An excerpt from Signs and Wonders in America Today:

Miracle on the 134 Freeway

Wednesday, August 11, 1999, dawned gray and misty—unusual weather for a Los Angeles summer day, although the overcast would burn off before long. In Burbank, California, on the eastern edge of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, Araceli Alvarez finished her morning Bible reading and prayer and prepared to leave for work. About six o’clock she climbed behind the wheel of her 1986 Chevy Nova. The little blue four-door had served her well, racking up mileage as she commuted to her job in Pasadena, about fifteen miles east.

Light traffic at that hour allowed Araceli to cruise in the fast lane with the speedometer topping sixty-five. As she headed down Interstate 5 and transitioned onto the 134 Freeway, her mind still churned with the issues she had laid before the Lord that morning. For months she had wrestled with the option of taking early retirement after her sixty-first birthday the following October. Her position as human resources data analyst at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care offered a good retirement plan, but her benefits would shrink if she left before age sixty-five. Elderly family members and a grown daughter sometimes needed Araceli’s financial help. Would she be able to get by?

Friends at church who saw her ministry gifts urged her to trust God to meet her needs. Araceli’s leadership roles at Comunidad de las Américas, the Spanish-speaking congregation at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, kept her busy enough. Yet lately the Lord’s favor and anointing had greatly expanded Araceli’s prayer ministry of inner healing and deliverance. Partnering with her friend Juanita Cobb, Araceli constantly fielded requests for prayer from people seeking freedom from spiritual bondage. The pair, trained under the deliverance ministry of Doris Wagner at Global Harvest Ministries, found the demand for help overwhelming, and at the moment, they could schedule prayer sessions only outside Araceli’s long hours at work.

Araceli’s background made her especially effective at this kind of ministry. As a youth in Cuba she had been groomed to become a high priestess in Santería, an occult religion. After coming to the United States in 1961, she continued practicing witchcraft until a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ in the summer of 1984 delivered her from this bondage and deception. The Lord soon gave her tremendous spiritual authority to minister freedom to others. By early 1999 Araceli and Juanita had begun the process of incorporating their own nonprofit organization, Fountain of Freedom Ministries.

Araceli recognized how her job limited the time she could devote to ministry. Many people who called for prayer had to wait weeks for an appointment. Yet the thought of leaving the security of a regular paycheck gave her cold chills.

Still, she sensed the Lord nudging her to boost her faith. Can you trust me, Araceli? he seemed to whisper. For years Araceli’s greatest concerns had surrounded her daughter, Beatriz. She remembered BeBe’s accident about eight months earlier, when her little Honda had been crushed between an old Cadillac and a pickup truck. The Cadillac’s gasoline tank had ruptured, spewing fuel over BeBe. Yet she had managed to crawl out through a window, and the gas never ignited. When her mom tearfully hugged her later that day, Araceli heard the Holy Spirit’s assuring words, See—when you cannot take care of her, I will.

Now Araceli felt additional urgency to make a decision about full-time ministry. After she had attended a deliverance conference in Colorado Springs in late July, her sense had grown that God was claiming her time for his purposes. Yet she continued to bargain with him. “Lord,”she pleaded, “if you will arrange the finances and insurance and prove to me that you’ll be with me in every way and that you really want me in this ministry, I will go.”

Bang! About halfway into her commute that overcast August morning, a loud, unfamiliar sound from her car interrupted Araceli’s musings. What in the world? she wondered. Did I just run over a huge stone? She felt no change in the car’s handling, but the sudden bang had so startled her that she decided to pull over and check to see if anything was wrong. From the left lane she slowed and eased to the right, taking more than a mile to transition across the four lanes. Just beyond the Glendale Boulevard overpass, she parked the Nova on the shoulder, a little past the onramp.

Araceli got out carefully. As she shut her door, another sharp bang made her heart jump. This time the right rear end of her car dropped to the ground. With growing trepidation she walked around to the passenger’s side. What she saw did not compute. Her car rested on the end of a broken axle. Just to the right, the wheel with the tire lay on its side, about two inches of axle sticking up like a child’s top. In between sat a neat pile of nuts and bolts.

Araceli squeezed her eyes shut and then stared again. What is this? How is it that my axle broke right here on the shoulder? What was that loud bang a mile back? She could only conclude that from the moment of a major axle failure, an angel must have held her car together until it was safely parked.

Some moments passed before Araceli’s emotions calmed enough for her to use the roadside emergency call box to contact the Auto Club. She tried to explain that she would need more than the usual tow truck.

“Do you need a flat tire changed?”the dispatcher asked.

“No, the axle is broken,”Araceli replied.

“What! Did you have an accident? Did you hit anybody?”

“No.”

“Are you in the middle of the freeway?”

“No.”

“Oh, if you’re on the shoulder then you must have a flat tire.”

“No, Sir, I do not. The axle is broken.”

The dispatcher expressed his doubts and the conversation cycled a few more times before Araceli finally said, “Fine, whatever you think—just send a tow truck that can lift the car completely.”

After about twenty minutes’ wait in the chill morning air, a truck arrived. Araceli praised God to see it was a flatbed—but she soon learned that this was a “coincidence” of the Lord’s making. The dispatcher had called for a simple tire change, but the flatbed happened to be the nearest truck available.

The driver, Bob, took Araceli’s information. Then he said, “Why don’t you wait in the cab while I change your tire?”

“Sir, it’s not a matter of changing a tire.”

Bob’s eyebrows lowered skeptically. “Well, let me take a look at it.”

Araceli climbed into the tow truck, too spent to argue. A few seconds later, Bob came knocking at the window.

“Ma’am, you have a broken axle!”

“Yes, I know.”

“Did you just enter the freeway from Glendale Boulevard?”

“No, Sir. I’ve been driving from Burbank, and I first heard a loud bang more than a mile back in the fast lane.”

“But, but. . . .”

Araceli explained how she had slowed and parked, and how the wheel had fallen off only after she had shut her car door.

The truck driver listened with an expression of total bewilderment. “You know, lady,”Bob told her, “I’ve been in this business twenty-five years, and I have never seen a broken axle on a moving vehicle that didn’t cause an accident, where the wheel didn’t fly off. If you were going even forty-five in the right-hand lane, you would have hit the fence, and the wheel would have ended up who knows where.”

Araceli just kept nodding. “I know, I know.”

“Lady, you are very lucky,”Bob said.

“No,”Araceli replied, “I am very blessed. I’m telling you, Sir, this is a miracle. The Lord saved me from a big accident.”

Still looking dazed, the tow driver hoisted the wheel and laid it in the Nova’s trunk. He collected the nuts and bolts too, remarking about how they were not scattered or missing. "This can’t be," he muttered. Then he lowered the back end of the flatbed and placed a small dolly under the broken axle before attaching cables to the car to pull it aboard.

Even though the distance to Araceli’s home just exceeded the mileage limit of her insurance coverage, Bob agreed to take her there with no extra charge. He seemed to want to talk more about what he had seen. Back in Burbank he left the Nova in Araceli’s driveway, resting the axle on the ground. The next day she called her mechanic, who sent another flatbed tow to bring it in to the shop.

As Araceli processed what had happened, she could not miss a clear message from the Lord. I am with you, Araceli. I told you I could take care of you. If I’m asking you to quit work, if I’m asking for your whole time, I will be with you.

Araceli’s faith grew to new heights as she considered how God had supernaturally saved her life. She applied for early retirement. In early 2000 she and her friend Juanita completed the incorporation of Fountain of Freedom Ministries. Their prayer sessions multiplied. Araceli started receiving invitations to teach on inner healing and deliverance.

Finances remain tight, and each day situations challenge Araceli’s faith and trust. Yet whenever she feels anxiety rising about the future, the worry evaporates as she recalls the morning God or his angels held together her broken axle.

excerpted from Signs and Wonders in America Today
©Jane Rumph, all rights reserved

 

©2003–2014 Jane Rumph. All rights reserved.

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