The two miracles that happened last week

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2019

Hopefully it’s a miracle—a new drug that can reverse Alzheimer’s.

According to the South China Morning Post, scientists just published results from trials of a seaweed-based drug. The medicine brought “significant improvement” to early and medium-stage Alzheimer’s’ patients, potentially reversing the disease. And the drug may be available early next year.

It’s a hopeful moment for millions who suffer with Alzheimer’s and for their families. Right now medicine can only treat symptoms but can’t stop Alzheimer’s from worsening.

This research was released last Friday. The night before, I witnessed a smaller miracle along these lines.

I now lead a Gospel sing-along at a nursing home. This is new to me. The first week, a man I’ll call Willis sat in a wheelchair in the back. When we came to “How Great Thou Art” he began to cry—I mean he lifted his head and wept heavily.

I fell in love with him immediately.

Anyone who knows me will tell you how passionately I adore the Lord. Like Willis, I’m moved to tears when I feel God’s wonder. But perhaps there was something more with him. A memory.

What I didn’t realize then was that Willis has Alzheimer’s. Everyone else knew—this is a small, tightly-knit nursing home. It’s really lovely. The residents can take their wheelchairs or walkers and go outside at any time and be surrounded by nature.

But those who might wander away, like Willis, wear an ankle bracelet. A warning bell sounds if they slip outside, then a nurse comes running.

Willis came the second week and then the third. He’s mostly quiet, but sometimes he’ll mumble and motion, trying to communicate. Willis feels, as I said, and somewhere deep inside he remembers. Each week he lifts his head and cries as we sing “How Great Thou Art.”

The excitement happened my third week. Halfway into the sing-along, I took the microphone and went around the room, encouraging each resident to sing a solo on the chorus. Those in the back suddenly moved forward. One man on a walker sang two solos.

I also went to Willis and sat beside him. He shook his head, but then decided to try, mumbling a few words as you’d expect.

The Spirit moved me to go back to him again, and that’s when it happened. Willis sang as clearly as I could—a miracle and the group knew it, raising hands and voices to clap and cheer for him. Willis knew it too, beaming at his accomplishment.

I told this story to Teri Youhanaie, my law-school buddy in California. At 59, her father suffered a massive stroke and never regained his ability to speak or walk. It was a challenge to even know what Bob Zintgraff understood. Teri then surprised me.

“My dad could sing hymns,” she said.

Utterly amazing.

She remembered that his favorite was “Amazing Grace.”

Researchers have proved that singing is more powerful than listening to music. A study tested the blood of choir members before and after a rehearsal and found lower stress hormone levels and higher levels of antibodies after singing according to the Chicago Tribune. And singing is a natural anti-depressant. It can boost sleep and mental function. Praising God is even more powerful, obviously suppressing brain damage.

Wouldn’t it be great if the President led us in praise. Or any world leader. Who knows what the power of praising God might bring.

Could that ever happen?

It already has. Some 3,000 years ago, King David wrote and sang the Psalms, also playing several instruments. In fact, when the Ark of the Covenant (the box containing the Ten Commandments) journeyed to Jerusalem, David runs before it dancing and singing. (2 Samuel 6)

King David passionately loved the Lord, lived to praise Him, and God strengthened his nation.

Praise is all over the Bible. In heaven, the angels sing to God. Remember the shepherds the day of Jesus’ birth: “And suddenly there appeared…a multitude of heavenly host…”

What were they doing?

“…praising God.”  (Luke 2:13)

Join the angels. During worship, lift your voice for hymns and songs. Make time every day to praise Him.

We’re a petitioning people, often asking favor from God in prayer. We enjoy lives billions worldwide would love to have. Like Willis, Bob Zintgraff, and King David, may we also praise Him!

Copyright © 2019 R.A. Mathews The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney, and author of “Reaching to God.” You may contact her at