Vials of Venom, Oil of Healing

My mother and I are waiting in Doctor Garber’s examining room, which always has a sharp smell of rubbing alcohol. She’s the patient, and I’m with her sitting on a chair eyeing the metal tray holding at least a dozen tiny vials, so cute they look like they could fit in the kitchen of my doll-house. But they are vials of venom, possible culprits. Nurse Becky Longenecker carefully fills little syringes with each fluid, which puncture the skin of Mommy’s extended arm trying to determine whether it is house dust, hay, mildew, turpentine, or cat dander that is causing her frightful asthma attacks. I watch as some injections leave a puffy patch or a bright red spot. She leaves the office with a paper packet of pills to try. Maybe these will help.

But I guess they aren’t working either. Once again, Mother is propped up on feather pillows gasping for breath, her face blanched white with the effort. It’s scary for Daddy and my sisters too. We feel helpless. But Daddy knows about Ordinance # 7 in the Statement of Christian Doctrine of the Lancaster Conference of the Mennonite Church: “Anointing. According to James 5:10-18 we encourage our members to call for anointing with oil accompanied by the prayer of faith for healing.”

Olive oil in a Vial of Healing
Olive Oil in a Vial of Healing

So my dad has called for Pastor Martin R. Kraybill and Deacon John R. Kraybill, brothers, to come to Mom and Dad’s bedroom upstairs for the anointing of oil as prescribed in the New Testament passage of James 5:14 & 15.

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.

As Pastor Martin prays and reads the scripture to Mother and to the family assembled around her bed, Deacon John anoints her forehead with olive oil, an outward symbol of the healing that is transpiring within. Mom later describes a tingling sensation like a warm, electrical current radiating from the top of her spine to the bottom. “It felt wonderful!” she says. She has been healed immediately—and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

No more doctor visits for asthma ever again, the vials of venom to test for triggers, a thing of the past. Praise God!

Have you or someone you know had an experience similar to this? We’d love to hear your story.

Your comments welcome. I will always respond!


11 thoughts on “Vials of Venom, Oil of Healing

  1. So powerfully and simply told. I smelled the rubbing alcohol. I saw those paper packets. Like Jean, I was moved by the story. Your mother didn’t expect a miracle, but she got one.

    It stands in contrast to the story Jessica Penner read in the EMU chapel yesterday. A child with a terrible disease goes to healers and tries to pray herself well. The other side of the story. Makes you think about HOW to talk to children about prayer and practices of healing.


    1. My dad also had a miracle of healing which I decided not to include with this story. I’ll wait on that. It was accomplished with prayer but without anointing, I believe. I are constantly baffled by God’s mysterious workings, but He is sovereign and I am not.


  2. I saw the gradual healing of a girl over a period of a week that was against all odds and used only basic medication. This healing of a little girl in a remote village fostered an amazing relationship for me in Indonesia.


    1. When you least expect it . . . and in a remote place. You have been very privileged to absorb the culture of Indonesia, including some unforgettable friendships like this one. Thanks, Traci!


  3. Wow! I’ve never had an experience remotely like this. I feel the power of the ritual that came at just the right moment. I’ve had psychological experiences that remind me of this, but never one that transformed the body like this–and my inner ear could use transforming. This deep faith is it’s own gift. Thank you for this beautiful piece, Marian.


      1. I’ve experienced the Mystery (in glimpses), but this is a powerful remembrance of physical healing. So glad for your mother and you.


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