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The Pridgens
The Doctor Is In

In Sickness and In Health: The Love Story of Johnny and Janice

By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club

CBN.comWhen Johnny and Janice Pridgen met over 30 years ago. They knew it was meant to be.

“I met Johnny when I was sixteen,” says Janice. “He said to me one day, ‘It don’t matter how long it takes for me to get you, we’re going to be together.’”

Johnny and Janice married and started their new life together. Everything was picture perfect until Janice’s health started to decline. One day she woke up and the left side of her body was paralyzed.

“My left side went numb, and I had a facial pull,” Janice says. “Looked like I had a stroke.”

Janice began to lose the ability to walk on her own. She went to a neurologist. After a series of tests, doctors diagnosed her with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis.

“I was very concerned ‘cause I loved her with all my heart,” says Johnny.

But could Johnny’s love weather the storm that they now faced?

“She even offered, ‘You can leave, you know. You don’t have to stay here with me and be with a sick woman the rest of your life.’ There was no way I was going to do that,” says Johnny.

That would be the type of commitment that Janice would need. Soon she no longer could care for herself. She was paralyzed from the waist down -- a paraplegic. She lost the ability to control her bodily functions. Within four years Janice was totally bedridden.

“I couldn’t make beds, I couldn’t wash clothes, I couldn’t do anything,” she says. “I was just bound.”

Janice couldn’t go anywhere without the aid of her wheelchair. Because of the disease, Janice suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. Plus, the medications made her gain weight.

“He was spending $1200 a month in medicines. I was taking 42 pills a day and two shots,” she says.

One year Janice spent a total of six months in the hospital but the disease grew worse. In 1999 she went into a diabetic coma and almost died.

“Every time they would say that was it, it seems like God would come on the scene and lift me up a little bit higher,” she says.

Johnny never stopped praying for his wife to be healed but Janice’s prayers were different.

“For a long time Janice would not pray for healing,” says Johnny. “She would make me so mad. I’d say, ‘Why won’t you pray and ask God to heal you?’ She said that she felt like God was going to use this in her life to touch somebody else’s life.”

In spite of it all, Johnny and Janice believed that Janice would one day walk again.

“Lot of times we pray, and we didn’t see results,” says Janice. “But I still kept the faith. I kept telling them that ‘one day I’m going to walk again.’”

Janice and Johnny faithfully attended their local church when she was able. On May 23rd 2004, the Pridgens went to church as usual. It was like any other Sunday. Pastor David Hodge was preaching, and the Pridgens were enjoying the Gospel message. But then something happened.

“God said, ‘Get up. You’re going to walk today on Holy ground.’ And so I said, ‘Oh, my God. Today is my day.’ It just all of a sudden was so overwhelming. I couldn’t believe that I was going to walk. After 14 years, you’re going to really walk.”

Janice remembers the exact moment when she began to walk. “I remember holding onto the pews but I when I got to the top front pew, God told me to turn a'loose. I did and I walked up to the banister.”

“You talk about setting a church on fire,” says Johnny. “When she began to walk, boy, that whole church began to shout and praising the Lord.”

“I walked around the church three times that day,” says Janice.

When Janice and Johnny left church that day, they were able to hold hands and walk together for the first time in 14 years.

“I remember telling her, ‘It’s been a long time since we took a walk together,’” says Johnny.

After church Janice and Johnny rushed to visit their daughter and granddaughter Nichole. Nichole had never seen her grandmother walk before!

“She started walking towards us and then we ran down there [and] gave her a hug,” Nichole says. “I was so happy she finally could walk. I give thanks to God.”

After their visit, Janice told her husband to take the wheelchair into the barn. “I’m not getting back in that chair,” she declared.

True to her promise, Janice hasn’t used that wheelchair since she was healed in May of 2004. Even her physical therapist, Harry, was quick to give credit where credit is due.

“There was no form of therapy or any medical science that I knew of that would ever have her walking again,” says Harry. “Her miracle is due to the Lord. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. She has the strongest faith of anyone I’ve ever known in my life.”

Today Janice is rebuilding her leg muscles. She is getting stronger and stronger everyday. She’s glad to be active again doing things she hasn’t done in 14 years -- like driving. But most of all….

“The one thing that I looked forward to the most after I got healed was cooking,” she says, “because I wanted to cook my husband a wonderful meal because he had taken care of me so long.”

Whether people call it a miracle or skeptics call it remission, Janice doesn’t mind. She just knows that Jesus has touched her life. “Everyday you don’t hear about somebody getting picked up out of a wheelchair, but God lifted me up out of a wheelchair after fourteen years. You just read that one little part in the Bible, ‘By my stripes you are healed.’ You just keep on believing in that.”

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