“God Still Does This”: Stories of Healing at The University of Colorado Boulder
“But this aspect of my brokenness is now better. And now that I know that it can happen for me, there's no reason why it can't happen for anybody else.” -Derek
Last school year at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) Derek, Abigail, and Jake started attending an InterVarsity small group on campus. There, they found belonging, opportunities to grow their faith, and a lifelong love of prayer ministry. They also discovered a God who could miraculously heal them not only of their physical ailments, but also of their mental, emotional, and spiritual brokenness.
Healing and Boldness
Derek, a recent graduate of CU Boulder, was first invited to InterVarsity through his teammate on the football team, Brady.
“Brady reached out and said, 'Just come hang out. Get some food and if you like it, keep coming.’ And I went and I liked it.”
Derek was a nominal Catholic before getting connected to InterVarsity. He went to mass and confession a few times a year and did all the things the church told him to do. But looking back, he realizes he didn’t really have a relationship with God. When he started attending InterVarsity events, his teammates told him that there was another “level” to his faith.
That statement started to make sense the day Derek got “zapped” by the Holy Spirit.
His senior year of high school, Derek was diagnosed with a congenital brain condition that caused him to lose all feeling in the left side of his body. After twenty-two hours of surgery, he gained almost all the feeling back except for in the area below his ankle and left foot.
“Hot and cold felt the same. Sharp and dull felt the same. I wouldn’t know if I cut myself,” Derek said. “And I was just kind of content that nerve damage is nerve damage.”
One night at Bible study, Jake, another student athlete in InterVarsity, began praying for his foot.
“All of a sudden, he put his hand on my foot to keep praying and I was like, his hands feel warm. I had no idea what was going on. My brain was totally overwhelmed. I was trying to think through how this is happening and I had no idea,” Derek said.
He jabbed his foot against some rocks and felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time: pain.
“I was like, Wow, God still does this. He’s not just this guy up in the sky waiting for judgement day to come down. He still answers prayers.”
Not long after that, his campus staff minister, Bo, sensed from the Holy Spirit that someone was dealing with addiction. After Bible study one night, Derek confessed that he’d been struggling with pornography for a long time.
“And so Jake again and one other guy were praying for me and I was like, I can beat this. With the help of my friends and with God, I can beat this. And I did. And that's not to say it was easy, but I beat it."
Because of the community he found in InterVarsity, the depth of his revived relationship with Jesus, and his miraculous healings both physical and spiritual, Derek decided that he wanted to pursue God more deeply than he ever had.
“I went to mass out of obligation. I went to confession out of obligation,” he said. “I didn't do it ‘cause I wanted to do it. I just did it because I knew it was something I had to do. And now that I have that internal compass that is pointing me in the right direction, it's like, Okay, I'm going to go here not only because I have to but because I want to go this way. I want to go towards God.”
At Mark Camp, an area-wide InterVarsity retreat, Derek got the chance to put his new-found faith to the test. He and Bo extended an invitation to students to hang back one night and learn more about healing and prayer ministry.
“We started talking about the ways God heals—physical healing, inner healing, spiritual stuff and deliverance. And then people were like, Well, we might as well try it,” he said.
When they started sharing, only two other people were in the room with them, but as the night continued, the group grew to 25.
“We started seeing people get healed left and right from physical stuff, emotional stuff, trauma. Two people were physically healed, two met Jesus,” Derek said.
Looking back, he still can’t believe God allowed him to witness his own healing and the healing of fellow students. “It’s like, Wow, God wants to use me like this,” he said. “I was so broken and so bad, you know? And it's like, man, the king of the universe wants to use me to help people.”
Healing and Peace
When Abigail started college, she yearned for a spiritual community that would help her press into Jesus more, rather than pull her away from him.
For years, Abigail had dealt with eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideations, and she was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). She’d struggled with constant nightmares stemming from a history of trauma. On top of that, she was convinced that God couldn’t be trusted and that he was angry with her.
In InterVarsity she met people that were kind and tender. They welcomed her to Bible study and made her feel like she truly belonged. One night, while Bo was facilitating Bible study, his words struck a chord with Abigail.
“Some part of the message was that God is not angry at us. The second Bo said that I was like, Wait a minute. And I felt [like the Holy Spirit was resting] upon me,” she said.
Bo and his wife, Kristen, stayed after Bible study to pray for her. Bo sensed that there was some sort force that had been causing Abigail’s nightmares. He prayed against it. Eventually, by the end of the time of prayer, Abigail felt more free of this feeling than she had in years.
The next day, Abigail couldn’t ignore that something still felt off, so she called Bo.
Over the phone, he prayed with her. She laid on her bed, and suddenly, "It was gone,” she said. Abigail accepted for the first time, that God was never angry with her, and later that same night, she was baptized.
“Since then I haven't had any suicidal ideations," she said. "I’ve been feeling a lot better mentally. I haven’t been feeling any anxiety or a lot of the things I was feeling from CPTSD. When you’ve got all these things ripping out of your life, it’s a little tiring. And then afterwards, I just felt so at peace.”
Healing and Freedom
Before Jake prayed for Derek’s healing, he dealt with his own struggles.
Depression ruled Jake’s life for years until a supernatural encounter with God re-directed his path. By the time he got to college, he knew he wanted to follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
Jake was a student athlete on the CU Boulder football team. During his junior year, he sustained a back injury that caused him to receive multiple surgeries.
“Three days before my three-month checkup, I was supposed to be doing really well,” Jake said. “I woke up and I couldn't walk, and I had to call my roommate and tell him to come help me get out of bed (…) I was just running stairs the day before, I was doing great. Next thing you know, I need help out of the truck. I need help in the truck. I need help out of my house, out of my bed.”
Because of his injury, Jake decided to medically retire from football.
At the time, he was living in a house with roommates who were a part of InterVarsity. One night while they were hosting Bible study, he joined them. When Bo heard of his injury, he offered to pray for Jake, but he declined the offer and said he was content with quitting football.
“I just kind of tried to move on with my life. I didn't think there was anything else for me. I thought I was going to be stuck with chronic back pain,” he said.
For the next six months, Jake had repetitive, chaotic, unpleasant dreams. One night, he experienced nine hours of sleep paralysis, followed by a vision he believed was from God.
“My eyes were open, and it was like a light bulb flashing in my eyes, going back and forth between playing high school football and not being able to walk and then being healed. And at that time, it showed me coming back and playing football. But now that I know what God had planned for me, that's not what it was. It was mainly about him using something that would motivate me to have faith in him. And so I called Bo the next day. I was like, ‘You're supposed to pray for me and I'm going to get healed.’”
As Bo prayed for him, Jake began feeling a tingle in his feet and what he could only describe as a hand pulling floss out of him. “It was like pulling this nerve pain out of me,” Jake said. “And it kept pulling and it was like, You're going to be okay. You're going to be okay. And I was laying on his kitchen table, and there was one moment where Jesus pulled the last string of pain out and he said, ‘Run.’”
Jake sat up, went outside, and began sprinting and jumping down the street.
“There was absolutely no pain” he said. “And ever since that day, I haven't really looked back.”
Jake shared his story two nights later at small group, and two more people were healed; Derek was one of them.
Prayer as Transformation
Abigail believes students on campus are longing for community and connection, but that their search for it often leaves them unsatisfied. “I just feel like people are looking for something more than what CU Boulder there has to offer and that can't be found in this world,” she said.
She wants students to discover how beautiful and healing life with Jesus can be, and she knows the only way to get there is to experience prayer and intimacy with him.
Derek shares similar feelings of excitement: “I'm hooked on this. Like, this is awesome. People are getting better because I'm partnering with the Holy Spirit. I am a part of that.”
And Jake is no exception. “Anything that can happen through [Jesus] that he wants to happen, will happen,” he said. “...your life's purpose is greater than you can ever imagine.”
Want to see more students experience healing through Jesus? Join us in praying for transformational communities on unreached campus. Read about our 2030 Calling to learn how you can get involved.
Information on this web site solely reflects the opinions of the author and is provided for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or mental health advice and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by a licensed physician, counselor, or other healthcare professional. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional about any mental health or medical concerns
Emily Baez is a writer on InterVarsity’s Communications Team in Madison, Wisconsin. She enjoys long hikes, watching movies, and overly competitive game nights with friends. You can support her ministry at donate.intervarsity.org/donate#22836.
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