It was September 18, 1990 when my wife, Sandy, found me incoherent on our living room floor. My eyes were open and glassy, looking, but not seeing. Although I had been sick with malaria and hepatitis since September 7, my health seemed to be improving, so she had gone to teach the ladies at the Rabaul Baptist Bible College.
We had been fooled by this deceptive disease; it had now arrived in its deadliest form, cerebral malaria. The doctors gave my wife little hope of my recovery. Only a two-percent chance of living and a very high probability of severe brain damage if I was part of this two-percent. Because of Christ, our lives are never hopeless. If God would allow me to die, I would be in heaven; if God healed me, I would continue to serve Him.
Prayer was the prescription in this situation, and it was given in large doses. The prayers of God's people in churches all over the world allowed me the wonderful privilege of continuing to serve Him. Three weeks later I began to regain consciousness in an Australian hospital. My kidneys were failing and my spleen was not functioning. It became necessary for my wife to fly me to Australia because of the lack of medical facilities in Papua New Guinea. I had a sensation of bewilderment as I looked at the foot of my bed and saw my mom calmly knitting. The first thing I remember saying was, 'Mom, is that you?'
During my stay in the hospital, the doctors dealt with several physical complications. These included two types of malaria, hepatitis, black water fever, kidney failure, spleen failure, malnutrition, and dehydration. Seeing the hand of God work in my physical body allowed my parents and my wife the opportunity to witness to these doctors about our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. The doctors were not only amazed that I was living through these critical conditions, but were astounded when I left without brain damage.
Six months later, 80 pounds lighter, three and a half inches shorter, I began to be able to walk again. After coming back to the United States, the doctors discovered a parasite that was destroying the disks in my spinal column. It was necessary for my wife to give me 2000 milligrams daily of a liquid antibiotic into a shunt that had been placed into my chest. The parasite was killed, but not before three disks had been destroyed. Again, the doctors were amazed; no surgery had to be done. The Lord fused my disks back together.
I just recently resigned the pastorate of Bible Baptist Church of Bonner Springs, Kansas. I have had the privilege of being their pastor for the past six years. While still in a wheelchair, the doctors told me it would be three years before my health would be restored. They had recommended that I not return to a third world nation.
My wife and I began to pray for God's direction for our lives. We felt God would direct us to go to Australia, Philippines, or South Africa, but God had other plans. When Bro. Brewer, our pastor, resigned, he asked me to pray about Bible Baptist Church. One of the most difficult things we have done in our lives was resigning as missionaries, but being in Bonner Springs has been one of our greatest blessings.
The Lord continues to shower us with His blessings by allowing us to return to the field of Papua New Guinea. Through the circumstances God allowed in my life, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 has become very real. This verse states, 'In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' I have discovered that this command does not mean good things, but also difficult things. When I am willing to thank God for the difficult times He allows, then I am telling Him that I am trusting Him. When I am unwilling to thank Him because I do not feel like it, then I am not putting my faith in Him. When I thank Him for the difficult things in life, then I am doing His will. When I am unwilling to thank Him because I do not feel like it, then I am doing Satan's will. When I am willing to thank God for the difficult times, I get closer to God and the joy of the Lord makes the difficult times good times. When I am unwilling to thank God for difficult times, I get farther from God and farther from His grace, and the difficult times become bad times. I am thankful today that God has made all the difficult days of my life into good days with Him.
Brother Ed Fuller shared this testimony with us at a missionary retreat in July 1997. It is amazing how God not only spared his life, but enabled him to continue in the ministry. Even more amazing is the fact that God is now allowing him and his family to return to the field of Papua New Guinea.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!