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When My Father Was Healed

1893729222_adI was talking recently with a friend who commented that there are certain events that serve as anchor points for our faith. For me, despite all the drifting I’ve done since it happened, one of those points was the time when my father was healed. I alluded to this briefly in a comment on the Energion Discussion Network, and was challenged (or so it felt) to retell the story more often. You can get another perspective on this story from my mother’s book Directed Paths, which includes many other stories of God in action. I was 14 years old at the time and will tell this as I remember it.

It was 1971 and my parents were called as missionaries to Guyana, South America, where my father was to become medical director of the 54 bed Davis Memorial Hospital in Georgetown. Shortly after we arrived my father required emergency surgery. This took place during the night. The surgeon persuaded my mother not to wake me up, so anything about the surgery is not from my memory, but rather from what I was told. The surgery was on the large intestine and during the surgery there was considerable contamination. In addition, at one point my mother, who is an RN, was left alone as the entire team had to go to an emergency with a delivery in another room. Overall the surgery lasted for four hours, if I recall correctly.

Nobody wanted to tell me in the morning, so I was successively directed from room to room until I arrived in my father’s room in the hospital where he was connected to various tubes and devices. It was quite a shock.

He continued to be weak for some time, and his digestive processes and intestines would not restart their function. The surgeon said that he would never work again and would not live more than another 10 years. The mission board began to plan to bring my parents back to the states.

My parents, on the other hand, did not agree. They said that they had gone to Guyana to perform a mission and that they had not yet performed one. Their choice was to follow James 5, and call for the elders of the church. The elders anointed my father with oil and prayed for his healing and that he would be able to carry out his mission. I was actually quite disappointed with the results that day. It seemed that nothing happened.

But from that moment, my father’s recovery began. Within two weeks he took over as sole physician for that 54 bed hospital and was on call 24 hours/7 days per week for the next year before any relief came. He served there for seven years and still worked after he returned to the states. He has now gone on to be with the Lord, though since he was a Seventh-day Adventist he would say “to sleep in Jesus.” I have come to not see a lot of difference there. One breath here—the next breath there. Time won’t matter! But he lived into his late 80s, much more than 10 years and he continued to work through to a normal retirement. He was active as a Christian witness up to the time of his death.

I find that story challenging and encouraging. It’s challenging because my parents refused to leave and give up when everyone else was saying the situation was hopeless. It’s encouraging because when they stepped out in faith on their mission, God was there with them.

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  1. Nancy Petrey says:

    That is the most awesome story. Thank you so much for sharing. To me it proves several things. On the human side, your parent’s faith made all the difference. They did not believe the bad report, but they believed the report of the Lord! (Isa. 53:1). Secondly, they reached for the miracle healing by way of the biblical injunction of calling for the elders, anointing with oil (I presume), and their praying the prayer of faith. Then, of course, the power of God’s Spirit performed the healing! Glory to God! Being a gradual healing must have served God’s purpose, although two weeks seems fast to me!! I love your parents, even though I didn’t know them. And I know they are proud of their son.

    Nancy Petrey

  2. Betty Rae Nick says:

    I felt overwhelmed with amazement as you again reminded me, Henry, that Daddy lived another 36 years after that surgery! I was not there, but I have heard the story told. What a traumatic experience! Oh how glad I am that we had him all those years! I like your thought above, “one breath here, the next breath there!” In the earthly sanctuary there were two services, the daily and the yearly. It is the daily, or “continual” that we experience when we do not receive what we ask for all at once. Moment by moment we receive what we need. So Daddy lived moment by moment for 36 years. Some times were better than others, he had more surgeries, but moment by moment he trusted.

    One of his favorite texts was, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not; they are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness.” He used to say that verse often in the morning. Every human being, whether they know the Lord, or not, experiences the renewal of strength every morning. It is an amazing thing, things always look better, easier to bear, in the morning. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” He is with us through the night hours, as well, “Behold, He that keeper Israel, shall neither slumber, nor sleep.” Like a Mother watching over a sick or troubled child, who awakens briefly to see her still sitting by his bedside, He is there. He “gives His beloved sleep,” “moment by moment.”

    Moment by moment I’m kept in His love,
    Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
    Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
    Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

    This is also how the spiritual life is gained and sustained, “moment by moment,” constantly depending on His grace. We tend to want our blessings all at once. But there is a special experience reserved for those who ask, and do not seem to receive. It is a closeness to God illustrated by the closeness of a disabled child to his parents, which a well child cannot and need not know.

    I have the same congenital defect that Daddy had. He was 50 years old when he had surgery. I am well past that age now. One time he said to me, Maybe you will never have to have surgery, as you have learned from my experience. As I deal with similar problems to the ones he lived with, I have before me his life lesson of “moment by moment!”

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