“Hello beautiful! What are you doing this afternoon? I’m Georgia bound, passing through Knoxville later today…” My friend’s text appeared as I was heading in to teach my first class of the day. She was en route to Dalton, a small town 104 miles to the south, to investigate stories she’d heard about a Bible that was miraculously producing oil. I had a 24-hour window of time before my first class the next day, so I texted her back, “Do you want company?” I wanted to see this supposed miracle for myself.
My friend and I pulled up to a storefront in downtown Dalton at twilight, sixteen months after the Bible had started producing the oil. We were just in time for the “oil filling” that their website advertised (link hisnameisflowingoil.org). We looked at each other and laughed nervously as we walked inside; we had no idea of what we were about to encounter.
On January 27, 2017, a man named Jerry noticed a wet spot in his Bible, starting on Psalm 39. His wife and he couldn’t identify any cause for the moisture, which felt oily, and within weeks, oil saturated the entire Bible. Jerry kept the Bible in a gallon-size Ziploc bag, but soon it had filled with oil. He moved the Bible to a plastic container, and in time, it produced enough oil to fill that container too…four times over. Jerry and the members of his prayer group started to fill small vials with the oil, which they began to give away. To date, they have given away more than 150,000 vials of oil.
Inside the cozy Christian gift shop, we walked to the back of the store where people congregated around two long tables. Voices greeted us warmly, like we were old friends, and pointed us toward one of the tables. We joined those gathered there as if we had a clue what was going on. It soon became obvious that they were preparing vials of oil for mailing. My friend and I were given a roll of address labels and cushioned envelopes, and we set to work. Washington, D.C.; Melbourne, Australia; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Diego, California…this oil was being shipped all over the world.
Some of the people working alongside us were members of the prayer group that witnessed the miracle begin. Others were individuals who had experienced healing after being anointed with the oil. And still others were simple sojourners like us, curious about this so-called miracle. Everyone was friendly and open, and our conversation centered on the oil—particularly its origins and the reported healings associated with it.
“Come back tomorrow morning,” we were encouraged. “The Bible will be here.”
We did go back. When we pulled up to the storefront early on Tuesday, a diverse crowd had already formed outside the shop. My friend I stood between a young mother holding a baby and a middle-aged man holding a shofar. We looked at each other and laughed once again as the doors opened and we entered the shop. The crowd streamed to the back of the store and approached the table where we had prepared envelopes the night before. When we reached it, we discovered why: there in a plastic tub sat the Bible, fully submerged in a clear oil. To the side sat a cut-glass bowl, also filled with oil.
I watched as some people reached into the tub and touched the Bible while others simply dipped their hands into the bowl. When my turn arrived, I looked at the Bible—with its closed, leather-bound cover appearing unspoiled—but I didn’t touch it. Instead, I slowly dipped my fingertips into the oil in the glass bowl. The oil felt substantial to me, like reaching into a bowl of partially set gelatin, yet when I withdrew my hands, it thinly coated my fingers and glided toward my palms. I rubbed my hands together as I considered this story of a Bible—this Bible—miraculously producing oil.
As I moved to the side of the room and the crowd began to sing, I pondered Moses, who thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up” (Exodus 3); and of the gathering in Capernaum, after Jesus healed the paralytic, who declared, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2). Scripture reports that when Jesus performed miracles, witnesses were often amazed and astonished. They marveled, and they glorified God.
I found myself rubbing my fingers together, feeling the oil coating my skin, andthinking of the Pharisees, who “although [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them, they were not believing in Him” (John 12).
I silently confessed, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”
My friend and I remained as long as we possibly could, watching, listening, singing, and praying with others. Then we drove the 104 miles back home, pulling into my school with mere minutes to spare. As I quickly walked to my classroom, I found myself rubbing my fingers together, searching for remaining traces of the oil. Now, sixteen months later, I rub them together again, thinking of the Bible, which is still producing oil, and remembering the way it felt to be mystified by a miracle.
A lover of story, Susan Tucker has always been captivated by beautiful writing. She is drawn to themes of tension, joy/grief, hope/loss, freedom/shame, which she explores in her own writing. Susan spends her days teaching middle school English, mothering her two teenage sons, and loving her husband of 25 years. She cherishes her first cup of coffee each morning, moments of quiet and solitude, restorative yoga, worship music, and faithful friends.nbsp