Stan Winder heard a voice in his head telling him to do something that seemed impossible.

"Get up and walk."

Acts Chapter 3, the story of Peter healing a lame beggar in the name of Jesus, was the Scripture that Winder read when he heard the voice.

Skepticism was his initial reaction.

"I thought, 'Well, you've got to be kidding me.' "

At the time, Winder was disabled and relied on a wheelchair to get around. At age 56, doctors told him his illness would likely get worse.

But the voice returned with its command.

"I went through all kinds of rationalizations why that could not happen," he said, "and this was a crazy thing, all that sort of thing."

It seemed to Winder that God was speaking to him, offering to restore his health if only he would cooperate.

"So I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' I got up, and the minute my feet hit the floor, there was absolute freedom," he said.

Winder decided to wait until morning to tell his wife, Sue, who was sleeping. If what had happened was no fluke, he would still be healed in the morning, he reasoned.

He took the dogs out, relishing his restored ability to walk up and down the front door steps. It was near midnight on Palm Sunday of 2009 at the Winders' home in Ravenel.

Sue Winder recalled waking up the next morning to discover that her husband could walk again.

"It was just like, 'What in the world happened?' We were just so grateful," she said.

Curtis Haskins, Winder's family doctor, said he was unaware of any other cases in which the condition that affected Winder, hereditary spastic paraplegia, had been spontaneously cured.

Haskins' reaction to Winder's new-found health? "Amazement," he said.

Hereditary spastic paraplegia refers to a group of inherited disorders that are characterized by progressive weakness and spasticity (stiffness) of the legs, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"Those usually don't get better," Haskins said. "They usually get worse."

The disease is estimated to affect between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the United States, although its frequency may be higher because it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. Difficulty walking usually gets slowly worse, often requiring canes, walkers or wheelchairs.

There is no treatment to prevent, slow or reverse the degenerative process. Symptom relief (medications for spasticity), physical therapy and exercise are used, according to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation.

Before the disease struck, the Winders moved here in 2003 to escape the high taxes of Lancaster, Pa. He found work teaching fifth grade at Oaks Christian School. Within a year, he said, the illness forced him to retire from the classroom.

Sue Winder, a former police officer, is the parish coordinator at Christ St. Paul's Church in Meggett, where the couple worship. Their pastor, the Rev. Craige Borrett, described Winder's healing as an exceptional demonstration of the current working of the Holy Spirit.

"I wasn't surprised at all," Borrett said. "God is using it powerfully as a testimony."

Winder said he became wheelchair-bound in March 2005. He could use a walker, but only for short distances. Other things also went wrong at that time. He developed dangerously high blood pressure and diabetes, and at times he had trouble speaking intelligibly.

When Winder was sick, "All of my muscles fired at once. They would not coordinate. They were all firing at the same time. I had weakness in my hips. And my legs ... they never relaxed, ever. That prohibited any kind of free movement."

Because of his new ability to exercise by running and walking, he has shed 60 pounds and now takes a minimal dose of medication to maintain normal blood pressure. And his blood sugar is healthy.

"Today, I have the same physical stamina that I had when I was young. I actually weigh what I did in college," he said.

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.

Despite his background, Winder said he did not believe in modern-day miracles. God certainly could heal people, but that happened in New Testament times, not now, he said.

He had received "impressions" from scripture, but had never heard a voice in his head like the one that spoke to him the night when his crippling disease vanished. After his sudden recovery, he went to Christ St. Paul's, where he ran to the altar to give thanks.

Since his healing, Winder has become a self-described charismatic. He believes that healing and other spiritual gifts described in the Bible are real today, not something that passed away with history.

"In the last couple of years there's been a huge leap forward in my spiritual life, and in my wife's spiritual life. I don't think that has anything to do with me. Hers has come from prayer, fasting. Our lives spiritually have been just completely altered," he said.

"I think this is all the grace of God," he said.

Shortly after regaining use of his legs, Winder was standing in the bathroom asking God why he was healed instead of someone else.

Again, it seemed like God was speaking to Winder when the voice came back.

"He said, 'Stan, it's not about you. It has nothing to do with you. It's about me displaying my power and glory to bring others to myself.'

"That comforted me," Winder said. "That to me is the answer. It has nothing to do with me."

Winder was reluctant to talk about his healing because he thought people would think he had a mental health problem that caused his disability. Or he worried that people would think he was prideful.

"All I can tell you is I couldn't walk, and then I could walk," he said.

He looks at every day as a gift.

"I never take it for granted. So what it's created is an overwhelming passion, an indescribable passion to know God more intimately and to help others in need, to help others who struggle with disabilities, to help Christians grow in their faith," he said.