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Norwich minister speaks of miracle stroke healing

Norwich Methodist Circuit minister Revd Sharon Willimott has spoken of the miraculous healing she experienced last week after suffering a debilitating stroke.

Sharon, a minister in the Norwich Methodist Circuit, had a wonderfully busy Easter weekend, preaching on Good Friday and twice on Easter day, with a day with her grandchildren in between. Deciding to rest on bank holiday Monday, after the rain stopped, she decided to “potter about in the garden”. Just before 4pm she felt unwell. She thought it was vertigo at first, so told herself to relax, as it will pass. Sharon said, “It didn’t pass. I recognised that I was having a stroke and I thought ‘this is very bad’. I lost sensation on my left side, my face dropped, my speech was slurred. It was classic stroke symptoms.”

Over the following twelve hours, doctors were concerned that Sharon might have a bleed on the brain but the stroke diagnosis was later confirmed with an MRI scan.  

Lying in hospital on an acute ward, with her husband Kevin by her side, Sharon believed that their lives as they knew it had gone. She said, “I felt my life of ministry had ended and I gave it back to the Lord. I felt despondent and desolate.”

Kevin took Sharon’s diary and began phoning people to arrange cover for her appointments, and also to ask people to pray. The Methodist circuit is clearly alive and well in Norfolk, because people were praying for Sharon up and down the county from Morley to North Walsham, Cromer to Brooke and beyond. Her son Robert shared the news on social media and it was seen by friends who were at Spring Harvest with Kevin’s 11 year old goddaughter Roisin, who stood in front of 400 strangers and asked them to pray for Sharon.

In the early hours of Wednesday, something remarkable happened.  Sharon said “I can only describe it as being covered by a blanket of prayer. I have been a minister since 2007 and I never really fully appreciated what that phrase meant.”

Sharon was on a ward with some very sick people and she felt that she couldn’t pray for herself, because there were so many others acutely unwell. However, the power of the prayer covering her was overwhelming. She said, “I felt I had to honour what people were doing. I had to join in.”

Sharon then fell asleep for a few hours. She said, “When I woke up the feeling was back in my body.” She raised her arms, walked around the room to show that the symptoms had gone. “The medical staff came throughout the day to check me over and were quite bowled over. The following morning I was signed off to go home, with a handshake from the consultant who came in to see me for herself, she said it was miraculous indeed, shook my hand and wished me well.”

Sharon is full of praise for the staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; despite all the pressures of the first days of the junior doctors’ strike, there wasn’t a moment when she felt her care was in any way inadequate. 

“One of the therapists at the hospital said it’s a spooky story, but I said not for a person of faith.” Engagement with so many staff has led to conversations with them about faith, the power of prayer  and what happened to her, and Sharon believes this ‘modern miracle’ is worth further sharing .

Shorlty before the stroke, Sharon had been studying John 5 with a Lent group, the story of Jesus at the pool of Bethsaida. A multitude of people were sick, but Jesus healed just one, and this is something people always struggle with. Sharon asks, “Of all the people why did he heal only one? And now, why me? We have to say we don’t know, we just have to take the blessing and be thankful. We cannot know the mind of God.” While all signs of Sharon’s stroke have gone, her previously existing health conditions remain. Sharon believes that the stroke would have stopped her from ever ministering again, but she can manage with her other health problems.Sharon wants to share what has God has done for her which she describes as ‘surreal but wonderful’ and is raring to go back to work. 

Pictured above: On the way home! Kevin and Sharon Willimott

Helen Baldry, 21/04/2023

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