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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Whatever It Takes

By Louis Lankford-Dunlap
July 7, 2013

"God, heal my fractured family"

"Happy Mother’s Day, I wish I could be with you today,” Jodi greeted me. ?“I love you, Mother. See you soon.”

Barely able to finish the conversation, I staggered into the bathroom and began vomiting. Could that be blood I just threw up?

A 44-year-old woman with few health issues, I had been shocked to awaken that day weak, nauseous and struggling to get out of bed to answer the early morning phone call.

In addition to my regular chores, I had mowed our half acre on the riding mower the day before, then worked late into the night preparing small potted plants for the mothers of our church in Dayton, Ore. I went to bed tired but feeling OK. What had happened to me so suddenly?

Back in the bedroom it happened again. This time there was no doubt. Fresh red blood exploded onto the white carpet, and I was losing consciousness.

“What in the world is wrong?” my now wide-awake husband, Hershel, cried out as he observed the situation and began dressing. “We’ve got to get you to the hospital!”

He alerted contacts at the church we attended, requested prayer, and rushed me to McMinnville Hospital, six miles away, as I continued throwing up blood.

There, attendants quickly attempted to start an IV. Due to collapsed veins, the only one medical personnel could find was in my heel. They inserted a tube through my throat to pump out the escaping blood from my stomach and I was hooked to oxygen.

Knowing McMinnville Hospital was not equipped to handle my problem, our doctor insisted I be transferred to Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland 36 miles away.

Would I even make it to OHSU? In my mind I prepared to die. I had been a Christian since I was 7 years old and knew where I would go if this was my time. My survival was in serious doubt as we arrived at OHSU.

Requests for prayer spread among our family, friends and congregation. Many gathered at the hospital prepared for an all-night prayer vigil.

Doctors suspected cancer had invaded my intestines and said if I lived through the night I could have brain damage, due to lack of oxygen to the brain. Transfusions were unable to keep up with the loss of three-fourths of my blood.

After a long day of tests, perplexed doctors prepared me for exploratory surgery sometime around midnight.

“We’re losing her. Code blue, code blue,” the doctor shouted into the intercom during the operation.

Lying there on the operating table, I saw the doctor’s face blur and heard his voice fade as I felt myself leaving my body. Darkness seemed to have hands, gripping me and squeezing the life from me.

Since I was a Christian and a minister, I was troubled at the darkness and wondered, Have I been wrong all these years? Does this mean I’m lost?

Praise God, the darkness was only momentary, and I was reminded there was a dark valley to pass through to reach my destination (Psalm 23:4).

Suddenly, a brilliant light surrounded me. It freed me from the grip of darkness and flooded everything, enveloping me with a sweet and calming assurance, driving away all my doubts and fear.

I had often read in the Bible about that light and knew instantly it was Jesus, “The Bright and Morning Star,” brighter than the noonday sun. I saw no form, no face or figure, no streets of gold or scenes like others have described. I saw nothing but that resplendent light; that was enough for me.

So close and longing to reach Him, I prayed, “Jesus, let me come to You,” expecting at any moment to be with Him in heaven.

The thought of leaving my loved ones suddenly interrupted my sense of rapture. I heard in my spirit, Not yet. A feeling of disappointment swept over me as I began being pulled back, away from the light; yet, I also felt a sense of relief. There was unfinished business I was concerned about and wanted to see corrected before I left my family.

Misunderstandings between family members had broken my heart. The rift caused an estrangement, and some had not spoken to one another for an extended time. Nothing hurts a mother more than conflicts among her children and their turning away from God.

A few days earlier I had prayed, “God, please mend my fragmented family and save my children, even if it takes my life.” I didn’t know how close to death God would bring me in order to grant my request, but I was prepared to pay any price to see their restoration.

Unbeknownst to me, my husband and many others were on their knees through the long night while I was facing death. “Don’t take her, Lord,” they prayed. “We need her.”

While in prayer, Hershel opened his Bible to Psalm 46:5: “God will help her, and that right early” (ASV). Believing this was his answer, he hurried to my room with confidence.

God was at work answering my prayers. My children had gathered with others at the hospital. They knelt together, embraced, reconciled their differences, and surrendered to God, again confessing their love for one another.

Back in the operating room, the doctor welcomed me with a smile. “You’re back,” he announced. “We found the source of bleeding and have made the repair.”

The surgeon explained I had swallowed something sharp that cut an artery just below my esophagus. It may have been a piece of eggshell or nut hull. With every heartbeat, blood was pumped into my stomach, with barely enough left to keep me alive. He had never had a case like mine before.

“It was just a freak accident, and you’ll soon be as good as new,” the doctor assured me.

I soon recovered, and have lived 37 years since that event. I’ve had many victories and a few defeats, lots of joy and some sorrow.

Just a freak accident? I hardly think so. Was it worth it? A thousand times yes. All my children continue serving God and have a loving relationship with one another; and God spared my life to see it.

The experience also gave me a new perspective about death and dying. The salvation of a soul is worth more than the entire world. My prayer was, and still is “Whatever it takes,” not only for my children but regarding others I might reach for Him.

LOUISE LANKFORD-DUNLAP is 81 and has been writing since she was a teenager. Her daughter, Jodi Detrick, is the national chairperson for the Network for Women in Ministry and Women’s Ministries director for the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.


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