunched in a camp chair, and I couldn’t stand in any position other than a C-shape. When I did try to walk, I’d have to drag around my left leg. I distinctly remember getting into the shower and not being able to wash myself properly. Going to the toilet was a mission. I had no dignity left. But that wasn’t the worst of it.
Overnight, my parents and my sisters became my lifeline and were expected to help me function, even though during my wildest days, I had totally shut them out. What got them through, was a miracle they had seen years earlier. At the age of two, I had been diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and doctors said I might not survive. If I did, I would have extensive brain damage. My parents prayed all night and confessed Psalm 91 over my little, disease-ravaged body. The following morning, after not speaking for days, I opened my eyes and said, “Mummy, I need to go to the toilet.” Doctors ran a raft of tests and found nothing. To this day, the head of paediatrics still talks about my case.
This miracle bolstered my family’s faith. They knew they needed to hunker down and pray. I desperately needed another miracle. Despite having back surgery, I was still in so much pain. Then in July of that same year, a childhood friend invited me to Hillsong Conference. My response wasn’t gracious, but I reluctantly agreed to go. On the Thursday of the conference, it was freezing, and my bones were aching. I was struggling. We found ourselves in the last two remaining seats for a session with Chris Mendez. Over the next hour, Chris recounted story after story of people who had been miraculously healed. Then Chris zeroed in. “If you’ve got lower back issues, maybe in your discs, and you’ve been seeking treatment for a while and that situation hasn’t changed … well, I have faith that God wants to heal your body.” My friend and I looked at each other. We knew he was talking about me.
I have never been one to cry in church, but as we stood for prayer, and Kim Walker Smith’s song, Spirit Break Out started to play, I raised both arms to the sky and sobbed. Then God gave me a vision. The room had cleared, and I was sitting on a plastic white chair. God was on the stage smiling down at me while a bucket of gold liquid was being poured over me. In that moment, the sense of peace, contentment and euphoria I felt, outweighed any drug I had ever taken. At the end of the meeting, I knew I had been healed of my drug addiction and my back pain.
I wanted to be sure I was healed, so after the session, I raced to the lady’s toilet to find a place away from the crowd, where I could check. I think I was still in shock. After rejecting God for so many years and after all my reckless behaviour, I wasn’t sure I deserved to be healed. I knew though, from my Christian roots, that God is a God of grace. I didn’t care who was in the loo, I just said out loud, “God, I believe you have healed me and rescued me from the pain and suffering I have had.” Then I bent over and laid my hands flat on the tiles, something I hadn’t been able to do since my first injury—I could only ever reach to my knees. I burst into tears and raced outside to share the news with my friend. “I think I have been healed.” Then I showed her. She gasped and hugged me tightly.
When I got back home to Melbourne, I also couldn’t wait to share the news with my Mum. We both cried. A few weeks later, under the advice of my doctor, I went to see a chiropractor who, after examining me, was gobsmacked I was so flexible. “I have never seen someone with your mobility after having surgery,” he said. I spoke about God and shared my story and then he said: “I knew there was something different about you, because your case is not normal. It’s not clinically possible for you to be this flexible.” The following day, he ordered scans of my back. The results left him breathless. He immediately called the radiologist to confirm what he had seen in black and white. The radiologist was also quick to confirm my healing. “I’m telling you; I have never seen anything like this,” the Radiologist said. “I cannot believe there is nothing there. No scar tissue. Nothing.” The next day, my chiropractor called me with the news. “Jacqui, I can’t say this any other way. You have been completely restored. Not just healed. Restored.” Then he said: “This is God.” Before we ended the phone call he added, “Oh and one more thing … I need to put this in writing, because one day you’ll need to tell your story.”
Postscript: It’s been seven years since Jacqui’s miraculous healing. She says she has had no more pain and her back is now the strongest part of her body.