Joe Mitchell and I met in 1975 when we were both teenagers. Joe was the sound man in a band my brother Ray played drums in (Joe is in the front row, bottom left in the picture, my brother Ray is in the back row, far right). Joe and I remained friends and kept in touch until he moved to South Carolina in 1994. After he moved, we saw each other only once under sad circumstances. Our reunion took place at the wake and funeral of his best friend (and my former boyfriend), Donnie.
We didn’t talk again until sometime (soon) after January 2008 when Joe turned fifty. He called my parents to get both my brother’s and my telephone number, as he began to reminisce after his fiftieth birthday.
I was very happily surprised to hear from my old friend and excited to tell him that in the years since we last talked, I had given my life to Jesus! I told Joe about the new joy I had found. Joy in knowing and serving Jesus instead of living for my own selfish pleasure; as I had done in my young years. I didn’t know it, but during this same time, Joe had a co-worker named Toby, who was also telling him about Jesus. Toby had been inviting Joe and his wife Patti to his church (Eternal Church in South Carolina) for a few years.
The Mighty Hand of God
Feeling a ‘calling’ to go to church, one Sunday in May 2009, Joe and Patti visited Toby’s church. Joe felt the Holy Spirit telling him that he would need Him. “You’re going to wake up one day and you’re going to love Me. You’re going to be with Me, and I’m going to be with you.”
Overwhelmed by a great love for God, with tears filling their eyes, and with hugs for each other; both Joe and Patti received salvation in Jesus that day!
The ‘calling’ Joe felt to go to church started soon after his dad died. Joe’s dad moved from Connecticut to South Carolina after he had a dream. In his dream, Joe’s mother (died years earlier) told him to move to S.C. to be with his son. Joe’s dad got saved too, just before he died!
In November 2009, Joe was admitted to the hospital for a ‘routine’ operation. During the operation, complications arose. Complications that left him in a medically induced coma for six weeks.
Before this operation, Joe described himself as “perfectly healthy,” but not as a very calm person. Both things were soon to change.
Perfect Love Has No Fear
Sometime between the surgery and the coma, Joe saw a light. It was a bright, inviting light. A light so calming, he was drawn to walk towards it. He began to see photos/videos (Joe always enjoyed taking pictures) of everyone he knew – both dead and alive. The pictures faded, then stopped. Something told him it was not his time to go in and told him to stop walking. Joe was never afraid as he looked into the light. He said there was never a calmer time in his life.
Doctors tried several times to revive Joe from the medically induced coma. A coma that almost took his life three times (Patti was called each time). Every time doctors touched Joe to work on him, his heart rate dropped. When they took their hands off him, his heart would start again. Joe’s doctor, Dr. Miles (a Christian), later told Joe and Patti that he didn’t know what else to do to help Joe. So he prayed! And Jesus told Dr. Miles to do kidney dialysis. The next day Joe was hooked up to dialysis. His vital signs came back and he awoke from the coma! Thank You, Jesus – Savior, Healer, Deliverer.
Back To Eternal Church
The Sunday after Joe’s release from the hospital (January 2010), he and Patti knew they needed to be in church. When they walked in, Joe said “The Holy Spirit’s presence hit me. I had to sit down. I felt a great love! I was overcome head-to-toe, tears ran down my face.”
The Power of Prayer
I asked Joe the one thing he would tell a Christian brother or sister about God. He said – ” The power of faith-filled prayer to our powerful God, is the most amazing thing.” Joe’s Bible study group (from Eternal Church) went to the hospital and prayed over him as a group. Individual church members also surrounded Joe and Patti with prayers. Joe says that his brother’s and sister’s (in Christ) prayers are the reason he is able to tell his miraculous testimony. 🙂
Not to forget the desperate prayer for wisdom prayed by Joe’s Christian doctor, Dr. Miles, and answered by our mighty Physician, Jesus of Nazareth!
No Longer Afraid To Die
My friend Joe, was afraid to die before experiencing the light and revelation of God’s love. He is not afraid anymore! Joe says his time in the presence of God’s love was the best time of his life and he never felt a love, like God’s love.
Through his experience of near-death, Joe believes God has more for him. He says he “continues to love Jesus and speak to Him each day, knowing that He is here with me.” Joe now looks forward to his final experience in God’s loving, healing presence – forevermore!
Recap of Miraculous Events in Joe’s Revival From Death’s Grip
- Joe’s friend Toby (elder at Eternal Church) from work, invites Joe and Patti to church for a few years.
- Joe disregards on-going church invitations from co-worker.
- His dad dies in 2009 after having a dream where his deceased wife tells him to move to South Carolina to be with Joe.
- Dad gets saved just before he dies.
- May 2009 – Joe and Patti go to church after prompting from the Holy Spirit.
- Joe and Patti are saved (receive forgiveness for their sins and turn their lives over to Jesus) the same day they enter Toby’s church for the first time!
- Joe goes to hospital for ‘routine’ surgery.
- He almost dies three times while in medically induced coma.
- Joe has a life-changing encounter in the presence of God’s agape love, while in coma.
- Joe’s church family prays fervently, in faith, without ceasing, for Joe’s survival and returned health.
- Dr. Miles prays in desperation and asks for God’s wisdom to help revive Joe.
- The Lord speaks to Dr. Miles! (My sheep hear My voice) 🙂 and tells him, Joe needs kidney dialysis.
- The next day Joe receives dialysis. His vital signs return to normal and he awakens from a six-week coma.
- Joe and Patti return to church the first Sunday after his release from the hospital. Joe is once again baptized in God’s love.
- Joe and Patti have a new life together, loving and serving God. Knowing that even though for most of their lives they didn’t know Jesus, He always knew and loved them.
- Joe has been delivered from death (via salvation in Jesus, his Savior). And, delivered from the fear of death. Knowing now that perfect love awaits him in eternity.
The Harvest is Great, But The Workers Are Few
The Bible tells us that God knew us before our bodies were formed – Psalm 139:16 and that it is not His will that one should perish but that all should come to repentance – 2 Peter 3:9. From those two verses, we see that our lives were planned by our Creator, God and that it is His will for all to come to repentance. In Matthew 9: 36-38, Jesus tells His disciples to “pray for more workers to be sent into the harvest field.” As Jesus’ current-day followers (disciples), we are the “more workers.”
I am forever thankful that my friend Joe was befriended by his co-worker, Toby. A current-day follower of Jesus, who was faithful to Jesus’ command to be a worker in the harvest field of God’s kingdom!
May we, as the body of Christ, also desire to be so faithful!