The truth behind Ema McKinley’s miracle

Ema before the miracle

Written by Craig Dirkes, writer and photographer for The Salvation Army Northern Division

Before you read this blog post, please make sure you’ve read the preceding story.

Super. Now here again are the facts: On Dec. 23, 2011, Ema McKinley’s body was the same as it’d been for 17 years: mangled spine, crippled foot and club hand – all documented by Mayo Clinic since her accident. The next day – Christmas Eve, no less – Ema’s spine, foot and hand were good as new. This has been confirmed by several Mayo Clinic doctors, including Dr. David Bell, Ema’s primary physician of almost 10 years.

Dr. C. Robert Stanhope, a Mayo Clinic surgeon of 30 years, believes Ema’s healing was divine. “What happened to Ema last Christmas is simply not explainable to my knowledge from a medical perspective,” said Stanhope, who has never treated Ema but said he witnessed her “twisted and contorted state” for years at the Rochester Salvation Army. “I believe the only explanation has to be that God intervened in her life with a miracle.”

Alas, there is no catch to any of this. The miracle happened.

With that established, here’s my own two cents on Ema’s miracle:

  • How is this story not world news? If scientists said they finally discovered the missing link, that story would appear everywhere. And here we have Ema’s story, a bona fide miracle that proves God exists and backs it up with medical evidence from the finest hospital known to man. Yet her story has gone nowhere in the mainstream media, other than this story from KAAL TV in Rochester. Literally, as I’m writing this, the top national headline reads: “Mayo Clinic: Jackson has bipolar depression.” It’s clear the worldwide media trusts and accepts Mayo Clinic’s diagnoses of everyone. But not Ema?
  • Ema’s miracle is a microcosm of how Christianity started. It began with Jesus, who performed miracles to prove God exists. The miracles piqued non-believers’ curiosity about God, so they began studying God’s word. When they studied God’s word, they discovered the truth about the world and why we’re alive. When they discovered the truth, they were compelled to follow God’s instructions on living. When they followed His instructions, their lives improved beyond measure. When their lives improved, they couldn’t help but want to tell others about God.
  • God healed Ema to get your attention. Yes, you. Because Ema’s miracle is incontestable, it forcibly places everybody into one of three categories: 1. You’re already a Christian. The miracle confirms what you already know. 2. You’re spiritually on the fence. God is using the miracle to prove it’s OK for you to go all-in. 3. You’re spiritually in the dark. God is using the miracle in hopes that everything outlined in the previous bullet point happens to you.

I’ll close by saying I was skeptical when I first heard Ema’s story. But my disbelief ended the second I met her in person. Partly because she really was walking, but more because I found her to be the kindest person I’ve ever met, radiating confounding love, humility and gentleness. If Christians strive to be more Christ-like, then she is the best imitator of Christ I’ve ever met.

The truth behind Ema’s miracle is simple: God is real.

If you don’t know God, here’s a great place to start.

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