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The 700 Club

Against All Odds, Man Wakes From Coma

Easter morning 2009.  The worship team at Family Life Church in Newberg, Oregon, was doing a last run-through before the service.  Fifty-three-year-old worship leader and guitar player, Stephen said he wasn’t feeling well.  

His wife Kathy was in the choir.  She explains, “He asked the choir to ‘pray for me, something’s not right I have a headache,’ and I thought that’s kind of strange.  So, we prayed for him and then I noticed as he was sitting there he started kind of wobbling, and he was trying to play his guitar, and his fingers weren’t doing what they should.”

Then moments later, Stephen collapsed.  Someone called 911 as Kathy and others ran to his side.

In that moment, she says she felt “Shock, you know, shock.  So I started praying.”

By the time the rescue squad arrived, Stephen was drifting in and out of consciousness.

Kathy remembers, “The ambulance guys turned to me and said ‘Okay we’re going to get him in right away.  He’s had a stroke.’”

They took him to Providence Newberg Medical Center, where he was put on life support.  Kathy, along with the pastor’s wife, arrived moments later.  Not only had Stephen suffered a massive stroke, spinal fluid was leaking into his skull, adding pressure to his brain.  It was a deadly combination.  

Kathy says, “The doctor came out and he said, ‘This isn’t going to be easy for you I know, but I’ve got to tell you he’s probably not going to make it within the next 12 hours.  Not-hardly anyone makes it with a stroke like this, he’s had the worst stroke you can ever have.  I talked to the Lord and I said, you know, ‘Not another one, Lord.  This can't happen.’

Years before, Kathy had lost her first husband to cancer.

She says that, “I knew that is was not the time to fear, but to put my trust in God.  I had to take authority right away.  And I just walked up and down the hall and I started speaking the Word of God, and I said, ‘No, Steve, you will live and you will not die.’”

Once stabilized, Stephen was taken to St. Vincent Medical Center in nearby Portland.  Doctors inserted a shunt to help drain the spinal fluid off the brain.  Kathy was told the first hours were critical.  But the odds were not in his favor.

She says, “Another doctor came in and said, ‘We just don’t know if he’s going to make it or not.  And so we don’t want to give you any false hope.’”

Back at church, people prayed, as friends and family gathered at the hospital.  Kathy says, “We would grab hands and pray, and there was like almost a hundred of us out there.  It was just unbelievable.  And then we would come against every negative thing they would tell us, and we’d say, ‘Okay, these are the facts, we hear the facts, we hear what they’re saying, but we are going to hang onto God’s word because it’s Truth.’”

After 24 hours, Stephen was still alive but in a coma.  Doctors told Kathy they didn’t know whether or not he would ever wake up.  Even if he did, he’d likely need nursing care the rest of his life.

Kathy explains, “They said they didn't give him much hope at all.  But one doctor came in and he says, ‘You know, we never say never until the end.’  And he said, ‘We're going to keep believing and we're going to just keep doing what we can do to see if he comes out of this.’”

Kathy would have to cling to that hope.  

She says, “I didn’t have any fear of him being paralyzed or never being able to talk again, or whatever.  I guess God just gave me that faith to just keep believing.”

Kathy rarely left her husband’s side, playing recorded scripture and praise music around the clock.  Then finally after six weeks, Stephen began to show signs that he was conscious.

Emotional, Kathy says, “I wasn’t going to let the devil steal this husband from me.  And whatever it took - I mean it was pretty important to me.  I just knew that I had to be strong and had to be strong for him.  He’d take my hand and squeeze it and I’d squeeze it back.”

Stephen began showing more signs of awareness - speaking and answering questions.  Kathy remembers one morning when a nurse came into his room.  Kathy explains, “He said, ‘I want you to know that this is a miracle.  He should not be here right now.’  And I go, ‘I know.  I know.  This is totally God.’”

Stephen would spend another six weeks in rehab, before he finally went home.

Stephen says, “The next memory that I know is mine and not a photograph is checking out of the last hospital.”

It took over a year, but Stephen completely recovered from his stroke.  Today he’s back to leading church worship and playing his guitar.

Kathy says, “Even though it was a miracle that he’s alive and doing as well as he is today, it was a process - I call it a healing miracle, it just didn’t happen overnight.”

Stephen says, “I was checked out, I was gone, and it was simply God who lifted me.  Not only did the stroke occur in an atmosphere of praise, but I was surrounded by that praise and worship during recovery with the people that were coming to the hospital.  And I believe God has honored that, because He was glorified even in the midst of all this.”  

Kathy adds, “I think some people, they give up and they think, ‘Oh, it's taking too long.’  And they listen to the doctors and they don’t see it through with just, ‘No, come on, let's persevere, let's just keep praying, let's resist the devil, let's-let's go.  Let's take care of this,’ you know?  And let God raise him up to be a mighty miracle.”

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