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The 700 Club

Incurable Faith

Caleb Wood - 700 Club Producer

“Slowly, I watch my health fading. I was certain that my thirties would be different.”

Pastor Robbie Willis Lavaca, Arkansas. “I had spells where I would just randomly fall or pass out. Balance issues kinda came and went. And I had an occasional tremor in my right hand.”

Anna May Willis. “I thought, ‘Well, he just, he just needs some rest, he just needs a break.’”

‘It’s just stress,’ doctors kept telling Robbie Willis. It made sense – he was a pastor of a large church, a husband, and father to five kids. But by 2016, after several years of worsening symptoms, he couldn’t ignore them any longer.”

“So I was sitting at my desk and drinking coffee and I couldn’t get my hand to stop shaking,” said Pastor Willis, “and I was having a hard time, you know, holding onto my coffee cup. And it wasn’t stopping and so I started saying, ‘Okay, this isn’t normal.’”

Now very concerned, Robbie met with neurologist Dr. Satish Gaddam. For six months he put Robbie through numerous tests trying to find the problem. Then in October of 2016, he had a diagnosis.

Dr. Satish Gaddam. “It will impair pretty much every aspect of the life. It will slow you down. Your thinking will be slow, your response speed will be slow.”

“Dr. Gaddam called,” said Robbie, “and told me that the test was positive – it was certain that I had Parkinson's Disease.”

“Because I knew he was sick and I had to take care of him,” Robbie’s wife said, “I shoved all my emotions down and I said, ‘Okay, well, this is it, this is what we have to deal with, so…’”

Robbie continued, “I'm not sure there's an easy way to get the news that, you know, you have something that's not curable, that that will get worse. Because outside of God healing it, there was no question. Parkinson's progresses, that's what it does.”

The only thing Dr. Gaddam could do was prescribe medications to manage Robbie’s symptoms – tremors, stiffness, facial masking – to name a few. With his Parkinson’s getting worse, Robbie spent the next year struggling to be the pastor, husband, and father he wanted to be.

“‘What are we going to do when I can't pastor anymore? What are we going to do when we need to redo everything,’” questioned Robbie. “What's life going to look like?’”

“He was growing old now and he wasn't even 40,” Anna May said of her husband. “I felt like my dreams were just being crushed. ‘God, this isn't fair. I don’t like this. Why would you do this?’”

“We dreamed of someday, sitting in a porch swing, and uh watching our grandkids play. You know,” Robbie said through tears. “And people with Parkinson’s Disease, their life expectancy is significantly shorter.”

“Pain is with me when I wake. It’s with me when I lay down to sleep. Still I press on.”

“‘God, I don't want to quit. Help me to get up,’” Robbie pleaded. “‘Help me to move forward. Help me to live by faith while I suffer, until you see fit to make me well.’”

Anna May said, “God spoke to me not in words, but He said to me, ‘It's going to be ‘okay’. I knew it was going to be okay because God said it was.”

On October 29th, 2017 over a year after his diagnosis, Robbie and his family attended a worship and prayer night at their church. There, a woman from Texas Robbie barely knew came up to him, with a mission in mind.

Mary Davis. “And I said, ‘Pastor Robbie, I'm here to pray for you. I believe God has sent me.’ And I told that disease, I said, ‘Parkinson's Disease, you're just a name. No name can stand against the name of Jesus!’”
Robbie remembered, “While she's praying my hand is shaking and then it stopped.”

Mary finished, “And I said, ‘Robbie Willis, in the name of Jesus, be made whole.’”

“And so I go and start praying for other people,” Robbie said energetically. “My son walked up to me while I’m praying for people and he asked me uh something to the effect of ‘Dad, are you done with Parkinson's.’ And I look down and said, ‘Son, I believe I am.’”

“We went to lunch, I think it was the next day,” said Anna May. “[And] I took out my phone and I held it up and I just said, ‘Smile’ and I clicked a picture. And I turned it around and I showed it to him and I said, ‘Look, you're smiling.’ And that was when it hit me that God had really healed him.”

Three months later…

Robbie said, “…and I have just left one very confused neurologist. What was, what was, what did he say? Oh yeah, ‘there’s no scientific explanation. Can’t explain this scientifically. No one could.’”

“My neuro-exam was normal,” reported Dr. Gaddam. “And he [Robbie] claims he didn't take any medicines for three months before coming to me. Three months and no symptoms. I don't know, how to explain.”

“Therefore, in Christ alone can I hope.”

“When I see Robbie,” said Mary Davis, “I say, ‘Lord, if that was it, that's good enough. One beautiful life changed; one family restored.’”

“If there is only one hope, let it be Christ!”

Anna May said, “I think about it probably 90% of the time just I think about ‘God, You're just so great. I mean, You gave my husband back to me.’”

“If there's only one cure, let it be Christ!”

“I’ve never gone back on medication, I’ve never had a recurrence of any of those symptoms, I’m pastoring full-time,” Robbie said confidently. “So what's the power of prayer mean for me? It means living without Parkinson's, not with Parkinson's.”

“If I have only one place to turn, let it be to Christ.”

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