In sickness and in health
By Jennifer McClure
If you don’t admit Mary into the hospital, I won’t be held
liable if she dies.
The doctor’s words stole Harold Sallee’s breath and sent his
Would his wife survive the night? Would she become dependent
on a ventilator? What was this sickness that slowly attacked her body with
numbness and paralysis?
If only they hadn’t moved, maybe this wouldn’t have happened
— or at least they would have had close friends and family nearby for
But Harold knew it was God’s will for him to accept the
position of administrator to the general superintendent at the Assemblies of
God headquarters in Springfield, Mo. They had moved from Brighton, Mich., where
he had served as executive pastor of Brighton Assembly of God.
No one could have foreseen anything like this happening with
700 miles between them and their support system. Though unable to understand
why, Harold wondered if perhaps this illness also was part of God’s plan.
Mary had only been in town for a month and had just unpacked
the last box before being admitted into the hospital with a diagnosis of
Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks
part of the nervous system.
A week or so earlier, Mary began to experience severe lower
back pain. She immediately assumed she had injured her back while unpacking.
She grew concerned when the pain moved into her legs and her extremities began
to go numb.
By the time she was admitted into the hospital, she had no
sensation in her feet or legs below her mid-thighs. Being unable to feel things
with her feet made walking without assistance impossible. But the primary
concern was paralysis. According to the National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke, the symptoms of GBS can increase to a point where the
muscles cannot be used at all, making the patient almost totally paralyzed. If
the paralysis progressed, it could shut down her respiratory system.
In their 42 years of marriage, Harold and Mary had never
experienced any serious illness. Mary, in fact, had been active and healthy
nearly all her life. Suddenly finding themselves uprooted and facing the most
severe medical crisis of their marriage, they had no choice but to turn to God.
“All we could do was bind our hearts together and believe
that God was going to heal me,” Mary says.
After being admitted on a Wednesday, Mary was released in
time to have dinner at home on Friday. Though mostly immobile with the numbness
in her extremities and legs persisting, the doctor ruled she was past the
Once home, she had work to do. Every day Mary would get on
the floor to do the exercises the doctor required.
During these days at home, she would also exercise her
faith, praying and believing for a healing. One day she received a get-well
card from a friend that included three treasures: Jeremiah 30:17; Jeremiah 1:12
and Matthew 9:29.
• “ ‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord, ‘because you are called an outcast, Zion for whom no one cares.’
• “The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am
watching to see that my word is fulfilled.’ ”
• “Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your
faith will it be done to you.’ ”
“I just kept quoting those Scriptures and believing in God’s
Word,” Mary says.
Seven weeks after she was discharged from the hospital, Mary
was able to walk with her family around Silver Dollar City, a family theme park
located in the hilly terrain of Branson, Mo.
Early on, the doctor warned she might experience relapses of
the illness and even a “flapping foot,” but in the last five years neither has
been the case. She regularly walks two miles three times or more each week
without any difficulty.
Looking back, Harold and Mary know what pulled them through
“Our faith and our love for each other got us through,’’
Mary says. “Also our family, our church family in Brighton and several churches
in Springfield were praying for me. We so appreciate those prayers and know
that their prayers coupled with ours is what kept us strong during that time.”
JENNIFER McCLURE is assistant editor of Today’s Pentecostal
Evangel and blogs at jmcclure.agblogger.org.
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