BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Inside a neat, clean building on Greenwell Springs Road, Reverend Rodney Robertson counseled a young couple ready to get married.
The couple nodded as he reminded them that they were marrying their spouse's family and what that entails. He said to always support each other, "so when the storms of life come, you have each other's back."
Back in 2013, Robertson had no idea that his own sister Marcella Robertson would lead him to a first-ever experience. A direct lesson in the power of prayer. Marcella had utterly collapsed.
As Rev. Robertson sat in the church's sanctuary, crosses surround him. His eyes momentarily misted as he spoke.
"Even today, I still get touched by it," Rev. Robertson said. "Because even though I've been in ministry 22 years, I mean for this to happen to my sister, I think at that time she was 28 years old, and for me to see a miracle like this, evolve before my eyes, it was amazing!"
On the first day of 2013, Marcella had collapsed while visiting their mother and was taken to Lallie Kemp Hospital in Independence, a facility serving all the Florida parishes.
"I was in a coma," Marcella said.
She said the doctors had told her family that she might not live for more than 72 hours. Her face, arm and hand were twisted and contorted. She could hear people in the emergency room, but could not manage to say a word.
Her brother Rev. Rodney and her other brother, both true believers, stood by her side as doctors moved in and out of the room.
"The doctors are coming in and out. They're like 'we're running tests,'" Rodney said.
Marcella, though she was very near them, could not communicate with them. It was frustrating.
"I could hear, but not really respond," Marcella said.
The reverend said doctors were discussing as they moved around her, "We think it's a stroke, but we're not sure if it's a stroke or not."
"My face had severe spasms. My tongue was swollen to my nose. My hand was drawn completely up to my chest," Marcella said, remembering some of her symptoms,
She said it felt like she was in a coma and had been unconscious for three days. Rev. Robertson said left with little he could do, he called on God.
"I didn't have any words to say. I didn't have no three steps or long prayer. I just started speaking the name of Jesus. I just started praying Jesus all over her."
He leaned down close to Marcella's ear, which she said she remember happening.
"He just said, Marcy, if you can hear me, we're gone beat this," she remembered him saying.
That's when Rev. Robertson said the miracle happened as he and his brother are praying.
"While I'm worshiping, speaking Jesus over her, her face began to come back into alignment," Rev. Robertson said. "And her arm which was drawn up, began to relax and unfold. And then, she began to release tears down her face, And she was like 'Brother, brother!' I said, 'I'm your brother!'"
Rev. Robertson said the doctors came in and asked what happened. The family stood at a loss for words for a moment, but then told them they had prayed.
Marcella was stabilized at Lallie Kemp and then transferred to a rehab facility in St. Tammany Parish. She began a long and painful journey as she learned to walk and talk all over again.
At the time of her crisis, Marcella had an 8-month-old son in the house with her older daughter Mya. Micah, as an infant was demanding.
His Uncle Rodney, the pastor, said because of his job, he could shift his duties and pretty much become a daddy for Micah. The family rallied around her.
Now three years later, there are still lingering signs of the stroke, the trauma. Marcella's leg is still missing about 25 percent of its mobility. That and a remaining loss of motor control in her hands means that she cannot yet go back to work.
They live in government subsidized housing in Greenwell Springs. The money she receives pays the bills, and she said the end of the month is rough because the money runs out.