Not Willing That Any Should Perish
Honduras Missionary Ministers in U.S.A.
Earlier this year, I received a call to come to the United States and help my brother Steve because his healthcare provider could no longer care for him. His condition had worsened, and he now needed full-time care.
At the hospital, I walked into Steve’s room, and he appeared to be in shock seeing me there. He said, “Joe, is that you? What are you doing here? Are you really here?” I assured him that I was, in fact, really there and that I had come to make sure he was all right. I could see a sign of relief come across his face, as if now he had nothing to worry about.
Doctors said that they wanted to keep Steve in the hospital longer in order to run some tests. A week and a half had passed, and it was now time for discharge. Nursing staff and placement personnel agreed that putting Steve into a nursing home was the best option at this point. Unfortunately, over the next few weeks, Steve grew increasingly worse. His mental state grew worse and worse by the day. Doctors took a CT scan of the brain, which showed that portions of his brain had atrophied. He was entering a vegetative state. Soon, he stopped eating and drinking, and I knew this was the beginning of the last phase of his very long illness.
Within just a few hours, Steve had gone into a coma. Doctors said he was suffering from acute renal failure and pneumonia and that he only had a day or two, at the most, to live. I felt an urgency to do something, although I did not know where to begin. I called a lay-pastor of a nearby Seventh-day Adventist church and asked if he would come immediately to the hospital and anoint Steve and offer intercessory prayer for him. You see, friends, Steve had chosen to live out on the streets in Maryland for the past two years, and street life had taken its toll on him, mentally, physically and spiritually. He had picked up habits that most homeless street-dwellers acquire. Although he had been in quiet Christian surroundings for the past two months, still I wanted to make sure that he was given every opportunity to make things right with God.
While waiting for the lay-pastor, Brother Grizzell, to arrive at the hospital, I began praying earnestly for Steve myself. At first, I did not know exactly what to pray for. Then, the thought came to my mind: If I only had a short time to live, what would I ask for? It was then that I began to pray for three things—three impossible things.
1. I prayed that God would allow Steve to regain consciousness. (This was medically impossible, because his system was toxic, he was full of infection due to the pneumonia, and his brain was shutting down).
2. I asked God to please restore Steve’s mind to clear thinking, so that he could talk to Him and also hear God’s voice speaking to him. (This was also impossible, because doctors said Steve’s dementia had progressed too far and his brain had shrunk too much for his body to receive correct signals, let alone process thoughts.)
3. Finally, I asked God to please not allow my brother to suffer the typical death that most HIV patients suffer. I had seen it many times, and such suffering is unbearable.
Years ago, Steve had placed me as his power of attorney, and he expressed his desires of what he wanted medically, as well as after death. The time had come for me to make those awesome and terrible decisions. As the nurses came into the room and placed the instruction tag on his wrist, with the letters D.N.R. (Do Not Resuscitate), I could only say, “Lord help me!” Most do not realize what happens when these words are spoken. Angels, who excel in strength, rush immediately to your side. God insures that you have more help than you could possibly need. Most importantly, you have Jesus, not merely by your side, but carrying you through your time of trouble.
Brother Grizzell arrived at Steve’s bedside and immediately began praying. I bowed quietly, listening to how earnestly and sincerely this Brother’s prayed. We both prayed for Steve’s soul; and with intercessory prayer, we asked that God would forgive him of any and all known and unknown sins. I asked Brother Grizzell if he would also pray for the “three impossible things”: Regaining consciousness, clearness of mind and a pain-free, peaceful death. We prayed again, asking God to hear our petitions for these things, in the name of Jesus. We ended our prayer with thanksgiving, asking finally that God answer our prayers in Steve’s behalf, allowing His will to be done and His name to be glorified.
It was now 11 pm, and as Brother Grizzell left the room, I settled into the lounge chair beside Steve’s bed. Although we had just finished praying, I could not stop praying in my mind. Over and over, I prayed for the same three impossible things. I knew that I was asking God to perform miracles, not for my sake, but for Steve’s. I knew that doctors could do nothing to bring about an answer to my prayers; only God could. I realize that God answers prayer in many different ways, according to His glory and what is best for our salvation; but still, I claimed the promise found in Matthew 21:22, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
Still praying, I heard Steve’s bed sheets rustling. I looked over, and Steve was moving. I got up out of the chair and stood at the bottom of his bed and just stared at him, wondering if these were just last moments of involuntary muscle movement. Then Steve lifted his head up, turned towards me and said with a strong voice, “I’m alright.” Then he lay his head back down on his pillow, but kept his eyes open. I asked, “Steve, can you see me?” He said, “I see you, Joe. I can see everything!” I about fell over! Thank the Lord, He answered prayer request #1 and #2, both at the same time. Steve had come out of the coma, and he was speaking clearly and intelligently. I could not stop thanking God for His sweet love and mercies. I continued to play Bible CDs and encouraged Steve to keep his mind stayed on Jesus and nothing else. I refused to allow the nursing staff or visitors to turn on the television or secular radio stations. This was a crucial time. God had allowed Steve to come out of a coma less than three hours after earnest prayer and anointing. Now, we must honor God by showing the sincerity of the words we prayed.
Doctors said that Steve would not, could not, survive more than two days. God kept Steve alive for exactly two weeks after coming out of the coma. Doctors said that if they did not administer high doses of morphine, Steve would suffer terribly. This scared me, of course; but I had to trust God, and honor Him by not allowing anything to cloud or alter Steve’s mind. By doing so, God honored our last, “impossible” prayer request. Steve died on a Sabbath afternoon. He was resting peacefully, breathing normally one minute, and the next minute, he simply stopped breathing—no suffering, no pain; nothing for the enemy to glory over. Glory and honor be to God and God alone. Who can understand the love of God? Although doctors remained baffled at what took place, we know that it was God Who not only answered our prayers, but Who loved Steve with such an everlasting love that He would not allow the enemy to take his soul. God can and will save to the uttermost all that will surrender their will to Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you.
We all have loved ones that we sorely miss; but thank the Lord, it will not be long before we will see them again in their glorified state, praising God for His love and mercy, and thanking Jesus for His great sacrifice. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be. I am so tired of this world. I want only to finish the course and go home. Come Lord Jesus, come.
Remember dear friends—you are priceless in the eyes of God. He cherishes you as His most valued possession. Do not think for a moment that you have gone too far out of His reach. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive all of our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Pray, Pray, Pray!
By Joe Willis. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.maranathamedical.org. Donations for the Willises’ work in Honduras can be sent to Maranatha Medical Ministry, PO Box 390, Keysville, VA 23947.