In 1970, Rosemary and I attended a summer program at the University of Montreal. Before it started, we stayed with the Wilkinsons, a missionary family in Ville d’Anjou. During our few weeks there, we tried evangelizing teens on the street. Never had we met such strong resistance to Christ’s message. However, a bright spot in our experience was meeting 12-year-old Robert Livingstone, who told us he had trusted Jesus as His Savior a few years earlier.
Robert enthusiastically supported our efforts, often exhorting his peers to “listen to the truth” we were sharing. But they ignored him. The same disability that caused his two auto-pedestrian accidents had also rendered him almost illiterate. Robert was blind in one eye with “tunnel vision” in the other. His visual field was so narrow that he had to wag his head back and forth to scan the ground wherever he went. It was hard to leave him, when our French classes began.
One morning in prayer, God impressed on me to pray for Robert’s eyes. I finally got that opportunity when we went to visit Mr. Chivers, one of our French professors from Bob Jones University, who was staying at the Wilkinsons. Even though we told him how hard it was to reach the youth there, he insisted we take him to their nightly hang-out at the local supermarket. Indeed, it was the same crowd, same resistance. One of them scoffed, “If Jesus is real, why doesn’t he do miracles today?” Another challenged, “Yeah, if he shows up, then we’ll believe!”
Mr. Chivers replied with Christ’s parable in Luke 16:19-31. In hell, the rich man begged that Lazarus be sent to warn his brothers. Abraham replied that they already had God’s Word to warn them. But he persisted, “if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” Abraham answered that, if they refused to believe God’s Word, they wouldn’t be convinced even if someone rose from death. Our teacher explained how the Jewish nation fulfilled this by failing to believe even after Christ’s resurrection. It would be the same with them. If they refused the Gospel, another miracle wouldn’t help them to believe.
“What a cop out!” – “You’re just avoiding our argument!” On and on they ranted, and just when I was fed up listening, I saw Robert zigzagging his way towards us in the dim lights of the parking lot. The crowd of teens were now in two groups—the guys arguing with Mr. Chivers and the girls with Rosemary. I decided to go meet Robert before he got closer, so we could talk quietly together. We were about 20 yards from the others.
After telling him that I’d soon be returning to the States, I recalled God’s direction to pray for his eyes. My prayer ended up rather wishy-washy. I envisioned God possibly healing him through the right kind of eye surgery or gradual medical treatment. In that frame of thought, I told him to keep praying for his own eyes, too. That prompted Robert to bow his head and simply ask, “Lord Jesus, please heal my eyes.” He immediately looked up, saying he felt a hand on his shoulder. I smiled, for that’s where my hand was. “And a hand came down on my head.”
Chills shot through me. I got goose bumps all over. “Robert, pray again, and this time really, really believe!”
He bowed his head once more, but instantly started shouting, “My eyes! I have my eyes! I can see!”
I was screaming “Praise God!” again and again as fast as my mouth could move. We were jumping around like two people gone crazy with joy. Robert suddenly cried, “I have to go tell my momma!” Before I could stop him, off he disappeared into the darkness. I ran over to find everyone, including Rosemary and Mr. Chivers, with blank stares and jaws gaping.
“This is what you kids just asked for—a miracle!” I bellowed at the young skeptics. “Jesus came and healed Robert’s eyes! Now do you believe what we’re saying?” No, it was just as predicted. Though the miracle shocked them, it led none to entrust their hearts to Christ. Silently, they all dispersed. But just as Mr. Chivers and Rosemary began interrogating me about what had happened, we saw Robert returning with tears streaming down his face.
“I’m scared to go home. Can you go with me?” It was our pleasure. And all along our the way to his apartment, Robert surveyed everything in amazement, saying, “Look at all the lights! They’re everywhere! The world is so big!”
When his mother opened the door, Robert threw his arms around her and burst forth with his wonderful news, “Oh, Momma, I have my eyes! I have my eyes!”
“What’s this nonsense?” Mrs. Livingstone scolded with a thick Scottish accent, pushing him away from her. “And who are these people? What have you done to him?”
So, this was why Robert feared reporting his miracle. But a much more cordial Mr. Livingstone soon came to our rescue. He invited us in and very pragmatically suggested a test. Covering Robert’s other eye, he held up fingers in front of the eye that had been blind. Robert counted them perfectly, each time his father held up a new set. “Amazing . . . truly amazing. Please, sit down and tell us about this. Can we get you some tea?” He told us Robert’s vision loss had been progressive and that, medically, total blindness was predicted.
Mr. Chivers left the next morning. Word spread about Robert’s healing, and the following night we returned to find the parking lot teeming with a more receptive group of young people. I boldly shared the Gospel, and two young men asked Christ into their hearts. But where was Robert? A week later, I went back to his apartment. It was empty. The concierge said the family moved back to Scotland with no forwarding address. This devastated me. How I wanted to stay in touch, following Robert’s progress in the Christian faith.
Five years later, again in Quebec and working with Jeunesse en Mission (YWAM), we met a couple who grew up in Ville d’Anjou. They told us a strange tale about a Jehovah’s Witness couple who healed young Robert Livingstone’s eyes. We corrected their version of the story, but they could offer us no clue to Robert’s whereabouts. I’ve tried using the Internet to find him, but to no avail. Maybe someone reading this story can help put me in touch with him, if he’s still living. Or maybe I’ll have to wait for Heaven. . . .