It’s become clear that this pandemic isn’t just a phase. While we’ve been able to visit here and there in small groups and go about socially-distanced routines, people are still suffering. That suffering takes many forms, like poverty, loneliness, mental illness, and of course physical illness.
Our work is cut out for us, then. God empowers us to notice and to care and to love our neighbours, practically and spiritually. And where the suffering is beyond our help, we pray for a miracle.
Earlier this year, Jay, one of our own members, needed one such miracle.
I was attacked by COVID-19 in March after a prayer meeting. Eight of us at the conference tested positive, and four had to be quarantined in the ICU. Sadly, only three made it out of the hospital.
I got tested for COVID-19 because my wife is a frontline healthcare worker. After the conference, I led our Sunday church service as normal. By Tuesday, I had started coughing and the beginnings of a fever. I stayed home Wednesday thinking I had a cold. On Thursday morning, our family physician called me and told me that I was positive and needed to come to the hospital right away.
During the car ride, I suddenly felt like I was dying—I could hardly breathe. I managed to call my wife to tell her I didn't know if I would be back from the hospital that night or the next morning. Somehow, I walked through the door and into the ER. The nurse who took my temperature came back in two minutes to inform me they were going to admit me right away, and helped me onto a cot.
My next memory is waking up in a hospital room. I had two IVs in my arms, oxygen tubes in my nose, and pain in my throat. As I turned, I saw a nurse standing beside me.
“Wow, so much has happened in 24 hours! ” She smiled at me and said, “Sir, you haven’t been here for 24 hours. You’ve been here for 24 days. You’ve been in an induced coma.” I began to argue with her, as this did not seem possible. “I know you're joking, it's not fun to joke like this…”
“I'm not going to argue with you.” The nurse gently placed her hand on my shoulder. “This is your 25th day here. It is true—you were in a coma for 25 days. We really struggled to bring you back to life. In fact, we tried to take you off the ventilator four times! ”
She explained how it happened. The day before, the doctor had one last chance to take me off the ventilator or they would have to rush me to a larger hospital with more instruments. That would have meant taking me out of the coma in an ambulance. In the 32 minutes from bed to bed, I may not have lived, because there wouldn’t have been oxygen or mechanical instruments to keep me alive.
Yet somehow, on the 24th day, my numbers began changing miraculously. My dialysis was changing... my oxygen was changing. The doctors couldn’t fathom what was happening.
After hearing this, I told the doctors, “This miracle happened because of prayer and faith—because of the One who died and rose and is coming back again. Because of His goodness and mercy.”
I was later released from the ICU to a normal unit. The ventilation caused three major side effects. One, I could hardly speak. Two, I had problems with my tongue. Three, I lost the power of walking. I just sat in a room with one bed, one window, and my cell phone, crying out to God. I shouted in my head, “Lord I don't want to sit and pray, I want to stand and pray to you! Give me a chance to stand up! ”
God said to me, “Start reading the Word. I speak to my people through my Word. Don't worry, keep reading the Bible.”
From that day forward, I prayed, “Lord, I want to walk! I want to walk to the pulpit, I want to walk and pray, I want to go coast-to-coast in Canada, praying for people.” And He gave me a very clear answer.
I heard Him say, “I have a plan and a purpose for your life. Whether it's sharing Scriptures, whether it’s talking to people about my Word, that is your task before you come to heaven. I have sent you back to do my work—tasks left incomplete. You have to complete the homework, and I’ll call you home after that.”
My son Japheth prayed a lot when I was in a coma. He used to say, “Mummy, don’t worry, Daddy is coming home.” I’ve read through hundreds and hundreds of messages of people saying they were praying for me. People from The Gideons all over Canada were praying. I don’t know these people of God, but I know they are the living Church.
Because of their prayers—your prayers—I am standing today, by the power of God and the prayer of His people.
Of this I am sure: COVID-19 is not our battle. It is a battle of God’s. His Word says “the battle is not yours” (2 Chronicles 20:15) and “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). And by His Word, I am living, breathing, walking, and growing.
That’s my story. But I can’t really call it mine; it’s His story. It is by His amazing grace, by His hand, that He gave my life back, to complete my homework.