EXCERPT from Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union’s Centennial Journey, 1923-2023 (pg. 253-256) by author Jan Turner.
In 1988, Randy and Nancy Sprinkle, missionaries to South Africa, both developed serious health problems. Randy was having leg pain and could barely walk. When he went to see an orthopedic doctor, the doctor suspected Randy’s leg pain was caused by a problem in his back. Outpatient tests showed damage to the discs and vertebrae in his lower spine, creating pressure on the nerves running into his legs. The doctor sent Randy back to Maseru, Lesotho, and ordered him to bed rest for three weeks to see if the inflammation and lower back pain could be reduced. Later, Randy was admitted to the hospital, where he discovered he had herniated discs in his neck and lower back. Randy was sent back home with a fitted traction device and orders to stay in bed for the next five weeks.
Time to Leave
The rest of the family had been sick with strep throat. Nancy’s health was also affected by lupus. She was physically and mentally exhausted. With their many health challenges, they determined that the time had come to leave Lesotho and return to the states.
The Sprinkles moved into a missionary house near Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. After meeting with a neurosurgeon there, it was confirmed Randy would need neck surgery. The herniated disc would be removed, and the two flanking vertebrae fused. A few months later, he would be scheduled for surgery on his lower back.
Randy called Marilyn Coble, the Missouri WMU Prayer Coordinator. The Missouri intercessors were following the Sprinkles’ health developments closely. Marilyn had been anticipating the call from Randy. She had already planned how she would use the telephone prayer chain to spread the news quickly. When Randy told Marilyn the date of his surgery, Marilyn shouted in astonishment and amazement. Marilyn told Randy, “The dates of your hospitalization and surgery are the same as the Missouri WMU Annual Meeting on April 15-16, 1988, at Second Baptist Church in Liberty. God did it again. God is way out ahead of us. God has already done far better than I ever could have. There will be over a thousand of us gathered and ready to pray for you in Liberty.”
Randy could see God moving behind the scenes, and he felt at peace.
Preparing for Surgery?
The following week, Randy entered the hospital and was given two injections in preparation for a myelogram that would provide the information needed to perform the surgery. It was also compared with a myelogram he had previously in Africa.
After being kept in the x-ray room for an extended period of time, the surgeon came into the room and said, “We had been planning on removing a herniated disc that was causing your problems. But now, it is a perfectly normal disc. This is very difficult to explain. In contrast to your previous x-rays and MRI, today’s myelogram looks normal and healthy.”
Randy was released from the hospital and sent home. Clearly, God had intervened and healed the damaged disc in Randy’s neck.
The morning after Randy returned home, Marilyn Coble called to see how Randy’s surgery had gone. She was surprised to hear Randy’s voice and wanted to know why he was home answering the phone already. Randy detailed to Marilyn what had transpired at the hospital. Marilyn then returned to the WMU Annual Meeting and related how God had answered their prayers for Randy.
Randy is best known in Missouri for designing and implementing the International Mission Board’s first state/mission prayer partnership — the Missouri/Lesotho Prayer Partnership, particularly embraced by Missouri Woman’s Missionary Union and still functioning today.
NOTE: [Revisions were made to the original text for space]
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