STEER TOWN, St Ann — Jennifer Beckford suffered five strokes, leaving the left side of her body paralysed for over two years. She was confined to bed with no hope of ever being able to walk again. Then she got what she describes as “a vision from God”, telling her that He would perform a miracle in her life.
Today, the active 63-year-old is walking, working and grateful to God.
Beckford is a member of the ancillary staff at National Commercial Bank's Ocho Rios branch, and during the days she sells fruits on Newlin Street in Ocho Rios as her side hustle.
“I got three mild strokes in 1983 and two major strokes in 1999 and doctor said I wouldn't be able to walk or work again. But here I am today, because of the miracle of God. He kept me for all these years,” Beckford told the Jamaica Observer.
After her fourth stroke, she received a life-changing diagnosis.
“While in St Ann's Bay Hospital, after the fourth stroke, they told me I wouldn't walk again. I still had this terrible headache and nothing that they did couldn't help. Doctors said they have to send me to Kingston Public Hospital to find out what was wrong. They did a scan and realise I had a brain haemorrhage to the back of my head and while being in the hospital I got another stroke, making it five,” said Beckford.
“When mi hear that, is like mi whole world stop because I knew I had my children to take care of and I was crippled, and to think I had another stroke mek things even worse,” added Beckford.
It was a tough time for her and her young children. She had no option but to depend on relatives to help take care of them — not something she wanted.
Before becoming ill the Steer Town, St Ann resident had always done her best to be independent. She sold coconuts to tourists from a spot close to the popular Dunn's River Falls attraction in Ocho Rios.
“It was very hard on me because me and my spouse had separated and it was just me and my young kids; one in high school and the other two in primary. At one point I said to my daughter to reach out to… someone to get some help because the board house that we had was breaking apart, so we were really going through a rough patch,” Beckford shared as tears filled her eyes.
The single mother said she never received help but they managed as best they could until the last stroke in 1999.
“I was always out there hustling for my children because I love them. To see myself and them in that position made me cry,” she said. “But I prayed and ask the Lord to heal me because I had my children depending on me; and He did,” Beckford added.
It was while in the hospital, unsure about whether she would ever be able to lead a normal life, she said that she had an inkling of things to come.
“While I was in KPH I got a vision, the week before I got discharged, that I would be able to walk. When I finally went home I said to my daughter, 'Get mi ready, I need to go to church'. She responded, 'Mommy, how you gonna go to church and you cannot sit up?' I replied, 'The Lord will hold me because I got my healing and I'm going to claim it',” Beckford told the Observer.
According to Beckford, that Sunday in church was the best time of her life and what happened left her fellow worshippers amazed.
“When I got in and I went to the altar, a deacon prayed for me and all of that. After that I didn't know anything until about three hours later when I came back to myself and they told me a miracle happened. They said I got up out of my chair and walked on top of the benches and danced with the members. But I didn't know it happened,” she said.
“After that day I could move around and I found that my foot had strength in it. I continued to pray, read my Bible and anoint my legs and hands until like a year later that I got up from my bed and started to fully move around by myself.
“All I could do is shout, Hallelujah!” she exclaimed. “Even now, some people are still in shock that a miracle happened in my life.”
Since then, Beckford has been singing sweet praises to God.
“Every day I sing this song saying, 'Roll back the curtains of memory now and then show me where you brought me from and where I could have been'. That is my special song.
“Miracles are real, because I am a living testimony,” declared Beckford.
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