Overcomer is in a Better Place, Says Stair

The Press and Standard/June 7, 2002
By Libby Roerig

Though some say the recent death of a Georgia man who was living at a local religious community could have been prevented, the community leader's wife says they were respecting his wishes.

An autopsy revealed Stanley Crawford Bean, 27, died of cerebral herniation on Tuesday, May 28, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Willard Long. Bean, who had been living at the Overcomer Ministry in Canadys for about a year and a half, had a history of seizure-like symptoms.

"He (Bean) wanted to go," Teresa Stair said. " He really wanted to be with the Lord. He said, 'Sister Stair, I am so happy if I am going to go be with the Lord'."

Stair is the wife of Ralph Stair, 69, who is the Overcomer Ministry's leader and is currently being held without bond at the Colleton County Detention Center on two counts of criminal sexual conduct and two counts of breach of trust.

In the weeks proceeding his death, fellow community members say Bean had been complaining of losing his vision, Long said.

"Brother Stan - I prayed for him two days before he died," said Teresa Stair. "The Lord sent me to him, and I prayed. I really had great faith to pray for him. I just believed he was going to live."

Though Bean's family members say he was not being treated for seizures or having any other medical problems before moving to the Overcomer Ministry, community members speculate he was having seizures.

"His muscles would just contract a little. - There was always somebody with him - his head would just sort of tilt and he wouldn't be able to hold his fork and we would pray," Stair said. "And then he would be alright within - oh God - usually within about five minutes. It was just like he'd come out of it and he'd go, 'Praise the Lord.'"

Witnesses told Long that Bean started vomiting and felt weak the night that he died. Because the community favors divine healing over traditional medical care, Bean did not want to be taken to a physician.

"Stan said, 'Brother Stair, please don't take me to a hospital. I don't want to go. I want to trust the Lord.' He always said he wanted to trust the Lord," she said.

Though the Bible speaks of those who have the power to heal the sick, the Scripture is not referring to medical doctors, Stair believes.

"Medical doctors - it's almost like a - they call it a practice. They practice on your body, a medical practice," she said. "We believe the Bible that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and he received stripes on His back for our healing. We believe that. We believe he's our healer. The Bible talks about gifts of healing. We don't think medical doctors are included in those gifts of healing."

Modern society places too much emphasis on medical doctors, Stair said.

"If medical doctors healed everybody, nobody would be dying in the hospitals," she said. "You can have three people in the same operating room with the same operation, and one will live and two might die, but nobody ever blames the doctor for killing anybody. They have wonderful insurance policies. They're covered."

The Overcomers emphasize God as being the one true healer.

God is the one who makes a life. God is the one who kills," she said. "God never fails. He never does, even if somebody dies. We truly believe God gives life. The Bible says He's the one that kills, He's the one that gives the life."

By placing their faith in God, Stair says she and her fellow church members have witnessed many miracles - including the reviving of a dead woman named Dorothy Williams.

"We pray for the sick. We've seen miracles. My husband has literally raised the dead. Sister Williams, who is buried on our farm, she died twice," she said. "Oh yes. She stopped breathing. She was dead. Brother Stair prayed and asked the Lord to raise her up.

"He shook her and he said 'Dot, you gotta come back. I need you. You can't leave yet. You're my intercessory prayer warrior, and I need you for this ministry, Dot. Don't go, come back..' And you know what, she came back."

She said, 'Brother Stair, why did you do that? I was on my way up. I could see Heaven. It was so beautiful and you called me back. And God said, "You gotta go back.' "

On another occasion, Stair cured a woman of diabetes by using faith. He instructed the woman and her husband who was a Baptist preacher in Boston to quit taking insulin for three days. When the woman went into a coma, two of Stair's children from his first marriage prayed for the woman. The woman miraculously woke up and asked for a hamburger, Stair said.

"As far as we know, she lived after that - without the insulin," she said.

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