For Paula Patterson, Kayla Medlin, and Terry Malloy, Sunday, Oct. 18, is a day they are all happy to hear about over and over again as within a span of about 15 minutes, each one was healed and able to hear clearly for the first time in years — even decades!
Pastor Paul Long says the miracles that occurred one after the other at LifeChurch, a new church plant in Middlesboro, Kentucky, left him speechless — overwhelmed at the power of the Holy Spirit to instantaneously heal and restore.
“I’m 51 and I’ve been in ministry for a good number of years, but I’ve never personally witnessed anything like that,” Long says. “The wow factor just overwhelmed me. It was indescribable . . . I’m still having a hard time articulating what I saw.”
Patterson is 63 and had been deaf in her right ear since she was 7 years old; Medlin is 25 and had a hereditary condition that was progressively reducing her ability to hear out of her right ear. And Malloy, who is 68, had tinnitus (ringing) in his ears for over 20 years that kept him from hearing clearly. The key word for all three individuals in all of this? “Had.”
Yet, these miraculous events may have never taken place if Long and his wife, Rebecca, had listened to their own hearts rather than God’s will.
IT WASN’T PRETTY
The Longs had last ministered at an independent church for nearly a decade, and their leaving was not a pleasant departure. They left that church questioning God’s call upon their lives – maybe the ministry wasn’t where they should be?
In Middlesboro, the old AG church had seen numerous pastors come and go in 10 years — there were some deep-rooted problems within the church. Paul had filled in a few times as a guest minister at the church and quickly recognized the discord. When Kentucky Ministry Network Superintendent Joe Girdlier asked if the Longs were interested pastoring the church, their emphasis on “No,” cannot be overstated.
But conversations continued until finally Long called Girdlier, assuring a concerned Rebecca that his “requirements” in order to accept pastorate of the church would never be accepted.
“Rebecca was scared for us to take the church and I didn’t have the fight left in me or the willingness to expose my family to a church we all knew would not welcome us — or anyone, for that matter,” Long says. “So, my requirements, that I knew Pastor Joe (Girdlier) would never agree to, included closing the church down for an extended period of time and then basically planting a new church.”
When Girdlier picked up the call from Long, before Long could even begin expressing his position, Girdlier cut in and said he had been thinking about the church and the first thing they needed to do was close it down — not for just a few weeks, but for as long as it took to do things right. Girdlier’s expression of Long’s exact requirements stunned him.
“My heart began to pound and I broke out in a sweat,” Long admits. “I thought to myself, Oh no! This is really going to happen!”
Despite their initial fears, Long says the ministry network supported them in unprecedented ways to help make the transition a total success. The church was closed and for 10 months, beginning in January 2019, Long led services at different locations throughout the city, building a strong team and a small congregation while the church was totally remodeled. Time and time again during the process, through blessings and provision, God continued to confirm to the Longs that this was His will for their lives. The church opened to the public in Oct. 2019.
A few weeks ago, the church of about 75 congregants held a week of fasting and prayer for the lost, the city, and the nation, but there wasn’t anything specifically pointed at Oct. 18. That Sunday morning service was a regular service, with Long speaking on the topic of genuine faith.
Following the service message and after an altar call, came a time for prayer for other needs. The church has five prayer stations – one of those stations being for prayer for personal healing or the healing of a friend or family member.
Patterson was the first to respond. She was deafened decades ago when she was a little girl. Her father was mining coal from a cave and when dynamite was used to loosen the coal, she was standing too close and the blast permanently deafened her right ear.
“For 15 years I have had vertigo, which causes me to get really dizzy and sick when I turn my head too quickly — the doctor told me it has something to do with my inner ear,” she says. “When I didn’t see anyone going to the healing prayer station, I decided I would go. I didn’t even think about the deafness in my right ear as I had it prayed over so many times, with no results, I just figured it was something I was going to live with the rest of my life.”
When Patterson told the prayer station leader about her vertigo, he asked which ear was causing the problem. She responded that it had to be her left ear as she was deaf in her right. At that point, he decided to pray for both issues and placed his hands over her ears and began to pray.
“I felt this heat sensation running all through my body and then I heard two pops,” Patterson says, pausing as she begins to weep softly, “and the next thing I noticed was that the music was really, really loud — that’s when I realized I could hear out of that ear as well!”
Long recalls that Patterson was bent over with her face in her hands, shaking and crying. When he went over and to find out what happened, Patterson was crying, “I can hear, I can hear!”
As Patterson’s healing was proclaimed from the pulpit, Long turned and looked at Medlin, who is a musician on the worship team, to encourage her to go be prayed for.
Medlin had been slowly losing her hearing in her right ear since she was a sophomore in high school, possibly even before then. She had a hereditary condition called otosclerosis — her mother has hearing loss in both ears, while her aunt and uncle (on her mother’s side) were nearly totally deaf due to the condition.
She explains that she could hear some sounds in her right ear, but not distinguish them. Even with the use of a hearing aid, she needed to sit in the front of classrooms in order to make out what was being said.
When Patterson’s healing was shared, Medlin admits her reaction wasn’t positive.
“To be completely honest, I got mad,” she says. “I thought, God, how could you heal her right in front of me, because every single church I’ve gone to, I’ve had prayer for this . . .”
Perhaps hurt also played into her reaction, but God was patient and simply spoke into her heart, “Why don’t you just go down there?”
After arguing with herself for a time, she caught Long’s glance and knew she had to go.
“As soon as I came down off the platform and started to take a few steps, each step it got harder and harder to walk,” she says. “It wasn’t anything holding me back, but the presence of God was just so heavy, with everyone praying, it was like the air felt dense . . . I never experienced something quite that tangible, where you could feel that undoubtably something [of God] is going on.”
As with Patterson, the prayer team leader learned of Medlin’s need and then placed his hands over her ears and the group began to pray.
“I started to shake and my ear seemed to warm up, and then I started to hear this popping in my right ear, like something was breaking loose,” Medlin says. “When I felt that, I knew what was happening, and I just kinda lost control emotionally as I started to hear the prayers through his hand, when before I couldn’t hear anything on my right side.”
Jeremy, her husband, had been making his way down from the media booth to pray with the group for Kayla, but before he could arrive, the healing had taken place.
“We just held each other and cried because it had been just a hindrance in my life for so long,” she says.
After sharing with family and friends about her healing on Sunday, the next day Medlin went to one of her graduate degree classes at the local university. “I was able to sit in the back of the class for the first time. I didn’t wear my hearing aid and I heard everything just fine . . . [the healing] has been completely life changing.”
ONE MORE TIME
Malloy’s tinnitus was more than a slight distraction. The ringing in his ears kept him from hearing clearly and he struggled to understand what people were saying.
“I worked as a millwright around steam turbines and a lot of noise,” Malloy says. “The ringing in my ears sounded like a bell ringing and I could only pick up certain words and sounds — I was constantly saying ‘Huh?’ to my wife and others because I couldn’t hear them.”
Malloy was working at the salvation prayer station on Sunday. Following Patterson’s and Medlin’s healings, the urge to be prayed for pulled at him, but just as the women had struggled to respond, he admits that he at first resisted.
But putting his apprehensions aside, Malloy went to the station and expressed his need for prayer for his hearing.
“He started praying for me — the presence of God was so real — and then he cupped his hands over my ears,” Malloy recalls. “As soon as he did that, it was like I put a headset on and I could hear, I could hear everything! The ringing in my ears had stopped — the Lord had touched me!”
The healings weren’t just a momentary relief, either.
“I’ve spoken to all three of them this week,” Long says, “and all three healings stand.”
Patterson and Medlin, when asked, confirmed with some joy and surprise, that during the phone interviews for this story they were listening with their right — and recently healed — ears, something they had been unable to do for many years, while Malloy had no trouble hearing over the phone. All three of them have also found that they need to reduce the volume on their TVs when watching and Patterson admits with a laugh that she’s had a bit of trouble falling asleep at nights because now she can hear creaks and cracks that she couldn’t hear before.
“I’ve only been going to pastor Paul’s church since the first of August,” Patterson says. “And I told him back then that I really believe God is going to do something special through this church, that’s why He brought me here, and I want to be a part of that . . . and I think this is just the beginning!”