Stan Winder continues to defy the odds after his instantaneous recovery from a crippling disease that happened when he said God spoke to him and told him to get up out of his wheelchair and walk.
“I’ve been very pleased to have none of the symptoms return. Each day is a gift,” he said.
Winder, 59, combines a deep faith in the healing power of God with a playful sense of humor when talking about his new life.
“I don’t hear voices. That’s a good thing,” he quipped.
But near midnight on Palm Sunday 2009, he did hear a voice as God spoke to him while he read the Bible at bedtime. The voice told him once, twice, then three times to rise up out of his bed and walk.
He finally obeyed, and to his astonishment he had regained the use of his legs. In the middle of the night, as his wife Sue slept, he walked around their Ravenel house, took the dog outside and then went back to the bedroom. He decided to keep the miracle to himself until morning. If it was real, it would still be there.
More than three years since that moment, Winder is doing things with his new legs that he never dreamed possible when he became wheelchair-bound with hereditary spastic paraplegia in 2005.
Since September, he has been the youth ministry coordinator at Christ St. Paul’s on Yonge’s Island. This weekend, he is shepherding a group of about 20 youths and adults from Christ St. Paul’s to Asheville, N.C., where they are volunteering at a center for veterans.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said.
Winder, a retired Christian educator, is also teaching in the Home Education Learning Partnership program.
He is completing a nine-month program to be removed from government disability.
“I’m excited about the fact that I’m able to work,” he said.
Winder said being a youth pastor is something he never considered until the opportunity presented itself. He likened it to the unexpected way God moved in his life when he was suddenly offered the chance to walk and run again.
Winder, of Altoona, Pa., was a full-time pastor for nearly 20 years at Buckhorn Bible Church and Trinity Evangelical Free Church, both in Pennsylvania, where he also taught at Biblical Theological Seminary and Lancaster Bible College.
He now finds being a minister to kids in middle school and high school every bit as challenging and fulfilling as being a senior pastor. He aims for youths to recognize their value as one of God’s creations.
He also spends time with those who have hereditary spastic paraplegia. He offers them encouragement but can’t say they will be healed.
Winder said he is at peace with his new-found health and life.
“I’ve come to the place where I don’t have to know why,” he said.
For years, he was not a believer in modern-day miracles. He taught in seminary and college that miracles happened in biblical times but not today.
“Now I believe God can do anything, anytime, anywhere he pleases,” Winder said.
Winder’s physician, Dr. Curtis Haskins, told him that a spontaneous cure of hereditary spastic paraplegia is rare but not completely unheard of. Haskins told The Post and Courier last year that he was amazed by Winder’s sudden recovery because most people with hereditary spastic paraplegia get worse. Haskins was not immediately available for comment this week.
The Spastic Paraplegia Foundation says there is no treatment to prevent, slow or reverse the degenerative process of the disease that affected Winder. Medication, physical therapy and exercise are used to manage symptoms.
Sue Winder is parish coordinator at Christ St. Paul’s in Meggett where the couple worship. “He’s doing great. Everything is going great. He’s full of energy. I help him with the youth, too,” she said.
“It’s a testament to the power of God working in our lives. (Winder) is living proof of it,” said the Rev. Craige Borrett, the couple’s pastor.
Borrett said his son, Jacob, was healed of epilepsy through prayer. Today, some 20 years later, Jacob is leading a healthy, normal life.
Borrett said he and his wife, Nancy, went to a pediatric neurologist to ask that Jacob’s anti-seizure drugs be tapered off after she had a vision of the epilepsy leaving Jacob following prayers for his healing. Borrett said the healing of his son and Winder do not diminish or cast doubt on the medical profession. Healing in the name of Jesus is not about snake handlers and cults that rely on faith alone and exclude modern medicine, he said.
“We learn that the power to heal is there,” he said.